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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Islam, Women and Feminism
30 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com
Can Women Be Imams?
Koranic traditions must be taken seriously, but it is also necessary to ask questions about their contemporaneity too. Following the Friday prayers led by Dr Amina Wadud in New York on 18th March and the emotional public debate to which that event led, I have repeatedly been asked for my view on the matter. I believe the issue may seem simple, but is more complicated than it appears. So I'd like to contribute a few ideas to the discussion, rather than put forward a clear opinion. --Halima Krausen
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Can Women Be Imams?
By Halima Krausen
In the face of the controversy over Amina Wadud's Friday prayer, Muslim scholar Halima Krausen argues that we should have the courage to ask our own questions, to study the matter conscientiously and to reach conclusions which make sense in our times
Koranic traditions must be taken seriously, Krausen says, but it is also necessary to ask questions about their contemporaneity too. Following the Friday prayers led by Dr Amina Wadud in New York on 18th March and the emotional public debate to which that event led, I have repeatedly been asked for my view on the matter. I believe the issue may seem simple, but is more complicated than it appears. So I'd like to contribute a few ideas to the discussion, rather than put forward a clear opinion.
The first point to make is that it's absolutely unclear what we're talking about. Far from defining a clear "rank," the term "Imâm" is used for a wide spectrum of different meanings.
The word Imâm is related to the word umm, "mother"
In the Koran, the word is used in a more fundamental way and refers to leading exemplary figures like Abraham (Sura 2:124) or the judges of the Children of Israel (Sura 32:23-24) or the potential of all upright people in general (Sura 25:74; 28:4-5); but it can also refer misleadingly to characters like Pharaoh and others like him, who lead one "to the fire" (Sura 28:39-41).
The word Imâm stems from the root "amma" – move forward, lead, be in front – and is related to the word "umm" – mother – which goes beyond the biological aspect towards the meaning "Source, basis, being."
The second apparently unclear point in the current debate is one of methodology. Both supporters and critics of the Friday prayers in New York draw hasty conclusions either from specific traditions (since the Koran itself doesn't deal with the issue directly) or from assumed principles, without examining their background or taking account of their context.
"The gates of legal innovation are closed"
One of the most frequent arguments is that "this has never happened before and has never been considered possible in the past, and therefore should never happen."
There is indeed a methodological principle called Istishâb – the extension of a legal ruling – which applies in cases where the original conditions for the ruling remain the same. This prevents legal and social experiments from being carried out for their own sake, and requires urgent reasons for change, especially regarding prayers and services ('Ibâdât).
This principle has been tacitly overemphasised in Sunni schools of legal thought, and this overemphasis has been strengthened by the doctrine that allegedly "the gates of Ijtihâd (Islamic legal innovation) are closed" – a view which has often led to legal inflexibility.
The ontological equality of man and woman in the Koran
But there have been changes even in liturgical matters: while we assume that we are following the example of the prophet in such matters as ritual prayer (which in principle we no doubt do), in fact we follow the standardised instructions of Muslim teachers from the formative period of Islam, whose details can vary from one school to another. And at least in the diaspora, we tend to feel the need to simplify even those differences for the sake of Muslim unity, rather than to use the dynamic which they offer as a way of deepening the riches of our spiritual and cultural life.
On the other hand, the supporters of change cite the ontological equality of man and woman in the Koran and the fact that the same terms are used to refer to their practical and spiritual responsibilities (e.g. Sura 4:1, 33:35, 9:71 etc.). They overlook impatiently the development of Islamic tradition in the past and demand immediate reform in the direction of justice and equality here and now.
Islam knows no hierarchy of office. All the same, in the classical Fiqh, questions of priority regarding who should lead communal prayers were often not decided solely on the basis of knowledge, skill in recitation or piety. Issues of social hierarchy also played a role.
Women may lead prayers – for women
Within the patriarchal structures which ruled in the largest part of the Muslim world at that time, the idea that a woman might lead public prayer would have been seen as very strange.
Most schools of law consider that women can lead prayers for women. There are tendencies which discourage woman from doing so, and, in the case of Mâlikite school, prohibit them from doing so, evidently on the basis of a Hadîth according to which "a people which entrusts its matters to a woman can never win success."
It's an argument which is often called upon to support opposition to women holding positions of leadership, but it's an argument which neither fulfils the necessary criteria of authenticity, nor can it be brought to conform to the image of the Queen of Sheba as presented in the Koran, nor does it conform to the principle that men and women, as mutual friends and allies (Awliyâ'), "should offer each other good and deny each other evil" (Sura 9:71).
At the same time there are confirmed reports that the wives of the prophet certainly led prayers for women, which are verified by details such as that the (female) Imâm stood in the rows together with the other women.
Some scholars said women may lead mixed prayers
We are far from knowing all the debates of the past on this subject. We only have access to that which was recorded in writing and has been preserved. Indeed there were scholars who had nothing against women leading even mixed ritual prayer, among them Abu Thawr al-Kalbi (died 876), Abu Isma'il al-Muzani (died 879), al-Isfahani (died 884), the founder of the Zâhirite school, at-Tabari (died 923), or Ibn Taymiyya (died 1328).
We don't know many details of the arguments they used, but we also have no evidence that their positions called forth a storm of protest in their time or that they were condemned by their contemporaries. This could be because the cases they mentioned were regarded as exceptional (for example, that a woman may lead the Tarawîh prayers during the month of Ramadan when no man is available who knows the Koran by heart, or that a woman may lead her husband, their children and their slaves when she is the most learned of them).
One could argue that the Tarawîh prayers are not obligatory and that prayers with the family are not public, and that one should not transform exceptions into rules. On the other hand, one could understand such exceptions as confirmation of the theory that it's not reasons of theology or principle, but social reasons which are decisive in these rulings.
Between prejudiced doubt and uncritical approval
The case of Umm Waraqa is often given as a precedent in the current debate. In the various versions of her story, which all add a bit to the picture, we learn that she was one of the women who knew the Koran by heart, and that the Prophet called on her to be the Imâm of the members of her household (Ahl Dârihâ).
Critics have tried to prove that there are weak points in one or other of the Isnâd (chains of transmission) which put the authenticity of the tradition into doubt. On the other hand, the example is used uncritically to back the demand for equal rights for women in leading public prayers.
Between these extreme positions, a debate is taking place as to who the members of her household were and whether the situation was a private or a public one.
A Development Towards A More Rational Approach?
There seem to be no examples of women who led Friday prayers, but there were many women who became famous as preachers on other occasions. We only have to look in the classical collections of biographies to find them.
But we would be deceiving ourselves if we left it at that and simply ignored the many statements which say, for example, that the voice of women is seductive, that the welfare of a woman is dependent on the satisfaction of her husband, that a woman's memory and intellect are inferior, or that women cause temptation and disturbance (Fitnah). These views come from Koran verses taken out of context, traditions and general assumptions.
In fact I'm surprised at the fact that such arguments are scarcely to be found in the current debate, and I ask myself if this is a sign of a development towards a more rational approach to the issue, or whether it is merely an attempt to be politically correct.
Islam's rich cultural variety
The debate over the role of the woman as Imâm is symptomatic. What we really need is a critical evaluation of the situation as required by the Muslim Ummah.
To start with, aside from the stereotypes, there isn't anything like "the position of woman in Muslim society." Parallel to the various possibilities for women in the service which are dependent on the views of specific schools of law and local customs, there are, between Morocco and Indonesia, between Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, varied climatic and economic and political conditions (which, to be sure, may not necessarily be just), historical experiences, and social and family structures, varying from a clearly patriarchal system to matrilineal structures with every shading in between. All are rooted in the same Koranic and prophetic sources and all make their own contribution to a rich cultural variety.
There's an astonishing contradiction between the high proportion of women students at universities in Muslim countries and the high proportion of illiterate women in the same countries, between the expression of high regard for women and the practical difficulties put in the way of giving women a bigger say in decision making processes, between the lip service paid to the delicacy of women and the off-putting ugliness of the women's areas in many mosques or the rough comments on the duty of obedience of a women towards her husband.
In my own daily work with Muslims in Europe, I meet people from different Arab countries, many of them students or refugees with different backgrounds as far as their education and political attitudes are concerned. Many of them insist on strict separation of the sexes, which may not always be a disadvantage, since it often encourages initiative and solidarity among women.
Does difference necessarily lead to fragmentation?
I am often surprised by the support given to daughters who want to study, and by the attempts in other families to restrict and control their daughters. There are Turkish migrants who are often strongly influenced by the clear role expectations of their rural background, while the next generation works its way through a labyrinth of values and norms between the cultures as they wrestle with their identity.
Many Muslims, especially women, are frightened. They are frightened of difference: they fear it may lead to the fragmentation of their society, to such an extent that they become incapable of dealing with contradictions and differences of opinion.
Many Muslims, especially women, are angry – angry about stereotypes from outside and ignorance and superstition inside the community to which they are repeatedly challenged to react. This gives them scarcely any time for constructive thought. They are angry, because they feel themselves cheated of their spiritual and cultural inheritance, and they are angry about the lack of any possibility of working at the development of a contemporary interpretation and application of the values they hold.
