Pakistan’s National Assembly demands joint investigation
Ban Ki-Moon condemns blasts
US condemns attack on Samjhauta Express
Security for Thar Express to be stepped up
Cambridge to reduce study of Hindi, Sanskrit
Kanishka probe: Judge threatens to quit
Two car bombs kill 10 in Baghdad
Islamabad, February 20
“The Indian Government should expedite investigation into the tragic incident and bring culprits to justice”, the 342-member House said in an unanimous resolution, moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi.
The resolution came after a statement by Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad in the House, who alleged that Indian officials were “not cooperating” in providing correct details of the dead and injured Pakistanis who were travelling on the train.
“The Indian government should also provide quick information regarding dead and injured, besides relief activities to Pakistan Government”, the resolution said.
Demanding formation of a joint investigation committee, the legislators expressed the hope that New Delhi would share results of the investigations with the Pakistan Government.
However, the House believed that the incident should not impede the peace process.
“It (process) should be pushed forward for resolution of the Kashmir issue and bringing peace in the region,” the resolution added. — UNI
New York, February 20
“This heinous crime cannot be justified by any cause and its perpetrators should be brought to justice,” Mr Ban said.
The Secretary-General extended his deep condolences to the families of the innocent victims as well as the governments of both India and Pakistan.
The Secretary-General expressed his satisfaction that the leaders of the two countries have reaffirmed their determination to continue on the path of dialogue.
“I am encouraged by the strong reaction among the various communities in the subcontinent and their common resolve to thwart the motives of the terrorists,” he said. — UNI
Washington, February 20
White House spokesman David Almacy extended condolences to the families of the victims of the Sunday night's blasts near Haryana's Panipat.
“We express our deepest sorrow for this tragedy and extend condolences to the families of the victims. We appreciate the leadership of Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh and Pakistani President (Pervez) Musharraf, and condemn those who seek to undermine the progress in relations between the two countries,” Almacy said. — PTI
Islamabad, February 20
As an immediate measure after a meeting to review security arrangements for the Thar Express, officials decided that people coming to see their relatives off at Cantt in Karachi or other stations in the province would not be allowed beyond a certain point.
“We are planning to cordon off the area on the station at least 150 feet away from the train platform and people will have to say their goodbyes at the main gate,” a senior railway official said.
There are stringent security measures in place for the Thar Express and a team of security officials and bomb squad experts travelled on the train up to the Zero Point station on the border of the Sindh province and Rajasthan, he said.
“But after what happened in the Samjauta Express we will be more cautious and will check all luggage and keep an eye out for suspicious passengers,” the official said.
Blasts and a subsequent fire in the Samjhauta Express on Sunday night killed 68 people near Haryana’s Panipat.
The incident has also made it clear that while it was fine to lock the main doors of the Express from inside, the doors interlinking the carriages should be kept open, he said.
“If they had not locked the doors, people could have been saved on the Samjhauta Express,” he said.
The Thar Express resumed service after 41 years in 2006 but was suspended for nearly six months from August 24 after heavy rain and resultant floods damaged railway tracks in Rajasthan. — PTI
London, February 20
The Faculty of Oriental Studies has already stopped offering Hindi and Sanskrit as a full BA honours degree. Academics had been told last year not to admit any more undergraduates for South Asian studies before the department was reorganised.
The Portuguese embassy has reacted aggressively and the Indian community here, too, expects the Indian Government to take similar measures with regard to English.
Enraged over the decision, Dr John Smith, one of the Sanskrit faculties, has announced voluntary retirement, saying that he ''no longer wishes to be associated with Cambridge''.
He has described the move as one ''of very dubious legality”.
Dr Smith had also talked to the Indian High Commissioner over the issue.
In response to a High Commission query, the university had explained that the world-fame institution has not ''closed the door'' on teaching Sanskrit and Hindi.
Sanskrit will continue to be taught to undergraduates reading Theology and to postgraduates studying Sanskrit as one of the great classical languages of the world. Hindi will continue to be offered not only to postgraduates taking cultural South Asian studies, but also to undergraduates and postgraduates who wish to use Hindi in pursuing research across the Social Sciences, Science and Technology, the university explained.
The General Board of the University of Cambridge has endorsed a proposal to discontinue offering Sanskrit and Hindi to undergraduates within the Oriental Studies Tripos only, largely because ''there is very little demand.”
Kate Pretty, Pro Vice-Chancellor, however, has said no final that decision had been made on Portuguese, Hindi or Sanskrit, and that other languages were not at risk. — UNI
Toronto, February 20
"If the documents remain classified, there is no way I can carry out my mandate and if this remains, I will communicate my view to the Prime Minister," Justice John Major, former Supreme Court judge, had said while adjourning the case to March 5.
Justice Major had said that the issue hindered him to discharge his public duty-examination of the security lapses that had allowed the explosion, which had killed 329 persons in history's deadliest airliner disaster.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had appointed Justice Major last year, had told parliament that federal law prevented the release of a limited number of documents.
However, in response to Justice Major's statement, he had given instructions to government departments to apply the law in as non-restrictive manner as possible.
Information that an RCMP inspector had warned just weeks before Air-India Flight 182 blew up and the Mounties had received specific intelligence instructions, warranting protection of all the airline's flights to and from Canada, is just one nugget among many buried in thousands of heavily edited pages of material soon to be tabled with the enquiry.
The inquiry had allowed journalists a brief look at a sampling of 42 binders of letters, memos and reports spanning more than two decades. Many of the pages, including some entire documents, had been censored by government officials. — PTI
Two car bombs kill 10 in Baghdad
Baghdad, February 20 The first car bomb exploded near a fuel station in Saidiya district, killing five persons and wounding 11. Another police source, however, said three were killed and 12 wounded in the attack. Another car bomb exploded in Doura, in the south of Baghdad, killing five persons and wounding seven at a vegetable market. Security forces foiled another car bomb attack, blowing up a vehicle near a police checkpoint in Doura. —
Baghdad, February 20
The first car bomb exploded near a fuel station in Saidiya district, killing five persons and wounding 11.
Another police source, however, said three were killed and 12 wounded in the attack.
Another car bomb exploded in Doura, in the south of Baghdad, killing five persons and wounding seven at a vegetable market.
Security forces foiled another car bomb attack, blowing up a vehicle near a police checkpoint in Doura. — Reuters
Militant kills woman minister in Pakistan
Islamabad, February 20 Zil-e-Huma Usman, the Punjab province Minister for Social Welfare, was shot at by a lone gunman when she was attending a meeting in
Gujaranwala, the police said. Usman succumbed to her injury at a hospital
in Lahore. The person identified as Ghulam Sarwar who reportedly shot her was arrested. He had fired bullets in her head and shoulder of Usman during an open katchehry held at Muslim League House near Civil Lines police station, Geo TV reported.
Usman's driver and other people attending the katchehry caught the attacker. The minister was admitted in a local hospital for first aid and was later taken to a hospital in Lahore, but succumbed to her injury during operation. —
Islamabad, February 20
Zil-e-Huma Usman, the Punjab province Minister for Social Welfare, was shot at by a lone gunman when she was attending a meeting in Gujaranwala, the police said.
Usman succumbed to her injury at a hospital in Lahore.
The person identified as Ghulam Sarwar who reportedly shot her was arrested.
He had fired bullets in her head and shoulder of Usman during an open katchehry held at Muslim League House near Civil Lines police station, Geo TV reported.
Usman's driver and other people attending the katchehry caught the attacker.
The minister was admitted in a local hospital for first aid and was later taken to a hospital in Lahore, but succumbed to her injury during operation. — PTI