Action against CJ illegal:Nawaz
SJC chief: Chaudhry is still CJ
3 Indians indicted for fraud
Govt asked to implement suggestions
Blast in Afghan capital kills 6
Second round of Pak-US talks postponed
US Senate votes to debate Iraq troop plan
Action against CJ illegal:Nawaz
London, March 14
Speaking at a press conference at the PML-N international headquarters here, Sharif said elections had become secondary to this development as this `incident impacts on the very survival of Pakistan’.
Sharif said he was glad that the Chief Justice had refused to resign and extended his and his party’s full support to the ongoing struggle of lawyers against what he called the “highhanded decision of President Pervez Musharraf”.
He called upon his party leaders and workers in Pakistan to extend their support to the ongoing protest of the civil society led by lawyers and judges.
Recalling his own attitude towards higher judiciary when he was prime minister, Sharif said he had appeared before the Superior Court when summoned by it and did not summon the Chief Justice to his office secretariat as had been done by Gen Musharraf .
Referring to the removal of Gen Musharraf from the post of COAS, he said he had acted in accordance with the constitution when he replaced one COAS with another.
He said the judicial activism of Justice Chaudhry was aimed at protecting and promoting the independence of judiciary.
He described Gen Musharraf as an impulsive and erratic person and according to him the latest action had further tarnished the image of Pakistan and had the potential of threatening the very existence of the country.
Terming the present crisis in the country as the ‘defining moment’, he called upon all well-wishers of the country, the political parties, intellectuals, the media and the civil society to join hands to bring the present system led by the army junta to an end.
He said he had talked to Justice Chaudhry’s son and assured him of his party’s and his own personal support to the cause for which his father was being made to suffer.
SJC chief: Chaudhry is still CJ
Reaffirming that justice Iftikhar Chaudhry continues to be chief justice of the supreme court, acting chief justice justice Javed Iqbal has taken suo motu notice of the alleged police misconduct with Iftikhar and members of his family in front of his residence.
“Those responsible for manhandling the chief justice will be taken to task and duly punished”, justice Iqbal said while talking to newsmen after swearing in the newly appointed ad hoc judge of the court, justice Hamid Ali Mirza.
He said justice Iftikhar remained the chief justice, but had been rendered non-functional pending the conclusion of proceedings on the presidential reference against him.
“He is our responsibility”, he said and promised action against police officials who had roughed up justice Iftikhar and maltreated members of his family when they emerged from his house.
The SJC adjourned hearing till Friday after he questioned the composition of the council and its constitutional status.
In high drama televised live by private channels, justice Iftikhar was greeted at the gates of the court by a crowd of several thousand lawyers.
He told SJC members that they had no legal competence to hear the reference and named three of them for being guilty of misconduct, nepotism and corruption.
Iftikhar even pointed a finger against some of them for the security appointment of their sons and close relatives and indulging in malfeasance.
Iqbal said the issue of presidential reference against Iftikhar should not be scandalised.
The coverage in the media gave the impression that some channels had no other issue except this matter, he said.
He cautioned the media to realise the impact of news stories (about judiciary) on the country.
He noted that in some television programmes, persons knowing nothing about the constitution and law were invited to debate the issue since the reference was filed.
He suggested that intellectuals and good lawyers should be invited in such programmes.
Asked why did he take oath as acting chief justice although justice Rana Bhagwandas was the senior most judge to hold that office, Iqbal said, “I could not have skirted the responsibility of keeping the apex court functional while justice Rana was out of the country”.
“I will go back to my chamber as soon as conditions return to normalcy”, he remarked.
Justice Iqbal said the advice of the SJC to the media to exercise restraint would be strictly enforced from today and no government official or the media will be allowed to comment on it. The SJC’s advice appeared to put a blanket ban on debates and comments over the electronic and print media.
Representative media organisations had questioned the propriety of such a ban, arguing that all aspects of the crisis other than comment prejudicial to the proceedings of the council must remain open to debate.
Cabinet ministers, including law and information ministers, had interpreted the SJC directive as a complete curb on everything concerning the presidential reference.
The government, on the other hand, had itself launched a concerted campaign to discredit justice Iftikhar. Information minister Durrani accused him of enacting a political drama.
Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim said Iftikhar had betrayed his political designs by travelling in the jeep of a PPP MP and talking to exiled premier Nawaz Sharif.
Deputy defence minister Asjad Mallih said the deposed chief justice had walked through to the supreme court as a gimmick to play to the gallery and whip up popular sympathy.
Law minister Wasi Zafar and Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi said lawyers protesting against the reference were guilty of contempt of court and playing politics by breaking the ban on processions.
While lawyers across the country continued to hold protest rallies in support of justice Iftikhar and boycotted courts in major cities, the government collected a sizeable crowd of lawyers from Punjab towns in Lahore for a convention addressed by chief minister Elahi.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz curtailed his three-day visit to Uzbekistan to only one day and was due back later tonight to be able to attend an urgent top-level meeting convened by President Pervez Musharraf to discuss the emerging political situation in the country arising from the removal of the chief justice.
3 Indians indicted for fraud
Three Indians, two of them residents of Chennai and the third living in Malaysia, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Nebraska on charges of running an international fraud scheme designed to hijack online brokerage accounts for financial gain.
Thirugnanam Ramanathan, 34, a native of India and resident of Malaysia, has been charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of computer fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to the indictment, between July and November, 2006, the three, operating primarily from Thailand and India, used their personal online brokerage accounts to purchase shares of several lightly traded stocks.
They then hacked into online brokerage accounts of others using stolen usernames and passwords or established new brokerage accounts using stolen identities.
