Wednesday, June 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India






E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Diplomacy of another kind
Why snigger at Track II?
N
OBODY would be surprised by the fact that the Pakistan government showed little interest in the visit of the Indian parliamentary delegation to that country. Many may indeed see it as a tit for tat for the way in which the Indian government responded to a similar delegation, which visited India early last month.

Punjab panchayat polls
Alarming use of narcotics, illicit liquor
P
ANCHAYAT elections are supposed to be a low-key, apolitical, local affair. Not so in Punjab. Here, they are turned into a bitter war - that is fought on political lines. What is worse is that the fiercely contested elections have given rise to many social ills, as was highlighted by a front page report in The Tribune on Tuesday. Liquor is flowing proverbially like water and most of it is of the illicit variety.


EARLIER ARTICLES

Poison in veins
June 24, 2003
Venkaiah’s word
June 23, 2003
Save varsities from bureaucracy
June 22, 2003
BJP’s Mission-2004
June 21, 2003
New toys for General
June 20, 2003
Just say no
June 19, 2003
VHP again
June 18, 2003
Cops-cum-terrorists
June 17, 2003
SAD is happy
June 16, 2003
Pressures that should bring India, Pak closer
June 15, 2003

National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 

What others say
The truth about Pvt Lynch
W
hen US Special Forces troops rescued Pvt. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital, it was portrayed by the Pentagon as a daring, behind-enemy-lines mission and cheered by many Americans as triumph at a time when the war effort appeared to be bogging down. 

  • Labour must learn its lessons

OPINION

Kashmir requires cooling off
Dialogue move causes cacophony
S.K. Singh
P
rime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s offer of India’s hand of friendship to Pakistan in April was made in emotional but ambiguous terms. He suggested that there would be no further attempt by him in case this effort fails. He appealed to Pakistan to assist him in creating a conducive ambience for a comprehensive dialogue. 

MIDDLE

Hillary Clinton’s passion
N.D. Batra
W
hatever Hillary’s critics might say about her, it is impossible not to be touched by her passion for the plight of women and children and her desire to turn compassion into political action. On her visit to India in 1995 as the First Lady, she met in New Delhi the Lady Sri Ram College Principal Meenakshi Gopinath, who gave her a poem, “Silence,” written by a student Anasuya Sengupta, which epitomised for Hillary the patient suffering of women the world over.

NEWS ANALYSIS

CAS: will the viewer have to pay more?
Tripti Nath
T
he government’s intention to usher in a revolution in cable viewing by implementing the conditional access system has hit severe roadblocks. The prime objective of CAS is to protect the consumer against the arbitrary and frequent hikes in cable subscription. 

FROM PAKISTAN 

Kasturi defends Musharraf
F
oreign Minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri on Monday urged India to stop demonizing President Pervez Musharraf and stressed that he (Gen Musharraf) was as much a statesman as Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

  • Chenab formula workable

  • Pak-US military operationTop







 

Diplomacy of another kind
Why snigger at Track II?

NOBODY would be surprised by the fact that the Pakistan government showed little interest in the visit of the Indian parliamentary delegation to that country. Many may indeed see it as a tit for tat for the way in which the Indian government responded to a similar delegation, which visited India early last month. But there is a subtle difference between the two visits. While the Pakistani visit came around the same time Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his latest peace offensive, which means India did not have enough time to prepare for the visit, the Pakistan government had all the time at its disposal to respond properly to the visitors led by Rajya Sabha member Kuldip Nayar. It is apparent that Islamabad does not pay much attention to what is known as Track II diplomacy, a charge which, of course, can be leveled against the Indian government too. The antipathy towards the private initiative by the two governments does not, however, mean that it is all a misguided attempt. As Mr Nayar has noted in Islamabad, there is tremendous goodwill for India among the common people of Pakistan. The public reception accorded to the Pakistani delegation wherever it went showed that similar sentiments existed in this country too. These are foundations on which enduring Indo-Pak relations can be built. Nonetheless, it would be unwise to expect too much from Track II diplomacy given the nature of relationship the two countries have had since the days of Partition.

