Sikh protest rally marks Baisakhi
No Sikh in Pak yet married under new Act
Reinstatement of Judges
Pak lets Haqiqi group revive its activities
Gaza varsities suspend classes over fuel crisis
19 Ugandan kids die in dormitory fire
Dubai gets AC bus shelters
Car bomb kills 60 near Baghdad
‘Titanic could have sunk due to faulty rivets’
Olympic Torch Relay
Indian-origin man dupes investors in UK
Berlusconi is Italy’s PM
Sikh protest rally marks Baisakhi
New York, April 15
While organising the rally yesterday, they also released a civil rights agenda and a report, which were the result of a year-long survey of 1000 Sikh members by the community coalition.
The report titled-- Making Our Voice Heard: A Civil Rights Agenda for New York City Sikhs -- alleged that a large gap existed between the law and the actual experiences of the Sikh community.
State assembly member Jose Rivera and City Council members John Liu, David Weprin, Robert Jackson and Leroy Comerie were also present in the rally.
''The civil rights agenda not only helps to identify and document the bias, discrimination and harassment experienced by Sikhs in the city, but also takes the critical step of putting forth a bold prescription on ways government may best address these issues,'' Liu said.
The report claimed that Sikhs in the United States suffered from significant issues of bias and discrimination in all walks of life.
''It is the coalition's intention to continue to address these issues both through research and advocacy,'' the Sikh Coalition said, adding, ''On this Baisakhi Day, we call on all Sikhs to stand up for their civil rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.''
Sikhs are among the largest linguistic and religious groups within the broader Indian-American community, which is estimated to number about 3 million. — UNI
Islamabad, April 15
The Act replaced the Anand Marriage Act 1909 after Sikhs demanded that it be repealed since it did not cater to the requirements of their marriages.
Even as many Sikh couples tied the knot on Baisakhi, none of them were registered under the SMA, the Daily Times quoted Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Bishan Singh as saying yesterday.
Singh said a delegation of Sikhs from across the world met Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, who assured that the government would resolve the problems of the Sikhs. He said the SMA needed to be amended and that no couple had applied to him to register their marriage under the Act.
Former federal minister Afzal Haider had earlier announced that many Sikh couples would marry on the Baisakhi festival and their marriages would be registered under the SMA.
Pakistan is the first country in the world to have enacted a separate law to register Sikh marriages. The SMA addressed certain problems of Sikhs not considered by the Anand Marriage Act 1909 such as maintenance, custody of children, registration of marriage and alimony.
The Sikh Marriage Ordinance 2008 has 32 Sections, which state various terms and conditions for Sikh marriages. The Sections include issues such as restitution for conjugal rights, void and voidable marriages, grounds for dissolution of marriages (which include contracting another marriages and cruelty), divorce by consent, and a provision for legitimacy of children. — UNI
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad
Top leaders of the four-party coalition today resolved their major differences and reaffirmed commitment to restore judges in accordance with the Murree Declaration.
“The leadership reiterated that the commitment to reinstate the deposed judges within 30 days after the formation of the government would be honoured in letter and spirit,” information minister Sherry Rehman told reports in a brief chat after the meeting.
“There is no confusion and no need for any elaboration,” she remarked, adding that the judges’ issue would be treated separately from the constitutional package being worked out to restore balance of powers among various institutions.
The meeting that was billed by some observers as make or break occasion for the fledgling coalition was attended by PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan and a representation of JUI secretary-general Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who could not attend because he was indisposed.
Zardari and Nawaz Sharif met separately without aides for nearly an hour before Asfandyar joined them. The meeting took place against the backdrop of widespread speculation amid conflicting statements by PPP leaders that the party was dragging its feet on the judges’ issue.
Mush man made
The government has notified the appointment of Maj-Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani (retd) as national security adviser to the Prime Minister. Durrani is currently Pakistan's ambassador to Washington. The government has named Hussain Haqqani as the new envoy to replace Durrani. General Durrani has been a close friend of President Musharraf who appointed him ambassador to the United States two yours ago. His appointment to a newly created office of national security adviser has invited flak from critics who believe that Musharraf and the United States continue to micromanage affairs in the government and influenced PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to accept their nominee at key places. Official sources have also confirmed a media report that the United States is naming a liaison officer in the embassy in Islamabad for direct access with the National Command Authority (NCA) that exercises control over the country's nuclear assets. The US request for the creation of a permanent liaison officer to deal with nuclear issues comes after a set of 11 highly controversial demands were sent to Islamabad which generated lot of heat within Pakistan. Critics pointed out that the demands reflect the US desire to undertake intrusive operations in the country, seriously compromising its sovereignty.
