SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Terror plot foiled in Kabul, 10-tonne explosives seized
Kabul, April 21
Afghanistan security forces have detained five insurgents with 10 tonnes of explosives intended for use in attacks in crowded areas of Kabul and linked them to Pakistan-based militants, an intelligence spokesman said on Saturday.

Siachen: Zardari rules out unilateral troop withdrawal
Lahore, April 21
President Asif Ali Zardari has ruled out any unilateral withdrawal of Pakistani soldiers from Siachen, saying troops could be called back from the Himalayan glacier only if India agrees to do the same.

UN monitors visit battered Homs
United Nation/Beirut, April 21
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Russia-European drafted resolution on Saturday that authorises an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria for three months to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire.
A girl during an anti-regime demonstration in the town of Talbisseh in Homs province.
A girl during an anti-regime demonstration in the town of Talbisseh in Homs province. ó AFP


EARLIER STORIES


UK marks Queen Elizabeth IIís birthday with 41-gun salute
London, April 21
Gun teams fire a 41-gun salute in Londonís Hyde Park in honour of Britainís Queen Elizabeth IIís 86th birthday on Saturday.
Britain marked Queen Elizabeth II's 86th birthday today with 41 gun salutes at Hyde Park and the Tower of London, while the monarch herself celebrated with family. ďThe Queen is spending the day privately," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, adding that the monarch was at Windsor Castle, the official residence west of London where she spends most weekends.

Gun teams fire a 41-gun salute in Londonís Hyde Park in honour of Britainís Queen Elizabeth IIís 86th birthday on Saturday. ó AFP

Hina: India, Pak back on negotiating table
New York, April 21
India and Pakistan are back on the dialogue table to sort out issues between the two nations, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has declared, saying that Islamabad cannot afford to be selective in improving ties with its neighbours.





 

 

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Terror plot foiled in Kabul, 10-tonne explosives seized


Kabul, April 21
Afghanistan security forces have detained five insurgents with 10 tonnes of explosives intended for use in attacks in crowded areas of Kabul and linked them to Pakistan-based militants, an intelligence spokesman said on Saturday.

The alleged connection to militants in Pakistan will likely step up the pressure on Islamabad, after a recent coordinated assault by insurgents on diplomatic and government areas in Kabul put the spotlight on the South Asian nation.

"It could have caused large-scale bloodshed," National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri told a news conference. "Three Pakistani terrorists and two of their Afghan collaborators who placed the explosives under bags of potatoes in a truck were caught."

The 10 tonnes of explosives were stuffed into 400 bags and hidden under piles of potatoes in the back of a Pakistan-registered truck on Kabul's outskirts, said Tahiri.

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, said there was "no question" that the Haqqani network, which Washington believes is based in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, mounted last weekend's 18- hour rocket and gunfire operation in Kabul. Crocker called on Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqanis and said the response to that demand would influence future ties between the strategic allies. Relations have been heavily strained by a series of events, including the unilateral US special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May of last year.

Pakistan has denied accusations that its military spy agency sees the Haqqanis as a counterweight to the growing influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

Tahiri said the five men confessed to receiving training from Noor Afzal and Mohammad Omar, who he identified as key commanders of the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan intelligence. Video footage released by the NDS to media showed the detained men, including the alleged Pakistanis, talking about where they came from while sitting against a blank white wall.

A Pakistani intelligence official declined comment on the accusations, while Afghan officials were not immediately available to give additional information.

While the Pakistani Taliban cooperate with the Afghan Taliban, they are sworn enemies of the US-backed Islamabad government. It is still not clear whether the confessions will create a new crisis in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. ó Reuters

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Siachen: Zardari rules out unilateral troop withdrawal

Lahore, April 21
President Asif Ali Zardari has ruled out any unilateral withdrawal of Pakistani soldiers from Siachen, saying troops could be called back from the Himalayan glacier only if India agrees to do the same.

"The withdrawal of Pakistani troops is possible provided India also agrees. It will not be a unilateral decision," he said while addressing a convention of workers of his Pakistan People's Party in Okara district, 100 km from Lahore, yesterday.

Speaking almost a fortnight after an avalanche slammed into a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp in Siachen sector and buried 138 persons, Zardari said he was worried by the problems of Pakistani soldiers and India too would be concerned for its troops on Siachen.

"There is no doubt that Siachen is the most difficult battlefield in the world. We are aware of the extreme climate and other difficulties at one of the world's most difficult terrains but the withdrawal can only take place if the two governments decide to pull out from the area jointly," he said.

"Pakistan wants to solve its issues with India through talks," Zardari said. Islamabad is willing to hold a dialogue with New Delhi on all subjects, he added. ó PTI

Didnít Call for pull-out: Nawaz

Responding to a volley of criticism over his statement on withdrawal of troops from Siachen, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif said he never called for unilateral pull-out. Nawaz said he had, in fact, called for resumption of a peace dialogue between Pakistan and India. The hope is that dialogues may result in both countries pulling out their troops from the conflict zone, he said.

The withdrawal of Pakistani troops is possible, provided India also agrees. It will not be a unilateral decision. ó Asif Ali Zardari, Pak President

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UN monitors visit battered Homs

United Nation/Beirut, April 21 
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Russia-European drafted resolution on Saturday that authorises an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria for three months to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire.

The vote came hours after UN ceasefire monitors visited the Syrian city of Homs on Saturday after months of bombardment.

Opposition activists in Homs, epicentre of the 13-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, said shelling and gunfire stopped for the first time in weeks before Syrian authorities let the monitors into the city.

The resolution said that deployment of the UN observer mission, which will be called UNSMIS, will be "subject to assessment by the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) of relevant developments on the ground, including the cessation of violence." ó Reuters

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UK marks Queen Elizabeth IIís birthday with 41-gun salute

London, April 21
Britain marked Queen Elizabeth II's 86th birthday today with 41 gun salutes at Hyde Park and the Tower of London, while the monarch herself celebrated with family.

ďThe Queen is spending the day privately," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, adding that the monarch was at Windsor Castle, the official residence west of London where she spends most weekends.

At Hyde Park in central London, there was a brief interruption to the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery's salute when a panicked horse broke free in front of a crowd of nearly a thousand spectators.

An army spokeswoman said no one had been injured in the incident. "The horse was having the time of his life," the spokeswoman said. "He just wanted to join his mates. These are extremely well-trained horses, but you just never know when you're working with animals."

Gun salutes also took place at several military bases across the country to mark the occasion. The Queen's official birthday is celebrated each June, in the hope of warmer weather for the annual Trooping the Colour military ceremony.

This year's Trooping the Colour on June 16 will be part of a packed summer schedule for the Queen, who is marking her diamond jubilee with a tour of Britain and is set to open the London Olympic Games on July 27.

Britain is celebrating the Queenís 60 years on the throne with a four-day weekend in June that will include a pageant of boats on the Thames and a concert outside Buckingham Palace featuring Paul McCartney and Elton John. ó AFP

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Hina: India, Pak back on negotiating table

New York, April 21
India and Pakistan are back on the dialogue table to sort out issues between the two nations, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has declared, saying that Islamabad cannot afford to be selective in improving ties with its neighbours.

"We cannot afford to be selective" in improving relations with immediate neighbours as betterment of ties with India, China, Afghanistan and Iran is needed for stability in the region, she said.

"Pakistan's policy toward all regional neighbours has been consistent. This government's policy has been consistent, that we need to find peace and stability within," Khar said in an interview with CNN.

Khar said the way to achieve stability is to "find a friendship" and improve ties based on trust. ó PTI

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