SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Rocca commends Pak role in war
on terrorism
S
enior State Department officials have given Pakistan high marks for its role in the war on terrorism and say Washington’s relationship with Islamabad must be “long term.”

Pak refutes India’s charge of terrorist
camps in PoK

Islamabad, August 20
Pakistan has refuted India’s charge that terrorist camps still existed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and said ‘’it is regrettable that India, despite knowing the ground realities, is till resorting to such statements’’.

White House marks 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib
Washington, August 20
Spiritually uplifting cries of “Bole So Nihal-Sat Sri Akal’’ rented the White House as it marked 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib, the first Sikh event it celebrated in 100 years.

News Analysis
Trouble brewing in Baluchistan
People’s stir reminiscent of East Bengal
T
rouble is brewing in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest province, where a snowballing people’s agitation is starkly reminiscent of the late sixties’ East Bengal which led to the formation of Bangladesh in 1971. Four Baloch nationalist parties have condemned the partisan attitude of rulers, Army operations and establishment of new military intelligence in Baluchistan.

Video
Pakistan's business community hails Shaukat Aziz's victory.
(28k, 56k)

Sonia third most powerful woman
Sonia GandhiNew York, August 20
Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the world’s third most powerful woman after US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi, Forbes magazine said today.

Naag Panchmi celebrated in Bangkok
Bangkok, August 20
The Hindu population in Bangkok today celebrated the festival of ‘Naag Panchmi’ in the local Sri Dev Mandir with devotees thronging the shrine with ‘pairs of silver Naag and Naagin’.




A couple dances at Jose T. Borda psychiatric hospital during the second edition of Tango World Cup, in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A couple dances at Jose T. Borda psychiatric hospital during the second edition of Tango World Cup, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday. The hospital created a group of tango for psychiatric patients, and several couples of tango dancers visited the hospital. Dancers from Argentina, Japan, Colombia, Chile, Korea, Uruguay, Portugal, Mexico, Italy, Germany and Spain are participating in the competition. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 
Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti addresses a news conference in Hamburg, Germany Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti addresses a news conference in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday. Pavarotti, who will retire at the end of 2005, is to perform in the northern German city on August 21 during his International Farewell Celebration tour.
— Reuters
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Rocca commends Pak role in war on terrorism
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Senior State Department officials have given Pakistan high marks for its role in the war on terrorism and say Washington’s relationship with Islamabad must be “long term.”

In a testimony before the House International Relations Committee on Thursday, Ms Christina B. Rocca, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, said from her many discussions with Pakistanis, “I know that nothing worries them more than the thought that the USA will lose interest in them once the immediate crisis has passed.”

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which looked into intelligence failures leading up to September 11, 2001, emphasised the need to bolster Pakistan’s military capabilities. Acknowledging that this had been one of the Bush Administration’s priorities, Ms Rocca said, “We have sought generally to respond to Pakistan’s legitimate defence needs.”

The primary purpose of this military assistance, she said, was to improve Pakistan’s ability to deal with Al-Qaida and Taliban remnants that have gathered along its 1,500-mile border with Afghanistan.

“On September 10, 2001, we had no aid programme in Pakistan, little in the way of military-to-military relations, and only a limited intelligence relationship. By September 12 that began to change and did so rapidly,” Ms. Rocca said, adding that the passage of President George W. Bush’s requested aid package for Pakistan was “critical.”

In June 2003, President Bush made a five-year commitment to Pakistan of $600 million per year. The aid, he proposed, would be evenly divided between military and economic assistance.

The Bush Administration has largely overlooked Pakistan’s involvement with the terrorist groups and their leaders that are being hunted today. Under pressure from Washington, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has initiated a crackdown on some of these outfits.

Noting that the attacks of 9/11 could be seen as a turning point in the war on terrorism, Ms. Rocca said General Musharraf and the government of Pakistan had “committed itself fully to support military operations in Afghanistan and, just as importantly, to move aggressively against terrorists within its own borders.”

Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for counter-terrorism at the Department of State, in his testimony acknowledged, “hundreds of Al-Qaida or Taliban remnants have been successfully apprehended with the cooperation of the Pakistani authorities.”