What are our options?
Should we, like uncritical slaves, obey everything which is declared in the tone of command, without questioning the sense of it? Or should we work towards the Koranic ideal under which men and women are partners (Sura 9:71), with the same moral values and religious duties (Sura 33:35) and the same duty to work together to build a just society?
And on another level: should we make women's education and the improvement of women's position in society into a priority, both in the general society and in the Muslim community in particular? Or should we push forward with symbolic actions from which one might expect that they will have an influence on the situation? Or are there perhaps yet other ways to improve things?
Final comments
Currently there are more questions than answers. Ijtihâd is necessary in many areas, and there are many legal rules which have moved away from the spirit of the Koran, even if they are founded on some fragment of the text.
Aside from that, the teaching that Mohammed is the final messenger of God is not the same as saying that the situation of the past must never change. It's much more the starting point for a more mature way of contributing to the welfare of human society.
I certainly don't want to be misunderstood as meaning that I lack respect for any of the scholars of the past. Whatever their position, they have tried hard not simply to follow isolated statements or hasty conclusions from precedent, but to work systematically within the framework of their respective methodology, experience and society.
In the same spirit, we should not follow them blindly. We should have the courage to ask our own questions, to study the matter conscientiously and to reach conclusions which make sense in our times.
Halima Krausen is a Muslim scholar and lecturer for the Initiative for Islamic Studies in Hamburg, Germany. (Translation from German: Michael Lawton)
Source: © Qantara.de 2005


Islam and Politics
30 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com
Pakistan: A hard-pressed president
Sensing danger, Zardari and Gilani have moved to stop their party leaders from issuing statements critical of the Supreme Court and the Pakistan Army. This was considered necessary to avoid confrontation with the military, which is Pakistan's most powerful institution, and the resurgent judiciary that is not afraid to take bold decisions and challenge the other pillars of the state. Some of the PPP leaders had earlier given critical statements against the judiciary and Raja Riaz, who is a senior PPP minister in Punjab, went to the extent of saying that no army general can blackmail the PPP as it was the party of the masses. Other PPP leaders demanded reopening of cases against Nawaz Sharif and his supporters. -- Rahimullah Yusufzai
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A hard-pressed president
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
With his amnesty against corruption charges set aside and powerful forces impatient with his deeds and misdeeds, Asif Ali Zardari stands on shaky grounds today.
TOUGH TALK: President Zardari's emotional and, in part, reckless speech while observing his wife Benazir Bhutto's second death anniversary in Naudhero December 27 may well upset the presidential apple cart
Pakistan is again facing political instability triggered by a legal battle in the apex court. This could compound the country's problems at a time when it is suffering from economic depression, combating an insurgency in Balochistan and fighting a costly and protracted battle against militants linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The federal coalition government, headed by late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), appears to be going on the back foot after initially showing some defiance over the Supreme Court judgement that declared the controversial amnesty law, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), null and void.
Led by Bhutto's widower and now President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the government was earlier showing unhappiness over the court verdict and labelling it as selective. But after getting some saner advice, President Zardari is now saying that the government respected the court's judgement and supported independence of the judiciary.
However, not many Pakistanis believe him considering the fact that he and the PPP government were dragging their feet before being forced to reinstate the Supreme -
Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and 60 other superior courts' judges sacked by former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf after an unprecedented protest movement spearheaded by opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, lawyers and the civil society last summer.
Zardari's handpicked Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, has been painstakingly explaining that his government didn't want confrontation with the judiciary or the military and that the Supreme Court's orders would be implemented. He dispelled the impression created earlier by some PPP leaders that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was behind the judgement by the Supreme Court handed down by Justice Chaudhry and 16 other judges on the bench. He also said the government would decide about reopening the Swiss banks' case against President Zardari as directed by the Supreme Court once the detailed judgement of the court was made public.
There are more than $60 million deposits in Swiss banks in the name of Zardari and the late Ms Bhutto. Successive governments in Islamabad have alleged that this amount was collected through kickbacks and commissions paid by a company from Switzerland in return for a lucrative public sector contract in Pakistan. The Musharraf government had withdrawn the corruption case against Benazir Bhutto and her husband following the issuance of the NRO and the Swiss banks accounts were unfrozen. However, the Supreme Court has now directed that this case and all other cases withdrawn under the NRO and offering amnesty to about 8,000 influential people should be reopened.
The Zardari government hasn't taken any steps yet to implement the December 16 Supreme Court verdict. Though certain old cases of corruption have been reopened on the directive of the apex court and some of the accused have appeared in accountability courts after being summoned, other high profile cases haven't been taken up yet. The criminal cases remain unopened and more accountability courts, as directed by the Supreme Court, have not been set up. Two federal ministers including Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Law Minister Babar Awan have appeared in accountability courts in cases of corruption and misrule. More ministers may be summoned by the courts but there is no possibility of summoning Zardari who enjoys presidential immunity.
Despite the Supreme Court's directive, the government hasn't written to the Swiss courts to reopen the cases against President Zardari. This is a contentious issue and on it depend the future relations between the Zardari government and judiciary. A ruling PPP leader Fauzia Wahab wondered how was it possible for the government to ask the Swiss courts to reopen cases against the president of Pakistan. She argued that the ruling PPP cannot possibly instruct the Swiss courts to take action against Zardari, who refused to give up the office of co-chairperson of the PPP even after his election as the country's president.
Faced with this dilemma, the PPP-headed federal government has been using different options to overcome the crisis. It is making efforts to secure the passage of a resolution from the National Assembly, Senate and the four provincial assemblies reposing confidence in President Zardari. The trust vote would show that the president still enjoys the confidence of majority of lawmakers and that the coalition government is strong enough to foil any conspiracy against it. However, the opposition PML-N of Nawaz Sharif has decided to oppose such a resolution and other political parties including Zardari's allies would demand a price in return for backing the trust vote. The recent victory of PPP candidates in by-elections of two assembly seats, one in Balochistan and the other in Gilgit-Baltistan, is also being portrayed as a vote of trust in the ruling party and its leadership. However, both seats were won in the past by the PPP and it was able to retain them amid allegations of rigging and the use of government resources made by the opposition political parties.
Efforts are also being made to seek the help of Nawaz Sharif, who twice served as prime minister in the past and is the most popular politician in Pakistan, according to recent public opinion polls. Zardari has held fruitless meetings with him in the past and is keen to meet him again. Prime Minister Gilani too went to Lahore to meet Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif. Though Nawaz Sharif is promising he will not rock the boat and refuse any move to topple Zardari and his government, he also wants constitutional amendments that would take away presidential powers and give them to the prime minister and parliament. Sharif is also demanding implementation of the Supreme Court verdict on the NRO, an issue that is currently the major bone of contention in Pakistani politics.
Sensing danger, Zardari and Gilani have moved to stop their party leaders from issuing statements critical of the Supreme Court and the Pakistan Army. This was considered necessary to avoid confrontation with the military, which is Pakistan's most powerful institution, and the resurgent judiciary that is not afraid to take bold decisions and challenge the other pillars of the state. Some of the PPP leaders had earlier given critical statements against the judiciary and Raja Riaz, who is a senior PPP minister in Punjab, went to the extent of saying that no army general can blackmail the PPP as it was the party of the masses. Other PPP leaders demanded reopening of cases against Nawaz Sharif and his supporters.
The Supreme Court, despite showing signs of judicial activism, too is moving cautiously to avoid confrontation with the government. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry observed during hearing of a case on December 24 that the Supreme Court judges had their limitations and that they didn't want to be blamed for interfering in the affairs of the executive arm of the government.
Source: The Asian Affairs, Pakistan


Islamic World News
30 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com
Indonesian gambling convicts escape before caning
BELGRADE: Patriarch apologizes to Muslim citizens
Pandits get back temple with Muslim help
Özdemir: Europe should build its own Islamic culture
Taliban as part of an Afghan solution
Blair faces the hot seat
UK seen linked to torture
Long history of Israel's 'covert killing'
Muslims for Haiti: 5 hour LIVE Telethon for Haiti Relief
Taliban threaten to bombard brothels in Attock
UN in secret peace talks with Taliban
Afghan talks offer not for Mullah Omar: US
Afghanistan: Pakistan’s influence seen limited
Saudis 'mediating Taliban talks'
No decision on talks: Taliban
India willing to try out 'good Taliban'
India reconciles itself with new Afghan reality
Nigeria fighters call off ceasefire
Muslims in the city of Tiruvarur of Tamil Nadu
Iran tries 16 people over Ashura Day protests
Father of convicted terrorist denies endorsing violence
Sena dares SRK to include Pak players in Kolkata Knight Riders
Aamir, Shah Rukh Khan are '2 Idiots': Shiv Sena
No regrets for removing Saddam Hussein: Former UK PM Tony Blair
Americans play Terror Trap
Indian polity divided, confused: Qureshi
Give facilities to Ayodhya pilgrims: Swamy
Five militants killed in US drone attack in Pakistan
3 Americans killed in eastern Afghanistan, says NATO
Krishna, Qureshi spar over 26/11 probe
Resume talks with Pakistan, says Karan Singh
OIC Secy Gen. addresses the Think Tank Forum in Istanbul
‘170 abducted remain untraced since 1988’
Drone attacks benefiting terrorists, says Imran
What peace? What talks? Let Pakistan stop aiding terrorists first
Two political activists killed in clash
Adopt similar public & private policies regarding Pakistan, Islamabad tells Delhi
US reconsidering NY trial of 9/11 suspects
15 killed in heavy Mogadishu fighting
Bin Laden blasts US for climate change
Four Afghan soldiers killed in friendly fire incident with NATO soldiers
Former Speaker Blasts Israel's Ongoing Crimes against Palestinians
U.S. Senate Passes Iran Sanctions Bill Unanimously
Nigerian oil rebels threaten 'all-out' attacks
Leader's disgust at theft in a Slough mosque
Compiled by Aman Quadri
Photo: Patriarch apologizes to Muslim citizens

Indonesian gambling convicts escape before caning
30 January 2010
Three Indonesian men convicted of playing dominoes for money have escaped from jail moments before a public caning in devoutly Muslim Aceh province.
