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Pak recalls envoy from Copenhagen
Denmark shuts Embassy in Islamabad
Islamabad, February 18
Pakistan on Friday recalled its Ambassador from Denmark to convey its displeasure with the Danish government’s handling of the issue of publication of blasphemous cartoons by a newspaper, informed sources told The Dawn.

Police opens fire on cartoon protesters,
four injured
Multan (Pakistan), February 18
The police opened fire on a crowd trying to burn shops in eastern Pakistan in a protest against Prophet Mohammad cartoons, injuring at least four persons.

Pakistani students from the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba group raise slogans during a rally against the publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Mohammad, in Karachi on Saturday. — Reuters photo

Pakistani students from the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba group raise slogans during a rally against the publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Mohammad, in Karachi



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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Bush defends Indo-US N-deal
Washington, February 18
Seeking to clear the air on the Indo-US nuclear deal which has hit roadblocks, President George W. Bush has defended the pact and said he would talk about the “development” of a civilian nuclear power industry during his next month visit to New Delhi.

10 killed in attack on Italian Consulate
Tripoli, February 18
Around 10 persons were killed in clashes with the police when they tried to storm an Italian Consulate in Libya on Friday in protests against Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad, Italian officials said.

Hamas takes over Palestinian Parliament
Ramalla ( West Bank), February 18 
Islamist group Hamas took over as the dominant party in the Palestinian Parliament today and swiftly rejected President Mahmoud Abbas’s call to pursue his peacemaking efforts with Israel.

Nigerian militants kidnap nine
Lagos, February 18
Nigerian militants launched a string of attacks on the world’s eighth largest oil exporter today, kidnapping nine foreign workers from an offshore barge and attacking at least two other facilities.
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Pak recalls envoy from Copenhagen
Denmark shuts Embassy in Islamabad
Qudssia Akhlaque
By arrangement with The Dawn

Islamabad, February 18
Pakistan on Friday recalled its Ambassador from Denmark to convey its displeasure with the Danish government’s handling of the issue of publication of blasphemous cartoons by a newspaper, informed sources told The Dawn. Pakistan also formally informed the Danish government about its decision to withdraw its Ambassador as a mark of protest.

The decision, it is learnt, was taken at a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling coalition here on Thursday, which was also attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

The meeting noted that while some European countries and the United States had staunchly condemned the publication and regretted the hurt it had caused to Muslims the world over, Denmark’s response remained wishy-washy. There has been no proper apology or assurance that such acts would not be repeated.

However, Pakistan’s Embassy in Copenhagen would continue to function without the Ambassador, sources said. Pakistan’s Foreign Office remained tight-lipped on the issue and insisted that the Ambassador had been called back for consultations.

The Foreign Office on Friday announced in a one-sentence statement: “Pakistan’s Ambassador in Copenhagen, Mr Javed A. Qureshi, has been called to Islamabad for consultations.”

When The Dawn asked the Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam if the Ambassador had actually been recalled to register protest with the Danish government, she was non-committal. “The statement is very clear,” is all she said.

On the nature of consultations, Ms Aslam said Pakistan’s Ambassador would give his assessment of the situation that developed after the publication of the blasphemous cartoons in Denmark.

Meanwhile, Denmark closed its Embassy for public dealings in Islamabad on Friday.

When this correspondent called the Danish Embassy in the evening, a recorded message was running on the answering machine that said: “The Embassy chancery is temporarily closed till further notice. In urgent counsel of matters, please call the German Embassy at 2007200 or 2279430.”

The Danish move comes amid emphatic demands by the opposition and the public in countrywide protests that Danish ambassador be expelled from the country and Pakistan’s envoy in Copenhagen be recalled. Also, it follows rallies in Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore that turned violent.

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Police opens fire on cartoon protesters, four injured

Multan (Pakistan), February 18
The police opened fire on a crowd trying to burn shops in eastern Pakistan in a protest against Prophet Mohammad cartoons, injuring at least four persons.

The demonstration in Chaniot, a town in Punjab province, was part of a series of protests across Pakistan that led to the death of at least five persons in the past week.

Hundreds gathered in Chaniot, blocking roads, burning tires and pelting the police with stones, said Mohammad Ishaq, a local police official. The police fired on the protesters when they tried to burn shops.

“We are trying to control the situation,” Ishaq said.

Arfan Munir, a doctor at a government hospital, said four casualties had been brought in with gunshot wounds and two of them were in critical condition.