The factors that inhibit the two countries from coming closer are too complex to believe that better people to people contact will help overcome them. These can be resolved only through dialogue at the highest level as per the principles enshrined in the Simla agreement and the Lahore declaration. However, this is a long and cumbersome process, particularly when there is mutual suspicion as borne out by the slow progress the two sides have achieved in normalizing their bilateral relations since Mr Vajpayee extended his hand of friendship. The practitioners of Track II diplomacy can certainly help in this process by impressing upon the opinion makers in both countries to show a greater sense of accommodation in their dealings with each other. There is no better way to accomplish this than by strengthening people to people contacts at all levels. This is possible only if the visa regime in the two countries is relaxed so that there is freer movement of common people across the border. The hawks on both sides may snigger at those who hold lighted candles at the Wagah border but they forget that they have an important role to play in bringing the temperatures down to some extent.
Top

 

Punjab panchayat polls
Alarming use of narcotics, illicit liquor

PANCHAYAT elections are supposed to be a low-key, apolitical, local affair. Not so in Punjab. Here, they are turned into a bitter war - that is fought on political lines. What is worse is that the fiercely contested elections have given rise to many social ills, as was highlighted by a front page report in The Tribune on Tuesday. Liquor is flowing proverbially like water and most of it is of the illicit variety. If that is not enough, poppy husk and other narcotics are being distributed freely. Intoxicants are being supplied to voters at their doorsteps. The practice is so widespread that the police finds it convenient to look the other way. Being a panchayat member is a matter of great prestige in Punjab and that is why no expense is spared for getting elected. Since political parties know that panchayat members can influence legislative and other elections, top leaders are also taking a keen interest in the proceedings. Everyone knows which candidate has the backing of which party. This malaise has the potential of vitiating the atmosphere in the rural areas. Sharp rivalries that develop during the elections do not vanish even after the poll dust has settled. In fact, many incidents of violence in the past had their origin in the election-related tension. Since the competition is exceptionally keen this time, there is an apprehension that it may lead to a spurt in violence, particularly in border areas.

There is another dangerous trend. A lot of money is being spent on the campaigning, in spite of the fact that many of the contestants are reeling under heavy debt due to the repeated failure of cotton crops. This is again caused by the intense rivalries that are a way of life in many villages. The extravagance may throw them deeper into the quagmire of indebtedness. It is true that it is very difficult to ensure strict adherence to rules in far-flung areas but the police has to be extra vigilant and at least curb the use of drugs and illicit liquor. The police has started collecting licensed weapons from the villages as a precautionary measure but much more needs to be done. Political parties too have to realise that their shortsighted policy can play havoc in the rural areas. If they keep out of the panchayat arena, many of the dangerous practices that are being followed can be curbed far more easily. 
Top

 

What others say
The truth about Pvt Lynch

When US Special Forces troops rescued Pvt. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital, it was portrayed by the Pentagon as a daring, behind-enemy-lines mission and cheered by many Americans as triumph at a time when the war effort appeared to be bogging down. Lynch and her rescuers became powerful symbols of American bravery and military skill.

As more journalists have delved deeper into the story, the rescue is turning into a much more complicated tale, with questions raised about early Pentagon descriptions—and newspaper accounts—of the circumstances surrounding the rescue. A recent Washington Post article, for instance, contradicts its early accounts that reported Lynch had fiercely fought her captors, and was stabbed and shot several times.

To some, the rescue of Lynch has now been transformed into a symbol of lingering skepticism about whether the American people were given valid information leading up to, and during, the war against Iraq.

— Chicago Tribune

Labour must learn its lessons

There will always be an argument about the extent to which British politics has become presidential. But there is not much doubt that, in opinion poll terms, the standing of a party and the standing of a party leader are all but inseparable. When a party is doing well or badly in the polls, the leader's reputation rises or falls with it. When a leader's stock tumbles or soars, the party's fortunes are dragged down or lifted up too. Sometimes, but only rarely and generally not for long, there is a gap between leader and party; then a popular leader can help prevent a party from slipping as far as it might or an unpopular one can weigh an otherwise plausible party down.