Local Islamic police chief Muhammad Rusli said Saturday the men bolted during an unguarded bathroom visit minutes before the punishment for violating anti-gambling laws.
The men were caught playing dominoes for 1,000 rupiah ($0.10) per game. They were to be caned six times each outside a mosque on Friday.
Aceh adopted Islamic laws banning alcohol and gambling after gaining semiautonomy from the secular central government following a decades-long civil war. Last year, lawmakers there imposed stoning to death as a punishment for adultery.
The majority of Indonesia's roughly 200 million Muslims practice moderate Islam.
http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1168840&lang=eng_news
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Patriarch apologizes to Muslim citizens
29 January 2010
BELGRADE -- Serbian Patriarch Irinej apologized on Friday to the Muslim citizens for his recent statement in which he spoke of Islam in an imprudent manner.
In a statement issued by his office, Patriarch Irinej pointed out that his actual position on Islam is based on the absolute appreciation of identity, dignity and integrity of Muslims as individuals, the Islamic community as a whole, and Islam as a great world religion.
Explaining that his statement was taken out of the context, Patriarch said that Belgrade daily Blic, which published the interview, left out the beginning and the end of his statement, in which he said that “we are all God's creation, and, as a consequence, we are invited to overcome all existing differences with human affection, and to live together in mutual love and respect.”
“I express my deepest regret over the statement and its consequences, and I apologize sincerely to Muslims – our fellow-creatures and brothers,” the statement reads.
In the interview, as published by Blic on St. Sava's Day, Patriarch Irinej evaluated that the philosophy of Islam is that Muslims, when there is a small number of them, know how to behave themselves and be fair, but when they become predominant and superior, they exert pressure.
Islamic communities in Serbia reacted harshly to this,
http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2010&mm=01&dd=29&nav_id=64855
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Pandits get back temple with Muslim help
Muzaffar Raina
A devotee places a lamp under a mulberry tree considered holy at the Puran Raj Bhairav temple in Srinagar. Picture by Abdul Qayoom
Srinagar, Jan. 29: Muslims in a Srinagar locality today formally handed over a temple to Kashmiri Pandits after ridding it of squatters from their own community.
The centuries-old Puran Raj Bhairav temple in Sazgaripora was reopened after its hand-over to the Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, which represents Pandits who have not left the Valley.
The gesture was made possible by days of heroics from Sazgaripora residents, all of whom are Muslims.
“Some people had come to the temple with claims that they had bought it from a Hindu trust that was the shrine’s caretaker in the pre-militancy days. They even showed us some documents,” said Asif Gani Sofi, 28, who led the drive against the encroachment.
 “This didn’t satisfy us. We approached neighbourhood elders and all of us decided to resist them.”
The residents said the squatters looked determined and dropped some timber and other material at the site.
“We then approached the district administration, which directed the police to clear the temple of the encroachment. All the men from my locality supported the police. By returning the temple to those it belongs to, I think I have fulfilled my religious obligation,” Sofi said.
Samiti president Sanjay Tickoo said today’s event was historic. “It displays the unbreakable bond between the two communities. This event will surely boost the morale of our men and set an example for others,” he added.
Tickoo said the Muslim residents had approached his organisation with a request to take control of the temple. “After consultation with the local Muslims, we decided to formally throw it open today.”
The temple’s gates, though, had never been closed. After the Pandits began leaving the Valley, local boys would sit and play on its lawns and sometimes taste the sweet water of the spring inside.
“This temple is as old as Kashmir but it is unlike others. Bhairav is another name for Lord Shiva, and such temples have no idols or structures,” Tickoo said.
Full report at: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100130/jsp/nation/story_12045661.jsp
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Özdemir: Europe should build its own Islamic culture
Mahinur Özdemir
30 January 2010
A Belgian deputy of Turkish origin in the Brussels Regional Parliament has defined the absence of an Islamic culture containing European elements as one of the main causes triggering xenophobia and Islamophobia, especially against the Muslim minority living in Europe, and has urged European authorities to take steps towards building up a European Islam which she thinks will accelerate the integration of Muslim immigrants in Europe
According to Mahinur Özdemir, the most effective way to tackle religious radicalism in Europe and to fight extremism is to create a European Islam.
“That would also pave the way for non-Muslim Europeans to have a closer look at Islam and get to know European Muslims better,” Özdemir told Today’s Zaman in an exclusive interview.
She also expressed her hope that such an initiative accompanied by the expansion of tolerance in Europe would decrease the risk of religious confrontation “because it would result in providing people who have prejudices against Islam with a greater knowledge of the subject,” she emphasized.
Özdemir underlined that just as Islamic principles have been introduced into different societies, some cultural aspects of these societies which do not contradict the basic pillars of the religion have also had an effect on how Muslims interpret Islam.
The Turkish-Belgian deputy maintained that a European Islam would definitely help European decision-makers and facilitate the integration process of immigrants, most of whom are Muslim, into European society.
“It will be more beneficial for Europe to have an Islam with a European approach rather than a Moroccan or Algerian-oriented Islam or an extremist view of Islam that creates the opportunity for radical organizations to attract more interest,” she said. A Belgian Muslim of Turkish origin, Özdemir said that she has encountered many Christian deputies in parliament who are keen to find answers to their questions on Islam and has had several conversations with her non-Muslim colleagues on the matter. “As a devout Muslim, which is visible because of my headscarf, they ask me questions about Islam,” she said, defining these conversations as a humble platform for cultural and religious dialog.
Özdemir was the first headscarved deputy of any of the parliaments in Europe and was elected to the Brussels regional capital parliament in June 2009, an event which kicked off a controversial debate on secularism, the Muslim minority’s political rights and the political engagement of European Turks.
Full report at: www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-200096-100-ozdemir-europe-should-build-its-own-islamic-culture.html
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Taliban as part of an Afghan solution
AN international moot on Afghanistan is beginning today in London. Delegates from 65 states, including those from the neighbouring countries of the war-torn Afghanistan, and major powers are expected to attend. Among other things to be taken up, would be a proposal to involve moderate Taliban in the peace process. Two important meetings to evolve a joint regional approach were held in Turkey during the last few days. There was a consensus over involving the Afghan Taliban in the peace process at the Ankara tripartite summit of Pakistani, Afghan and Turkish heads of state, held last week. The talks were also attended by military and intelligence officials from both countries, including the head of ISI. Following an initiative, spearheaded by Islamabad, a number of Afghanistan’s neighbours also met in Turkey in yet another meeting, on Tuesday, to hammer out a common approach before the London conference. Among those attending the Istanbul meeting were China’s foreign minister, Iran’s vice-president, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Britain’s foreign minister and the deputy to the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke. Officials from Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nato and the European Union were also in Istanbul. Pakistan is genuinely wary of the American suggestion to give India a greater role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. It has revived an eight-country grouping to counter US pressure. India, which does not have a common border with Afghanistan, was not invited to either of the two meetings. It will, however, be present the at London moot.
Islamabad has, over a long period, tried to persuade Washington and Kabul that it was necessary to hold talks with moderate elements among the Afghan Taliban. It also offered its services to approach them. In the past, the suggestion had fallen on deaf years, but with a military solution nowhere in sight after eight years of war, and dissent fast spreading in the countries supplying troops, Washington and Kabul are showing keenness to give the idea a trial. Early last year, Obama appeared to rule out any possibility of talks with the Taliban leadership, maintaining that the “uncompromising core of the Taliban” must be defeated. With western governments under pressure to deliver results quickly and then start bringing some of their troops home, they are willing to talk to the Taliban now. This was reflected in Robert Gates remarks calling Taliban a ‘part of the political fabric of Afghanistan’ and in General McChrystal’s remarks on Monday that the Taliban could be ‘part of the political solution in Afghanistan.’ The US and its allies however, want to achieve the objective through a carrot-and-stick policy. Holbrooke has planned a $500 million fund in the name of funding for a formal reintegration program for Taliban fighters to woo the Taliban. Meanwhile, more US troops are being dispatched to Afghanistan. The US hopes that the recent surge in Afghanistan, which has taken the figure of the allied troops to well over 100,000, would serve as a disincentive to the Taliban to continue the fight. The Western military leaders insist that talks can succeed only if the allies are able to speak from a position of strength.