The government has notified the appointment of Maj-Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani (retd) as national security adviser to the Prime Minister.
Durrani is currently Pakistan's ambassador to Washington. The government has named Hussain Haqqani as the new envoy to replace Durrani.
General Durrani has been a close friend of President Musharraf who appointed him ambassador to the United States two yours ago. His appointment to a newly created office of national security adviser has invited flak from critics who believe that Musharraf and the United States continue to micromanage affairs in the government and influenced PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to accept their nominee at key places.
Official sources have also confirmed a media report that the United States is naming a liaison officer in the embassy in Islamabad for direct access with the National Command Authority (NCA) that exercises control over the country's nuclear assets.
The US request for the creation of a permanent liaison officer to deal with nuclear issues comes after a set of 11 highly controversial demands were sent to Islamabad which generated lot of heat within Pakistan. Critics pointed out that the demands reflect the US desire to undertake intrusive operations in the country, seriously compromising its sovereignty.
Pak lets Haqiqi group revive its activities
The government has decided to allow Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi to resume its political activities that were severely curbed during the past five years under the rule of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi.
Officials in the interior ministry here said Afaq Ahmed and Amir Khan of the Haqiqi group would be released. They said the Sindh government has decided to review the cases instituted against the two top Haqiqi leaders and they would be exonerated in the cases where their involvement could not be proved.
The move to let Haqiqi revive its activities is part of the PPP government's resolve to take strict measures for improving the law and order situation in Karachi. The reshuffle in the security structure and changes in police hierarchy are among a series of steps being taken in this context.
The government has assured Haqiqi leaders that they would be provided full security. Many of the MQM-H leaders and activists had either been eliminated physically in past five years or put in jail on various charges.
Officials said the government would encourage the group to rebuild its headquarters Bait-ul-Hamza which was demolished in October 2002.
"The establishment of lasting peace in Karachi is one of he top priorities of the government and it is a most important and difficult task," an interior ministry official said.
Gaza, April 15
The pro-Hamas Islamic University and al-Aqsa University, identified with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah movement, told students and teachers they could stay at home until next Saturday.
Al-Kamalain Shaath, president of the Islamic University, said only about 30 per cent of its 20,000 students had attended class in recent days. He said most of the students lived outside the city and “it is not easy to walk”.
The crisis took shape after petrol station owners in the Gaza Strip refused to accept fuel supplied by Israel, in protest at smaller quantities piped into the territory.
The situation worsened after Israel’s decision to close the Nahal Oz crossing point, where two Israeli civilians were killed in the last week’s attack by militants on the only terminal for transferring fuel to the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million people.
Israeli officials accuse Hamas of preventing the distribution of fuel already pumped into the territory in order to create a crisis to pressure Israel to ease the blockade it tightened after the Islamist group seized the Gaza Strip in June.
“The crisis in Gaza is part of the choice made by the residents of Gaza to take Hamas as its leader,” Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak told reporters in the southern town of Sderot, a frequent target of cross-border rocket attacks.
“We will continue to supply fuel and simple humanitarian needs, things for hospitals, and cooking gas,” he said. “In the meantime, the crossings, in general, will remain closed.”
Israel’s defence ministry said in a statement it would allow in industrial fuel for Gaza’s lone power plant on Wednesday in response to a request from Egypt.
Hamas, which won a Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006 and has rejected Western calls to recognise Israel and renounce violence, has blamed any fuel shortages on the Israeli blockade. — Reuters
Kampala (Uganda), April 15
By the time the fire brigade reached the school, most of the dormitory for girls had already burned down. The students were between the ages of 7 and 10.
The authorities were investigating the cause of the fire at Buddo Primary School, 12 km from the capital, Kampala, said police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba.
The doors to the dormitory had been locked from the outside and there was no electricity during the time of the fire, said school worker James Kiiza.
"We suspect that bad people are responsible for the fire," he said. "We cannot say it was due to electricity shortcircuit. And the door was locked from outside, which shows that someone could have first locked the door before setting the fire."
He said workers have been on strike for more than a month because they have not been paid. — AP
Dubai, April 15
"We are going to open at least 816 bus shelters within the next few months across Dubai, and the rest will be opened by the end of the year," said Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dossari, CEO of the Public Transport Agency at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, yesterday.
