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Leave or face death, Musharraf tells
foreign militants

Pervez Musharraf Islamabad, March 24
Amidst escalating violence in the tribal region perpetrated by Al-Qaida and Taliban militants, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said the presence of "foreign elements" violated the sovereignty of the country and asked them to leave forthwith, failing which they would be "eliminated."

Pak forces kill 20 militants
Islamabad, March 24
In a pre-dawn operation, Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded rebel hideouts in the restive North Waziristan region, killing around 20
pro-Taliban militants.

US lobbies for N-trade with India
Vienna, March 24
The USA has lobbied for allowing nuclear trade with India but failed to get a key international group to take up the matter, diplomats said.

Condoleezza Rice No more stalling on Iran: Rice
Washington, March 24
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, displaying impatience with slow UN talks on Iran's nuclear activities, has warned saying "there can't be any stalling" in dealing with the potential threat.

Dow Chem asked to help Bhopal gas victims
Washington, March 24
Leading Democratic Congressman from New Jersey Frank Pallone Junior introduced a legislation, the Chemical Security Act, saying Dow Chemical, which had bought Union Carbide in 2001, has the resources to help the eight lakh persons of Bhopal who were devastated by the gas tragedy.




Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian man during an army raid in the West Bank town of Jenin on Friday
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian man during an army raid in the West Bank town of Jenin on Friday.
— Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Emotional scenes at Nankana Sahib
Nankana Sahib, March 24
The Sikh pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan assumed special significance today with the first bus service linking the birthplace of the religion’s founder with Amritsar in India.

Han Myung-SookSouth Korea gets first woman PM
Seoul, March 24
A feminist lawmaker is to become South Korea’s first ever woman Prime Minister, the President’s office announced today. President Roh Moo-Hyun decided to nominate Han Myung-Sook, a lawmaker from the ruling Uri Party, for the vacant post, a Presidential official told AFP.

Fire destroys 1,500 houses in Philippines
Manila, March 24
A huge blaze destroyed about 1,500 shacks in a slum in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao overnight but there were no reports of any deaths or injuries, city and fire officials said today.

Woman executed for trafficking boys
Beijing March 24
A Chinese woman was executed today for trafficking 31 children, the Supreme Court said, after another two men were sentenced to death earlier this week for kidnapping and selling baby boys.
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Leave or face death, Musharraf tells
foreign militants

Islamabad, March 24
Amidst escalating violence in the tribal region perpetrated by Al-Qaida and Taliban militants, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said the presence of "foreign elements" violated the sovereignty of the country and asked them to leave forthwith, failing which they would be "eliminated."

The presence of foreign elements, who were engaged in terrorist activities in Pakistan and the world at large, is in violation of the country's sovereignty, he said addressing a convention organised by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q, (PML-Q) to commemorate 100 years of the party as well as Pakistan's National Day yesterday in Lahore.

According to Pakistani security officials, over 400 foreign fighters of Al-Qaida and Taliban were present in the remote Waziristan.

Musharraf warned these people to leave the country immediately or they would be "eliminated." Those who were supporting terrorism or involved in terrorist activities had no place in the country, he said. He, however, said he would not permit the militaries of other countries to launch operations against the militants.

Foreign military forces would not be allowed to operate against terrorists on the Pakistani soil as it was the sole responsibility of the country's own forces, he said, urging the people to support the government and the armed forces in combating terrorism and extremism and ensuring peace in the country.

Musharraf's comments came as clashes between foreign militants and Pakistani security forces escalated in recent weeks in the tribal region. Musharraf also warned the nationalist rebel leaders of action in the southwest Balochistan province where they were demanding more autonomy and agitating against the Army.

Only a handful of tribal chiefs were creating law and order problem in parts of the province, he said referring to the rebellion launched by leaders of different Baloch tribes.

"These are the people who had been blackmailing the governments in the past and held the country hostage for the past 30 years," Musharraf said.

These tribal chiefs, he added, had no interest in the well-being of their people and continued to torture and subjugate them to serve their interests. "Gone are the days when they could blackmail the government," the President said and promised that the people would soon see improvement in terms of law and order.

Pledging to take the country to new heights, he asked people to reject the elements who were fanning extremism for vested political interests and obstructing efforts to make Pakistan a prosperous and a globally respectable country.

"I seek your support to make Pakistan a stronger, progressive, moderate and a truly welfare Islamic state as envisioned by our forefathers," he said, adding that there was no place for terrorism, extremism and intolerance in the thought and vision of Pakistan's founding fathers. — PTI

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Pak forces kill 20 militants

Islamabad, March 24
In a pre-dawn operation, Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded rebel hideouts in the restive North Waziristan region, killing around 20 pro-Taliban militants.

The operation was launched after suspected militants attacked a paramilitary post in the region, killing one soldier and injuring five others.

“Around 15 to 20 miscreants were killed in the operation in Tut Narai area of North Waziristan launched at 3 am,” Army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said. — PTI

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US lobbies for N-trade with India

Vienna, March 24
The USA has lobbied for allowing nuclear trade with India but failed to get a key international group to take up the matter, diplomats said.