Full report at: http://dailymailnews.com/0110/29/Editorial_Column/DMEditorial.php
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Blair faces the hot seat
Linda Heard
THE world and its wife broadly agree that the Iraq war turned out to be a disaster on multiple fronts. Not only was it cooked up on false pretexts, it robbed the lives of over a million civilians, insurgents and military personnel. It has cost coalition countries up to one trillion dollars. It has also been judged illegal by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan while a recent Dutch probe found that it had “no basis in international law”. Its repercussions are even more far-reaching. Saddam Hussein didn’t have too many fans inside Iraq or abroad but his regime stood as a buffer to Iranian ambitions, which are now enjoying free rein throughout the region.
This was a war of aggression equating to mass murder yet, until now, nobody has been made to pay. Indeed, the invasion’s main instigators US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have simply been allowed to stroll away from the carnage untarnished — Bush to semiretirement in Texas while Blair was rewarded with the post of the Middle East Quartet’s envoy. George Bush is wisely keeping a low profile but ahead of his exit from the White House in 2008, he did admit that Iraq was his biggest regret while disingenuously blaming “intelligence failures” for his mistake. I use the word disingenuous because, as we now know, there was no hard intelligence on Iraq’s WMD, only presumption. Blair, on the other hand, has consistently maintained that he did the right thing. “It was what I believed in and I still do believe it,” he told the London Times in 2007. More recently, in December, he provoked cries for war crimes prosecution when he admitted that he would have invaded Iraq even if there were no evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein’s regime was reason enough to invade, he insisted, even though regime change is not considered a legal casus belli.
Full report at: http://dailymailnews.com/0110/29/Editorial_Column/DMColumn.php#1
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UK seen linked to torture
By Ian Cobain
Friday, 29 Jan, 2010
UNITED Nations human rights investigators have concluded the British government has been complicit in the mistreatment and possible torture of several of its own citizens during the “war on terror”.
In a report published on Wednesday that will make difficult reading for British ministers who repeatedly denied the UK’s involvement in torture, UN officials have indicated there is clear evidence of the UK’s role in the secret detention overseas of several British Muslims.
The officials say such secret imprisonment — or “proxy detentions” — not only facilitates torture, but may amount to torture in its own right. In one starkly worded passage, they warn that if a state’s use of proxy detention had been systematic or widespread it would amount to a “crime against humanity”.
There was no immediate comment from the British government.
The 226-page UN report follows the publication two months of ago a dossier entitled Cruel Britannia, from the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch, whose researchers interviewed several Pakistani intelligence agents who alleged they had tortured British terrorism suspects on behalf of their UK counterparts.
It also follows a series of disclosures in the Guardian about the role played by officers of MI5 (British security service), MI6 (British intelligence) and Greater Manchester police, in the north of England, in the detention and questioning under torture of terrorism suspects held in Pakistan and elsewhere.
The UN investigation into torture and rendition across the globe since 9/11 lasted several years and was led by Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on terrorism and human rights, and Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture.
Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/uk-seen-linked-to-torture-910
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Long history of Israel's 'covert killing'
By Heather Sharp
29 January 2010
The Islamic movement Hamas claims that the death of one its senior commanders, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is the latest in Israel's history of assassinating individuals it believes to have been behind attacks on its citizens.
Israel's general policy is to neither confirm nor deny allegations about the activities of its intelligence agents but it is notable that many of its enemies meet suspicious and violent deaths.
"We are witnessing an intense intelligence struggle, most of it is covert, some of it overt," said Ronen Bergman, author of By Any Means Necessary, and other books and articles on Israel's covert operations.
Among the best documented of Israel's assassinations were a wave of killings of pro-Palestinian militants in Paris, Nicosia, Beirut and Athens, carried out in response to the hostage crisis at the Munich Olympics in 1972 which resulted in the deaths of 11 Israelis.
Methods used included a booby-trapped telephone, a bomb planted in a bed, and a raid in Beirut in which current Defence Minister Ehud Barak dressed as a woman.
There are even claims that a poisoned chocolate was later used to kill a commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in East Germany in 1978.
In 1987 Israel made no attempt to disguise their assassination of Khalil al-Wazir - known as Abu Jihad - the Palestine Liberation Organisation's military leader and second in command.
Israeli commandos crept into Tunisia, where the PLO's exiled leadership was based, and shot him several times in his own home before escaping by sea.
It was an operation in which Mr Barak is also believed to have been involved.
Covert failure
Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8488249.stm
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Muslims for Haiti: 5 hour LIVE Telethon for Haiti Relief
Jan. 29 2010
DETROIT -- Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) is going to air a LIVE 5 hour 'Muslims For Haiti' Telethon on ARY Digital that will air worldwide; USA, Canada, Middle East, UK, and Pakistan on Saturday January 30th, 2010 12:00 pm EST. HHRD has set up a medical base camp for the victims of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Not only is HHRD working closely with the local doctors and nurses, but they have sent their own team of qualified medical professionals on January 29th, 2010.
Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) is going to air a Live five hour  - Muslims For Haiti - Telethon on ARY Digital, that will air worldwide; USA, Canada, Middle East, UK, and Pakistan on Saturday, January 30th, 2010 starting 12:00 PM EST.
HHRD has set up a medical base camp for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Not only is HHRD working closely with the local doctors, a second team of Medical professionals arrived January 29, 2010 in Haiti.
At the forefront of this effort is HHRD's Director of International Projects, Irfan Khurshid. His initial observation states, "In all the camps that we visited, we didn't see any medical help available. There isn't much medical help and only a few have access to it." Thus, our primary focus is providing medical assistance. While we tend to these requests, we have kept in mind the most needed items like drinking water, food and shelter.
HHRD volunteers and Medical team had been initially staying on the border of Haiti in Santa Domingo due to safety issues. They have been traveling into Haiti, making a 7 hour trip everyday and returning by night. Despite the security issues within Haiti, HHRD has been successful in setting up a Medical Clinic in Port-au-Price.
Full report at: /www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/muslims-for-haiti-5-hour-live-telethon-for-haiti-relief-83078882.html
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Taliban threaten to bombard brothels in Attock
IANS, 29 January 2010, IST
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban has given brothels in Pakistan's northern Attock district five days till Tuesday to shut down or face bombardment.
The warning was contained in letters that were distributed in different areas of the district Friday that also alleged that the police were taking hefty bribes from brothel owners, Online news agency reported.
The letters warned police personnel against taking these bribes otherwise they would have to face dire consequences.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Taliban-threaten-to-bombard-brothels-in-Attock/articleshow/5513333.cms
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UN in secret peace talks with Taliban
Kabul envoy met top commanders in Dubai this month to discuss terms
Taliban commanders held secret exploratory talks with a United Nations special envoy this month to discuss peace terms, it emerged tonight.
Regional commanders on the Taliban's leadership council, the Quetta Shura, sought a meeting with the UN special representative in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, and it took place in Dubai on 8 January. "They requested a meeting to talk about talks. They want protection, to be able to come out in public. They don't want to vanish into places like Bagram," the Reuters news agency quoted a UN official as saying, referring to the Bagram detention centre at a US military base outside Kabul.
The Dubai meeting was confirmed to the Guardian by officials with knowledge of the encounter, but they said they could provide no further details.
It was the first such meeting between the UN and senior members of the Taliban. The fact that it took place suggests that peace talks have revived since exploratory contacts between emissaries of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia last year broke down.
It also suggests that some Taliban members might be prepared for the first time to put faith in an international organisation to broker a deal to end the nine-year war.
News of the Dubai meeting surfaced at the end of a day-long conference in London intended to map out a transition over five years from a Nato-led military campaign to Afghan-led effort involving more political, social and economic measures to end the fighting.
As part of the transition, Afghan forces are due to take lead responsibility for security in a handful of provinces by the end of this year, assume the lead in the most violent regions within three years, and take overall responsibility for security across the country in five years. If successful, the transition would pave the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
An official statement from the Taliban leadership in response to today's conference warned that "attempts by the enemy to bribe the mujahideen, offering them money and employment to abandon jihad, are futile". However, it added what appeared to be a conciliatory note, saying that it was waging a jihad only to "liberate" Afghan territory and posed "no threat to neighbouring countries or anyone else".
Full report at: www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/46-afghanistan/863-un-in-secret-peace-talks-with-taliban
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Afghan talks offer not for Mullah Omar: US
By Anwar Iqbal
Saturday, 30 Jan, 2010
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that while the United States backed the Taliban integration programme, the offer did not include the group’s top leadership.
Earlier, the Pentagon had expressed similar sentiments about the integration plan approved at a meeting of more than 60 nations in London on Thursday.
Secretary Clinton, who also attended the conference, told America’s National Public Radio network that she understood the military action alone was not enough to win the war in Afghanistan but the London peace proposal was not meant for senior Taliban leaders.