A Guardian-ICM poll gives all this a fresh twist. Tony Blair's dramatic early popularity once lifted Labour's poll ratings to record heights. This poll, by contrast, shows that while both the party and the leader have lost that unusual level of allure, they are now bound together in a more traditional contest with the Tories and with lain Duncan Smith. To illustrate that chance, compare Blair's 62% satisfaction rating in May 1999, two years into his first term, with his 38% support this morning. The conclusion should not be overstated. This is hardly a catastrophic collapse. Labour still leads the Tories by four points, and Mr Blair's satisfaction rating is still 11 points ahead of Mr Duncan Smith's. Labour would still win a general election comfortably, which not every governing party could say with confidence at this midterm stage in most parliaments. But things are indisputably different now. The terms of the political contest have changed. We are back to something more asking to normality in the party battle. The Labour party has got something to prove. So, more strikingly, has its once high-flying leader, whose ratings have fallen further than the party's. The large thing to say about Labour and about Mr Blair is that in both cases the old magic has gone.

— The Guardian 
Top

 

Kashmir requires cooling off
Dialogue move causes cacophony
S.K. Singh

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s offer of India’s hand of friendship to Pakistan in April was made in emotional but ambiguous terms. He suggested that there would be no further attempt by him in case this effort fails. He appealed to Pakistan to assist him in creating a conducive ambience for a comprehensive dialogue. He announced that the two countries could exchange High Commissioners promptly; that the Delhi-Lahore bus service, the air services to and across each other’s skies, and the old rail links could also be re-established. Trade and cultural exchanges, people-to-people contacts (in other words, re-opening of consulates, issuing of visas, normal travel and tourism) could also be revived at the earliest. By and large, people in both countries welcomed Mr Vajpayee’s initiative. It was enthusiastically applauded by the international community.

Soon, however, it appeared that in the Pakistani establishment there were certain hesitations. Political, official, and media communities in that country did not hide their inclination to subject the teeth of the gift horse presented by Mr Vajpayee to a meticulous examination. The bus service may re-open, but they needed to be cautious about the rail link. The Delhi-Lahore and Mumbai-Karachi air services could re-commence, but there was disinclination to permit Indian national carriers going across Pakistani skies. There was uncertainty too about whether Pakistan’s soldier President or the civilian Prime Minister were to lead the dialogue with India, if and when it materialised.

General Musharraf is his country’s Head of State and also functions as the spokesman for the military fraternity he leads. In two recent TV interviews, one with Pranoy Roy of NDTV and the other with Ms Lyse Doucet of the BBC World Service he articulated his views and perceptions rather frankly, knowing full-well that these would be unpalatable to the neighbours across the border.

After the announcement of Mr Vajpayee’s initiative a group of Pakistani MNAs (Members of the National Assembly) visited India last month. Some Indian MPs are currently in Pakistan. Both groups have felt, and said so openly and publicly, that there is popular enthusiasm on either side of the border for friendly and bilateral relations. Some on both sides believe that mutual relations must be assisted to improve and move towards normalisation and friendliness. There is, however, a clear under-current within Pakistan which is concerned about its military community being averse to any significant improvement in the Indo-Pak situation. Perhaps, this is because once the presently designated “enemy” (India) is seen as a friendly neighbour, the importance, influence, authority, popularity and perks of the Pakistani military are likely to get eroded. They are conscious also that in October 1999 the Pakistani military conquered their own country for the fourth time. On that occasion General Musharraf and the Pakistani military had been greeted with enormous approval and respect. They have seen that by now none of that popularity or respect survives. The civilian politicians who were tongue-tied then are vocal in their criticism of the military and its top General.

Some Indian observers, including this author, had wondered what had impelled our Prime Minister to choose this spring season as the time for his peace offensive, and for commencing a dialogue with Pakistan? What had encouraged him to feel that Pakistan was ready to create an atmosphere conducive for talks, and how or why they would agree to tapering off and ceasing cross-border activity at this time. Mr Vajpayee is an extremely shrewd practitioner of politics. He should have been aware of the current ugly and awkward debate in Pakistan which is embarrassing for General Musharraf and the military. This debate has been about his retaining both the Presidency and the position of the Chief of Army Staff.

