Dalai Lama: No more concessions
Nawaz got my security reduced, says Pak Opposition leader
Pak announces bypolls schedule
Pak backs Beijing Olympics
Mush backs ‘bilateral’ approach on Kashmir
11 Afghan cops killed in Taliban attack
Biofuel production crime against humanity: UN
Sikhs in Malaysia upset over minister’s remark
Human rights body’s plea to India
Indians among prominent foreign criminals in UK
Hindi films a ‘must’
Silicon Valley, April 14
“If violence becomes out of control then my only option is to resign,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters on the sidelines of a five-day conference on compassion in Seattle.
“If the majority of people commit violence, then I resign,” the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate said on his first visit to the USA since the recent Chinese crackdown on dissent in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama said he was fully committed to his “middle way” approach to Tibet’s relationship with China.
“I am fully committed to middle approach; further more concessions, I don’t know,” he said.
“Our struggle is with a few in the leadership of the People’s Republic of China and not with the Chinese people,” the Dalai Lama said in a statement.
However, he expressed fears that suppression in Tibet may increase if the present situation continues.
“I am very much concerned that the Chinese government will unleash more force and increase the suppression of Tibetan people,” he said.
The Dalai Lama also said his representatives were holding “private talks” with Beijing following the eruption of protests in Tibet last month against the Chinese rule.
Describing the talks as “some efforts” through “private channels”, the Dalai Lama said the talks were “still in full mystery. I don’t want any speculation”, the Seattle Times reported. However, he said he himself had no direct contact. — PTI
Lahore, April 14
The new government had reduced his security despite fears of terrorist attacks on both him and his family, said Elahi, the leader of opposition in the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament.
New Punjab chief minister Dost Muhammad Khosa had on Saturday criticised Elahi, the former provincial chief minister, for extravagant spending on security at the chief minister's secretariat.
The PML-N has formed government in the politically crucial Punjab province after defeating Elahi's PML-Q party in polls held in February.
Elahi told a news conference last night that he had been advised by Punjab's home secretary to use bulletproof vehicles as his family and he were under threat.
Elahi said he had returned all but one of these vehicles to the government when his term ended last year.
Khosa has said that the new chief minister's secretariat building, built at considerable expense, will be converted into an information technology university for women.
Elahi said the secretariat was government-owned and the Sharifs should donate 300 acres of their own land if they wanted to set up a university.
Elahi said he and his cousin, former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, will contribute money if the Sharif brothers announced they would set up a university on 300 acres of land from the 1,000 acres they possess at Raiwind near Lahore.
Khosa had also criticised Elahi on Saturday for allegedly operating a Rs 10 million unaudited "secret fund". Elahi denied this allegation and called it "baseless". — PTI
Pak announces bypolls schedule
The Election Commission of Pakistan today announced the schedule of byelections for 38 vacant seats of national and provincial assemblies.
The polling for six national and 22 provincial Assembly seats would be held on June 3, Chief Election Commissioner Justice Qazi Farooq announced at a news conference here.
Qazi said nomination papers would be available from April 16 for the byelections and the same could be submitted till April 21.
The scrutiny of papers would be conducted between April 22 and 28 while the final list of candidates was expected to be out by May 12.
He said the election campaign by candidates would end on June 1. Qazi Farooq praised political parties for extending cooperation in holding the general elections in a peaceful and orderly manner.
Apart from six National Assembly and 32 provincial seats that were at stake, election to five Senate seats would also be held on May 6.
Two Senate seats, including one vacated by ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan after his election to the National Assembly, had fallen vacant in the NWFP.
Two seats had fallen vacant in Balochistan and one in the tribal area. Provincial Assembly members constitute the electoral college for the Senate.
The president of the pro-Musharraf PML-Q, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, has announced that his party would put up candidates on all vacant seats.
One of the high profile contest would be in Punjab, possibly Lahore, where PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif would be a candidate.
Shahbaz has been designated as the ultimate choice of the party as Chief Minister once he crosses the hurdle and becomes an elected member of the Assembly to qualify for the coveted post. Dost Mohammad Khosa was sworn in last week as Chief Minister to stand in for Shahbaz.
Pak backs Beijing Olympics
Islamabad, April 14 The Games have been beset by controversy some four months before the athletes even arrive in China, with the ceremonial torch relay drawing large protests in several countries over Beijing’s policies, in particular its crackdown on unrest in Tibet. “This is a sporting event in which other issues if included would have very serious repercussions,” Arif Hassan, president of the Pakistan Olympic Association, told a news conference. “I think sports should be treated as sports which can be used for the development of peace in the world.” Hassan said Pakistan had taken all security measures to ensure the torch relay’s visit to Islamabad passed without trouble.