In her interview to NPR, Mrs Clinton acknowledged that most modern conflicts don’t end with a victory on the field of battle and therefore political and development work was essential.
“I think everyone has realised, as we did in Iraq, that you have to begin to go right at the insurgents and peel those off who are willing to renounce violence, renounce Al Qaeda, agree to live by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan and re-enter society,” Mrs Clinton said.
“That is not going to happen with (Taliban chief) Mullah Omar and the like,” she added. “But there are so many fighters in the Taliban that are there, frankly, because it’s a way to make a living in a country where the Taliban pay them more than they can make as a farmer or in some other line of work out in the countryside.”
Earlier, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told a briefing in Washington that the US government was still working to figure out which mid-level Taliban officials it might be possible to integrate into the current Afghan political structure.
He said that top Taliban figures, like the country’s former leader Mullah Omar, would probably be what he called “a bridge too far”.
Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/12-afghan-
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Afghanistan: Pakistan’s influence seen limited
Zeeshan Haider & Robert Birsel | Reuters
 Pakistan has shown support for Afghanistan’s invitation to the Taleban to take part in a peace council but the old Taleban ally has only limited influence over the militants, who many expect will reject the offer.
The Afghan government on Thursday invited the Taleban to a jirga, or traditional council, during an international conference in London as its Western allies worked out plans to try to end the war in Afghanistan. Taleban representatives were not at the conference. A spokesman for the group said on Friday his leaders would decide soon whether to join the talks.
Pakistan, facing an insurgency by indigenous Taleban allied with the Afghan militants, wants a peaceful Afghanistan but more importantly, it wants the growing influence of old rival India in Afghanistan kept to a minimum. Pakistan is viewed with deep suspicion in Kabul because of its ties to the Taleban, whom Pakistan backed through the 1990s. The hard-line Islamists are the only Afghanistan faction over which Pakistan has any influence and can use as leverage to try to limit India’s influence, and for the time being, Pakistan is likely to tread very carefully. Main Taleban factions, such as those led by veteran guerrilla commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and supreme Taleban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, derive much support from supply networks and bases on the Pakistani side of the border.
As efforts to stabilize Afghanistan gather pace, Pakistan is likely to use those groups as bargaining chips, said Khadim Hussain of the Pakistan-based Aryana Institute think tank. “I don’t think Pakistan is going to put all of its cards on the table. They will try to keep some of them for their own interests and agenda,” Hussain said. “Pakistan will keep the whole thing very vague so it can address its own interests and foreign policy agenda.”
In an indication of the quickening pace of diplomacy, a UN official said members of the Taleban’s leadership council had secretly met the UN representative for Afghanistan in Dubai last month to discuss the possibility of laying down arms.
Full report at: www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=132105&d=30&m=1&y=2010&pix=opinion.jpg&category=Opinion
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Saudis 'mediating Taliban talks'
January 30, 2010
Dr Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister of Afghanistan, has told Al Jazeera that reconciliation talks with the Taliban are under way.
Ghani, currently a senior fellow for the Brookings Institution in Washington, said that Saudi Arabia had been active in mediation.
"There are people [doing] mediaton in the of kingdom of Saudi Arabia and his majesty the King of Saudi Arabia has been involved and others have been involved," he said.
At a conference in London earlier in the week, officials announced that "moderate" Taliban would be urged to enter talks with the government and a new fund would be set up to encourage fighters to lay down their arms.
'Disenchanted brothers'
However, Ghani's remarks and a report from earlier in the week that suggested Afghan officials had held a meeting in the Maldives with representatives of an armed group believed to be fighting alongside the Taliban suggest that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is already reaching out.
At the London conference, Karzai said that Kabul and its international backers would concentrate of wooing his "disenchanted brothers", who were fighting for money rather than ideology.
Ghani said that efforts to draw Taliban elements into the political process would require the assistance of foreign powers.
"We're delighted that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and other Islamic countries will be coming increasingly forward to claim an active role," he said.
"We also need the engagement of China to make sure the regional arrangements are put in place to bring about a situation where use of sanctuary in neighbouring countries is denied."
"This is a time of high risks but simultaneously a time of high awards."
Full report at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/01/2010130114235579766.html
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No decision on talks: Taliban
Kabul, January 29, 2010
Taliban leaders will decide soon whether to join talks with the Afghan government, a militant spokesman said on Friday, after President Hamid Karzai invited them to a peace council aimed at ending the Afghan war.
In the country’s south, suicide attackers launched an assault in the capital of Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province, and gunmen were holed up in a building battling government and Nato troops who returned fire with helicopter strikes.
On Thursday, at a major conference on Afghanistan, Karzai set the framework for dialogue with Taliban leaders when he called on the Islamist group’s leadership to take part in a “loya jirga” — or large assembly of elders — to initiate peace talks.
The call came amidst a diplomatic push from Western powers involved in the Afghanistan conflict to make hard plans that would pave the way for them to begin withdrawing their troops.
Under Karzai’s proposal, the West would not be directly involved in peace talks. A separate plan backed by Washington and its allies would set up a fund to reintegrate Taliban by luring them away from the insurgency with jobs and cash.
A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan declined to talk in detail about Karzai’s plans and said the militants would make a decision about his offer “soon.”
“I cannot say a word regarding these peace talks. The Taliban leadership will soon decide whether to take part,” the spokesman, who uses the name Qari Mohammad Yousuf, said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The Taliban have said repeatedly that negotiations with the Afghan government can only take place when foreign troops completely withdraw from Afghanistan and have dismissed the reintegration plans as a “trick”.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/afghanistan/No-decision-on-talks-Taliban/Article1-503211.aspx
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India willing to try out 'good Taliban'
Indrani Bagchi
30 January 2010
New Delhi: Swept away by an international "consensus" led by US, UK and Pakistan, India has to swallow a bitter pill on the Taliban. With the London conference on Afghanistan clearing the way for a new chapter on negotiation with the Taliban, India is grudgingly coming round to accepting the new reality.
Speaking exclusively to TOI from London, foreign minister S M Krishna said, "We're willing to give it a try. If the Taliban meet the three conditions put forward -- acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with Al Qaida and other terrorist groups, and renunciation of violence, and they are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business."
The conference effectively turns a new chapter in Afghanistan with a $500 million fund earmarked for a reconciliation programme. Krishna said, "The international community has come out with a proposition to bring into the political mainstream those willing to function within the Afghan system."
But he was clear about India's fundamental discomfort with the decision. India's position and assessment of the Taliban remains unchanged, Krishna said. "We consider them to be terrorists, who have close links with Al Qaida and other terrorist groups." He said India has seen the Taliban from up close, and more deeply than others ("they see them from far away" and through a blinkered vision). "We're next door and our experiences make it difficult for us to differentiate between good or bad Taliban," he said.
Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, had close links with the hijackers of IC-814, even helping to unload their baggage from the aircraft in Kandahar, and negotiating on their behalf. He has just been taken off the UN sanctions list to "facilitate" the reconciliation.
Krishna said, "For Afghanistan's stabilisation, it is essential for neighbouring and regional countries to ensure that support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organisations is ended forthwith."
Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-willing-to-try-out-good-Taliban/articleshow/5514757.cms
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India reconciles itself with new Afghan reality
Indrani Bagchi
30 January 2010
New Delhi: Swept away by an international "consensus" led by US, UK and Pakistan, India has to swallow a bitter pill on the Taliban. With the London conference on Afghanistan clearing the way for a new chapter on negotiation with the Taliban, India is grudgingly coming round to accepting the new reality.
Speaking exclusively to TOI from London, foreign minister S M Krishna said, "We're willing to give it a try. If the Taliban meet the three conditions put forward -- acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with Al Qaida and other terrorist groups, and renunciation of violence, and they are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business."
The conference effectively turns a new chapter in Afghanistan with a $500 million fund earmarked for a reconciliation programme. Krishna said, "The international community has come out with a proposition to bring into the political mainstream those willing to function within the Afghan system."
But he was clear about India's fundamental discomfort with the decision. India's position and assessment of the Taliban remains unchanged, Krishna said. "We consider them to be terrorists, who have close links with Al Qaida and other terrorist groups." He said India has seen the Taliban from up close, and more deeply than others ("they see them from far away" and through a blinkered vision). "We're next door and our experiences make it difficult for us to differentiate between good or bad Taliban," he said.
Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, had close links with the hijackers of IC-814, even helping to unload their baggage from the aircraft in Kandahar, and negotiating on their behalf. He has just been taken off the UN sanctions list to "facilitate" the reconciliation.
Krishna said, "For Afghanistan's stabilisation, it is essential for neighbouring and regional countries to ensure that support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organisations is ended forthwith."
Full report at: /timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-willing-to-try-out-good-Taliban/articleshow/5514757.cms
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Nigeria fighters call off ceasefire
January 30, 2010
Nigeria's main armed group has called off a three-month-old ceasefire in the Niger delta and threatened to unleash "an all-out assault" on Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), responsible for years of attacks on oil facilities, said on Saturday it could no longer trust the government to negotiate demands for greater control of the region's natural resources.
