SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Iran rejects 9/11 report on Al-Qaida
Teheran, July 25
Iran today dismissed a US report linking the Islamic republic to the Al-Qaida as nothing more than election “fodder” in the run-up to November’s presidential poll in the USA.

OPED: Report on 9/11 attacks finds fault with all, holds no one responsible

Bangladesh floods worsen
Dhaka, July 25
Floods in low-lying Bangladesh have further worsened as waters gushed down to the central and southern parts of the country, pushing the death toll today to 227 with 30 million people hit by the deluge.
In video (28k, 56k)

Flood victims take shelter at a school in Dhaka
F
lood victims take shelter at a school in Dhaka on Sunday.
— Reuters photo

2 Pakistanis missing in Iraq
Islamabad, July 25
Two Pakistani nationals have disappeared in Iraq and are suspected to have been kidnapped, prompting Islamabad to make efforts today to ascertain their whereabouts.

PPP doubts Gen’s sincerity
Lahore, July 25
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has expressed doubts over President Pervez Musharraf’s sincerity in the ongoing peace process with India even as it flayed Islamabad and New Delhi for raising the defence budget while talks were under way.

Indian’s fate hangs in balance
Jakarta, July 25
The fate of an Indian national, facing a firing squad in Indonesia for smuggling drugs, hangs in balance as a clemency petition has been sent to President Megawati Sukarnoputri after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal to spare his life.





John Stubbings being congratulated by past winners of the "Papa" Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West
John Stubbings (left) being congratulated by past winners of the "Papa" Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West, Florida, on Saturday. It took Stubbings eight years to finally win the contest. He beat 135 other look-alikes for the coveted title.
— Reuters





EARLIER STORIES

 
Alain Robert of France, who has become famous for climbing known buildings worldwide, climbs the 120-metre-high Indosat Building in Jakarta
Alain Robert of France, who has become famous for climbing known buildings worldwide, climbs the 120-metre-high Indosat Building in Jakarta on Sunday. Alain Robert has also scaled the Sears Tower in Chicago, Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower in Paris and Empire State Building in New York city without any safety devices. — Reuters

Pak sure of success of talks
Islamabad, July 25
Pakistan has expressed confidence that the upcoming India-Pakistan talks on six outstanding issues from July 28 as part of the composite dialogue will be successful. “We expect good results from the talks,’’ Pakistan government sources said here. The two countries have worked out a busy schedule of talks on the Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation project on July 28-29 in Islamabad.

200 Indians protest against salary delay
Singapore, July 25
The Indian High Commission in Singapore has said it was receiving full cooperation from the country’s Manpower Ministry to help about 200 Indian construction workers get paid from their employer.

Tibetan area with many firsts
Tsedang (Tibet), July 25
The Shennan prefecture with its capital at Tsedang has many firsts to its credit. According to Tibetan lore, its is here that the first man on earth descended from a monkey (traces of Darwinism?). It is also here that farming first started. The first Tibetan kingdom was set up here. The first palace was also built here and also the first Buddhist monastery (Samaye).

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Iran rejects 9/11 report on Al-Qaida

Teheran, July 25
Iran today dismissed a US report linking the Islamic republic to the Al-Qaida as nothing more than election “fodder” in the run-up to November’s presidential poll in the USA.

“A lot of the issues that are being raised nowadays in the US are just fodder for their presidential elections. This issue is one of them, and it is utterly without truth,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

“Zionist circles have tried to link Iran to the Al-Qaida, but US officials could not prove any link. Nobody believes them because of serious ideological difference between us and the Al-Qaida,” he added.

“And unlike the people who created the Al-Qaida, Iran has fought them in a practical way,” he said, referring to past links between the USA and the Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

The US commission investigating the September 11 suicide plane attacks alleged that Iranian operatives maintained contacts with the Al-Qaida for years and might have provided transit for at least eight of the 19 hijackers.

The commission, in its report released on Thursday, said “intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior Al-Qaida figures” after bin Laden returned to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.

But it also said it found “no evidence” that Iran was aware of the planning for the terror attacks on the USA.

A string of senior Iranian officials have lined up to dismiss the report, playing up their long-term differences and hostility to the Al-Qaida and their Taliban hosts whom the United States toppled in Afghanistan. — AFP
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Bangladesh floods worsen

Dhaka, July 25
Floods in low-lying Bangladesh have further worsened as waters gushed down to the central and southern parts of the country, pushing the death toll today to 227 with 30 million people hit by the deluge.

According to the Food and Disaster Management Ministry, the past three weeks of deluge destroyed 1,997 km of flood control embankments, heightening miseries of people.

