SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

MMA’s ultimatum to Musharraf
Quetta, September 3
The Secretary General of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman today issued a final ultimatum to General Pervez Musharraf telling him unless a political dialogue is started with the Baloch leadership, the MMA would be left with no option but to resign from the National and the provincial assemblies.

Baluch parties to resign from Parliament
Islamabad, September 3
Stepping up the agitation over the killing of rebel tribal leader Akbar Bugti in an army raid, the four-party Baloch Alliance today announced resignations of its members from Parliament and Balochistan Assembly.

Missile test successful, says Pentagon
Washington, September 3
Pentagon and the US Missile Defence Command seem to be thrilled at the success of a major test involving an interceptor missile and a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean.

UK Pakistanis join Taliban
London, September 3
A number of British Pakistanis have joined Taliban insurgents to fight UK troops in southern Afghanistan, a media report claimed here today.







EARLIER STORIES


Scottish schoolgirl Molly Campbell (left), also known as Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana, arrives to attend a news conference with her elder sister Tehmina Ahmed Rana in Lahore on Sunday. A Pakistani court gave temporary custody of the 12-year-old Scottish girl at the centre of an abduction row to the father on Saturday and invited the mother to a second hearing next week.
Scottish schoolgirl Molly Campbell (left), also known as Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana, arrives to attend a news conference with her elder sister Tehmina Ahmed Rana in Lahore on Sunday. A Pakistani court gave temporary custody of the 12-year-old Scottish girl at the centre of an abduction row to the father on Saturday and invited the mother to a second hearing next week. — Reuters

Iraq arrests Al-Qaida number two
Baghdad, September 3
Al-Qaida’s number two in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa al-Saedi, has been arrested, Iraq’s national security adviser said today.

200 Taliban killed in Kandahar
Kabul, September 3
Around 200 insurgents were killed in the first two days of a major anti-Taliban operation underway in southern Afghanistan, a NATO military source said today.

Obesity pandemic engulfing world: experts
Sydney, September 3
Obesity has reached pandemic proportions throughout the world and is now the greatest single contributor to chronic disease. This was stated on the opening day of the 10th International Congress on Obesity here on Sunday.

Nepal unaware of arms shipment
Kathmandu, September 3
Amid reports that a Nepal-bound aircraft loaded with Israeli-made weapons was intercepted in India, the government here has said that it is unaware of the matter.

 

 

 

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MMA’s ultimatum to Musharraf
Muhammad Anwer for ANI

Quetta, September 3
The Secretary General of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman today issued a final ultimatum to General Pervez Musharraf telling him unless a political dialogue is started with the Baloch leadership, the MMA would be left with no option but to resign from the National and the provincial assemblies.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman was categorical in his ultimatum that the MMA had thrown its full weight behind the Balochi people.

He said: "What the army did to Nawab Akbar Bugti was very wrong and we have told General Musharraf that the only way to diffuse the Baloch crisis is for him to step down as army chief and hold free and fair elections in Pakistan".

The killing of Bugti has united the entire opposition in Pakistan. Even the ruling PML (Q) has expressed sympathy with the Baloch cause. Protests are being held in all Pakistani cities against the killing of Bugti and the demand for free and fair elections is being expressed in all forums.

Analysts have expressed fears that the general belief within a large section of the Baloch populace is that the killing was orchestrated by the Punjabi military establishment and this will further widen the gap between the Balochis and the Punjabis.

Within days of the killing, violent protests broke out in Balochistan and Sindh and curfew was imposed in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan to control mob fury. Violence was witnessed in Baloch-dominated areas of Sindh and Punjabi dominated areas in Balochistan was targeted by members of the Baloch Students Organisation.

Claims by Maulana Abdul Malook Bugti, the imam of the Dera Bugti mosque, who conducted the late Nawab's final rites that he was not sure whether the person buried was actually Nawab Bugti, has only added a new twist to the entire episode.

The late Baloch leader's son Jamil Bugti has also asserted that the personal effects shown by the provincial administration to the media did not belong to his father.

Also the hasty manner in which Nawab Bugti was buried by the Dera Bugti administration amidst tight security, even denying an opportunity to media personnel, who had gathered at the burial site to have a look at the Nawab's body, has only added more fuel to the fire.

Politicians cutting across party lines have lashed out at the Musharraf administration for using military might against the octogenarian leader, so much so that the federal government had to thrice retract its statement.

Top military and intelligence officials recently briefed Musharraf over the emerging political situation in the country in the aftermath of the killing in the military operation in Kohlu in Balochistan.

