Protests over Pak move to make education
Al-Qaida still potent
force, says US official
USA, UK in rare spat over drug
USA confers MNNA
status on Kuwait
Lawyer for prosecutors as witnesses in Kanishka case
Protests over Pak move to make education secular
Lahore, April 2
According to Education Minister Zubaida Jalal, the inclusion of Quranic verses is no longer a requirement in the curriculum, reports OneWorld.
In the province of Sindh, Quranic verses were shifted from biology textbooks for Classes 11 and 12 to books for the subject in Classes 9 and 10, said Jalal.
When the minister told the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, about the move last week, several opposition legislators, led by members of the religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), staged a walkout in protest.
The controversy erupted after an independent Pakistani think tank, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), released a report criticising the overemphasis on Islamic studies in school and college curricula.
“The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan” observed that the state syllabus fed hatred against other religions and turned schools into centres of Islamic fundamentalism.
The government appointed a committee to review the findings of the report, which Jalal rejected as biased. She dismissed allegations that changes in the curriculum were made to “secularise” education under pressure from the US.
A.H. Nayyer, one of the authors of the report and a faculty member of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, accused the Education Minister of not sharing the findings of the committee with members of the National Assembly.
Before submitting the report to the Education Ministry, nine members of the 15-member government review committee endorsed the report while six expressed dissenting views on some findings.
He pointed out that different governments over the ages were too scared to make any changes in the syllabus, aware of the fact that the move would not go down well with hardliners in this Islamic state.
Criticising the revision in syllabi, Liaqat Baloch of the MMA alleged, “Under the conditionalities of the US Agency for International Development, all verses containing provisions about jehad or exposing the anti-Muslim prejudices of Jews and Christians are being omitted from the syllabi.”
Hussain Ahmad of the MMA warned the party was likely to move a privilege motion against such government censorship.
In the southern port city of Karachi, school and college students held a protest march against the changes.
The Islami Jamiat Talaba, the youth wing of the fundamentalist Jamaat Islami, organised the event. The protesters carried banners and placards inscribed with demands to include Quranic verses in the syllabi, dismiss the federal Education Minister and put an end to US intervention in Pakistan’s affairs.
In eastern Punjab province, the main teachers union has threatened to launch a movement against the government if it failed to restore the original syllabus.
Union member Chaudhry Abdul Khaliq Sundho held the US responsible for the changes. The union set April 15 as the deadline for restoring the Quranic verses and vowed to march to Islamabad if its demands were not accepted.
The SDPI report said: “Some of the most significant problems in the current curriculum and textbooks are: inaccuracies of facts and omissions that serve to substantially distort the nature and significance of actual events in our history, insensitivity to the actually existing religious diversity of the nation, incitement to militancy and violence, including encouragement of jehad and shahadat (martyrdom), perspectives that encourage prejudice, bigotry and discrimination towards fellow citizens, especially women and religious minorities, and other nations, a glorification of war and the use of force.”
The study pointed out the syllabus omitted events that could encourage critical self-awareness among students, and included outdated and incoherent pedagogical practices that “hinder the development of interest and insight among students”.
Parliamentary Secretary for Education Dewan Ashiq Bukhari defended the changes in curriculum, saying these were made to reduce discrepancies between the syllabus for private schools and colleges and state-run institutes.
He pointed out the new syllabus aimed at being on par with international standards. The government is emphasising science and computer studies as part of changes in the education system.
Already, 22 small Islamic groups have come together to protest the changes in curricula. Their alliance, Tahafiz Taleemi Nasab Mahaz (Save Education Curriculum Front), plans to hold demonstrations across different cities and to organise a convention.—
Al-Qaida still potent force, says US official
Washington, April 2
Ambassador Cofer Black, US coordinator for counter-terrorism told the House International Relations Committee that cooperation among nations fighting terrorism had been responsible for drastically reducing the number of Al-Qaida members available to plan or carry out attacks.
He said 70 per cent of Al-Qaida’s senior leadership and 3,400 of its lower-level operatives and associates had been killed or detained since September 11, 2001. Moreover, he said, about $ 200 million in terrorism-related financial assets and accounts had so far been seized or frozen.
These actions, as well as the loss of Afghanistan as a safe haven and training ground for terrorists following the removal of the Taliban regime, had forced the Al-Qaida to evolve in ways not entirely by its own choosing, Mr Black said.