Mr Christopher A. Kojm, Deputy Executive Director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the USA, and team leader Susan Ginsburg, said if General Musharraf “stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the USA should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan.” 

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Pak refutes India’s charge of terrorist camps in PoK

Islamabad, August 20
Pakistan has refuted India’s charge that terrorist camps still existed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and said ‘’it is regrettable that India, despite knowing the ground realities, is till resorting to such statements’’.

Pakistan Army spokesman Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan while calling the charges ‘’baseless and unfounded’’ also said there were no terrorist camps operating in PoK and that cross-border infiltration had not risen in the past two months. The spokesman was reacting to Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed’s statement on August 18 that the Pakistani regime had not taken credible steps to dismantle the terrorists’ infrastructure in the country and that cross-border infiltration from Pakistan had increased during June and July.

He said Pakistan was pushing forward the peace process with India sincerely and seriously and India fully understood the situation. The government wanted peaceful resolution of all disputes, including Kashmir, he added. — UNI

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White House marks 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib

Before attending a meeting with administration officials, Sikh religious and community leaders watch as President George W. Bush departs from the White House
Before attending a meeting with administration officials, Sikh religious and community leaders watch as President George W. Bush departs from the White House aboard Marine One on Wednesday.

Washington, August 20
Spiritually uplifting cries of “Bole So Nihal-Sat Sri Akal’’ rented the White House as it marked 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib, the first Sikh event it celebrated in 100 years.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson welcomed the Sikhs by saying ‘’Bole So Nihal’’ as the guests responded to the greeting with a loud ‘’Sat Sri Akal”.

“You have strengthened the USA and we can count on you to play an important role in making this country strong. Your religion was founded to bring justice, to defend the weak and oppose tyranny”, Mr Thompson added.

‘’I congratulate you on the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib on behalf of President Bush who has high regards for your community,’’ A Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) statement quoted President George W. Bush’s cabinet member Thompson as telling the community members on Wednesday.

Ten Sikhs were also invited by the White House in the morning to be present while President Bush was to leave for Minnesota for an election meeting.

President Bush waved at the Sikhs and greeted them with a thumbs up, a council member said.

A picture of the Sikhs waiving while President Bush’s helicopter was leaving has been posted at the official website of the White House.

A commemorative coin depicting the White House on one side and the handwriting of Guru Arjan Dev, the compiler of the Sikh scripture, on the other was released and presented to Mr Thompson by Prof Darshan Singh.

A special booklet was also released describing the history and the message of the Sikh scripture and which traced the 100-year-old history of the Sikhs in the USA. — UNI

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News Analysis
Trouble brewing in Baluchistan
People’s stir reminiscent of East Bengal
Rajeev Sharma

Trouble is brewing in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest province, where a snowballing people’s agitation is starkly reminiscent of the late sixties’ East Bengal which led to the formation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Four Baloch nationalist parties have condemned the partisan attitude of rulers, Army operations and establishment of new military intelligence in Baluchistan. Leaders of the National Party, a Jamhoori Watan Party, Baluchistan National Party and Baloch Haq Tawar would go on strike on August 27.

Significantly, agitators were also protesting against the construction of Gwadar Port, a project of immense strategic importance for Pakistan. The Chinese are helping in the construction of the port which is tipped to act as an alternate to Karachi Port — the lifeline of Pakistan. Gwadar Port is being developed as a long-term strategic measure after the Indian Navy had throttled the Karachi Port during the 1971 war and dealt deadly blow to Pakistan’s war-fighting capabilities.

Baloch leader Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti has gone on record as saying that the Gwadar Port project is a plan to divide Baluchistan and bring destruction, instability and poverty to the Baloch people.

Balochis have also been protesting against the use of their land for nuclear tests. The water level in Baluchistan has been falling and fear of perpetual drought in the next 10 years haunts its people.

The Balochis’ main grievance is that Pakistani rulers have never bothered to redress their grievances. The people are poor and illiterate. The Balochis have never been given government jobs and representation proportionate to the Balochi population. History shows that whenever Balochis demanded their rights and honourable share in the economic resources, Islamabad has sent troops to crush them.