The torch will arrive in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Islamabad, April 14
The Games have been beset by controversy some four months before the athletes even arrive in China, with the ceremonial torch relay drawing large protests in several countries over Beijing’s policies, in particular its crackdown on unrest in Tibet.
“This is a sporting event in which other issues if included would have very serious repercussions,” Arif Hassan, president of the Pakistan Olympic Association, told a news conference.
“I think sports should be treated as sports which can be used for the development of peace in the world.”
Hassan said Pakistan had taken all security measures to ensure the torch relay’s visit to Islamabad passed without trouble. The torch will arrive in Islamabad on Wednesday. — Reuters
Beijing, April 14
In his first public comments on Kashmir after the Yousuf Raza Gillani-led government assumed office last month, Musharraf chose to sing a different tune with an emphasis on resolving the “festering” issue bilaterally, a departure from its traditional stance for third party mediation.
“...the dispute with Kashmir, as far as Pakistan is concerned... may I say very proudly that we going on a bilateral approach with India,” Musharraf, who is on a six-day visit to close ally China, told teachers and students at the elite Tsinghua University here.
“We hope that good sense prevails on both sides to resolve this long standing dispute amicably between our two countries for the economic benefit of people of these two countries,” the President said.
Pakistan has been insisting on a third party mediation, even suggesting China’s involvement in the Kashmir issue, a demand outrightly rejected by India, which wants it to be dealt only bilaterally.
But Asif Ali Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party that leads the ruling coalition, had said recently that the ties between the two countries should not be held hostage to the Kashmir issue and that should be left for future generations to resolve.
Pakistan’s new foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also said his government would not shy away from taking a “different” approach on the Kashmir issue and stressed on promoting bilateral trade.
Musharraf made reference to Kashmir twice in his speech while reviewing the international scene in the last 60 years, noting that the world was now moving toward multi-polarity.
“The old disputes have festered. I call old disputes.. the Palestinian dispute.. the Kashmir dispute,” he said as he spoke of the September 11 terror attacks in the US that he said had “completely changed” the world and brought in “new dynamics”.
Speaking about dangers to peace and development, Musharraf said unresolved political disputes led to terrorism and extremism. “Palestine is at the core of this,” he said and sough its early resolution.
“New approaches and new actors” were required to resolve the Palestine issue, he said and suggested roles for China, the EU and non-Arabic Muslim world, including Pakistan in it. — PTI
Kandahar, April 14
The attack in Arghandab district of the troubled province was the latest in a string of violent incidents blamed on the Islamist rebels, who were toppled in a US-led invasion in 2001.
"One of our police posts was attacked in Arghandab last night. At this point I can confirm that 11 policemen have been killed," deputy provincial police chief Amanuallah Khan told AFP.
Police vehicles and weapons were also seized by the attackers, Khan said, blaming the raid on the "enemies of Afghanistan" — a term Afghan authorities use to refer to the Taliban.
The Kandahar province was where the Taliban rose to prominence in the early 1990s and is one of the worst hit regions in an insurgency led by the hardline militia since their ouster.
The attack comes two days after Taliban rebels targeted counter-narcotics police as they destroyed an opium poppy field, killing four officers. — AFP
Berlin, April 14
“Producing biofuel today is a crime against humanity,” UN special rapporteur for the right to food Jean Ziegler told Bayerischer Runfunk radio.
Using arable land to produce crops for biofuel has reduced surfaces available to grow food, many observers warn.
Ziegler called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to change its policies on agricultural subsidies and to stop supporting programmes aimed at debt reduction.
In response to a call by the IMF and the World Bank to a food crisis that is stoking violence and political instability, German foreign minister Peer Steinbrueck gave his tacit backing.
“Germany will not shirk its duty to such an action,” Steinbrueck told German public radio. — AFP
Washington, April 14
As US President George W Bush is expected to call on the American Congress to pass a law combatting global warming, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate treaty secretariat, said India and China should not be bound by the same restrictions that would have to be imposed on the US and other developed countries.
“I don’t think that’s realistic,” de Boer told The Washington Times, making the point that developing nations were still at the “beginning” of development and the developed world have a “historical responsibility” for greenhouse gas emissions.
“Developing countries say, rightly I believe, ‘You rich countries have been pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution,’” he said.