He gave no further details. Residents, however, said unrest was increasing in the religiously conservative city. — AP

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Bush defends Indo-US N-deal
Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington, February 18
Seeking to clear the air on the Indo-US nuclear deal which has hit roadblocks, President George W. Bush has defended the pact and said he would talk about the “development” of a civilian nuclear power industry during his next month visit to New Delhi.

“I am going to India on March 1. I believe that it’s good policy for the US to encourage these emerging economies to use clean energy, nuclear power, so as to help reduce demand for kind of non-renewables.

“And so I’m going to talk to them about development of a civilian nuclear power industry,” he said in Tampa, Florida, yesterday while replying to a question in the course of a speech.

At one time the civilian nuclear arrangement between India and the US was supposed to have been the hallmark of the Bush trip but that was quickly downplayed as the pact ran into difficulties in New Delhi and Washington, much of it having to do with the Indian separation plan for the civilian and military facilities.

“They’re telling me China has got about 34 plants on the market, which is good. But this expansion of nuclear power — which is in our interests, by the way; it’s in our interests because of the quality of the air, it’s in our interests because it takes — reduces demand, global demand — is going to create another issue, and that is, what are we going to do with the spent fuel?” the President posed. — PTI

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10 killed in attack on Italian Consulate

Tripoli, February 18
Around 10 persons were killed in clashes with the police when they tried to storm an Italian Consulate in Libya on Friday in protests against Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad, Italian officials said.

“Eleven casualties, including dead, resulted from the clashes,” a Libyan government statement said.

Italy’s ambassador to Tripoli, Francesco Trupiano, said: “The number of dead is not official, or definitive, because until the clashes are over it’s hard to say. But there are certainly around 10 victims.”

The protesters set fire to the Danish flag and cars as they attempted to storm the Italian consulate in Benghazi, the only Western diplomatic mission in the eastern Libyan city.

Libyan state television showed footage of stone-throwing protesters and security forces with guns in streets round a scorched building.

The footage contained what sounded like gunshots.

“They should send in the military here. The police can’t keep them back. It’s getting worse here,” a consulate employee, identified as Antonio Simoes Goncalves, said. — Reuters

LONDON: More than 10,000 persons joined an angry central London protest today against the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that have infuriated many in the Muslim world.

“Free speech-cheap insults,” read one demonstrator’s placard. How dare you insult the blessed Prophet Muhammed?” asked another.

Buses brought participants from cities around Britain to gather in Trafalgar Square, and they planned to march later today to Hyde Park. — Reuters, AP

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Hamas takes over Palestinian Parliament
Wafa Amr

Ramalla ( West Bank), February 18
Islamist group Hamas took over as the dominant party in the Palestinian Parliament today and swiftly rejected President Mahmoud Abbas’s call to pursue his peacemaking efforts with Israel.

The swearing-in of Parliament, elected last month, paves the way for the Hamas to form a government that is on a potential collision course with Abbas and faces a boycott by major powers unless it renounces violence and its vow to destroy Israel.

Israel is considering tougher restrictions on Palestinians as a way to pressure the government to be led by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, seen by Palestinians as a relative pragmatist.

In a speech at the opening of Parliament, Abbas said the new government must recognise past peace deals with Israel and commit itself to pursuing statehood through talks, but he stopped short of setting conditions for forming a cabinet.

“The presidency and the government will continue to respect our commitment to the negotiations as a strategic, pragmatic political choice,” Abbas said.

“At the same time, we must continue to strengthen and develop forms of popular resistance of a peaceful nature.”

Abbas’s words won applause from Fatah lawmakers but not from Hamas members.

“We were elected on a different political agenda,” said Haniyeh as sessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, joined by video link, broke off for Muslim prayers.

One newly elected Hamas lawmaker prayed on the floor of the building in Gaza. — Reuters

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Nigerian militants kidnap nine

Lagos, February 18
Nigerian militants launched a string of attacks on the world’s eighth largest oil exporter today, kidnapping nine foreign workers from an offshore barge and attacking at least two other facilities.

Militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said they were targeting all oil pipelines, production platforms and export terminals in Delta state, which accounts for about a quarter of Nigeria’s 2.4 million barrels production per day.

“A barge was attacked by several speed boats. There was an exchange of fire and nine foreigners were kidnapped,” an oil industry source said, adding that the barge, operated by US oil services company Willbros Group, was operating offshore in the Forcados area of Delta state. — Reuters

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