The General knows that the present situation is one of his own creation. He made a voluntary commitment to establish a “true” democracy, and simultaneously, by force, kept the three popular leaders of the land, Ms Benazir Bhutto, Mr Nawaz Sharif and Mr Altaf Husain in exile. He knew that he must get a clear majority in the National Assembly for his own proxy party, the PML (Qaid-e-Azam). However, in his desire to keep the USA on notice that an elected democracy in Pakistan could easily mean, as it had happened some years ago in the case of Algeria, getting an elected mullah-cracy. Even while the elections were on, it was known in Pakistan and abroad that the ISI had forged a coalition of six fundamentalist Islamic groups of Pakistan to be called Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). They got a significant number of seats with ISI help not only in the National Assembly but also enough Legislative Assembly seats to form governments by themselves in the NWFP and Baluchistan.

In the process of serving notice to the Americans, and thus checkmating the pro-democracy folks, he has also made it impossible for himself and his central government to assert themselves against the MMA-led opposition itself. General Musharraf is not being permitted to exercise his Presidential right to address parliament. Naturally, this renders him too feeble to deal with Atalji, as he may be unable to implement any settlement he makes with India.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, commentators, political observers, media people and some think-tanks have dared to suggest that Pakistan’s socio-economic condition, especially in the context of health, education, economic reforms and poverty alleviation, cannot be remedied unless the country can forge better relations with India. Some of them have even suggested that the Kashmir issue can be put on the backburner, the same way as India and China have done it in the case of their border problem, while proceeding to normalise relations in other areas like trade and technology. Some are even arguing for reduction in defence expenditure and the perks and privileges for the military personnel.

It is difficult to see how at this juncture the two countries can move towards structuring a serious bilateral dialogue capable of leading us to neighbourly normalcy and friendliness. An issue like Kashmir needs a cooling off period before the two sides are in a position to move towards a rational and mutually productive and pragmatic settlement.

General Musharraf does not trust the Indian leadership. And the people of India have a deep mistrust of the man whom they see as the architect of Kargil. Internally, within Pakistani politics, he is weaker than any of his military predecessors had been, with the exception of Gen Yahya Khan. He and Yahya both lost the confidence of their own people while at the same time they were able to receive support from two strong Republican Presidents in Washington DC. Yahya earned President Nixon’s gratitude for facilitating Kissinger’s and later on his own visit to Beijing. General Musharraf seems to have earned the appreciation of the Bush Administration for helping to destroy the Al-Qaeda foothold and Taliban rule in Afghanistan. It is quite another matter that President Karzai and his administration see General Musharraf as backing the Taliban remnants whom he uses as his own special lever against the Karzai government.

The writer is a former Foreign Secretary and an ex-High Commissioner of India to Pakistan
Top

 

Hillary Clinton’s passion
N.D. Batra

Whatever Hillary’s critics might say about her, it is impossible not to be touched by her passion for the plight of women and children and her desire to turn compassion into political action. On her visit to India in 1995 as the First Lady, she met in New Delhi the Lady Sri Ram College Principal Meenakshi Gopinath, who gave her a poem, “Silence,” written by a student Anasuya Sengupta, which epitomised for Hillary the patient suffering of women the world over.

Too many women

In two many countries

Speak the same language.

Of silence…

I seek only to forget

The sorrow of my grandmother’s

Silence.

The fact that Principal Gopinath chose to give the First Lady a poem of such distilled and sublime suffering speaks volumes about her own nobility and deep sympathy for women. Normally institutional hosts turn foreign dignitaries’ visits into public relations extravaganzas for their personal gains or for the benefit of their institutions, but Ms. Gopinath opened a trap door for Hillary to look into another world.

Hillary says that silence became the metaphor through which she explored the sufferings of women in the Indian subcontinent and has been doing so even in the US. If she had not written Living History, she too might have been drowned in the eternal silence that has been swallowing women like a black hole. But by coming out fearlessly and explaining courageously her recent pains and sufferings and humiliations, she gave a new meaning to the poem: “We seek only to give words/ to those who cannot speak.”

Without being dazzled by the magnificence and beauty of the Taj Mahal, she went to Ahmedabad to meet another wonderful woman, Ela Bhatt, who had broken the silence of the poorest of the poor women by opening for them economic opportunities through SEWA, the Self-Employed Women’s Association. It is well known how SEWA’s small loan programmes to women have enlarged their economic and personal freedoms and given them self-respect and dignity. Hillary writes: “I was overwhelmed and uplifted to be in the midst of women who were working to overcome their own hardships as well centuries of oppression. For me, they were a living affirmation of the importance of human rights.”