The top UN climate negotiator has compared China and India to new tenants in an apartment building that has fallen into disrepair and are told upon renting a unit that they will have to pay for capital improvements.
“The tenants need to decide among themselves but meanwhile, nobody’s maintaining the building while the tenants fight,” he added.
The Bush administration has said that while the US was prepared to seriously talk about climate change any final agreement would have to include countries like India and China. — PTI
Kuala Lumpur, April 14
Chief Minister Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin referred to Sikhs as ‘Bengalis’ while wishing them a happy Baisakhi at a function in Ipoh yesterday.
Nizar’s comments about the Punjabi and Tamil New Year celebrations raised eyebrows as the Sikhs gathered there had expected the head of a state government to know the difference between the two communities.
Some Sikh members immediately left the function as they felt it was an affront to the community.
Nizar, however, later admitted that he had made a mistake in referring to Sikhs as Bengalis, the New Straits Times reported today. In Malaysia, Sikhs have been mistakenly referred to as Bengalis for decades.
In his speech at the luncheon, Nizar wished the Tamil community Puthandu Vazth-ukal or Happy New Year followed by “Happy Baisakhi to the Bengali community”.
Dheer Singh, chairman of the United Perak Sikhs Organisation, a consultative umbrella body representing nine Sikh-based voluntary organisations in the state, was upset with the minister.
“Today we can learn about anything and everything from the Internet. There are many websites on the Sikh religion and the people. I feel sad that even though Sikhs have been in this country for close to 150 years, Malaysians still think we are Bengalis,” the daily quoted him as saying. — PTI
Human rights body’s plea to India
New York, April 14
The human rights watchdog said that the Andhra Pradesh forest department on April 5 destroyed homes of displaced indigenous persons residing in Kothooru village to forcibly evict them.
Since January 2007, the Andhra Pradesh forest department has made about 10 attempts to forcibly evict displaced persons from Kothooru, it said.
"Thousands of men, women and children fled to Andhra Pradesh from the conflict in Chhattisgarh," said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior researcher for South Asia at human rights watchdog.
"Instead of providing them with safe sanctuary, the authorities are tearing down their homes and putting them in harm's way," she claimed.
The watchdog said since June 2005, between 30,000 and 50,000 people have fled to Khammam and Warrangal districts of Andhra Pradesh following escalating tensions in neighbouring Chhattisgarh between Naxalites, an armed Maoist group and a state-supported vigilante group called Salwa Judum.
The HRW said that its investigation in November and December last year showed that most villagers fled to Andhra Pradesh because of attacks by Salwa Judum and the police.
Saying these settlements are illegal, the authorities have without prior notice or due process, repeatedly burned down the hamlets of hundreds of displaced persons, forcibly evicting them from forest lands, the agency added.
"In some cases, the Andhra Pradesh forest department officials have forced them into trucks and dropped them close to the Chhattisgarh state boundary," the HRW alleged. — PTI
London, April 14
According to the Home Office , the 96 foreign nationals convicted of homicide last year were from 28 different countries. They were involved in 21 per cent of the total of 461 murder and manslaughter cases.
The Labour government has often been blamed for not ensuring that foreign criminals are deported to their countries of origin.
"These extraordinary figures demonstrate the failure of the government's immigration policy, which has seen all sorts of undesirable characters being able to get into this country and use the Human Rights Act to escape deportation," David Davies, a Conservative spokesperson, said.
The figures show in London, 76 of 231 identified killers were foreign nationals, while in Manchester, it was eight out of 42, and in Bedfordshire, three out of seven. In many cases, the figures reflect the influence of immigrant crime gangs.
Police sources say that half of the organised crime gangs in London are 'ethnic', or bound by a common language or homeland. The most common nationalities for foreign killers were Pakistani, Indian and Jamaican.
According to figures, 15 per cent of those who died were from overseas. In many cases, both victim and killer were from the same immigrant community, reflecting internal feuding.A Home Office spokesman said: "Last year, we deported a record number of foreign national criminals. Anyone convicted of a serious crime will be automatically deported." — PTI
Hindi films a ‘must’
Thimphu, April 14 "I love watching Hindi movies. A couple of days after a film releases in India, we get its copies," says Ugen
Penzang. "We don't get to see Hindi movies in our halls as they are few in
number." The Himalayan country has only seven cinemas. — PTI
Thimphu, April 14
"I love watching Hindi movies. A couple of days after a film releases in India, we get its copies," says Ugen Penzang.
"We don't get to see Hindi movies in our halls as they are few in number." The Himalayan country has only seven cinemas. — PTI
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