The ministry put the death toll at 227 in three weeks of flooding and the authorities cancelled all leaves of the emergency health services personnel as the situation worsened.

Swirling waters from the upstream flooded new areas in central Bangladesh, including capital Dhaka, where streets were filled with blackish water. Media reports said two-thirds of the capital of 12 million residents was submerged and many people were using boats to commute.

“The flood situation in the district of Dhaka will deteriorate today,” said a spokesman for the government Flood Warning Centre in Dhaka. — PTI
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Indian’s fate hangs in balance

Jakarta, July 25
The fate of an Indian national, facing a firing squad in Indonesia for smuggling drugs, hangs in balance as a clemency petition has been sent to President Megawati Sukarnoputri after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal to spare his life.

Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey, who was residing in Thailand, has been in a prison in Medan, Indonesia, since 1994 after being sentenced to death.

Chaubey, flew to Medan from Bangkok along with two Thais in February 1994. He left the airport there while the two Thai accomplices were arrested after the police recovered 12 kg of drugs from them.

The police arrested Chaubey after the two Thais told them that he was also involved.
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2 Pakistanis missing in Iraq

Islamabad, July 25
Two Pakistani nationals have disappeared in Iraq and are suspected to have been kidnapped, prompting Islamabad to make efforts today to ascertain their whereabouts.

“We have learnt through our mission in Baghdad that two Pakistani men working for the Al-Tamimi group of industries have disappeared,” Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said.

The missing persons have been identified as Raja Azad, a maintenance engineer and Sajjad Naeem, a driver working with the group. Both hailed from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Meanwhile, family members of Azad have been quoted as saying that they received information that he had been kidnapped while travelling from Baghdad to Halla on Friday. — PTI

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PPP doubts Gen’s sincerity

Lahore, July 25
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has expressed doubts over President Pervez Musharraf’s sincerity in the ongoing peace process with India even as it flayed Islamabad and New Delhi for raising the defence budget while talks were under way.

The PPP also demanded the setting up of a judicial commission to probe responsibility for the Kargil aggression considering claims by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Musharraf, then Army Chief, had initiated the action on his own. — PTI

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Pak sure of success of talks
Ashok Tuteja

Islamabad, July 25
Pakistan has expressed confidence that the upcoming India-Pakistan talks on six outstanding issues from July 28 as part of the composite dialogue will be successful.
“We expect good results from the talks,’’ Pakistan government sources said here.

The two countries have worked out a busy schedule of talks on the Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation project on July 28-29 in Islamabad, Promotion of Friendly Exchanges on August 3-4 in New Delhi, Siachen on August 5-6 in New Delhi, Sir Creek on August 6-7 in New Delhi, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking on August 10-11 in Islamabad and Economic and Commercial Cooperation on August 11-12 in Islamabad.

Foreign Secretaries of the two countries have held talks on peace and security, including Confidence Building Measures and Jammu and Kashmir, in New Delhi on June 27-28 as part of the ‘two plus six’ formula of outstanding issues identified by them.

External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri will formally review progress in the composite bilateral dialogue on outstanding issues in New Delhi on September 5-6.

During his recent visit to Pakistan, Mr Natwar Singh had conveyed to the Pakistani leadership that the new United Progressive Alliance government was committed to carrying forward the peace process initiated in January.

‘’We have been reassured by the Government of India that they will sincerely pursue the dialogue process,’’ Pakistani sources said.

The sources said the meeting between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Mr Natwar Singh here on Friday went off very well and the two sat together for over 90 minutes for a free and frank discussion on all bilateral issues.

General Musharraf had expressed satisfaction over the progress in the talks. — UNI

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200 Indians protest against salary delay

Singapore, July 25
The Indian High Commission in Singapore has said it was receiving full cooperation from the country’s Manpower Ministry to help about 200 Indian construction workers get paid from their employer.

The workers have not been paid by their employer Wan Soon Construction for the past few months. They are owed $ 600-3,500 (Singapore) each. Wan Soon has acknowledged its dues, but said it was facing financial difficulties. — UNI
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Tibetan area with many firsts
Amar Chandel writes from Tibet

Tsedang (Tibet), July 25
The Shennan prefecture with its capital at Tsedang has many firsts to its credit. According to Tibetan lore, its is here that the first man on earth descended from a monkey (traces of Darwinism?). It is also here that farming first started. The first Tibetan kingdom was set up here. The first palace was also built here and also the first Buddhist monastery (Samaye).