From 1973 to 1979, about 15000 Balochi men, women and children were killed by the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps. This was followed by another operation against the Balochis in 2002 when 50,000 paramilitary troops surrounded Dera Bugti and cut-off electricity and telephone lines which affected the water supply during the months of June and July. The Balochis have also complained that while the gas generated from their Sui region warms houses in Punjab, their own province lacks electricity.

Senator Sanaullah said in a recent interview with BBC that a sense of deprivation was very much prevalent in Baluchistan and they were striving for the rights of the people. That was why the Pakistan Oppressed Nation Movement (PONM) was formed in 1998 which sought political, administrative and other rights of using natural resources.

The PONM on August 17 demanded an immediate halt to what it called unannounced military operation in Baluchistan besides restoration of 1973 constitution of the formation of two new provinces of Seraikistan and Sindhudesh in the country. 

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Sonia third most powerful woman

New York, August 20
Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the world’s third most powerful woman after US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi, Forbes magazine said today.

US First Lady Laura Bush and Senator Hillary Clinton have been placed at the fourth and fifth positon by the magazine in the list of 100 most powerful women in the world that included Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri (8) and Phillippines President Gloria Arroyo (9).

In a brief profile of the 57-year-old Gandhi, the magazine said no other woman in recent times had been more widely revered in India than her.

“Gandhi made headlines in May when, after the party (Congress) she led won India’s democratic elections, she declined to take over the Prime Minister’s seat,” it noted. — PTI

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Naag Panchmi celebrated in Bangkok
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Bangkok, August 20
The Hindu population in Bangkok today celebrated the festival of ‘Naag Panchmi’ in the local Sri Dev Mandir with devotees thronging the shrine with ‘pairs of silver Naag and Naagin’.

It was a fascinating scene to witness the ‘Naag and Naagin’ being devoted to the local Chao Pharaya river, as per the Hindu traditions. Earlier, a religious function was also organised in the temple, which started with the ‘aarti’ performed by the head priest, Pandit Lalit Mohan.

The head priest told TNS that Janam Ashtami was also celebrated in all parts of Thailand, especially in Bangkok, when most of the Hindus illuminated their homes and temples.

There are about 50,000 Hindus, living in the country, who had migrated from different parts of India, including Pakistan, especially after Partition.

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77 Iraqis killed in Najaf

Supporters of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr chant inside Najaf's Imam Ali shrine on ThursdayBaghdad, August 20
At least 77 Iraqis have been killed and 70 wounded in fighting in the holy city of Najaf over the past 24 hours, Iraq’s Health Ministry said today. The ministry said 13 Iraqis had been killed and 107 others wounded in Baghdad, and one killed and another wounded in Basra, in the same period. — Reuters





Supporters of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr chant inside Najaf's Imam Ali shrine on Thursday. Sadr reverted to his trademark defiance after two days in which he had appeared to be willing to disarm his militia and vacate Iraq's holiest Shiite shrine. Fierce fighting raged in Najaf on Thursday and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a 'final call' for rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to disarm his fighters and quit the mosque he has made his stronghold. — R
euters

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Two hurt in Nepal explosion

Kathmandu, August 20
Two persons, including a policeman, were injured when Maoists exploded a bomb and fired indiscriminately at the Land Revenue Office here as the economic blockade imposed by the rebels entered its third day today. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Bush to issue reform directives
CRAWFORD (Texas):
US President George W. Bush is expected to issue directives as early as next week based on some of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, including improving intelligence sharing between agencies. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Thursday some of the presidential directives should be issued in the coming days but he declined to discuss their contents.
— Reuters

Farmer hacks 8 to death in China
BEIJING:
The police has arrested a farmer in northern China for hacking eight members of a family to death with an axe after serving a sentence for raping a woman who had just married into the family, the China Daily said on Friday. Jian Xueliang (35) was arrested in western Shaanxi province after the killings, including those of two children aged four and 10 and a pair of 15-year-old twins. — Reuters

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