However, despite being deeply wounded, the Al-Qaida remained a potent force, the Ambassador said.
“There are growing indications that a number of largely Sunni Islamic extremist groups are moving to pick up Al-Qaida’s standard and attempting to pursue global ‘jihad’ against the USA and our allies,” he said.
Without easy sanctuary, he said, the leadership of the Al-Qaida must be spending much of its time avoiding capture and, as a result, being isolated from its operatives, with whom communication and coordination had become more difficult.
New leaders are stepping forward, but they are less experienced. We are relentlessly going after them”, he said.
The Al-Qaida’s ideology and virulent anti-US rhetoric appear to be spreading to a number of radical Islamic movements beyond West Asia, Mr Black noted.
He pointed to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Salifiya Jihadia, both of which operated mainly in North Africa, and the Jemaah Islamiya and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
“While it will be a mistake to believe that we are now confronted by a monolithic threat posed by legions of like-minded terrorist groups working in concert against our interests, it will be fair to say that we are seeing greater cooperation between the Al-Qaida and smaller Islamic extremist groups, as well as even more localised organisations,” he said.
The official said the Al-Qaida was “a patient, resourceful and flexible organisation and was able to draw from a global support base of ‘jihadis’ and an international ‘mujahideen’ movement.
USA, UK in rare spat over drug programme
Washington, April 2
In prepared testimony to a Congressional subcommittee, a senior State Department official said yesterday the British-led poppy eradication scheme was lacking in scope, intensity and funding and called on London to remedy the situation.
While praising overall US-British cooperation in Afghanistan, Robert Charles, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said the allies were at odds on the matter.
“It would be inaccurate ... to say that we are in complete agreement on all aspects of our eradication efforts and on ways to achieve the essential, critical and mutual goal of eradicating a measurable and significant quantity of heroin poppies,” he said.
Charles complained that Britain was being “overly restrictive” in identifying the amount of land to be targeted for poppy eradication and had shown “a preoccupation with avoiding any possibility of resistance.” —
USA confers MNNA status on Kuwait
Washington, April 2
Rumsfeld recalled that US and British forces launched last year’s invasion of Iraq from Kuwaiti territory more than a decade after US forces drove Iraq from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.
“Kuwait has been a strong friend of the USA and the American people, a valued and dependable ally, a courageous partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday.
“So it is fitting that Kuwait be recognised as a major non-NATO ally, a designation enjoyed by just a handful of other nations,” he said.
Lawyer for prosecutors as witnesses in Kanishka case
Vancouver, April 2 Prosecutor Joe Bellows urged lawyer Michael Tammen to slow down, saying calling prosecutors as witnesses would be a most unusual and dramatic step. The prosecution was not ready yet to make submissions to court on whether crown counsel could testify, Bellows said in the B.C Supreme Court here. Eleven months ago, 33 lawyers were involved with the prosecution and defence teams at the start of the Air-India trial. The BC government had repeatedly refused to let the public know how much had been spent on lawyers at the trial. The exchange between lawyers erupted during comments in court about delays in disclosure of prosecutors’ notes. Members of the prosecution team interviewed witnesses before they testified. However, some witnesses in the case against Ripudaman Singh Malik offered testimony in court that was inconsistent with their previous comments to members of the prosecution team, based on summaries of their previous comments provided to the defence, it said.—
Prosecutor Joe Bellows urged lawyer Michael Tammen to slow down, saying calling prosecutors as witnesses would be a most unusual and dramatic step.
The prosecution was not ready yet to make submissions to court on whether crown counsel could testify, Bellows said in the B.C Supreme Court here.
Eleven months ago, 33 lawyers were involved with the prosecution and defence teams at the start of the Air-India trial. The BC government had repeatedly refused to let the public know how much had been spent on lawyers at the trial.
The exchange between lawyers erupted during comments in court about delays in disclosure of prosecutors’ notes. Members of the prosecution team interviewed witnesses before they testified. However, some witnesses in the case against Ripudaman Singh Malik offered testimony in court that was inconsistent with their previous comments to members of the prosecution team, based on summaries of their previous comments provided to the defence, it said.—
STALIN'S HONORARY CITIZEN TITLE TO
GO US BULLETPROOF VESTS FOR IRAQ RACE TO FIND CLUES TO BLAZES
US BULLETPROOF VESTS FOR IRAQ
RACE TO FIND CLUES TO BLAZES