Hillary found the same intense desire for economic independence and personal freedom also in Bangladeshi women, who are trying to achieve their salvation through Grameen Bank, a SEWA like organisation, run by Dr. Muhammad Yunus who told her that access to credit is “a fundamental human right.” What a noble thought! A Muslim woman told her in a public meeting: “We are sick of the mullahs. They are always trying to keep women down.” This is the real clash of civilisations: Between religious fundamentalists and women who shall remain silent no more.

According to Hillary’s own account, she has been working on women’s and children’s issues for the last 25 years but the Indian girl’s poem “Silence” crystallised her thinking, which she turned into a passion that she carried even to China at the United Nation’s Fourth World Conference on Women. 
Top

 
NEWS ANALYSIS

CAS: will the viewer have to pay more?
Tripti Nath

Cable operators discuss CAS after a meeting with the Secretary, Information and Broadcasting
Cable operators discuss CAS after a meeting with the Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, in New Delhi on June 18. — PTI

The government’s intention to usher in a revolution in cable viewing by implementing the conditional access system (CAS) has hit severe roadblocks. The prime objective of CAS is to protect the consumer against the arbitrary and frequent hikes in cable subscription. The CAS regime also provides that the consumer gets channels of his choice and pays for only what he wants to view.

The widespread anger at the unacceptable subscription rates quoted by pay channels has compelled the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to get a go-ahead from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to use legal powers to make all stake-holders fall in line. The caveat accompanying the green signal is that consumer interest should not be bartered away.

The ministry has been directed to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the monthly cable bill of the average consumer does not exceed the current level of Rs 200-300. The subscription rates quoted by broadcasters recently work out to a monthly cable bill outgo of Rs 450.

Determined to implement CAS, the I & B Ministry is contemplating harsh legal provisions to tame the stakeholders like promulgating an Ordinance to prevent the pay channels from generating advertisement revenue or blocking channels if they don’t declare their rates by July 15.

In response to the tough stand taken by the Vajpayee government, the cable television service providers have offered a fresh solution — a magical figure of a monthly cable bill of Rs 222.

National Cable and Telecom Association President Vikky Chowdhary has proposed Rs 72 which is the basic fixed by the government, Rs 75 for relaying pay and free-to-air channels and Rs 75 as the broadcasters’ share of the cake per subscriber.

“The price fixed by the government is half of my operating ratio. The broadcasters have already flouted it by not declaring their rates. Consequently, cable operators are unable to evolve a business model. Are the broadcasters running the government? The actual price of watching the 32 pay channels tots up to Rs 460 if you take into account the operating expenditure of Rs 165 for servicing each customer, Rs 236 given to the broadcaster for every subscriber every month, an entertainment tax of Rs 20 and a service tax component of 8 per cent. We negotiate with the broadcasters to give us discount on the subscriber base,’’ Mr Chowdhary observed.

The cable television service providers feel that if the pay channels want to retain their viewership and ad revenue, they should turn free-to-air. They say that CAS will give advertisers the true picture as the cable operators are required to spell out the number of subscribers of pay channels and free-to-air channels. This has become necessary following the notification issued recently to implement the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Act.

“Some broadcasters are claiming a countrywide cable viewership of 44 million. The channel will speak for its content. People will even buy set top boxes on the black market if they want to watch pay channels. If people don’t buy STBs, it will be an indication that nobody wants to watch pay channels,’’ emphasises Mrs Roop Sharma, President of Cable Operators Federation of India.

Cable service providers further argue that the broadcasters are taking undue advantage of the popularity of some programmes and soap operas.

Three weeks before the proposed execution of the so-called consumer friendly CAS regime in four metros — Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai — its fate appears to be at the mercy of consumer groups and opposition parties.

Questions are being raised about the availability of STBs needed to view pay channels. Mr Chowdhary points out that the importer can benefit from the cut in import duty of STBs only till July 31. He insists that the cost of set top box will increase from Rs 2,700 to Rs 4,000 at the end of July. The government claims that it has an assurance from the multi-system operators about the availability of 2.7 million STBs in the market by mid-July. There are about 6.3 million cable homes in the four metros.

I&B Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has stated in an interview that initially about 25 per cent of the subscribers in the metros may opt for the STBs.

Star TV CEO Peter Mukherjea maintains that STAR has made its position clear to the government. “We intend to remain a pay channel. All our channels will remain pay except Star News which will be free-to-air. I expect the government to extend the July 15 deadline of implementing CAS by a few months close to January or March 2004 to make a smooth switchover. The present deadline is very ambitious. They should start CAS in one city not in all four metros simultaneously.”

Mr Mukherjea says that there has been a misunderstanding due to the shortage of time. “I don’t think CAS is needed at all. There is no Broadcasting Regulatory Authority in India which can mark the territory for cable operators to work in by ensuring there is no monopoly.”

Of the 80 channels, the free-to-air channels outnumber the pay channels. The consumers are content with the variety being offered by nearly fifty free-to-air channels, including BBC, Doordarshan, Aaj Tak, MTV, Sab TV, Sahara Manoranjan and Eenadu TV. They feel that this is enough for news and entertainment.

Doordarshan Director General S Y Quraishi explains that all the 24 channels of DD, except DD Sports, will be free-to-air. These include DD National (news) which has 90 to 93 per cent share news viewership, DD Metro, DD Bharti and the regional news channels.

Modi Entertainment Network, which was distributing the sports channel of DD, has taken DD to court and resisted the move to make DD Sports free-to-air as it would mean a loss of investment. The case is before an arbitration tribunal.
Top

 
FROM PAKISTAN

Kasturi defends Musharraf

Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri on Monday urged India to stop demonizing President Pervez Musharraf and stressed that he (Gen Musharraf) was as much a statesman as Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mr Kasuri told India’s Doordarshan TV that India had excessively cited the Kargil episode that soured ties between the two countries while overlooking India’s military thrust in the Siachen area several years ago. “Why don’t you give credit to President Musharraf at all?,” Mr Kasuri asked, while acknowledging Mr Vajpayee’s show of statesmanship in Agra and more recently in Srinagar.

Mr Kasuri said Pakistan should similarly stop demonising Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani, considered by many to be a hawk vis-a-vis Islamabad.

He agreed with Mr Vajpayee’s view that India could not choose its neighbours but said even if geography could not be altered, the two countries could make a new mark on history. “In order to make history you have got to be statesmen not just a politician,” he said. — Dawn

Chenab formula workable

Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan on Sunday hoped that Kashmiris would not oppose the solution of Jammu Kashmir dispute through Chenab formula if India and Pakistan agree to it.

He said there was no justification for opposition’s protest in the House because neither my cabinet nor assembly ever approved or discussed the Chenab formula.

“There was a secret hand behind the opposition’s protest which wanted to destabilise parliamentary system in the liberated territory.”

He said the government had saved the state from violence by taking effective administrative measures and that is why masses did not respond to the opposition’s call.

The prime minister believed that the opposition went to the extent of besieging the Legislative Assembly following its eroding existence in the AJK but, he warned, “besiege and blaze would not be allowed in the liberated territory in the better interest of the Kashmir liberation when Pakistan and India are going to hold negotiations for the settlement of Kashmir dispute.”

He demanded a meeting of leaders of both parts of Kashmir to develop consensus over the future strategy for liberation of Kashmir.

“It’s our demand that Kashmiri leadership of both sides would be provided an opportunity for sitting together in a third country so that they could reach a conclusion. — The Nation

Pak-US military operation

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal opposed the alleged Pak-US joint military operation being carried out in tribal areas and announced support to the tribesmen in their resistance against the “invading” forces.

Addressing workers’ gathering after a meeting held at Markaz-e-Islami here on Monday, central leaders of the MMA accused President Pervez Musharraf of misguiding the world about MMA’s policies. In his speech, MMA central leader and JUI-F secretary general Maulana Fazlur Rahman accused General Musharraf of launching joint operation with American troops in the name of hunt for Taliban and al-Qaeda, which he said, damaged special status of the tribesmen.

He told the gathering, mainly participated by Jamaat-i-Islami activists, that during US-led invasion of Afghanistan, General Musharraf had kept the nation in complete dark that no US trooper would be permitted to use Pakistani airspace against Afghanistan. — The News
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