Using these accounts, the defendants made several unauthorised purchases of the same stocks to drive up the market price. Once the share prices were artificially inflated, they sold their own shares for a substantial profit. "Although the basic concept behind the fraud alleged in the indictment is simple, the methods employed were sophisticated," said U.S. Attorney Joe Stecher.
Marimuthu was arrested in December, 2006, by the Hong Kong police on charges of computer fraud, money laundering, and possession of equipment to make a false instrument.
Authorities in Hong Kong arrested Thirugnanam Ramanathan in January 2007, pursuant to a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. Chockalingam Ramanathan is at large. At least 60 customers and nine brokerage firms in the United States and elsewhere have been identified as victims, with one of the brokerage firms reporting more than $2 million in losses. The case marks the first time that individuals have been arrested overseas in connection with an online brokerage intrusion scheme perpetrated in the United States.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a civil complaint against all three defendants. The conspiracy and computer fraud charges in this case each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Wire fraud and securities fraud carry maximum sentences of 20 and 15 years respectively. Each count of aggravated identity theft adds two years in prison.
The FBI is investigating the case.
Los Angeles, March 14 Anand Jon Alexander 33, who has dressed the likes of Paris Hilton and actress Michelle Rodriguez, was arrested on March 6 and is being held at the Los Angeles county jail on a total of seven counts of rape, committing a lewd act upon a child, sexual battery, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reports said. Bail for the designer, who goes by the name Anand Jon, has been fixed at $ 1.3 million and his first court date is on April 4, when he is expected to be arraigned. Jon was arrested by the local police at his Beverly Hills home after a woman accused him of raping her. A probe into the allegations revealed three other potential victims, the youngest being 15, news reports said. The crimes are alleged to have occurred between October 2004 and March 5, 2007, it said.
Los Angeles, March 14
Anand Jon Alexander 33, who has dressed the likes of Paris Hilton and actress Michelle Rodriguez, was arrested on March 6 and is being held at the Los Angeles county jail on a total of seven counts of rape, committing a lewd act upon a child, sexual battery, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reports said.
Bail for the designer, who goes by the name Anand Jon, has been fixed at $ 1.3 million and his first court date is on April 4, when he is expected to be arraigned.
Jon was arrested by the local police at his Beverly Hills home after a woman accused him of raping her. A probe into the allegations revealed three other potential victims, the youngest being 15, news reports said.
The crimes are alleged to have occurred between October 2004 and March 5, 2007, it said. — PTI
Govt asked to implement suggestions
New York, March 14
“The UN Committee’s concluding observations confirm that India has failed to properly protect Dalits and tribal communities,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch.
“This is a prime opportunity for India to give its own policies on discrimination some meaning," he said, adding that laws needed to be implemented, and those who violated them prosecuted. — PTI
Kabul, March 14
Several shops were levelled and bystanders tore at the rubble with their hands to haul out survivors.
''Two of my nephews were killed. We don't know what caused it but it was a loud and terrible explosion,'' a weeping Haji Qutubuddin said at the scene.
''God knows better what was the cause.'' An Interior Minister spokesman said at least six people were killed and 10 hurt and rescuers were still combing the site looking for more dead or injured.
''The blast occurred in a shop selling gunpowder and other ammunition for hunting rifles,'' Ali Shah Paktiawal, Kabul police crime branch chief, said.
Residents had earlier said that the blast was caused by a suicide attack on an Afghan Army patrol.
In southern Kandahar province, the Taliban heartland, rebels killed at least one policeman in an attack on a patrol.
In northwestern Faryab province, suspected Taliban militants riding on motorbikes killed a district chief and wounded another in a drive-by shooting.
One of the assailants was also killed when guards of the district chief returned the fire while other attackers fled., Last year, the bloodiest since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, the city was rocked by several suicide attacks that killed dozens.
The Taliban say they will step up suicide attacks across the country this year. NATO has launched a major offensive against the Taliban in the south in what analysts say is a crunch year for both sides.
Three Taliban suicide bombers killed two people and wounded a dozen others on Tuesday in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan.
A senior Taliban commander, Mullah Jamaluddin, was killed along with several of his followers in a ground and air strike in Helmand last week, NATO said. — Reuters
Islamabad, March 14
The talks between Undersecretary Nicholas Burns and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan aimed at building a long-term and sustainable partnership between the two countries have been deferred for the second time at the request of the US, the Dawn quoted officials here as saying. The postponement was sought by the US side stating that Burns was preoccupied, it said. Pakistan's ambassador to the US Mehmud Durrani, who was here to attend the meeting of Pakistani envoys from seven countries, left for Washington. The Foreign Office has been saying for a while that the meeting this time would definitely be held later this month but never gave dates.
The strategic dialogue initiated during the last year's visit of President George Bush to Islamabad included economic growth and prosperity, energy cooperation, peace and security, social sector development, science and technology, democracy and non-proliferation. The first meeting of the dialogue was held in Washington last year.
The second postponement came as a US Congress legislation attempted to link aid to Pakistan with its cooperation to crack down on the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda forces.
The legislation is yet to be approved by the Senate, although the Bush Administration expressed its opposition to linking aid to Pakistan with cooperation against terrorism. — PTI
Washington, March 14
“Such mandates are a retreat, not a strategy,” said Sen John McCain, an Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential contender. But Delaware Democrat Sen Joseph Biden, another White House hopeful, said Republicans were trying to protect President George W. Bush and his “god-awful policy”.
Under the plan, the US would begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq within four months of the proposal’s passage. It sets a goal of pulling out all combat troops by March, 2008. — Reuters