"The aim is to encourage people to leave their cars and use public transport buses in comfort and to ease traffic congestion," Al Dossari said.
The bus shelters will have snacks and soft drink vending machines, ATMs and an integrated set of public services and facilities such as recycling garbage containers and other facilities.
Raman Multani, CEO of the Right Angle Media, which is involved in the construction of the shelters, says out of the 500 locations, 315 bus stops in high-density areas have two shelters to accommodate higher numbers of passengers.
Temperature inside the shelter will be maintained at 22 degree Celsius and some 200 employee will maintain the shelters. — PTI
Baghdad, April 15
The police and a hospital source also said a suicide car bomb had killed 13 people and wounded 14 others in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. That bomb exploded outside a restaurant. Diyala, a multi-ethnic region and one of the most volatile parts of Iraq, has been the scene of operations against Al Qaida by the US and Iraqi forces in recent months.
Suspicion seemed likely to fall on Al Qaeda for the Baquba attack given its penchant for using car bombs. The bomb exploded outside the office of the provincial government in Baquba, 65 km north of Baghdad, the police said and mainly women and children were among the victims.
Medical sources said ambulances were struggling to get the wounded to hospitals because of the sheer number of casualties. The strike was a reminder of remaining instability in the north at a time when most of the attention is focused on fighting in the south and in Baghdad between security forces and the Shi’ite Mehdi Army.
Three fighters were killed in one gunbattle in the slum, before US troops ordered air strikes that killed another three, the military said in a statement. Spokesman Lieut-Col Steven Stover said US forces in a tank killed another four militants who attacked them in a separate engagement. The Shi’ite slum has been the scene of fierce street battles over the past three weeks. The fighting has been more intense than at any time since the first half of 2007, thrusting the Iraq war back to centre stage in the US presidential campaign.
A suicide attack and two car bombs killed 18 people in northern Iraq yesterday. Among the dead from those attacks were 12 members of Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga security force, who were in a truck near the Syrian border when a car bomb exploded as they passed by. — Reuters
New York, April 15
US researchers have discovered that the builder of the Titanic struggled for years to obtain enough good rivets and riveters and ultimately settled on faulty materials that doomed the ship. The builder’s own archives, scientists say, harbour evidence of a deadly mix of low quality rivets and lofty ambition as the builder laboured to construct the three biggest ships in the world at once -- the Titanic and two sisters -- the Olympic and the Britannic, a report in the New York Times said.
When the safety of the rivets was first questioned 10 years ago, the builder ignored the accusation and said it did not have an archivist who could address the issue. Now, historians say new evidence uncovered in the archive of the builder, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, settles the argument and finally solves the riddle of one of the most tragic ship mishaps of all time.
The company says the findings are deeply flawed. “The board was in crisis mode, It was constant stress. At every meeting it was, ‘There’s a problem with the rivets and we need to hire more people,” said Jennifer Hooper McCarty, whose doctoral thesis at Johns Hopkins University analysed the Titanic’s rivets. The company also faced shortages of skilled riveters, the archives showed. McCarty said, for half a year, when the Titanic set sail, the company’s board discussed the problem at every meeting. — UNI
Olympic Torch Relay
Beijing, April 15 China has maintained close “contact and cooperation” with India on the relay, which would pass through New Delhi on April 17, foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular bi-weekly news briefing here. “We hope the Indian side will attach great importance to the torch relay there and take affective measures to ensure a smooth relay,” she said. Jiang, who was asked if China was satisfied with the security arrangements made by India and if any disruption of the relay would impact ties between
the two countries, said Sino-India relations had enjoyed a “good momentum of development” in
recent years. — PTI
Beijing, April 15
China has maintained close “contact and cooperation” with India on the relay, which would pass through New Delhi on April 17, foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular bi-weekly news briefing here.
“We hope the Indian side will attach great importance to the torch relay there and take affective measures to ensure a smooth relay,” she said.
Jiang, who was asked if China was satisfied with the security arrangements made by India and if any disruption of the relay would impact ties between the two countries, said Sino-India relations had enjoyed a “good momentum of development” in recent years. — PTI
London, April 15
Shinder Singh Gangar (46), who was described by the judge as having “great ability and personal charm”, promised clients a return of up to 160 per cent a year on money invested with him. But there was no such investment scheme and the money was instead put into off-shore bank accounts. The transactions were conducted through a accountancy company Dobb White & Co. — PTI
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