The town situated at an altitude of about 3,400 metres now has another first to its credit: it is the most prosperous of the seven prefectures of Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

Two hundred kilometres away from Lhasa, it is quite close to India and Bhutan. Land is fertile and water resources abundant. According to its Deputy Commissioner, Ms Tsam Trom, its GDP growth last year has been a phenomenal 17.69 per cent way above the Tibetan average of 12 per cent. The annual average income of a farmer in the prefecture has registered a double digit increase, bringing it to 1925 yuan (one yuan is equivalent to about 6 Indian rupees). That may not appear to be a lot but keeps the farmers in good financial condition.

She attributes this success to a unique ‘2-4-4’ policy which her administration has adopted during the 2001-5 10th Five-Year Plan. Under this policy, the top priority is given to four main goals: one, opening up the insular prefecture; two, develop it as a big market by promoting trade and development; three, bring about great development and four, inculcate the culture of working hard by cutting down redtapism.

The next in line are five goals: one, increase income of the people; two, promote tourism; three promote Tibetan medicine; four, promote eco-agriculture and five, give a boost to construction and building activity.

The third in the comprehensive list are science and technology; exchange and collaboration with other prefectures and provinces outside Tibet; forest and ecology preservation; water conservation; basic education for all; and vocational education.

The main source of income for the people of this area on the roof of the world is agriculture and animal husbandry. The hundreds of mountains which are omni-present are totally barren with only some moss and creepers growing on them. Life for the people is extremely hard and it is a miracle that they are eking out a living.

Besides agriculture, tourism is being promoted in a big way. The scenic beauty in itself is a big magnet. Add to that the fantastic monasteries and tourists from all over the world make a beeline to Shennan. It is 200 metres lower than Lhasa and that helps them to acclimatise themselves to the height of Lhasa and other such high altitude areas.

Interestingly, although Shennan is very rich in mineral resources, there is very little manufacturing activity. This is deliberate so as not to harm the fragile ecology of the prefecture. A very disciplined attempt is being made to strike a balance between economic and social development. It boasts of full half of the total chromite deposits of the whole of China. The only factory that one sees around manufactures cement.

There are 12 towns, 59 counties and 24 villages in the prefecture with a total population of 3.3 lakh. Health and education are the basic needs of the people. Every village has a primary school and a primary health centre. According to the official claim, 98 per cent of the children go to primary schools. The figure for middle school is 80 per cent.

The life expectancy today is 70 years whereas for the whole of Tibet it is 63. She claimed that it was only 36 years before the Chinese took over in 1951.

Every person today gets a subsidy of 40 yuan per year. Women’s lot has improved considerably in Tibet. Ms Tsam Trom is not the only Deputy Commissioner. All seven prefectures have a woman either as Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner.

Needless to say that all these are official figures and there is no independent way to confirm them. That is so not only because of the language problem, but also the very tight itinerary to which the journalists from India have to stick to.

The Deputy Commissioner talked of the military importance of the area but when we tried to get any facts and figures, all that we met was a great wall.
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BRIEFLY


A girl displays a placard during a protest denouncing a joint US-Philippines military exercise in Mindanaoin, in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato on Saturday
A girl displays a placard during a protest denouncing a joint US-Philippines military exercise in Mindanaoin, in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato on Saturday. A three-week counter terrorism training exercise between the US and Philippine troops begins in the heartland of the Muslim rebels on Monday. — Reuters

Clinton ‘made changes’ to UK edition
New York:
Former US President Bill Clinton made changes to the British edition of his memoirs to protect himself from that country’s much tougher libel laws, according to a report in The New York Times. The changes were made to about a dozen paragraphs of “My Life,” most of which involved former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who led the investigation of Clinton and his relationship with a White House intern which almost cost the then US President his job.
— AFP

Di took Charles ‘to cleaners’
LONDON:
Britain’s Prince Charles was ‘’taken to the cleaners’’ during his divorce with the late Princess Diana, as she took his entire personal fortune, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported. ‘’Princess Diana took every penny he had,’’ Charles’ former personal financial adviser Geoffrey Bignell was quoted as saying. “I was told to liquidate everything, all his investments, so that he could give her the cash.’’ Diana, who was killed in a Paris car crash with her lover Dodi al Fayed in 1997, divorced Charles in 1996. — Reuters

4 Indians detained in Australia
SYDNEY:
Four Indians are among the 23 foreign workers detained by the Australian authorities for staying in the country without valid documents. The foreigners were detained in a crackdown on 20 business establishments across Sydney by the Immigration Department, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said. All detainees have been kept at Villawood Detention Centre here and arrangements are being made for deporting them. — PTI
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