The threat comes as Umaru Yar'Adua, Nigeria's president, has been out of the country receiving medical treatment for more than two months.
His absence has raised fears of a constitutional and political crisis in the country.
"It is sufficiently clear at this point in time the government of Nigeria has no intentions of considering the demands made by this group for the control of the resources and land," Mend said in a statement.
"All companies related to the oil industry in the Niger delta should prepare for an all-out onslaught against their installations and personnel."
The truce was declared in October last year, but it was breached in December when the fighters attacked a major pipeline operated by Shell and Chevron.
Lost revenues
Attacks by Mend on Nigeria's oil and gas industry in the past few years have prevented the country from producing above two-thirds of its capacity, costing it about $1bn a month in lost revenues.
Full report at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/01/201013022452924104.html
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Muslims in the city of Tiruvarur of Tamil Nadu
By Shafee Ahmed
30 January 2010
Tiruvarur is a city in the state of Tamil Nadu with its surrounding area having a strong Muslim belt. Though it is an ancient temple town with the history of Chola heartland famous for Sri Tyagaraja Temple, there are some mosques in the town as well – the oldest near the market and the latest one is just fifteen years old built in modern architecture.
Tiruvarur district is located in the east of the state, roughly halfway between its northern and southern borders. It has an average elevation of 3 metres (9 ft). Tiruvarur is situated at a distance of 24 km from Nagapattinam, 29 km from Nagore, 40 km from Karaikal, 40 km from Mayiladuthurai, 40 km from Kumbakonam, 56 km from Thanjavur, 27 km from Mannargudi and 28 km from Thiruthuraipoondi. Tiruvarur lies in the Kaveri River basin and the main occupation of the inhabitants of the district and surrounding areas is agriculture.
According to 2001 Census, the Tiruvarur town had a population of 56,280 (about 50% of them Muslims). Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Tiruvarur has an average literacy rate of 81%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. Male literacy is 85% and female literacy is 76%.
The Muslims and Hindus of Tiruvarur are quite friendly and no incident of any communal violence has been reported either in the near past or in the distant past. Tiruvarur Muslims have borrowed some festivals like Pongal (Harvest Festivals) and they celebrate it in the same way as Hindu brethren except immolation of animals or offerings to gods and goddesses. They speak fluent Tamil.
The young Muslim children aged five to nine are seen in madrasas generally attached to mosques where free teaching in Arabic and fundamentals of Islam are imparted. Both after Fajar (early Morning Prayer) and Asar (pre-dusk Namaz), children could be seen there – boys with caps and small girls with Niquab or headscarf.
Most of the parents are employed in Gulf countries. Their boys are girls are being educated in colleges. Muslim girls are opting for higher education, and when this correspondent interviewed some of the Muslim elites of the town, they came forward to say, “Our girls should be well educated and should stand at par with others.” However, few old schools of thoughts questioned, “Why girls should be educated; what do they do after marriage?”
There are a number of colleges both self financed and Government run in Tiruvarur. Some of them are: Tiruvarur Medical College of Tamil Nadu, Vilamal, Tiruvarur TMC Paramedical College, Madappuram, Tiruvarur Oviya Paramedical College, Tiruvarur DK Paramedical College, Tiruvarur. Bharath Paramedical College, Tiruvarur.
Full report at: http://twocircles.net/2010jan30/muslims_city_tiruvarur_tamil_nadu.html
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Iran tries 16 people over Ashura Day protests
30 January 2010
Iran has put 16 people on trial after anti-government protests in December, when eight people died in some of the most violent clashes seen in months.
Five of the defendants are charged with "waging war against God" while the others are accused of public order and national security offences.
They were all arrested over protests on 27 December when Shia Muslims gathered for the religious festival of Ashura.
Street protests have recurred in Iran since the disputed election in June.
Hardline leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected for a second term in a poll marred by allegations of fraud.
Hundreds of people were detained in the immediate aftermath of the Ashura Day protests.
On Thursday, Iran reportedly executed two men arrested during the unrest which followed the June election.
The executions are believed to be the first related to the protests.
Reporting Saturday's trial, Iran's state news agency said five defendants were accused of "waging war against God" and being "corrupt on earth" - both crimes punishable by death under the Iranian legal system.
The others, the agency reported, were accused of "gathering and conspiring against security, propaganda against the system and seeking to harm security by inciting unrest and riot".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8489012.stm
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Father of convicted terrorist denies endorsing violence
Isabel Teotonio
Jan 29 2010
The father of a Toronto 18 bomb plotter said on Friday that he never issued a fatwa condoning a terror attack in Toronto, contrary to the evidence of a police agent whose testimony he believes was motivated by money and revenge.
The comments by Tariq Abdelhaleem, whose son was found guilty of participating in a 2006 bomb plot targeting downtown Toronto, were made to reporters outside the courtroom where he testified at a hearing being held to determine if his son was entrapped by the police agent.
The father of Shareef Abdelhaleem said he wanted to set the record straight after testimony last week by Shaher Elsohemy, a former friend of his son’s who became an agent.
In earlier proceedings, Elsohemy told the Brampton court that Shareef said he had obtained a religious fatwa from his father who allegedly said an attack on Toronto was Islamically correct.
“He told me his father told him there was nothing wrong with it. In other words, it was acceptable,” testified Elsohemy. “And if civilians were to be there, that was their destiny.”
On Friday, Tariq Abdelhaleem said his son never asked him for fatwa, adding it would have been pointless because Shareef knows he is against terrorism. The 9/11 attacks, and the many family discussions that followed, made it amply clear to his son that he was against terrorism, said the father.
Holding one of the eight books he has authored on Islam, the father pointed to a passage that denounces killing innocent civilians.
Outside court, he told reporters Elsohemy “has a grudge against me and my son” and became a police mole because he was offered a compensation package worth up to $3.99 million and wanted “to take revenge.”
The desire for revenge, he said, stemmed from an incident at Mississauga’s Dar Al-Arqam Islamic Centre, which he used to run but says, is no longer in operation.
In court, the father testified that Elsohemy was his student, but was kicked out in the winter of 2005 after a series of events, including his disregard for one of the centre’s rules: No talk about jihad.
Full report at: /www.thestar.com/news/gta/crime/article/757797--father-of-convicted-terrorist-denies-endorsing-violence
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Sena dares SRK to include Pak players in Kolkata Knight Riders
29 January 2010, IST
MUMBAI: Shiv Sena today attacked Shah Rukh Khan for lamenting exclusion of Pakistani players from IPL and dared him to take the players in his team Kolkata Knight Riders.
"If Shah Rukh wants Pakistani players to play here, he should go to Karachi and Islamabad to play with them...If he includes Pakistani players in his team, he should be aware of the consequences," Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told reporters here.
Reacting to the non-selection of Pakistani players in the IPL auction, Bollywood star and co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders Shah Rukh Khan had recently said that they (Pakistani players) should have been welcomed.
"I truly believe they (Pakistan players) should have been chosen," Khan had said.
"We would have loved to have Pakistani players if they were made available legally," he had said.
Meanwhile, protesting the actor's comment, Sena activists tore posters of SRK's upcoming movie 'My Name Is Khan' at Eternity Mall premises in neighbouring Thane.
The activists handed over a letter to the owner of the mall asking to stop release of the movie.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Sena-dares-SRK-to-include-Pak-players-in-Kolkata-Knight-Riders/articleshow/5513002.cms
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Aamir, Shah Rukh Khan are '2 Idiots': Shiv Sena
IANS, 30 January 2010
MUMBAI: After targeting Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for his remarks supporting the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL, the Shiv Sena Saturday dragged in Aamir Khan, calling the duo "2 Idiots".
"In real life, Aamir and Shah Rukh have been proved as '2 Idiots' as both are making stupid statements supporting the cause of Pakistani cricketers," said a statement in the party's Hindi mouthpiece ‘Dopahar Ka Saamna’.
"On the one hand, while SRK is openly displaying his love for Pakistani players, Aamir has even put nationalistic sentiments in his utterances on this issue," said the statement in the tabloid, which hit the stands this afternoon.
"According to Aamir, if any cricketer is good, he would like to have him in his team, it makes no difference to him which country he belongs to," said the statement.
The statement is accompanied by a digitally altered picture of the recent record blockbuster "3 Idiots". It shows the head of Aamir (the star and promoter of the movie) popping out of a drum and SRK sticking his tongue from another drum - signifying the accompanying heading of "2 Idiots".
Aamir had said Friday that if he were to select IPL players he would do so only on the basis of their performance and not nationality.
The Shiv Sena Friday hit out at Shah Rukh, who is also the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner, after he said he would have picked a Pakistani player for IPL matches if his team had a slot.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said if the actor was so keen on them, "he could go play his matches in Lahore, not in India".
Thane Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde announced that no film of Shah Rukh would be screened in the district.
Both actors have not reacted to the Shiv Sena's tirade.
Follow us on Twitter for TOI top stories
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Aamir-Shah-Rukh-Khan-are-2-Idiots-Shiv-Sena/articleshow/5517829.cms
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No regrets for removing Saddam Hussein: Former UK PM Tony Blair
AFP, 30 January 2010
LONDON: Former British prime minister Tony Blair told a public inquiry into the Iraq war on Friday he had no regrets about removing Saddam Hussein from power.