Fears have been expressed that the killing has galvanized the Baloch tribes, which will create more misery for the military leadership.

Ex-Generals slam Musharraf

Islamabad: As the public resentment over the army killing of rebel leader Nawab Akbar Bugti grew with calls for a “decisive battle to liberate” Balochistan from Pakistan, four former Generals have backed the opposition’s criticism of President Pervez Musharraf’s handling of the crisis.

With Baloch nationalist leaders publicly expressing resentment that their survival lies in separation from Pakistan and the time has come for a “decisive battle”, former army chief Aslam Beg slammed Musharraf for the way the government handled the crisis.

“It was an ill-conceived idea and badly-handled operation to capture an 80-year-old man ... hiding in a cave. The second mistake was that the task to capture Nawab Bugti was given to army, instead of other law-enforcement agencies, despite the knowledge that he would die fighting instead of surrendering to military forces,” he was quoted as saying by Daily Times.

Beg identified Islamabad’s third and most serious mistake as failing to hand over Bugti’s body to his relatives for the burial. “It was not in consonance with our culture. This has become our ‘sarkari’ culture.” He predicted that Bugti’s death would give new impetus to both nationalist parties as well as the political opposition which, he said, has so far failed to create any real challenge to the military-led regime. — PTI

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Baluch parties to resign from Parliament
K J M Varma

Islamabad, September 3
Stepping up the agitation over the killing of rebel tribal leader Akbar Bugti in an army raid, the four-party Baloch Alliance today announced resignations of its members from Parliament and Balochistan Assembly.

In continuing unrest in Balochistan, a bomb damaged a gas pipeline in the mountainous area of Lakpass, south of capital Quetta, cutting supplies to thousands. No injuries were reported but the blast damaged parts of the 18-inch-wide pipeline, reports reaching here said.

Meanwhile, Bugti’s son Jamil Bugti said a wrist watch, ring and glasses displayed by the officials as personal belongings of the slain rebel leader were not that of his father’s, prompting government to offer to conduct a DNA test.

The resignations of Baloch parties were announced at a protest rally held in Balochistan capital Quetta by the alliance in association with the mainstream Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD).

Similar rallies were held in all major towns in Balochistan. Protestors shouted slogans against President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan army as well as against the domination of Punjab, reports said.

The Baloch alliance, which includes the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) headed by Bugti, has one Senator and one member in the National Assembly and two members in the provincial Assembly.

Resignations are also being planned by former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto’s PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. Both have already collected resignations of their members of Parliament. Some constituents of Islamist Muthahida Majlis Amal (MMA) too have collected resignations of parliamentarians.

The MMA, a coalition partner of the pro-Musharraf government in Balochistan, would decide on September 5 whether to continue in the provincial coalition or not.

General Musharraf, who reportedly got an endorsement for his military strategy in Balochistan at the Corps Commanders meeting of the Army on Friday, held lengthy meetings with top ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) politicians Shujaat Hussain and other officials today to discuss a package of initiatives for the province.

The meeting also reviewed situation arising out of MMA’s threat to quit the Balochistan Ministry.

As the public resentment grew over the killing of Bugti, four retired Pakistan Army Generals backed opposition criticism of President Musharraf’s handling of crisis.

Former Army Chief Aslam Beg slammed General Musharraf for the way the government handled the 
crisis.

“It was an ill-conceived idea and badly-handled operation to capture an 80-year-old man disowned by his own tribe and hiding in a cave. The second mistake was that the task to capture Nawab Bugti was given to Pakistan Army, instead of other law-enforcement agencies, despite the knowledge that he would die fighting instead of surrendering to military force,” he was quoted as saying by Daily Times.

He said Bugti’s death would give new impetus to both nationalist parties and the political opposition, which had so far failed to create any real challenge to the military-led regime. — PTI

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Missile test successful, says Pentagon

Washington, September 3
Pentagon and the US Missile Defence Command seem to be thrilled at the success of a major test involving an interceptor missile and a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean.

A 54-foot interceptor shot out of an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast 17 minutes after the mock warhead was launched from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The test was a “total” success, said senior Pentagon officials.

“It exceeded even our primary objective on the test. And we also met all the secondary objectives of the test,” the Director of the Missile Defence Agency, US Air Force, Lt-Gen Henry Obering told reporters here.

“Basically, what we did is a huge step in terms of our systematic approach to continuing to field, continuing to deploy and continuing to develop a missile defence system for the USA, for our allies, our friends, our deployed forces around the world,” he said.