They said a consultative meeting in Vienna of the 45-nation nuclear suppliers group had held off from putting the issue of India’s nuclear deal on the agenda of its plenary session, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in May.

A consultative meeting ahead of the Rio session will consider the US request but, one diplomat told AFP yesterday, “it is unlikely to get on the agenda”.

Washington is pressing for the international body to discuss the conditions set out in a landmark nuclear deal struck earlier this month between the United States and India.

The Indo-US deal still must be ratified by the US Congress and the NSG, which oversees trade in atomic fuel and technology. Washington is seeking for the nuclear suppliers group to discuss exempting India from nuclear export controls.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Stephen Rademaker, who is head of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, said: “We were not seeking a decision at this meeting (in Vienna). — AFP

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No more stalling on Iran: Rice

Washington, March 24
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, displaying impatience with slow UN talks on Iran's nuclear activities, has warned saying "there can't be any stalling" in dealing with the potential threat.

"There is no time for delay in taking on this issue," Rice said of the discussions on a draft UN Security Council statement on Iran that have been snagged by objections from Russia and China.

"There can't be any stalling. The international community has got to act," the chief US diplomat told reporters after talks here with Greek Foreign Minister Theodora Bakoyannis. — AFP

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Dow Chem asked to help Bhopal gas victims

Washington, March 24
Leading Democratic Congressman from New Jersey Frank Pallone Junior introduced a legislation, the Chemical Security Act, saying Dow Chemical, which had bought Union Carbide in 2001, has the resources to help the eight lakh persons of Bhopal who were devastated by the gas tragedy. Mr Pallone said Dow Chemical was now responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy which claimed 20,000 lives more than 20 years ago.

“The Bhopal disaster is an event that shocked the world and remains a vivid memory for those who heard what happened. Unfortunately, many of the victims and their families that remain in Bhopal have yet to receive reparations. Its outrageous that over 20 years have passed yet the CEOs of Union Carbide and its successor Dow Chemical have not brought justice to the victims,” remarked Mr Pallone.

Mr Pallone, founder-member of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, was addressing a press conference in front of the Dow Chemical Company plant in Piscataway, NJ. — UNI

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Emotional scenes at Nankana Sahib

Nankana Sahib, March 24
The Sikh pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan assumed special significance today with the first bus service linking the birthplace of the religion’s founder with Amritsar in India.

Sikhs from all over the world travel to Guru Nanak Dev’s birthplace, but the bus service from Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, marked the first trip since Partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

“I wish to stay here longer,” Mr Balbeer Singh, a Sikh resident of Amritsar, said as he alighted from the bus in Nankana Sahib with tears rolling down his cheeks.

There were around 70 Sikh families living in Nankana Sahib but a large number of Muslim residents took to the streets to greet the Sikh pilgrims from India.

“We welcome the Indian guests,” read the banners hung around the small town. Residents sprinkled pilgrims with rose petals.

Pilgrims began worshipping as soon as they arrived at the temple of Guru Nanak. Many were crying. — Reuters

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South Korea gets first woman PM

Seoul, March 24
A feminist lawmaker is to become South Korea’s first ever woman Prime Minister, the President’s office announced today.

President Roh Moo-Hyun decided to nominate Han Myung-Sook, a lawmaker from the ruling Uri Party, for the vacant post, a Presidential official told AFP.

“Han Myung-Sook was appointed Prime Minister today,” said presidential secretariat chief Lee Byung-Wan. The appointment is subject to parliamentary approval.

Two-term lawmaker Han, 61, served as Minister of Gender Equality in 2001 and Environment Minister in 2003.

She was nominated to the top cabinet post ahead of Kim Byong-Joon, a former politics professor, who is currently serving as policy planner on Roh’s presidential staff.

The post of Prime Minister was vacated last week by Lee Hae-Chan, who stepped down in disgrace after apologising for playing golf on March 1, the first day of a crippling national railway strike. — AFP

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Fire destroys 1,500 houses in Philippines

Manila, March 24
A huge blaze destroyed about 1,500 shacks in a slum in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao overnight but there were no reports of any deaths or injuries, city and fire officials said today.

Nearly 5,000 presons were left homeless after the seven-hour fire, sparked at about 6:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) by an unattended candle, ripped through the shanty town’s narrow streets in the port of Zamboanga City.

“It was an inferno,” Zamboanga City mayor Celso Lobregat told reporters, saying blocked streets and low water pressure failed to contain the flames from spreading quickly to houses made of light materials.

The slum’s residents were evacuated and temporarily sheltered in state-run school buildings and public halls as the Mayor appealed for food, clothes and relief materials for victims of the city’s worst calamity. — Reuters

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Woman executed for trafficking boys

Beijing March 24
A Chinese woman was executed today for trafficking 31 children, the Supreme Court said, after another two men were sentenced to death earlier this week for kidnapping and selling baby boys. The sale of children and women is rampant in China, where a stringent ‘’one child’’ policy has bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring.

Lin Yudi, 49, was executed by gunshot in the southeastern province of Fujian after the provincial high court rejected her appeal, the Supreme Court website said.
— Reuters

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