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Reopening of Indian, Pakistani consulates delayed
Islamabad, January 1
The much-expected reopening of Indian and Pakistani consulates in Karachi and Mumbai respectively in the New Year was delayed today, as Islamabad was yet to get its temporary office ready, while India completed renovation work of its buildings and awaited the nod from the government here to open it.

A Palestinian boy mourns during the funeral of his relative
A Palestinian boy mourns during the funeral of his relative Hamzh Hamdonah, who was killed by Israeli artillery fire, in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. — Reuters

Indian channels shown in Pak
Karachi, January 1
Flouting government directives, cable TV operators in Pakistan’s port city Karachi have started showing banned Indian channels, Online news agency reported on 
Sunday.

One killed, 100 injured in B’desh violence
Dhaka, January 1
One person was killed and at least 100 others injured in separate pitched battles between Bangladesh’s opposition activists and the police as well as rivals.




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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

World ushers in New Year 2006
New York, January 1
Hundreds of thousands revellers in the historic Times Square here popped champagne bottles, danced, kissed, threw shirts in air and shouted greetings as the famous crystal ball hit the ground after a minute-long journey to light up 2006, signalling start of the New Year.


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Reopening of Indian, Pakistani consulates delayed

Islamabad, January 1
The much-expected reopening of Indian and Pakistani consulates in Karachi and Mumbai respectively in the New Year was delayed today, as Islamabad was yet to get its temporary office ready, while India completed renovation work of its buildings and awaited the nod from the government here to open it.

As per the joint statement issued during President Pervez Musharraf 's visit to India in April last year, both countries had agreed to open the consulates on the New Year. The reopening could now take awhile as Pakistan is still in the process of finalising its temporary location ready to run its office.

As per the understanding, both consulates were to have been opened simultaneously.

"There are some location issues in Mumbai being finalised. As much as we would have liked to open the consulates in time, the delay was due to location problems. We are trying to open as soon as possible, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam said here today.

The agreement to open the consulates which had been closed since 1992 was seen as a diplomatic breakthrough between the two countries as Pakistan has agreed to open its consulate in Mumbai without insisting on its demand for acquisition of Jinnah House, the residence of its founder, which India has converted into a SAARC museum.

Subsequently Pakistan selected a commercial area shown by the Maharashtra Government to construct its permanent building and currently in the process of finalising its temporary location to run its consulate office.

The finalisation of the temporary office was stated to be the reason for delay in reopening.

Since the agreement, India has undertaken the renovation work of its properties in Karachi, which were completely damaged in a mob attack following the demolition of Babri Masjid. Teams of Indian engineers in Karachi completed the renovation work with inputs from Indian diplomats from here, who made frequent visits to the site.

Indian officials said the consulate building, the residence of the Consulate-General and staff quarters were ready for use.

India has suggested to Pakistan that since Islamabad was taking time, it could permit India to reopen its consulate in Karachi but the government here insisted on simultaneity.

The reopening of the consulates, coupled with the commencement of the Khokhrapar-Munnabao train service connecting Rajasthan with Sindh province would be big boon to the people of Sindh as most of them have to travel to Islamabad, which is about 1,000 km away, to get visas.

The Muthahida Quami Movement (MQM) which was an important ally in the federal and provincial governments has played an important role in influencing the Pakistan Government to agree for reopening of the consulates as well as to run the train service, which will be the second between the two countries. —PTI 

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Indian channels shown in Pak

Karachi, January 1
Flouting government directives, cable TV operators in Pakistan’s port city Karachi have started showing banned Indian channels, Online news agency reported on 
Sunday.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned Indian TV channels including Star and Sony but on New Year’s eve on Saturday, cable operators showed Sony and Star channels in Liaqatabad and Orangi town.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had announced that his government would not allow airing of any TV programmes that went against Islamic norms and ideology.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s media regulatory authority on Sunday said foreign channels had not been banned in the country but had been put off air temporarily, Online news agency reported.

Shahid Humayun, executive member of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), said 35 foreign channels were asked to get landing rights to broadcast in the country, failing which they would be put off air permanently.

PEMRA had so far issued licences to 16 TV channels and 11 of them had begun transmission. Nearly 90 licences had been issued to FM radio stations, of which 40 had gone on air, he said. — IANS

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One killed, 100 injured in B’desh violence

Dhaka, January 1
One person was killed and at least 100 others injured in separate pitched battles between Bangladesh’s opposition activists and the police as well as rivals.

Activists of the Jatiya Party faction of former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad clashed with those belonging to the Communist Party of Bangladesh in downtown Dhaka’s Purana Paltan area for several hours.

One passerby was hit and killed by a bus fleeing the violence, reports said.

The Jatiya Party claimed that the vicitim, identified as Kabir Hossain, was one of its activists.

Eighty persons were also injured as they hurled bricks and fought with sticks. — PTI

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World ushers in New Year 2006

New York, January 1
Hundreds of thousands revellers in the historic Times Square here popped champagne bottles, danced, kissed, threw shirts in air and shouted greetings as the famous crystal ball hit the ground after a minute-long journey to light up 2006, signalling start of the New Year.

An estimated one billion people across the world watched on the television the biggest party on the earth and slow downward journey of the electrifief waterford sparkling crystal ball in a tradition going back to one hundred years.

As the ball touched the ground, tonnes of confetti was released from atop a multistory building giving the scene a fairy tale appearance.

Almost six hours earlier, fireworks were fired as the 1070-pound crystal was hoisted to the cheers of people who had started occupying vantage points since morning with the security services keeping a watchful eye to ensure that nothing untoward happens and the celebrations go smoothly.

The New Year’s celebration this year were dedicated to New Yorkers who had helped in the relief operations in New Orleans in the wake of devastation caused by the hurricane Katrina.

Elsewhere, the city restaurants were full with revellers who carried on celebrations into early hour of the morning.

Security was tight in major cities worldwide for the celebrations, with thousands of security personnel deputed in in various places in France amid fears of a repeat of the urban violence witnessed last month. Hundreds of policemen also patrolled Sydney roads to prevent a repeat of recent race riots.

In London, as the clock struck 12, a strike on the underground system threatened to disrupt people’s journey home after enjoying festivities in clubs, hotels and away from home.

Thousands of people celebrated in Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and Moscow’s Red Square in sub-zero temperatures. — PTI 

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