The interceptor carried a “kill vehicle” that locked on to the approaching mock enemy missile and flew into the 4-foot-long warhead at 18,000 mph with both disintegrating some 100 miles above the earth.

The interceptor’s flight is said to have lasted 13 minutes. One of the objectives of the test was to see if the “kill vehicle” could get close to the warhead with a view to testing the tracking and sensor systems that would be used in a real missile attack.

According to Defence Department officials, the interceptor was launched by remote control from a command center in Colorado.

The test also was the first use of an early warning radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to provide the data required to put the interceptor on a proper path toward its target. — PTI

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UK Pakistanis join Taliban

London, September 3
A number of British Pakistanis have joined Taliban insurgents to fight UK troops in southern Afghanistan, a media report claimed here today.

The intelligence about their presence in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, where 13 British soldiers have died, is believed to have come from Pakistan where the authorities recently arrested suspects said to be involved in the training of Al-Qaida and Taliban recruits, The Sunday Times reported.

Pakistani, Chechen, Syrian, Egyptian, and Yemeni nationals are among the other foreign recruits fighting along side the Taliban, who train new recruits to the Pakistani city of Quetta, it claimed.

According to the report, a Pakistani official said yesterday there were a number of British Pakistanis known to be fighting along side the Taliban in Afghanistan. “They come quietly in twos and threes and then disappear. It’s difficult to trace them as they (also) carry Pakistani passport.”

A source close to the Taliban claimed that two British Pakistanis had gone through the Waziristan tribal area on their way to fight the British Army six weeks ago. A second Pakistani official said that others had since gone into Afghanistan “in an individual capacity”.

The report quoted sources close to the Taliban as saying that “no more than 10” of its fighters were known to be British passport holders. “There are a lot of Pakistanis (fighting with the Taliban) and one cannot say how many of them hold British passports.”

News of British recruits among the Taliban suggested that the war in Afghanistan, like that in Iraq, has become a magnet for extremists determined to fight western forces. — PTI

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Iraq arrests Al-Qaida number two

Baghdad, September 3
Al-Qaida’s number two in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa al-Saedi, has been arrested, Iraq’s national security adviser said today.

“We have arrested the number two Al-Qaida leader after Abu Ayyub al-Masri,” Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said.

Saedi, an Iraqi, was detained in June and is accused of ordering a February bomb attack which demolished a revered Shia shrine in Samarra.

The bombing of the shrine triggered a nationwide wave of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia factions that had left thousands dead.

Rubaie said intelligence received after the slaying of the former Al-Qaida leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, led “security forces to Saedi.”

He said Saedi was arrested in a joint Iraq-US raid north of Baquba and 11 high-level Al-Qaida operatives and nine lesser suspects were detained. — AFP

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200 Taliban killed in Kandahar

Kabul, September 3
Around 200 insurgents were killed in the first two days of a major anti-Taliban operation underway in southern Afghanistan, a NATO military source said today.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was undertaking battle damage assessments of the operation launched in southern Kandahar province yesterday, an official said.

However “over 200 Taliban were killed in the last two days,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

“Activities are still continuing. We are trying to get a reasonable estimate of battle damage.”

ISAF would not comment on the defence ministry statement that three Canadian soldiers had been killed and six wounded in the clash but said ISAF had “taken multiple casualties”.

The defence ministry also said about 89 rebels were killed. — AFP

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Obesity pandemic engulfing world: experts

Sydney, September 3
Obesity has reached pandemic proportions throughout the world and is now the greatest single contributor to chronic disease. This was stated on the opening day of the 10th International Congress on Obesity here on Sunday.

“This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now engulfing the entire world,” Australia’s Monash University Professor Paul Zimmet, chair of the conference said.

The spread of the problem was “led by affluent western nations, whose physical activity and dietary habits are regrettably being adopted by developing nations,” Prof Zimmet told more than 2,000 delegates.

The world now has more fat people than hungry ones, according to World Health Organisation figures, with more than a billion overweight people compared to 800 million who are undernourished. — AFP

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Nepal unaware of arms shipment

Kathmandu, September 3
Amid reports that a Nepal-bound aircraft loaded with Israeli-made weapons was intercepted in India, the government here has said that it is unaware of the matter.

“It is not only me, even the government is unaware of this issue,” Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat was quoted by The Kathmandu Post as telling a gathering of businessmen in Palpa district of western Nepal.

Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahar also expressed concern over the arms consignment, including anti-aircraft missile, loaded in a plane from Ukraine bound to Kathmandu, which was reportedly stopped in India after the Nepal Government disclaimed it. — PTI

 

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