Asked by the inquiry chairman if he had any regrets, Blair said: "Responsibility but not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein."
Blair's comments were greeted with shouts of "liar" and "you're a murderer" from the public gallery, where relatives of some of the 179 British soldiers killed in the war were watching his evidence.
After the chairman demanded quiet, Blair continued: "I think that he was a monster, I believe he threatened not just the region but the world.
"And in the circumstances that we faced then, but I think even if you look back now, it was better to deal with this threat, to deal with it to remove him from office. And I do genuinely believe that the world is safer as a result."
The statement came at the end of a day-long session of evidence, in which he set out his reasons for taking Britain into the US-led war against Iraq in 2003.
Earlier, the inquiry panel had questioned Blair about the civilian death toll in Iraq since the invasion, which the former premier put at about 100,000, citing non-governmental organisations.
"The coalition forces weren't the ones doing the killing," he replied.
"The ones doing the killing were the terrorists, the sectarians, and they were doing it quite deliberately to stop us making the progress we were trying to make."
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/No-regrets-for-removing-Saddam-Hussein-Former-UK-PM-Tony-Blair/articleshow/5515016.cms
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Americans play Terror Trap
By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Jan 30 2010
[Specialist on State Terrorism, Chronicler of Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, etc)]
Bulk of Americans and Europeans- more than Jews and Hindus- suffer from a peculiar superiority complex thinking they control the world and the rest would trust them and follow their foot steps and do exactly what they are asked for. However not every American or European supports the NATO terror agenda in Islamic world. The western criminal media use the interests of capitalists, colonialists and imperialists and ill-focused on Islam as a serious threat to their hidden terror religions.
American high-speed intelligence outfits are still investigating endlessly the bogus Sept-11 engineered and executed by their own agents as part of advancing US and European global interests. The Obama administration is looking for places other than the heart of New York City to prosecute the accused Sept. 11 attack plotters in the face of fierce criticism about security and costs. One doe s not know how many years more they would require to make some conclusive  statements only to shield the US interests around the world. After all USA does not do “things” to disarm itself and make it less powerful in any manner in the eyes of the world. World now know USA and its allies have committed humanity crimes around the world- not just in the USA- and the leaders have to be brought to justice.
Western double-talks and double-standards in international conflicts are well known. Wealth and military terror resources they  have amassed indicate the power of western mischief. World doubts U.S. honesty and seriousness in world affairs, so is it’s supposedly eagerness to solve the Afghan crisis by placing a Taliban led government in Kabul . The GST (global state terrorists) wants to finish off the Afghan freedom fighters by covert operations and mischievous peace talks. Their main aim is to disarm the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and continue to kill Afghans, while Israel and India and their western terror collaborators are fully armed against Islam and Muslim nations.
Full report at:.kashmirwatch.com/showarticles.php?subaction=showfull&id=1264858176&archive=&start_from=&ucat=3&var0news=value0news
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Indian polity divided, confused: Qureshi
ASHIS RAY
TNN, 30 January 2010
LONDON: The war of words between India and Pakistan has escalated with external affairs minister S M Krishna on Friday rebutting his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi's accusations against India a day earlier. In contrast to Qureshi's strong remarks, Krishna's response was diplomatic, but firm. Both ministers were in London to attend the Afghanistan Conference.
Referring to the meeting between the two ministers in New York September last, Qureshi had claimed: "I gave him (S M Krishna) a very crisp proposal, a roadmap for the future. He said he would get back to me, but he has not got back to me. That means he has nothing to offer." He persisted: "It seems that the Indian polity is divided, India is confused."
Reacting to this allegation, seemingly born out of Pakistan's frustration at India rejecting a return to the composite dialogue between the two countries, Krishna told reporters: "I don't want to react harshly to what my esteemed friend Qureshi is reported to have said. India, I would like to reiterate, wants friendly, normal relations with Pakistan and the road blocks which I've pointed out to Qureshi for restoring the relationship have to be cleared."
He expanded: "I hope Pakistan will take positive, visible steps to investigate fully the attacks on Mumbai and bring those responsible to justice. This is the only response I expect from Pakistan, which we feel is yet to be done."
Qureshi had also stated that the MEA was divided on Pakistan. Krishna retorted: "I don't know what makes him say that the MEA speaks in two voices. I think there is total unity of thinking in the ministry and unity of approach."
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-polity-divided-confused-Qureshi/articleshow/5515432.cms
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Give facilities to Ayodhya pilgrims: Swamy
TNN, 30 January 2010
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy's plea for a direction to the state government to put in place proper amenities for pilgrims -- both Hindus and Muslims -- visiting the makeshift temple and the disputed site at Ayodhya.
Clarifying his status as a pro-bono litigant, Swamy said he had painfully watched for years the manner in which the Ayodhya dispute, after demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, had meandered through the corridors of judiciary without a solution, which had further widened the chasm between the two communities.
"The time has come for Supreme Court to put an end to this era of indecision by taking certain positive healing steps," he said in his application seeking to be made a party in the related litigation pending in the apex court.
"I have been apalled at the unnecessary hardships and indignities to which devout pilgrims are being subjected," Swamy said. When he inquired about it, he was told that such hardship to pilgrims was inevitable because of the status quo order of the apex court that would be in force till the title suits in the Allahabad High Court were decided.
"The petitioner came to the conclusion that if the suits themselves cannot progress, at least interim orders must be in place to give some relief to devotees, both Hindus and Muslims," he said.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Give-facilities-to-Ayodhya-pilgrims-Swamy/articleshow/5514428.cms
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Five militants killed in US drone attack in Pakistan
PTI, 30 January 2010
PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region, officials said on Friday.
The drone fired three missiles at a suspected militant compound in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency late last night, they said.
Initial reports said at least five militants were killed in the strike. However, officials said the toll could rise.
A vehicle and a house were also destroyed in the attack.
The compound targeted by the drone was believed to be a centre for the Haqqani network, which carries out attacks on US and NATO forces in Afghanistan from its bases in Pakistan's tribal belt.
The US has stepped up drone attacks in North Waziristan since a suicide bomber linked to Pakistani Taliban killed seven CIA operatives in neighbouring Khost province of Afghanistan last month.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Five-militants-killed-in-US-drone-attack-in-Pakistan/articleshow/5515854.cms
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3 Americans killed in eastern Afghanistan, says NATO
AP, 30 January 2010
KABUL: Two US service members and one US employee were killed on Friday in eastern Afghanistan, pushing the American death toll this month to 29.
NATO announced the deaths in a brief statement that did not say whether the three were killed by hostile fire or an accident. It said the incident was under investigation and no further information was available at this time.
The number of American dead as January draws to a close is more than double the 14 reported in the same month last year, reflecting warnings that more US casualties were expected with an influx of 37,000 coalition forces as part of President Barack Obama's strategy against the Taliban.
Also on Friday, Afghan troops backed by British soldiers and NATO helicopter gunships repelled an attack by Taliban fighters armed with machine guns and suicide vests in the heart of a major city in southern Afghanistan, witnesses and officials said.
Six militants were killed and six government forces wounded during the assault on Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. The assault occurred nearly two weeks after a similar attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul - part of a Taliban campaign to undermine public confidence in the government's ability to provide security.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/3-Americans-killed-in-eastern-Afghanistan-says-NATO/articleshow/5515443.cms
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Krishna, Qureshi spar over 26/11 probe
Qureshi accuses India of non-cooperation; Krishna says Pakistan should introspect
LONDON: The Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and India have sparred over the 26/11 Mumbai attack probe, with Shah Mehmood Qureshi accusing New Delhi of non-cooperation, prompting S.M. Krishna to ask the “people who are sitting in the epicentre of terror” to introspect before making such allegations.
“I have had a meeting with S.M. Krishna in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly [in September 2009]. I gave him a very crisp proposal, a road map for the future. He said he will get back to me but he has not got back to me. That means he has nothing to offer,” Mr. Qureshi said.
“It seems that the Indian polity is divided; India is confused,” he told journalists here on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan.
Coming face-to-face on Thursday at the meet hosted by British Premier Gordon Brown, Mr. Krishna and Mr. Qureshi shook hands and exchanged pleasantries but did not have a separate meeting.
“India does not know whether it should engage or it should shy away,” Mr. Qureshi said. “Unfortunately there is a dichotomy here. What’s going on right now is that the public stance of the Indian Foreign Office is different. On the other hand, the private stance is that Pakistan’s cooperation has been unprecedented. They acknowledge the exchange of dossiers, the exchange of information that we have had...There is a lack of political agreement in India on foreign policy [towards Pakistan].”
Responding to Mr. Qureshi’s charges, Mr. Krishna said Pakistan should introspect before making such statements.
“People who are sitting in the epicentre of terror, I think they should look inwards and they should introspect,” he said.
“We met in New York and we had hoped that the investigations in Pakistan about the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks would continue based on the dossier that we have provided to Pakistan. We have not heard about the outcome of those investigations that have taken place,” he added.
Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/30/stories/2010013060231500.htm
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Resume talks with Pakistan, says Karan Singh
Karan Singh
NEW DELHI: The former Union Minister, Karan Singh, on Friday called for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan.
“War as an option must be firmly ruled out because of nuclear technology on both sides. Therefore, the only way to move forward is the universally accepted practice of dialogue, first at official and then, hopefully, at the political level,” he said in a statement here.
‘Mutual cooperation’
“Both countries are facing a serious threat from a variety of ruthless terrorist organisations, and in the final analysis, it is only by mutual cooperation this can be overcome,” he said.
Pointing out that there was an ongoing public debate on whether or not India should restart the composite dialogue, Dr. Singh said that in the final analysis, only mutual cooperation could help both countries combat the threat from terrorist organisations.
“We have nothing to fear from dialogue and, possibly, something to gain,” Dr. Singh said.
http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/30/stories/2010013060221500.htm
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OIC Secy Gen. addresses the Think Tank Forum in Istanbul

The Think Tank Forum of the OIC Member States was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 28-30 January 2010 and attended by various think-tanks from the OIC Member States and its Observers.
The OIC Secretary General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as the keynote speaker at the opening session, elaborated the growing relevance of the work of think tanks at the international level.
He said that the world at present is passing through a complicated period. The fault-line between the Muslim World and Western World is becoming visible more than ever before. New world powers are emerging at the international scene whereas problems related to underdevelopment are plaguing many parts of the Muslim World. At the same time extremism and violence are on the rise in a pervasive manner.
He stated that at a time when we are faced with such difficult and complex challenges, we feel an obvious need to have innovative ideas, analyses and policy advises emanating from the research centers and think tanks of the Muslim World to tackle them effectively.
The forum has been initiated by the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM).
During the two days of the Forum, discussion on a wide range of issues relating to peace and security, Islamophobia, relations between the Islamic World and the West, democracy, good governance, human rights as well as the question of public diplomacy was carried out in detail by the participants of the Forum.
The forum emphasized the need to collaborate among the Think Tanks of Islamic Countries and reiterated the importance of the multilateral cooperation and coordination in this regard.
http://www.isria.com/pages/30_January_2010_55.php
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‘170 abducted remain untraced since 1988’
By Imtiaz Ali
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Sindh Assembly was informed on Friday that around 170 kidnapped persons from the city remained untraceable for the last 22 years.
Minister for Home Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Mirza, in his written reply to a question by Muhammad Moin Aamir Pirzada, said that a total of 1,132 persons were kidnapped in Karachi from July 1, 1988 to June 30, 1992, of whom 962 persons were recovered, while the whereabouts of remaining 170 persons could not be traced.
Responding to a question by Humera Alwani, the minister said that around 37 persons were kidnapped in Karachi from January 1 to June 30, 2008, of whom 34 persons were recovered, while one was killed.
Apparently irked by a supplementary question of a Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator about the alleged rise in kidnapping cases, the minister said: “Our colleagues want to earn political mileage by presenting wrong figures about kidnappings and staging a walk-out from the National Assembly”.
He said that around 13 persons were kidnapped from the metropolis in January 2010, of whom 11 have been recovered. He, however, alleged that his colleagues presented wrong figures on the floor of National Assembly by claiming that 30 persons were kidnapped. Similarly, he said, around 80 persons were kidnapped in the year 2009, while their colleagues told the Parliament that 130 persons were kidnapped.
Mirza said that when he took charge as Sindh’s Minister for Home, around 77 persons were in the captivity of kidnappers but now there were 17 persons.
In an explicit reference to the MQM, the home minister asked as to “why they were misleading the people” and urged them to avoid such things in the wake of obtaining situation at the country’s borders.
Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=221598
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Drone attacks benefiting terrorists, says Imran
Saturday, 30 Jan, 2010
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan has said that US drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan are benefiting militants.
“Drone attacks should be immediately stopped. The war against terrorism will destroy the economies of both Pakistan and the United States. Following the way of negotiations is good but it can only be successful if the war is stopped.”
Mr Khan was talking to a delegation of American Congress on Friday.
In a statement issued after Mr Khan’s meeting with Bob Inglis, Todd Platts, Stephen lynch, Joe Donnelly, Betty Sutton and other US representatives, the PTI leader said that incidents of extremism and terrorism were on the rise in the country because of drone attacks in tribal areas.
He said when innocent people lost their near and dear ones in drone strikes and their sources of income were affected because of bombardment, they joined terrorist groups to take revenge.
Drone attacks and military operations in Malakand division and tribal regions are thus indirectly benefiting militants, he claimed.
“Drone attacks are affecting our economy, peace and harmony. If the drone attacks don’t stop, we will be stuck in this war for many years,” he warned.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/16-drone-attacks-benefiting-terrorists%2C-says-imran-hs-10
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What peace? What talks?: Let Pakistan stop aiding terrorists first
The Pioneer Edit Desk
January 30, 2010
The past week has witnessed needless debate about the current freeze in India-Pakistan relations and the non-selection of Pakistani cricketers for IPL 3. Pakistan has been constantly complaining that the freeze in diplomatic relations is harming the prospects of regional ‘peace’. Some within the Indian establishment too are beginning to question the efficacy of not talking to Pakistan. But the question here is not whether the diplomatic freeze is detrimental to regional peace but whether engaging Pakistan through the composite dialogue process will achieve anything. Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is reported to have said that “one incident” — the 26/11 fidayeen attack on Mumbai — should not be allowed to hold talks between the two countries to ransom. But Mr Gilani forgets that things have come to this pass not just because of what happened in Mumbai when Ajmal Amir Kasab and his fellow Pakistani jihadis colleagues butchered 189 innocent civilians, but the numerous instances of Pakistan-sponsored mass murder that amply prove Islamabad’s refusal to give up terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Even today Pakistan is dragging its feet over the prosecution of those who planned 26/11. All that it has done, despite numerous dossiers provided by India, is file a chargesheet against middle and lower-level Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operatives while sparing the terrorist organisation’s chief Hafiz Saeed. It is clear that groups such as the LeT are too closely associated with the Islamabad establishment to get rid of.
The Pakistani leadership, such as it is, makes it sound that unless talks are resumed, war between the two countries is the only option. This is plain bunkum. Talks have been put on hold because Islamabad refuses to address the core issue of cross-border terrorism. Bilateral talks cannot move forward unless there is progress on this front. Islamabad cannot expect things to be normal while we continue to be at the receiving end of the nefarious designs of Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Moreover, whom do we talk to in Pakistan? The so-called civilian Government? The Army? The ISI? Or the American Ambassador? Pakistan is facing a serious crisis with the Taliban turning on their masters. Yet, Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the problem. Under these circumstances, there is no logical reason for India to revive dialogue with Pakistan. For the moment, Islamabad should worry about talks at home, not ‘peace’ talks.
http://www.dailypioneer.com/232573/What-peace-What-talks.html
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Two political activists killed in clash
KARACHI: Two political activists were reportedly shot dead during a clash between the members of Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Orangi Town late on Friday night.
The incident took place in Katchiabadi, Muslimabad No 2 in the Pirabad police station limits. It was learnt that the clash between the members of ANP and MQM erupted over wall chalking in the area.
Following the incident tension and fear gripped the locality and heavy contingent of law enforcers had to be called, but they were unable to control the worsening condition of law and order.
During the intense firing, at least two people identified as Javed and Shareef were wounded and were taken to the hospital where doctors pronounced them dead.
On the other hand, Orangi Town SP Fayyaz Qureshi when contacted confirmed that the clash took place between ANP and MQM, and the police personnel were busy in controlling the situation.
Furthermore, ANP claimed that the people killed in the firing were associated with their party.
In the aftermath of the incident tension and aerial firing was also reported from other parts of the city.
Four street criminals held: Police claimed to have arrested Friday four people allegedly involved in various cases of street crimes.
According to Gulbahar police station, Investigation Officer (SIO) Shafeeq Khan the arrested persons identified as Zaheer, Bilal, Shakeel and Amir Jamal were involved in over 40 different cases of street crime and various FIRs were registered against them at different police stations in the city. They were arrested after a brief encounter.
The police also claimed to have recovered weapons from their possession. staff report
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\30\story_30-1-2010_pg12_4
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Adopt similar public & private policies regarding Pakistan, Islamabad tells Delhi
— Indian polity is divided, Delhi is confused, says Pak FM
— PCB cancels NOCs of Pak players for IPL
LONDON—Islamabad has once again urged upon New Delhi for cooperating in Pakistan’s combat against terrorism and has emphasized that New Delhi should adopt a clear policy with regard to its relations with Pakistan, shunning the traditional hypocrisy aside. Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi was crystal clear in accusing New Delhi of non-cooperation here at London where he said. “I had a meeting with S M Krishna in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (in Sept 2009). I gave him a very crisp proposal, a roadmap for the future. He said he will get back to me but he has not got back to me. That means he has nothing to offer.” “It seems that the Indian polity is divided, India is confused,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters here on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan.
“India does not know whether it s