L A T E S T      N E W S

Zardari leaves for Dubai amidst crisis in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari today departed on a one-day private visit to Dubai amidst a standoff between the civilian government and the powerful military on the memo scandal.

News of Zardari's departure was flashed this afternoon by TV news channels. There was no immediate word on the visit from the presidency.

Sources told PTI that Zardari was expected to attend a wedding in Dubai, where he has a private residence.

Several senior government officials are also expected to attend the same wedding.

This is Zardari's second visit to Dubai since the memo issue triggered a confrontation between the government and the military.

He travelled to Dubai on December 6 and remained there for nearly a fortnight for treatment of a heart condition.

That trip had triggered rampant speculation that Zardari was under pressure from the military to step down.

Since then, Zardari has made it clear that he has no intention of quitting as President.

The current political crisis began when Pakistani- American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public an alleged memo that sought US help to prevent a military coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May last year.

The government has dismissed the memo as a "piece of paper" and said the President and the Prime Minister played no role in drafting or delivering it to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.

The army and ISI chiefs urged the Pakistanís Supreme Court to order an investigation into the scandal. The apex court formed a three-judge commission to investigate the memo issue and submit its findings in four weeks.  PTIBack



EC order on statues violation of law, reconsider it: BSP

LUCKNOW: A day after adhering to the deadline to cover all statues of Chief Minister Mayawati and her party poll symbol elephant in Uttar Pradesh, BSP today hit out at the Election Commission, claiming its order was in violation of the law and demanded it reconsider the decision.

Dubbing the Commission's decision as "unjustifed and one-sided", the BSP said it has demoralised the party and left Dalits and backwards "cheated". The ruling party also appeared to raise questions on EC's intentions to hold free and fair Assembly polls in UP starting next month.

The BSP's detailed response to the EC order was contained in a hard-hitting letter which the party's national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra wrote to Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.

"The decision is violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides right of equality. Similar decisions should be taken against other parties also", he said.

"A number of BSP workers and supporters wanted to come out on roads to protest the EC decision but BSP supremo Mayawati has given them strict orders to them to maintain law and order so that election process did not get affected", he added.

BSP had expected that EC would hold free and fair elections but its decision had demoralised the party, Mishra said, adding that had the EC taken unbiased decision on the issue, BSP would have been given equal chance at the polls.

Mishra said the statues of Mayawati, who is "Dalit ki beti" and a four-time CM of Uttar Pradesh, and BSP symbol elephant did not affect voters in any way.

"The EC should re-consider its decision, which is one sided so that BSP candidates should get equal opportunities in the Assembly polls", he said.

Mishra said, "even in Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block and South Block elephant statues are there on upper parts of the pillars and also above the Speakers' chair in Parliament".

He further said if the EC had an objection on "our elephant", it should also have an objection on SP symbol cycle, BJP's lotus and RLD's handpump. ó PTIBack



Cong, Akali workers clash in Bhatinda

Bhatinda:  With assembly elections due in Punjab, political parties are fighting it out, quite literally. A tussle took place between workers of the ruling Shromani Akali Dal and the Congress at village Dyalpura Bhai turned violent.

Four vehicles were smashed and many rounds were fired in the air, creating tension in the village and surrounding areas.

According to reports, MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar from the Congress blocked the vehicle of Shromani Akali Dal candidate's son late in the evening, accusing him of misuse of money. Mr Kangar then  called the police, claiming cash lying in the vehicle. But the cops allegedly took no action.

Mr Kangar said that the Akali Candidate himself opened  fire and his workers 'fired like it was Diwali.' He added that a hefty amount of cash was in the car and the police failed to take any action despite repeated requests.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |