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Friday, February 25, 2011

Urdu Section
17 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Demolish Kafir/ Mushrik/ Munafiq-manufacturing factories, says Sultan Shahin, defending New Age Islam against Talibani onslaught

….As a community we are more reactionary and obscurantist than positive and progressive. We live in fear and denial. There is nothing wrong with us Muslims; it’s all the result of Jewish conspiracy, Hindu conspiracy, Western imperialist conspiracy, etc. etc. We love living in the past, in the land of pointlessness. So our discussions too are not so much about issues of today as about the bygone past. We revel in discussing ad infinitum the dirty politics of seventh century Arabia and taking sides with one or the other party. We have no present and no plans for the future. As a community, that is. Some individuals, of course, do have plans for themselves as well as for the community and a vision of regeneration for Islam and the Muslim community. But they are reviled for thinking of this word rather than the other world where 72 houris are waiting for them in a land of milk and honey and of course, plenty of liquor. (In the case of poor women, of course, only their husbands, if any, would be waiting there, and yet some of them become suicide bombers, for some reason.) –Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam


Demolish Kafir/ Mushrik/ Munafiq-manufacturing factories, says Sultan Shahin, defending New Age Islam against Talibani onslaught

….As a community we are more reactionary and obscurantist than positive and progressive. We live in fear and denial. There is nothing wrong with us Muslims; it’s all the result of Jewish conspiracy, Hindu conspiracy, Western imperialist conspiracy, etc. etc. We love living in the past, in the land of pointlessness. So our discussions too are not so much about issues of today as about the bygone past. We revel in discussing ad infinitum the dirty politics of seventh century Arabia and taking sides with one or the other party. We have no present and no plans for the future. As a community, that is. Some individuals, of course, do have plans for themselves as well as for the community and a vision of regeneration for Islam and the Muslim community. But they are reviled for thinking of this word rather than the other world where 72 houris are waiting for them in a land of milk and honey and of course, plenty of liquor. (In the case of poor women, of course, only their husbands, if any, would be waiting there, and yet some of them become suicide bombers, for some reason.) – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

To read the full text of the English article please click on the link below:

http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIjtihadRethinkingIslam_1.aspx?ArticleID=1143

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamUrduSection_1.aspx?ArticleID=4144





Current affairs
25 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Enhancing ties with Indonesia

Experts would agree that Indonesia is yet to realise its full potential, quite like India. As large democracies committed to inclusive development, they are natural partners. Their closer engagement can enable them to play a role suitable to their size on the world stage. This basic realisation, combined with lasting links of history, culture and shared philosophy of `unity in diversity,' drives the bilateral relationship.

In due course, President Sukarno and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru undertook a renewal of relations, infusing them with `the Spirit of Bandung'. Mrs Indira Gandhi retained special affection for Indonesians. I witnessed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, on his visit to Indonesia in October 1986, striving to impart a new momentum. In his banquet speech he used Tagore's words to great effect. The then President Suharto's Indonesia reciprocated warmly, with the presidential orchestra playing Sare jahan se accha Hindostan hamara to utter delight of our Embassy team in Jakarta. The present leaders are now carrying forward the tradition, buttressed by a whole new set of political and economic imperatives. The focus today seems to be less on personal equations of leaders and more on common approaches of the two countries as well as on insti tutionalising bilateral relations to an unprecedented extent. -- RAJIV BHATIA


Enhancing ties with Indonesia

By RAJIV BHATIA

Right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, India shared a cordial relationship with Indonesia. It's time the two countries impart a new momentum to that relationship. Economic relations apart, the two nations should strengthen strategic cooperation and ensure regular consultations on their relations with their neighbours in the region, especially China

Experts would agree that Indonesia is yet to realise its full potential, quite like India. As large democracies committed to inclusive development, they are natural partners. Their closer engagement can enable them to play a role suitable to their size on the world stage. This basic realisation, combined with lasting links of history, culture and shared philosophy of `unity in diversity,' drives the bilateral relationship.

It is worth assessing if the recent visit of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to India will prove to be "a historic milestone", as claimed by the two sides.

During his previous visit in 2005, a Joint Declaration was signed, reflecting the decision by New Delhi and Jakarta to establish "a New Strategic Partnership". The visit in January 2011 has resulted in a Joint Statement which contains an agreement "to elevate" this partnership to "a higher level". How high can these relations go? The answer will depend on the depth of their foundations, the leaders' commitment to their vision and their capacity to translate lofty words into action.

In capturing the essence of India Indonesia relationship, no one can match Rabindranath Tagore. He began his celebrated poem, `To Java' in a gripping style: In a dim, distant, unrecorded age We had met, thou and I, When my speech became entangled in thine And my life in thy life.

The later stanzas spoke of journeys by `our ancestors' and how the two lands became `companion souls'. A subtle reference was made to the colonial period. On the basis of what he saw and discovered during his journey in 1927, Tagore called for renewing ties: Remember me, even as I remember thy face, And recognise in me as thine own That old that has been lost, to be regained and made new.

In due course, President Sukarno and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru undertook a renewal of relations, infusing them with `the Spirit of Bandung'. Mrs Indira Gandhi retained special affection for Indonesians. I witnessed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, on his visit to Indonesia in October 1986, striving to impart a new momentum. In his banquet speech he used Tagore's words to great effect. The then President Suharto's Indonesia reciprocated warmly, with the presidential orchestra playing Sare jahan se accha Hindostan hamara to utter delight of our Embassy team in Jakarta. The present leaders are now carrying forward the tradition, buttressed by a whole new set of political and economic imperatives. The focus today seems to be less on personal equations of leaders and more on common approaches of the two countries as well as on insti tutionalising bilateral relations to an unprecedented extent.

While the two Governments have a broader view of the multi-dimensional relationship with its three strong pillars, media pundits tend to see it in the economic context only. For example, The Jakarta Post focussed exclusively on economic gains of Mr Yudhoyono visit in its editorial entitled Dancing with giants. Highlighting the growing trade and investment ties with India, it concluded that “comprehensive cooperation” with China, India, Japan and South Korea had “placed Indonesia strategically with the global supply chain”.

Economic dimension is indeed significant. Bilateral trade has shown healthy growth, increasing from $4 billion in 2005 to $12 billion in 2010. The new target set by the authorities is of $25 billion by 2015.

Trade balance is unfavourable to India.

Steady expansion in India’s investment presence in Indonesia is encouraging.

Building up on investment flows during 1970s, the new phase is marked by diversification of areas and entry of new actors.

Energy remains an attractive sector, with new cooperation possibilities having been identified in coal mining, oil and natural gas. Decision to commence negotiations

for a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement is a timely step.

The visit’s success is reflected in the signing of 18 MOUs at business level.

However, the noteworthy point is that the other two pillars of relationship, namely strategic cooperation and cooperation in ‘other areas’ , are of enormous importance too. The first one covers political dialogue, cooperation regarding security and defence and exchanges on long-term strategic matters. The two Foreign Offices need to ensure regular consultations not only about bilateral relations but also about each country’s relations with its neighbours, especially

China and other Great Powers. These should be in addition to current dialogue within the framework of ASEAN and related institutions. Each country can also brief the other about its other important relationships: For example, Indonesia would be as curious about India’s relations with South Africa, Brazil and Mexico as South Block should be in a regular, first-hand appreciation of Indonesia’s relations with Japan, Australia and the Pacific region. The two Governments have been engaged in crafting cooperation on defence matters, maritime security, intelligence exchanges and endeavours to combat terrorism. Both the documents referred above seem to accord priority to this package.

‘Other cooperation’ is wide ranging as it impacts on a diversity of fields — culture, education, capacity-building, science and technology, health, tourism, academic exchanges and people-to-people contacts.

The decision to establish a Consulate in Bali is welcome. Our Jakarta Embassy has been active in promoting cultural cooperation.

Its counterpart in New Delhi can contribute more by bringing Indonesian artistes and engaging widely with opinion makers and think tanks. An Eminent Persons’ Group has been set up to develop the ‘Vision Statement 2025’ . Its recommendations will be awaited with interest by all those interested in India-Indonesia relations.

New institutional linkages will be established: A biennial Forum of Trade Ministers, a biennial dialogue between Defence Ministers, and regular exchanges involving several other key Ministers. Eleven new Agreements have been signed. Besides, existing mechanisms are being activated. The year 2011 will be celebrated as “the year of six decades of diplomatic relations”. The two Governments will clearly be busy, implementing these decisions and monitoring their progress. Mr Yudhoyono’ s visit has generated a new hope, but sustained action in future by Ministers, officials, diplomats and others alone will justify this optimism.

(A former Ambassador to several countries, the author served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Jakarta.)

Source: The Pioneer

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamCurrentAffairs_1.aspx?ArticleID=4188


Islam and Pluralism
25 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
The Muslim as BJP supporter in Gujarat

Religious symbolism became a shield for these Muslims to protect their identities against the threat of rising, rabid Hindutva. Compromise seemed impossible even in the exchange of economic development. So when Congress workers told this writer recently that Muslims were paid by the BJP to support it in the civic elections, it was paradoxical, even if the claim were true. People generally refuse to involve themselves in cost-benefit calculations and reach a self-serving decision on issues of a sacred nature when given material incentives in exchange. Assuming some Muslims did accept money from the BJP in exchange of support, does it mean they are no longer looking at the 2002 post-Godhra violence as an attack on their religious identity? If the Congress is not a favourable alternative and the BJP a lurking ethnic threat, why vote at all?

“The BJP will always be anti-Muslim, that is its identity. But the benefits it has given to Hindus, say in the Sarkhej ward, have indirectly reached Muslims,” says Shahid Ali, a Muslim entrepreneur. A Congress supporter, he is open to the BJP if it continues to welcome Muslim candidates. Speaking of former top cop Al Saiyed, who contested on the BJP ticket, he says, “I would not mind having a Muslim candidate like Saiyed. At least I have someone of my own to hold accountable for any sloppy work.” Mr. Saiyed, who managed to get over 13,000 votes in Sarkhej, himself believes that the recent change in political behaviour is driven by educated Muslims and those who have realised the need to be in the mainstream. “If we do not assimilate with other communities, it's the end of us!” he says. -- Raheel Dhattiwada

The Muslim as BJP supporter in Gujarat

By Raheel Dhattiwala

Ahmadbhai Shaikh is a muezzin in a mosque in the Behrampura area of Ahmedabad. If not reciting the ‘azaan,' he is busy helping Bharatiya Janata Party workers in his ward to campaign among members of his community. His reason for shifting from the Congress to the BJP is “the hope that our drainage problems will be solved, after all these years.” As one who was lucky to escape the arson and looting in the city in 2002, he merely calls that a “period of misfortune.”

It was nine years ago that Gujarat's biggest wave of Hindu-Muslim violence was triggered in Godhra. The burning of the Sabarmati Express marked the beginning of an anti-Muslim backlash that continued intermittently for the entire year amid allegations of State complicity. That period reinforced existing residential and symbolic segregation of Muslims in cities like Ahmedabad.

Nine years later, the victims of the violence are embracing their perceived perpetrators.

As has been already discussed extensively, Gujarat's Muslims voting for the BJP is an exceptional case compared to, say, Bihar where the BJP was accepted only on the condition of excluding Hindutva (and Narendra Modi), or even other parts of northern India where Sikhs voted for their perceived oppressors, the Congress, only after a public apology the party made to the community. The reasons for the transformation behind the new ‘all-inclusive' BJP have also been discussed widely.

Yet, what is far more exceptional is the kind of Muslims supporting the BJP in Gujarat.

Take Ahmedabad city, for example. The campaign trail of the BJP in the 2010 civic polls here included a patchwork of busybody Muslim clerics and traders: two groups that we would assume to have different voting preferences. The traders have an understandable, rational logic of voting for a party that has emphasised its economic development policies as never before. The voting preference of two significant trader-Muslim communities of Gujarat, the Dawoodi Bohras and the Khojas — both Shias — has always tended to be biased towards the party in power, be it the British in pre-independent India, the Congress in the 1980s to early-1990s, or the BJP later. “The Syedna or the head priest will always seek a cordial relationship with those in power. It is in his interests, and as he sees it, in the interests of the community,” says scholar-activist J.S. Bandukwala.

However, if one looks at the situation five years ago, it is fascinating and almost implausible why religious Sunni Muslims, including clerics, would come out to support the BJP.

In 2006, this writer spoke with Asma Saiyed, a student at St. Xavier's College in Ahmedabad. Enraged by the events of 2002, she had taken a significant decision: to add the burqa to her wardrobe of western wear. For this eloquent young woman, wearing her religion on her sleeve was a “slap in the face” of the BJP, which she viewed as the architect of violence against Muslims in 2002. “All of us friends felt cowed down by a constant anti-Muslim rhetoric since 2002. And we thought whether it made any sense to be scared. We said, okay so you want to hate us? Here are our burqas so we know that you know we are Muslims. Now come, get us.”

Ms Saiyed belonged to that section of Muslims who developed a collective identity in opposition to the majority, most of whom, they believed, endorsed the BJP's Hindutva rhetoric. This was similar to what John Ogbu's work on ‘oppositional culture' among Black American students in the U.S. tells us — that their identities as minorities were developed as a response to White racism, which then led them to oppose conformism in education and all that which would be “good” (White or majority) behaviour.

Religious symbolism became a shield for these Muslims to protect their identities against the threat of rising, rabid Hindutva. Compromise seemed impossible even in the exchange of economic development. So when Congress workers told this writer recently that Muslims were paid by the BJP to support it in the civic elections, it was paradoxical, even if the claim were true. People generally refuse to involve themselves in cost-benefit calculations and reach a self-serving decision on issues of a sacred nature when given material incentives in exchange. Assuming some Muslims did accept money from the BJP in exchange of support, does it mean they are no longer looking at the 2002 post-Godhra violence as an attack on their religious identity? If the Congress is not a favourable alternative and the BJP a lurking ethnic threat, why vote at all?

The answer perhaps lies in the fact that India's is a patronage democracy wherein resource distribution depends on the discretion of elected officials as a form of market good rather than an entitlement. Staying close to the power centres in government is the key to survival. For the traders, survival is synonymous with their occupation. For the cleric, it could mean assimilation to avoid being labelled anything from anti-social to anti-national — no surprise that most Muslim BJP supporters, including religious Muslims, have patriotic songs as their phone caller tune.

“This terrorism taint is too much for the community. As long as the BJP is in power, we have to be part of the mainstream to shun this tag,” says Imranbhai, a fruit vendor in Ahmedabad. He fits the stereotype of the Congress supporter: white kurta-pyjama, skull cap, untrimmed beard and moustache. Only that he swears by the BJP. “There is no shame for a Muslim today to admit he supports the BJP,” he says. Indeed, the indifference of religious Muslims to saffron flags fluttering in the dense Muslim ghettos of Juhapura and Saudagar ni Pol in Ahmedabad — areas that are alien to the local Hindu except in scary stories — was unthinkable earlier.

Moin Khan, once a CPI(M) worker, soon to sign up with the BJP, explains that the power centre for a religious Muslim is the local cleric; for the cleric, it is the people in governance. “The maulvis can mobilise masses because people listen to them. For the maulvis to establish credibility among the people, they have no choice but to get their hands dirtied in their network of influential politicians.” He recalls how a Sunni Muslim cleric who was close to the BJP helped trace a local slum-dweller's daughter who had disappeared. “Some clerics help the Congress, many now [help] the BJP because there is no alternative.”

Moving back again five years ago, as one section of Muslims in Ahmedabad battled issues of identity using religion as a shield, another section had begun to develop a different kind of collective solutions to the discrimination. They were of the view that survival was possible only for the fittest Muslim — one who conforms to the mainstream majority. Prepping up for an existence war of sorts, they began to set up schools and focus on mainstream education for their children. Almost 70 per cent of Muslim-managed educational institutions, for example, were established in Ahmedabad between 1993 and 2005 — after the two waves of Hindu-Muslim violence.

Qutbuddin Ansari, who became the “face of the Gujarat riots,” his pleading picture making news in national and international media in 2002, refused an interview with this writer in 2007. His request: privacy. “I've moved on. Please let me be.”

The movement to “move on” had already started. The recent civic elections took it to a higher level.

Remember that this remains a discussion about a very small section of Muslims — most of whom relatively (that is, not directly) affected by the violence. Moreover, political attitudes in a civic election are based on ground issues. Slum-dwellers in the old city of Ahmedabad are ready to switch left, right and centre (the CPI (M) to the RSS to the BJP) as long as they get their local corporator to provide their daily quota of drinking water. Whether the BJP will continue to embrace Muslims at the cost of upsetting its majority target voters in Gujarat in the Assembly elections, will be seen in the future.

“The BJP will always be anti-Muslim, that is its identity. But the benefits it has given to Hindus, say in the Sarkhej ward, have indirectly reached Muslims,” says Shahid Ali, a Muslim entrepreneur. A Congress supporter, he is open to the BJP if it continues to welcome Muslim candidates. Speaking of former top cop Al Saiyed, who contested on the BJP ticket, he says, “I would not mind having a Muslim candidate like Saiyed. At least I have someone of my own to hold accountable for any sloppy work.” Mr. Saiyed, who managed to get over 13,000 votes in Sarkhej, himself believes that the recent change in political behaviour is driven by educated Muslims and those who have realised the need to be in the mainstream. “If we do not assimilate with other communities, it's the end of us!” he says.

(Raheel Dhattiwala is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, who is doing field work in Ahmedabad.)

Source: The Hindu

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamAndPluralism_1.aspx?ArticleID=4189


Current affairs
25 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Arab unrest propels Tehran as Riyadh's influence declines

Saudi Arabia, an American ally and a Sunni nation that jousts with Shiite Iran for regional influence, has been shaken. King Abdullah on February 23 signalled his concern by announcing a $10 billion increase in welfare spending to help young people, buy homes and open businesses, a gesture seen as trying to head off the kind of unrest that fuelled protests around the region.

“Iraq and Lebanon are now in Iran's sphere of influence with groups that have been supported by the hard-liners for decades,” said Muhammad Sahimi, an Iran expert in Los Angeles who frequently writes about Iranian politics. “Iran is a major player in Afghanistan. Any regime that eventually emerges in Egypt will not be as hostile to Hamas as Mubarak was, and Hamas has been supported by Iran. That may help Iran to increase its influence there even more.”

Iran could also benefit from the growing assertiveness of Shiites in general. Shiism is hardly monolithic, and Iran does not speak on behalf of all Shiites. But members of that sect are linked by faith and by their strong sense that they have been victims of discrimination by the Sunni majority. Events in Bahrain illustrate that connection well. -- Michael Slackman


Arab unrest propels Tehran as Riyadh's influence declines

By Michael Slackman

The popular revolts shaking the Arab world have begun to shift the balance of power in the region, bolstering Iran's position while weakening and unnerving its rival, Saudi Arabia, regional experts said.

While it is far too soon to write the final chapter on the uprisings' impact, Iran has already benefitted from the ouster or undermining of Arab leaders who were its strong adversaries and has begun to project its growing influence, the analysts said. This week Iran sent two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time since its revolution in 1979, and Egypt's new military leaders allowed them to pass.

Saudi Arabia, an American ally and a Sunni nation that jousts with Shiite Iran for regional influence, has been shaken. King Abdullah on February 23 signalled his concern by announcing a $10 billion increase in welfare spending to help young people, buy homes and open businesses, a gesture seen as trying to head off the kind of unrest that fuelled protests around the region.

King Abdullah then met with the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, to discuss ways to contain the political uprising by the Shiite majority there. The Sunni leaders in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain accuse their Shiite populations of loyalty to Iran, a charge rejected by Shiites who say it is intended to stoke sectarian tensions and justify opposition to democracy.

The uprisings are driven by domestic concerns. But they have already shredded a regional paradigm in which a trio of states aligned with the West supported engaging Israel and containing Israel's enemies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, experts said. The pro-engagement camp of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia is now in tatters. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been forced to resign, King Abdullah of Jordan is struggling to control discontent in his kingdom and Saudi Arabia has been left alone to face a rising challenge to its regional role.

‘Iran the big winner'

“I think the Saudis are worried that they're encircled — Iraq, Syria, Lebanon; Yemen is unstable; Bahrain is very uncertain,” said Alireza Nader, an expert in international affairs with the [Research ANd Development] RAND Corporation. “They worry that the region is ripe for Iranian exploitation. Iran has shown that it is very capable of taking advantage of regional instability.”

“Iran is the big winner here,” said a regional adviser to the United States government who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

Iran's circumstances could change, experts cautioned, if it overplayed its hand or if popular Arab movements came to resent Iranian interference in the region. And it is by no means assured that pro-Iranian groups would dominate politics in Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere.

For now, Iran and Syria are emboldened. Qatar and Oman are tilting toward Iran, and Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen are in play.

“If these ‘pro-American' Arab political orders currently being challenged by significant protest movements become at all more representative of their populations, they will for sure become less enthusiastic about strategic cooperation with the United States,” Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, former National Security Council staff members, wrote in an e-mail. They added that at the moment, Iran's leaders saw that “the regional balance is shifting, in potentially decisive ways, against their American adversary and in favour of the Islamic Republic.” Iran's standing is stronger in spite of its challenges at home, with a troubled economy, high unemployment and a determined political opposition.

The United States may also face challenges in pressing its case against Iran's nuclear programmes, some experts asserted.

“Recent events have also taken the focus away from Iran's nuclear programme and may make regional and international consensus on sanctions even harder to achieve,” Mr. Nader said. Iran's growing confidence is based on a gradual realignment that began with the aftershocks of the September 11 attacks. By ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the United States removed two of Iran's regional enemies who worked to contain its ambitions. Today, Iran is a major player in both nations, an unintended consequence.

Iran demonstrated its emboldened attitude this year in Lebanon when its ally, Hezbollah, forced the collapse of the pro-Western government of Saad Hariri. Mr. Hariri was replaced with a prime minister backed by Hezbollah, a bold move that analysts say was undertaken with Iran's support.

“Iraq and Lebanon are now in Iran's sphere of influence with groups that have been supported by the hard-liners for decades,” said Muhammad Sahimi, an Iran expert in Los Angeles who frequently writes about Iranian politics. “Iran is a major player in Afghanistan. Any regime that eventually emerges in Egypt will not be as hostile to Hamas as Mubarak was, and Hamas has been supported by Iran. That may help Iran to increase its influence there even more.”

Iran could also benefit from the growing assertiveness of Shiites in general. Shiism is hardly monolithic, and Iran does not speak on behalf of all Shiites. But members of that sect are linked by faith and by their strong sense that they have been victims of discrimination by the Sunni majority. Events in Bahrain illustrate that connection well.

In Bahrain

Bahrain has about 5, 00,000 citizens, 70 per cent of them Shiite. The nation has been ruled by a Sunni family since it was captured from the Persians in the 18th century. The Shiites have long argued that they are discriminated against in work, education and politics. Last week, they began a public uprising calling for democracy, which would bring them power. The government at first used lethal force to try to stop the opposition, killing seven. It is now calling for a dialogue while the protesters, turning out in huge numbers, are demanding the government's resignation.

But demonstrators have maintained their loyalty to Bahrain. The head of the largest Shiite party, Al Wefaq, said that the party rejected Iran's type of Islamic government. On February 22, a leading member of the party, Khalil Ebrahim al-Marzooq, said he was afraid that the king was trying to transform the political dispute into a sectarian one. He said there were rumors the king would open the border with Saudi Arabia and let Sunni extremists into the country to attack the demonstrators.

“The moment that any border opens by the government, means the other borders will open,” he said. “You don't expect people will see their similar sect being killed and not interfere. We will not call them.”

But, he said, they will come. (Nadim Audi contributed reporting.)

Source: New York Times News Service

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamCurrentAffairs_1.aspx?ArticleID=4186





Spiritual Meditations
25 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com

Love and Compassion

The Prophet taught to love the One God, emphasising that the path leading to Him consists of kindness, compassion and moderation. He taught that women be respected, and according a high status to mothers, he declared, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of the Mothers”. Laying emphasis on purification the heart he said, “Surely in the breasts of humanity is a lump of flesh, if sound, then the whole body is sound, and if corrupt, then the whole body is corrupt. Is it not the heart?”

The essence of Sufism stems from the belief that the universe was created from Noor-e-Muhammadi, Light of Muhammad, and from this pre-existent light, Allah took a handful to build the universe.

For mystics, Prophet Muhammad mirrors Allah’s attributes. During my Sufi initiation, I was taught that loving and following the Prophet was to love God. He remains the perfect vehicle to inner enlightenment, for even in slumber, he remained connected to Allah. -- Sadia Dehlvi


Love and Compassion

By Sadia Dehlvi

RABI UL awwal, literally means “the first spring”. It is the month of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. It is a joyous time for the Muslim community which holds Milad, festive gatherings to remember and honour the Prophet whom Allah ranks as rahmat ul alameen, a blessing and mercy for all the worlds.

This month invites reflection on Prophet Muhammad’s message and teachings. He said, “I have come to perfect noble character”. The Quran praises him, “You have indeed, in the Messenger of Allah, a beautiful pattern of conduct”.

When asked of his character, Muhammad’s wife Ayesha said, “His character was the Quran. He approved of what the Quran approved and disapproved of what the Quran disapproved”.

The Prophet taught to love the One God, emphasising that the path leading to Him consists of kindness, compassion and moderation. He taught that women be respected, and according a high status to mothers, he declared, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of the Mothers”. Laying emphasis on purification the heart he said, “Surely in the breasts of humanity is a lump of flesh, if sound, then the whole body is sound, and if corrupt, then the whole body is corrupt. Is it not the heart?”

The most forgiving of people, the Prophet never sought revenge despite 13 assassination attempts on his life. He advised Muslims to show patience in their trials and tribulations. It was after 13 years of passive resistance of the early Muslims that verses sanctioning an armed struggle to establish peace were revealed in the Quran. While returning from the battlefield of Badr, the first armed conflict, Prophet Muhammad defined the two faces of jihad, “We are returning from the lesser holy war to the greater holy war against ourselves”. On another occasion, he said, “The most excellent jihad is to speak up for the truth, in the face of a tyrannical authority”.

Muhammad’s kindness was extended to all beings, particularly towards children and animals. On seeing the Prophet kissing his grandchildren, a companion remarked that though he had 10 children, he had never kissed them. Muhammad commented, “He who does not show mercy will not receive mercy from Allah”.

The Prophet promised Paradise to a sinful woman who fetched water for a dog and saved him from dying of thirst. On another occasion, when a cat slept on the Prophet’s garment, he cut the sleeve to leave the cat undisturbed while he got up to offer prayers. Once, while heading for an armed conflict, the Messenger noticed a bitch delivering her litter and asked his followers to change track, ensuring that the animal did not get trampled.

Muhammad’s unique position stems from many of his sayings such as, “The first thing that Allah created was my Light, which originated from His Light and derived from the Majesty of His Greatness” and “Truly, Allah made me the seal of prophets when Adam was between water and clay”.

The essence of Sufism stems from the belief that the universe was created from Noor-e-Muhammadi, Light of Muhammad, and from this pre-existent light, Allah took a handful to build the universe.

For mystics, Prophet Muhammad mirrors Allah’s attributes. During my Sufi initiation, I was taught that loving and following the Prophet was to love God. He remains the perfect vehicle to inner enlightenment, for even in slumber, he remained connected to Allah.

As Rumi glorifies:

The Prophet said, “My eyes sleep”

But my heart is not asleep to the Lord of Creation

While your eyes are closed and your heart slumbers,

My eyes are closed and my heart open in the contemplation of the Divine

Do not judge me with your own inadequacy;

What is night for you is bright day for me,

What for you is a prison is for me an open garden.

In the very midst of worldly engagement I am detached.

It is not myself that sits beside you; it is my shadow;

My reality is beyond the realm of thoughts,

For I have passed beyond all thought,

Racing ahead, far past that realm.

Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at sadiafeedback@gmail.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamSpiritualMeditations_1.aspx?ArticleID=4190



Islamic World News
25 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Gun battles rage in Libya

10 Nato tankers torched; 4 dead in Peshawar

Libya: desperate Col Gaddafi offers protesters concessions as British rescue continues

Britain to seize Gaddafi's London assets: Report

Rebels close in, Gaddafi strikes back

Three activists killed in wave of violence in Karachi

US missiles kill six in NWA

Libya revolt could reveal fate of missing Lebanon imam

Foreign journalists work for al Qaeda, says Libya

Indian employees in Libya are safe, say companies

Pakistan’s intelligence ready to split with CIA

NOC for Pak actors and singers must for visiting India

US arrests Saudi bomb plotter

JEDDAH: Patience does not mean we’re weak, say women suffering in silence

Has Syria built a secret nuclear site?

Gaddafi struggles to hold on to power as opponents make gains

Evil eye cast on Libya, says Qaddafi

Libya denies Gaddafi has Swiss bank funds

Benghazi holding assassins; Residents set up defenses

U.S. keeps options open on Libya

World leaders seek action against Qadhafi over crackdown

3 Navy warships roped in to evacuate Indians from Libya

India trying to save 18,000 citizens from 'drug-crazed' Libya mobs

Qaddafi's charge against Bin Laden angers Saudis

Egypt detains ex-minister and former state TV boss

Clinton sees validation of Gandhi's principles in Egypt

Bahrain opposition leader's passport seized in Lebanon

Yemeni tycoon shrugs off risk from unrest

Saudis use Facebook and Twitter to air their views

Saudi taxi drivers complain about 'unfair discrimination'

Saudi students told they can return to Egypt

Saudi King healthy but needs physiotherapy: Minister

Abdullah driving force behind many diplomatic initiatives, says UK envoy

AIMMM Urges those convicted to Challenge Judgment on Godhra case

Badruddin Ajmal to file Rs 10,000 cr defamation suit against Arshad Madani

Mir Waiz Farooq meets Bilawal Bhutto in London

Trial in double-murder case against Davis to begin

US ‘ready to mend Pakistan ties’

PM calls for political reconciliation

UK court orders Assange’s extradition to Sweden

Taliban warn PPP against freeing Davis

Japan to lend $170m to Pak flood rehab

Israel bombs Gaza after rocket attack

Oil jumps 7.5% to $119.79 a barrel

Death toll from Jeddah floods rises to 13

Israeli gunfire kills Palestinian civilian

Uganda opposition leader urges protests over polls

Palestinian premier seeks youth input on Facebook

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: At least four people have been reportedly killed while 10 NATO fuel-supplying tankers have been burned

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamicWorldNews_1.aspx?ArticleID=4187

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Gun battles rage in Libya

25 February 2011

BENGHAZI - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi hit back at rebels holding towns near the Libyan capital on Thursday but there was no sign they had broken the momentum of opposition gains that have been closing in around Tripoli.

With a spike in oil prices threatening prospects for a global economic recovery, the United States said it was keeping all options open, including sanctions and military action in response to the Libyan government’s crackdown on the uprising.

But coordinated international action against Gaddafi, who has ruled the oil-rich desert nation of six million for 41 years, still seemed some way off, as foreign governments sought to evacuate thousands of their citizens trapped by the violence.

In a rambling appeal for calm, Gaddafi blamed the revolt on Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and said the protesters were fuelled by milk and Nescafe spiked with drugs.

Disparate opposition forces were already in control of major centres in the east, including the second city Benghazi. Reports of the third city Misrata, as well as Zuara, in the west also falling brought the tide of rebellion closer to Gaddafi’s power base — though information from western Libya remained patchy.

In Misrata, which opponents of Gaddafi said they had taken on Wednesday, residents said loyalists and foreign mercenaries launched a counter-attack on Thursday but had been contained.

Gun battles in Zawiyah, an oil terminal 50 km (30 miles) from the capital, left 23 people dead, a Libyan newspaper said. Al Jazeera quoted residents putting the toll at 100 there.

France’s top human rights official said up to 2,000 people might have died so far in the uprising which began on Feb. 15.

Western governments, which embraced Gaddafi and his oil in recent years after decades of isolating a leader once branded a “mad dog”, struggled to find a common response to the crisis.

Talk of sanctions against the country, or against Gaddafi and his circle, swirled without clear agreement in view.

The Swiss government said it had frozen assets belonging to Gaddafi and his family.

Gaddafi, who just two days ago vowed in a televised address to crush the revolt and fight to the last, this time spoke to state television by telephone, and sounded more conciliatory.

Fightback

As governments and foreign companies scrambled to evacuate foreign nationals working in Libya, a US-chartered ferry remained trapped in Tripoli with 285 passengers on board.

US diplomatic cables from 2009 published by Wikileaks portrayed Gaddafi’s family as a fragmented group, riven by greed, jealousy and ambition, casting doubt on how they might respond to their father’s current plight.

Former Justice Minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil, who quit this week, told a Swedish newspaper he expected the Libyan leader to commit suicide the way Adolf Hitler did at the end of World War Two, rather than surrender or flee.

Misrata resident Senoussi said he knew of seven civilians and several government troops and mercenaries who were killed.

“The protesters arrested 20 mostly African mercenaries and two Libyan soldiers. I have seen them in shackles,” he said by telephone, adding that armed rebels were roaming the city outskirts in search of Gaddafi loyalists.

Al Jazeera quoted a senior officer who joined the rebels as saying the government used poisoned gas against demonstrators at Misrata’s airport early on Thursday, but other Misrata residents said they were not aware of such an event.

Soldiers were reported along the roads approaching Tripoli. In Zawiyah, witnesses said pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces were firing at each other in the streets.

Libya’s Quryna newspaper said 23 people were killed and 44 wounded in the town. Quoting medical sources it said “intense exchange of fire” was preventing the wounded from reaching hospitals. Some men were removing wounded kin from hospitals for fear of them falling into the hands of Gaddafi loyalists.

Anti-government militias were in control of Zuara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Tripoli, residents said. There was no sign of police or military and the town was controlled by “popular committees” armed with automatic weapons.

In the east of Libya, many soldiers have withdrawn from active service and some are openly supporting the revolt.

Protesters have also taken control of Al Kufra, some 1,000 km (600 miles) southeast of Benghazi, Quryna newspaper said.

The uprising has virtually halted Libya’s oil exports, said the head of Italy’s ENI, Libya’s biggest foreign oil operator. The unrest has driven world oil prices up to around $120 a barrel, stoking concern about the economic recovery.

Key Libyan oil and product terminals to the east of the capital are in the hands of rebels, according to Benghazi residents in touch with people in region. The oil and product terminals at Ras Lanuf and Marsa El Brega were being protected, they said, amid fears of attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces.

There were mixed reports of whether output was affected.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/international/2011/February/international_February855.xml&section=international

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10 Nato tankers torched; 4 dead in Peshawar

February 25, 2011

PESHAWAR: At least four people have been reportedly killed while 10 NATO fuel-supplying tankers have been burned to coal as they came under attack by unidentified miscreants at Ring Road here in the heart of Peshawar on late Thursday, Geo News reported.

According to details, the militants opened fire at standing fuel tankers parked by roadside. The bullets, sprinkled at tankers, led to eruption of fierce fire, which engulfed many tankers in no time, witnesses told police officials, adding that the atrocious act also ended up injuring some people.

Meanwhile, four persons, believed to be the drivers and cleaners of the containers, have also succumbed to dreadful attack and lost their lives.

Many fuel containers are still on fire as the fire is raging by the time; however, law enforcement agencies have arrived at the crime site and sealed the location for public traveling.

Fire tenders have been dispatched to the crime scene and efforts to tame blaze have been kicked off.

Investigations have been launched into the attack, police claimed.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=11701

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Libya: desperate Col Gaddafi offers protesters concessions as British rescue continues

Feb 25, 2011

Col Gaddafi of Libya was making a last desperate attempt to face down protesters threatening to come on to the streets of the Libyan capital on Friday, offering concessions but threatening no mercy to those who disobey his calls to stay at home.

As world leaders met to discuss how to stop the crisis, state television promised pay rises to state workers and cash hand-outs equal to around £300.

But protesters in Tripoli said they had been warned to stay at home during demonstrations planned for after Friday prayers in Green Square, or risk being shot on sight.

"Thousands are still prepared to defy Gaddafi by taking to the streets today," said one resident. "The time for change has come. The dictator has to step down. We know he has ordered his troops to shoot on sight, but we are ready."

Other residents confirmed reports that regime forces were trying to clear away the evidence of the wave of killing in Tripoli earlier in the week.

One resident told CBS news network that he saw 62 bodies in Green Square after violence on Tuesday but that the bodies were now being removed to an unknown location. Forces were even killing the wounded in hospital, he said.

"They go in with guns into hospitals," he said. "They take the bodies that are dead. In some hospitals, they have shot the wounded. This is true."

The regime's remaining leaders are now concentrated in Tripoli, with some desert cities still presumed to be in government hands. Troops attacked rebel-held towns such as Zawiya to the west and Misurata to the east on Thursday, but were unable to subdue them.

Nevertheless, there was no immediate sign of the Gaddafi family fleeing. "Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya," the dictator's son, Saif al-Islam, told CNN.

The United Nations Security Council, NATO, and the United Nations Human Rights Council, on which Libya has a seat, were all due to meet to discuss how to address Libya's future.

"The crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors," Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

"Tanks, helicopters and military aircraft have reportedly been used indiscriminately to attack the protesters. According to some sources, thousands may have been killed or injured."

The Council is likely to take a vote on whether to recommend suspension of Libya's three-year membership, which would eventually require a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.

Britain and France are preparing a case for sanctions and a weapons embargo on Libya to be put before the UN Security Council later in New York. They are also arguing for Libya to be referred to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into "crimes against humanity".

Members of the regime continued to go over to the opposition, with Col Gaddafi's cousin and close aide, Ahmed Gaddaf Al-Dam the latest to say he was defecting.

Gaddafi's justice minister, who resigned earlier in the week, warned that the dictator had weapons of mass destruction and would use them as he made his last stand.

"He has camps to the south, east and west of Tripoli, and these camps are led by the sons of Gaddafi," said the ex-minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, in interviews.

"Gaddafi owns everything. He owns bacterial and chemical weapons. At the end he can do anything, he will burn everything left behind."

According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which monitors the destruction of stockpiles, Libya was given an extension until May this year to destroy its remaining supplies of mustard gas as agreed when the country re-entered the international fold in 2003.

It now has about 10 tons out of an original 25 remaining, according to estimates, though it has already destroyed the shells and bombs that were designed to deliver the gas.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8347396/Libya-desperate-Col-Gaddafi-offers-protesters-concessions-as-British-rescue-continues.html

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Britain to seize Gaddafi's London assets: Report

Feb 25, 2011

LONDON: Britain will shortly seize billions of pounds in assets that Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi has stored in the European country, the Telegraph newspaper reported today.

Britain's finance department has set up a unit to trace Gaddafi's British assets which it believes include bank accounts, commercial property and a USD 16.1 million London home, the paper said.

"The first priority is to get British nationals out of Libya," a government source told the British daily.

"But then we are ready to move in on Gaddafi's assets, the work is under way. This is definitely on the radar at the highest levels."

Britain understands that Gaddafi owns around 20 billion pounds in liquid assets, mostly in London. According to the paper, these will be frozen "within days."

The international community has rounded on the long-serving ruler after he responded to anti-regime demonstrations with a violent crackdown that has claimed hundreds of lives.

Read more: Britain to seize Gaddafi's London assets: Report - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Britain-to-seize-Gaddafis-London-assets-Report/articleshow/7567983.cms#ixzz1Ey1NNU9F

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Britain-to-seize-Gaddafis-London-assets-Report/articleshow/7567983.cms

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Rebels close in, Gaddafi strikes back

Feb 25 2011,

Thousands of mercenary and irregular forces struck back at a tightening circle of rebellions around the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, trying to hold off an uprising against the 40-year rule of Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi, who blamed the violence on “hallucinogenic” drugs and Osama bin Laden.

The fighting on Thursday centered in Zawiya, a gateway city to the capital, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, where government opponents had briefly claimed victory. Gaddafi’s forces — a mixture of special brigades and African mercenaries— fought back, blasting a mosque that had been used as a refuge by protesters, a witness said.

Fighting intensified in other cities near Tripoli— Misurata, 130 miles east, and Sabratha, about 50 miles west. There were also reports that Zuara, 75 miles west of the capital, had fallen to anti-government militias.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/rebels-close-in-gaddafi-strikes-back/754449/

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Three activists killed in wave of violence in Karachi

By Atif Raza

KARACHI: Panic gripped several areas of the provincial capital after three people, two activists of the Sunni Tehreek and one of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), were killed in a fresh wave of violence and targeted killings on Thursday.

The Sunni Tehreek’s activists were shot dead on Nishtar Road near the KMC workshop in the limits of the Eidgah Police Station.

As per reports, 29-year-old Danish Qadri, son of Qasim, was going home along with his brother-in-law Waseem Qadri, 30, son of Muhammad Qadri, when some unidentified armed men, riding on a motorcycle, opened indiscriminate firing on them. As a result, they both received bullet and died on the spot. The culprits, however, managed to flee from the crime scene. After being informed about the incident, police rushed to the spot and shifted the bodies of the dead to the Civil Hospital Karachi.

Superintendent of Police (SP), Qamar Raza Jasqani, confirmed that both the victims belonged to the Sunni Tehreek and claimed that it was a targeted killing incident as the killers adopted a procedure which they had used in their previous crimes. He also said that seven empty bullet shells of 9 MM pistol were recovered from the crime site.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\25\story_25-2-2011_pg7_1

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US missiles kill six in NWA

Feb 25, 2011

PESHAWAR: Suspected US missiles hit a house and car in a village in the Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border on Thursday, killing at least six people, intelligence officials said. The strikes occurred within minutes of each other in the North Waziristan region, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to brief the media. Unmanned drones frequently fire missiles at suspected al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. The attacks have emerged as a major weapon in Washington’s campaign against terrorists that are blamed for attacks in Afghanistan as well as plots against the West. ap

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\25\story_25-2-2011_pg7_11

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Libya revolt could reveal fate of missing Lebanon imam

Feb 25, 2011

BEIRUT: Rabab Al-Sadr has waited in vain for more than 30 years to discover the fate of her brother, Lebanon's charismatic Shiite cleric Musa Al-Sadr who disappeared on a visit to Libya in 1978.

But the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi has given her family hope that they may finally find out what happened to him if the Libyan leader is toppled, she told Reuters on Thursday.

"I am not gloating, but any oppressor who has done injustice to people will face this bad end," she said. "We are relying on God in this issue and on his will, we will accept (whatever Sadr's fate is).”

The family and Lebanon's Shiite community hold the Libyan leader responsible for the disappearance of Sadr, founder of the Shiite Amal movement, and two of his aides during a 1978 visit.

Libya says Sadr, a relative of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, vanished after leaving Tripoli for Italy, but an Italian investigating magistrate has ruled he never arrived there. In 2008, Lebanon indicted Qaddafi over Sadr's disappearance and is seeking his arrest.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article283655.ece

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Foreign journalists work for al Qaeda, says Libya

Yashwant Raj

February 25, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi doesn’t think much of reporters. He has made passes at women interviewers, he called them dogs recently. And now, Libya has said, foreign journalists illegally present in Libya will be treated as al Qaeda collaborators. Libyan officials told US diplomats that journalists from CNN, BB

C Arabic and Al Arabiya would be allowed to report on the current situation. But those that are already in, illegally, are in trouble.

“These same senior officials also said that some reporters had entered the country illegally and that the Libyan government now considered these reporters al Qaeda collaborators,” the US department of state said on Thursday.

“Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labelling unauthorised media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught,” the state department said in a statement.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Foreign-journalists-work-for-al-Qaeda-says-Libya/H1-Article1-666478.aspx

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Indian employees in Libya are safe, say companies

Feb 24 2011

Amid concerns over the safety of 18,000 Indians in violence-hit Libya, companies like BHEL, Punj Lloyd, D S Constructions and Unitech Infra today said their employees in the North African country are safe.

The companies said that some of them have already been evacuated, while efforts are on to bring others back safely and they are in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)on the issue.

Punj Lloyd said in a statement that “the company has been assured safety and security of its employees and assets in Libya”.

“We are in constant touch with the Indian Embassy in Libya and with the MEA in India to enable our employees to return to India safely,” the company said.

Reports suggested that Punj Lloyd has large presence in the violence-hit country with around 1,800 employees and projects of about USD 1.8 billion.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/indian-employees-in-libya-are-safe-say-companies/754384/

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Pakistan’s intelligence ready to split with CIA

By KATHY GANNON & ADAM GOLDMAN

Feb 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ISI spy agency is ready to split with the CIA because of frustration over what it calls heavy-handed pressure and its anger over what it believes is a covert US operation involving hundreds of contract spies, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with US and Pakistani officials.

Such a move could seriously damage the US war effort in Afghanistan, limit a program targeting Al-Qaeda insurgents along the Pakistan frontier, and restrict Washington’s access to information in the nuclear-armed country.

According to a statement drafted by the ISI, supported by interviews with officials, an already-fragile relationship between the two agencies collapsed following the shooting death of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, a US contracted spy who is in jail in Pakistan facing possible multiple murder charges.

“Post-incident conduct of the CIA has virtually put the partnership into question,” said a media statement prepared by the ISI but never released. A copy was obtained this week by the AP.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/world/article283151.ece

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NOC for Pak actors and singers must for visiting India

Bharati Dubey

Feb 25, 2011

Pakistani actors and other artistes will have to get an NoC from their interior ministry before coming to India. The decision was taken in a high level meeting held with the interior minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad on Thursday evening.

The meeting was attended by representatives of all ministries where it was decided that no artiste would be allowed to travel to India without an NOC after March 15.

It maybe recalled here that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and his manager Maroof were charged under FEMA and customs act for carrying undeclared foreign currency of Rs 60 lakh.

Read more: NOC for Pak actors and singers must for visiting India - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/NOC-for-Pak-actors-and-singers-must-for-visiting-India/articleshow/7567708.cms#ixzz1Ey2VEpkL

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/NOC-for-Pak-actors-and-singers-must-for-visiting-India/articleshow/7567708.cms

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US arrests Saudi bomb plotter

Feb 25, 2011

WASHINGTON: A Saudi man has been arrested for allegedly buying chemicals and equipment to make a bomb and researching US targets, including the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari a Saudi national who came to Texas on student visa in 2008, was arrested late Wednesday and faces charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

According to the FBI, Aldawsari wrote himself an email entitled “NICE TARGETS,” and then listed two types of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. In another email titled “Tyrant’s House,” he listed the address of Bush’s home.

The authorities’ affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari researched using dolls to hide explosives and concealing them in a backpack to target a nightclub.

Prosecutors said Aldawsari, who was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa, posted extremist messages on a blog, vowing jihad.

“You who created mankind… grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path,” he wrote.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/24/us-arrests-saudi-bomb-plotter.html

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JEDDAH: Patience does not mean we’re weak, say women suffering in silence

By DIANA AL-JASSEM

Feb 25, 2011

JEDDAH: It is believed that most Arab women accept domestic violence as part of their lives. For various reasons, women from different age groups and backgrounds prefer to hide their pain and suffering and never report it to the authorities.

A police source told Arab News that most non-Saudi women report cases of violence against them from their husbands or families.

Saudi women on the other hand report only a few cases, preferring to hide their family problems, perhaps because they fear the possibility of divorce. They find themselves in a situation where they believe they have to learn how to accept abuse.

A number of Saudi and expatriate women exposed to domestic violence told Arab News the reasons why they chose not to speak out.

Sarah, a Saudi woman who requested not to mention her family name, said that she would prefer to be beaten up by her husband than get divorced.

She said that it is considered an insult to her family to complain to authorities about her husband, especially as she has children with him.

“I always believe and pray to God that one day he will not beat me up. I criticize those who call us weak. Our silence does not mean we are weak,” she said.

“We are strong and there are many factors that prevent me from seeking a divorce. This is a sacrifice that I have to make and I have to be patient for the sake of my kids. I always believe that one day he will change.”

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283690.ece

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Has Syria built a secret nuclear site?

Feb 25, 2011,

VIENNA: Western intelligence agencies suspect Syria may have built a secret atomic facility near Damascus, a German newspaper said, and a US think-tank suggested it could be linked to a site bombed by Israel in 2007.

If confirmed, Thursday's report by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung would add to Western fears that the Arab state had engaged in covert nuclear activity prior to the Israeli attack and it may increase pressure for action by the UN nuclear watchdog.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington-based think-tank , said the operational status of the facility near the town of Marj as Sultan was not known.

"However, there is suspicion that Syria may have emptied the buildings prior to mid-2008 and taken steps to disguise previous activities at the site," it said in an analysis issued in conjunction with the German newspaper report. Syria has refused to allow UN inspectors to revisit a site destroyed by Israel in 2007, which US intelligence reports said was a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor intended to produce bomb fuel.

ISIS said the site near may have been linked to the Dair Alzour facility attacked by Israel.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Has-Syria-built-a-secret-nuclear-site-/articleshow/7567533.cms#ixzz1Ew4dtHQ5

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Gaddafi struggles to hold on to power as opponents make gains

Feb 24 2011

Libya's embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi today scrambled hard to stick to power as anti-regime protesters gained control of several eastern cities and the revolt moved closer to the capital Tripoli with many army officers defecting to join the uprising.

The town of Zuara, 120 km west of the capital Tripoli, has reportedly become the latest to fall to the opponents of 68-year-old Gaddafi. There were no police or soldiers left in Zuara, BBC quoted witnesses crossing out of Libya as saying.

In the eastern city of Benghazi, residents had been queuing to be issued guns looted from the army and police in order to join what they called the battle for Tripoli, it said.

However, the regime continued to unleash a crackdown in the capital city where, according to witnesses, 'militias' roamed the streets to target protesters.

They said Tripoli was heavily guarded by pro-Gaddafi forces, with tanks deployed in the suburbs.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gaddafi-struggles-to-hold-on-to-power-as-opponents-make-gains/754250/

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Evil eye cast on Libya, says Qaddafi

Feb 25, 2011 00:39

TRIPOLI: Abandoned by some of his staunchest supporters and losing his grip on much of the country, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi on Thursday blamed the unprecedented revolt against his 42-year rule on an "evil eye." In a telephone interview with state TV, he said: "The village is the victim of an evil eye."

In a rambling appeal for calm, he also said Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was behind the unrest and and that protesters were fueled by milk and Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.

Saudis reacted with anger and disbelief. "Qaddafi does not know what he's talking about. He's blaming Bin Laden when he should look at himself instead and ask why widespread Libyan protests are tearing the country apart," Ali Al-Enagy, a professor at the King Saud University (KSU), said.

Hezab Sadoun, a professor of mass communications at a university in Riyadh, said that Qaddafi was way off the mark with his claims. "There's no foreigner or foreign force involved in the turmoil that has engulfed Libya. What stokes the anger of the Libyan people who have risen in arms against him is top-level corruption," he said.

Qaddafi, who just two days ago vowed in a televised address to crush the revolt and fight to the last, showed none of the fist-thumping rage of that speech. This time, he spoke to state television by telephone without appearing in person, and his tone seemed more conciliatory.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article283646.ece

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Libya denies Gaddafi has Swiss bank funds

25 February 2011

TRIPOLI - Libya’s Foreign Ministry denied on Thursday that leader Muammar Gaddafi holds banks accounts in Switzerland or in any other bank around the world.

“We demand that ... Switzerland proves that the brother leader has funds or bank accounts in its banks or in any other banks around the world,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Foreign Ministry will take all the legal procedures to sue the Swiss government for this unfounded statement.”

Switzerland said on Thursday it was freezing any assets Gaddafi and his family might have in the country. The Libyan ministry said the Swiss statement showed “the degree of its animosity towards Libya and its leader”.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/international/2011/February/international_February852.xml&section=international

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Benghazi holding assassins; Residents set up defenses

Feb 25, 2011

BENGHAZI: Residents of Benghazi have jailed those they say are African mercenaries and set up defenses around this eastern city now out of the control of leader Muammar Qaddafi, who has lost control of swathes of Libya.

A court compound in the center of Benghazi, on the Mediterranean coast, has become a focal point for those seeking to reimpose law and order after a bloody rebellion against Qaddafi loyalists who relinquished the city to residents.

Defenses were being prepared in some parts of the city for the chance of an attack by Qaddafi’s forces, said organizers who have set up committees to run the city. The airport was closed because residents feared more mercenaries could be flown in.

“We expect an attack, but we are not afraid,” said Soliman Karim, a 65-year-old lawyer involved in the organization, adding the city had enough food but hospitals were low on medicine. “There is plenty of food, thank God. Our problem is a lack of medicine,” he said, sitting in the courthouse as demonstrators gathered outside, chanting “Free Libya, Free Libya” and waving monarchy-era flags.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article283706.ece

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U.S. keeps options open on Libya

Feb 25, 2011

Washington: The United States persisted with its muted response to the unfolding crisis in Libya on Wednesday, with President Barack Obama reiterating his condemnation of violence by Libyan forces against protesters but stopping short of declaring sanctions or supporting any stronger measures.

Mr. Obama said his “highest priority” was protecting U.S. citizens in Libya. However, he added the U.S. strongly supported the universal rights of the Libyan people and “strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya”.

Yet, unlike other leaders — notably French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has called for sanctions against Libya — Mr. Obama only hinted at a “full range” of measures that his administration might take against Libya for potential human rights violations.

“I have also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we will carry out through multilateral institutions,” he said.

Mr. Obama, however, noted he had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday to join Foreign Ministers of other nations in a discussion on the developments in West Asia.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/02/25/stories/2011022565321900.htm

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World leaders seek action against Qadhafi over crackdown

Feb 25, 2011

UNITED NATIONS: World leaders studied punitive measures to take against Moamer Qadhafi on Thursday as the Libyan strongman’s crackdown against opponents grew more desperate.

The UN Security Council will meet again Friday to discuss the crisis and US President Barack Obama has already discussed possible measures with France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and the British and Italian Prime ministers David Cameron and Silvio Berlusconi.

Diplomats said they are studying a possible no-fly zone over Libya, as well as a travel ban and assets freeze against the Qadhafi family amid mounting concern over the growing death toll.

“All options are on the table. We are not ruling anything out,” a Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 15-nation council is determined to show international anger after Qadhafi rejected calls from Obama, other heads of state and the Security Council itself for a halt to the violence, diplomats said.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/25/world-leaders-seek-action-against-qadhafi-over-crackdown.html

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3 Navy warships roped in to evacuate Indians from Libya

February 25, 2011

The Navy will dispatch three of its warships on Friday to Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya as India on Thursday decided to immediately start evacuating its citizens in view of the sharp deterioration in the situation there. The Navy warships will be in addition to the passenger ferry that the Government has chartered for the evacuation exercise.

The ships would bring out nearly 8,000 Indians from Tripoli and 1,500 Indians from Benghazi. The three ships, including two destroyers and landing platform dock Jalashwa, will ferry the evacuated people either to Malta, which takes about eight hours of sailing time and Alexandria, Egypt, which takes two days. The evacuees will then be flown back to India by special Air India flights.

Officials said given the magnitude of evacuation effort, ships cannot be diverted and have to be launched from India with all necessary equipment to look after the evacuees’ welfare. Naval authorities submitted detailed plans to the Defence Ministry on Wednesday after the External Affairs Ministry asked the Navy to deploy warships for evacuation. An MEA statement said evacuation is being arranged by sea and air.

The chartered passenger ferry – Scotia Prince - with a capacity to seat 1,200 persons for this purpose is already in Egypt and readying for sail to Benghazi which will be the initial focus of the evacuation operations.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/320262/3-Navy-warships-roped-in-to-evacuate-Indians-from-Libya.html

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India trying to save 18,000 citizens from 'drug-crazed' Libya mobs

February 24th, 2011

Tripoli: Government today decided to immediately commence evacuation of Indians from Libya by sea and air in view of the 'sharp and unprecedented deterioration' in the situation in the African nation which is witnessing anti-government protests that have claimed 300 lives so far.

At stake are about 18,000 Indian lives, the majority of them living in Tripoli which is one of the worst-affected cities due to the protests.

"Evacuation is being arranged by sea and air. Government has chartered a passenger ferry with capacity to seat 1,200 persons for this purpose. The ship, 'Scotia Prince', is already in Egypt and readying for sail to Benghazi which will be the initial focus of the evacuation operations," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement here.

"Primary evacuation focus (in Libya) will be on medical emergency cases, women and children," added Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

Full report at:

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/india-trying-save-18000-citizens-drug-crazed-libya-mobs-569

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Qaddafi's charge against Bin Laden angers Saudis

By RODOLFO C. ESTIMO JR.

Feb 25, 2011

RIYADH: Saudis have expressed anger in reaction to Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi's allegation that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, and his followers are to blame for the protests wracking his country.

Qaddafi was quoted on Thursday by the media, including the BBC, as saying that Bin Laden had been manipulating Libyans who have risen up against him to take control of large parts of the oil-rich country.

"Qaddafi does not know what he's talking about. He's blaming Bin Laden when he should look at himself instead and ask why widespread Libyan protests are tearing the country apart," Dr. Ali Al Enagy, a professor at the King Saud University (KSU), told Arab News on Thursday night. He claimed that Qaddafi had not done anything good for his people.

"Libya is a rich country, one of the oil producers in the region, and yet its people had not benefited because Qaddafi had not done anything for them. That is because he's not a good leader. He does not have the qualifications of a good leader," he added.

"Look at Qaddafi's record. He does not have culture and believes that he's above the Libyan people. He's a mad man and out of touch with reality.

"Qaddafi acts as if he's the Libyan founder when in fact he's not. He feels superior to his people, who deserve a much better leader than him."

Dr. Hezab Sadoun, a professor of mass communications at a local university, said that Qaddafi was way off the mark with his claims.

"There's no foreigner or foreign force involved in the turmoil that has engulfed Libya. What stokes the anger of the Libyan people who have risen in arms against him is top-level corruption," he said.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283687.ece

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Egypt detains ex-minister and former state TV boss

Feb 25, 2011

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested the country's former information minister and the chairman of state TV and radio on corruption allegations, security officials said.

Authorities also referred to trial two former Cabinet ministers and a one-time top official of Mubarak's political party. They will face corruption charges, the officials said.

Thursday's arrests of Anas Al-Fiqqi, the ex-information minister, and Osama El-Sheikh, the state TV boss, were widely expected. Al-Fiqqi was placed under house arrest earlier this month and El-Sheikh was banned from traveling abroad Wednesday, steps that often precede a criminal investigation or a trial.

Al-Fiqqi was a confidant of Mubarak and his powerful, one-time heir apparent son Gamal. Under his and El-Sheikh's stewardship, state TV persistently discredited the young organizers of the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to hand power to the military after nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.

The security officials said the Al-Fiqqi investigation looked into the fate of 2 million pounds (about $340,000) he collected in donations to support of a film festival in Cairo. Al-Fiqqi never presented documents explaining how he spent the money, said the officials.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article283678.ece

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Clinton sees validation of Gandhi's principles in Egypt

Feb 24 2011

Effusively praising Egypt's youth for bringing about a bloodless revolution, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the success of the country's uprising had validated yet again the principles propounded by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

In a web-social media interaction with Egyptians and later in her remarks at a conference, Clinton said leaders like Gandhi and King showed to the world how to bring transformation without picking a gun.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/clinton-sees-validation-of-gandhis-principles-in-egypt/754330/

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Bahrain opposition leader's passport seized in Lebanon

Feb 25, 2011

MANAMA: A hard-line Bahraini opposition figure seeking to return home after a week of anti-government protests is stranded in Beirut after Lebanese authorities seized his passport, a Lebanese judicial source said Thursday.

The Bahraini government, meanwhile, reported progress toward starting a dialogue with the opposition after thousands of protesters took to the streets last week to demand an elected government in the kingdom.

Hassan Mushaimaa, the London-based leader of the Haq movement, had said on his Facebook page that he would fly home last Tuesday to see whether Bahrain's leadership was serious about dialogue with its opponents or would arrest him.

A Lebanese official said authorities had blocked Mushaimaa from boarding a flight to Manama because his name was on an international arrest warrant. A Lebanese judicial source said Mushaimaa's passport had been seized, but he was not in custody.

"The Bahraini government has distributed his name to borders in the Arab world," Abbas Al-Amran, a friend of Mushaimaa, told Reuters. "He will not let himself be arrested. He wants to take a plane and come to Bahrain as an ordinary citizen."

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article283659.ece

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Yemeni tycoon shrugs off risk from unrest

Feb 25, 2011

SANAA: Accustomed to instability during five decades in international business, Yemeni businessman Abdulwasa Hayel Saeed shrugs off the unrest in his homeland as another chapter in Yemen’s turbulent history.

The soft spoken 70-year old, whose family’s empire stretches from Egypt to Indonesia, is building a $230 million sugar refinery in Yemen he says will open next year and expanding scores of businesses ranging from biscuits to an oil concession and a Porsche franchise.

“When we built our first factory in 1970, Yemen was emerging from civil war. No one accepted to go into partnership with us. We employ now 16,000 people in the Yemen factories alone,” Hayel Saeed said.

“What we are seeing is a cloud that will pass. Yemen is ripe for all kind of investments. This is a country with cheap labor force and an unparalleled strategic location,” he said.

Hayel Saeed, who is also active in politics, heading the parliament’s transport committee, would not be drawn on the demonstrations demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule, but he expected compromise to be reached between the president and his opponents.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article283336.ece

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Saudis use Facebook and Twitter to air their views

By FATIMA SIDIYA

Feb 25, 2011

JEDDAH: With the rapid increase in social networks’ users in the Kingdom, more Saudis are sharing their views on fighting corruption and are calling for more transparency and women's rights.

Twitter and Facebook are providing more space for the Saudi public not only to voice support to the Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans but also to call for their own rights.

The Middle East and North Africa Facebook Demographics, a study by Carrington Malin from Spot on Public Relations, says that in 2010 there were 15 million Facebook users in the region, half of whom use English as their primary language. The top five countries using Facebook are Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman) have five million Facebook users with Saudi Arabia and the UAE representing 45 percent of the total.

An in-depth look at this study by Arab News revealed that only eight percent of the Kingdom’s population (Saudis and expatriates combined) use Facebook. Meanwhile, 31 percent of the population of the UAE, 44 percent of Qatar’s, 17 percent of Kuwait’s, 51 percent of Bahrain's and 5.1 percent of Oman's are Facebook users. Only 4.2 percent of people in Egypt are Facebook members while 14.7 of Tunisians and 5.6 of Moroccans are Facebook users.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283686.ece

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Saudi taxi drivers complain about 'unfair discrimination'

By ARJUWAN LAKKDAWALA

Feb 25, 2011

JEDDAH: Saudi taxi drivers are dismayed by the fact that women tend to avoid them fearing harassment. Most women in the Kingdom would hire a cab only if the driver is a non-Saudi.

A number of women interviewed by Arab News did not hide their feelings. Housewife Wajida Abdullah said she prefers expatriate taxi drivers because they don’t make a fuss like Saudi drivers.

“First of all, a Saudi driver charges too much. I can go to Hamra for SR15 to SR20 with an expatriate driver, but a Saudi driver will charge SR30 to SR35. Also, if the driver is going fast and I ask him to slow down, he will, but a Saudi driver will ignore me and continue speeding,” she said.

Ahlam, who is a student, said her brother or father usually chauffeur her around, but sometimes when they are very busy she is allowed to take a cab as long as the driver is not Saudi.

“My family feels that a Saudi taxi driver is more likely to flirt with me than a non-Saudi.”

Fathima Misfer, who is a housewife, said that because of the language barrier between the Saudi woman and expatriate drivers, Saudi men feel that it is unlikely for their female family members to get into a relationship with a non-Saudi taxi driver.

Saudi taxi driver Ghazi is very upset by what he calls unfair discrimination. “We are also God-fearing Muslims, why are they (passengers) afraid of us as if we are criminals?”

Ghazi said that he has never charged extra money or been rude to a passenger. He said once a woman passenger duped him into taking her practically all over Jeddah to get her various errands done and offered him only SR10.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283676.ece

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Saudi students told they can return to Egypt

Feb 25, 2011

CAIRO: Egyptian universities will reopen classes suspended during the recent unrest on March 5, according to the Saudi Embassy in Cairo.

Saudi students can now return to their universities as second term classes are due to resume in all universities, the embassy’s Cultural Attaché Muhammad Al-Oqail said in a statement on Thursday.

He said his office sent e-mails to all Saudi students who had returned to the Kingdom because of security concerns during the uprising.

The attaché office's website has more information about the reopening of universities, he added.

Some students will have to attend examinations on Feb. 26. Students should contact the attaché’s office for further details, Al-Oqail said.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283666.ece

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Saudi King healthy but needs physiotherapy: Minister

25 February 2011

RIYADH - The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who spent three months abroad for medical treatment, is healthy but needs to continue his physiotherapy, the health minister told the state news agency SPA on Friday.

On Wednesday, the King, returned to Riyadh after treatment for a blood clot that had complicated a slipped disc.

He twice underwent surgery in New York and spent the past four weeks in Morocco for recuperation and physiotherapy.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is in natural health but needs to continue the physiotherapy he started in New York,” Health Minister Abdullah Al Rabeeah told the agency on Friday.

“He will continue the physiotherapy that he started a long time ago but that does not stop the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah from practising his office like he did when he was outside the Kingdom,” the minister added.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/February/middleeast_February758.xml&section=middleeast

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Abdullah driving force behind many diplomatic initiatives, says UK envoy

Feb 25, 2011

JEDDAH: The UK’s ambassador in Riyadh, Sir Tom Philips, has praised Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his leadership and his reform program to develop the country.

“As a diplomat, I have traveled to many countries. But only on occasions have I met leaders whose significant contribution has made them symbols of their countries, and has won them the love and admiration of their people,” said Sir Tom in a statement put out by the embassy on Wednesday.

“Having arrived in Saudi Arabia and met the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, it is clear to me that His Majesty is such a man, as the architect of domestic reform, a proponent of education and the author of a major overseas scholarships program, the driving force between many diplomatic initiatives designed to promote peace and stability in the region, and as a man who generates a culture of tolerance and understanding between the world’s faith communities.”

Noting that Saudi Arabia was the UK’s prime partner in the region and that the two kingdoms shared many interests and were major trading partners, the ambassador also said that there were thousands of Saudi students in British schools and universities and that the UK was the top tourist destination in Europe for Saudis.

“It is a privilege and an honor to welcome the return of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Saudi Arabia and to share the joy of the occasion with millions of Saudis,” Sir Tom concluded.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article283664.ece

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Trial in double-murder case against Davis to begin

Feb 25, 2011

LAHORE: Additional District and Sessions Court Judge Muhammad Yousuf Aujla will begin the trial of US official Raymond Davis in the double-murder case at Kot Lakhpat jail on Friday.

The court has ordered Davis’s trial in jail on the request of the Punjab Home Department for security concerns.

Davis is accused of killing two youths – Faizan and Faheem — at Qartaba Chowk on January 27.

US consul general in Lahore, Carmela Conroy, and other consulate officials met Davis in prison on Friday before the start of the trial.

In the double murder case, there are 30 witnesses to the incident mentioned in the challan who have recorded their statements with the police.

According to the challan, the accused opened fire from inside his car at Fahim and Faizan and then shot, after coming out of his vehicle, twice on Faizan in his back who was running. They said the accused later took some pictures of the deceased and called someone through a wireless set to retrieve him.

Witnesses traffic wardens Muhammad Husain and Waqas Khaliq stated the accused after committing the crime fled in his car (LEC-10/5545) from the scene. They chased and captured him at Old Anarkali Chowk and handed him over to Anarkali Circle DSP Raza Safdar Kazmi.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/25/trial-in-double-murder-case-against-davis-to-begin.html

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US ‘ready to mend Pakistan ties’

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The United States has revived high-level diplomatic and military contacts with Pakistan, indicating a desire to put behind the bitterness created by the arrest of a CIA contractor in Lahore, diplomatic sources told .

On Wednesday, when the US and Pakistani military chiefs had a day-long meeting in Oman, Pakistan`s Ambassador Husain Haqqani was invited to the State Department for a formal meeting with Marc Grossman, the new US Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During the meeting, the State Department informed the ambassador that Mr Grossman planned to visit Islamabad early next month for exploratory talks with Pakistani leaders.

Although Mr Grossman served in Islamabad from 1976 to 1983, this would be his first visit to the country since his appointment earlier this month as US special representative for the region, replacing the late Richard Holbrooke.

“There`s no severance of relations,” said a diplomatic source while describing the impact of Raymond Davis`s arrest on US-Pakistan ties. “The Americans were still talking to the Pakistanis but almost always focused on the Davis affair.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/25/us-ready-to-mend-pakistan-ties.html

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PM calls for political reconciliation

Feb 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday ruled out any possibility of mid-term polls and said the government will seek a new public mandate after two years.

In interviews to various regional television channels, he said those who are shouting for mid term polls, boycotted the elections in 2008.

If the provinces cannot hold local bodies election how they can hold polling for National Assembly, he wondered.

The premier underlined the need for politics of reconciliation, harmony and tolerance and said politics of confrontation should be shunned.

Political parties need to show wisdom and sagacity, he remarked.

Commenting on reports of a deadline given by the PML-N, he said in politics there are no ultimatums and the government accepted the offer of dialogues with the opposition party with sincerity.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/24/gilani-calls-for-political-reconciliation.html

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UK court orders Assange’s extradition to Sweden

Feb 25, 2011

LONDON: A British court agreed on Thursday to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over sex crimes, dismissing claims the move would breach his human rights. Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denies, made by two WikiLeaks volunteers during his time in Sweden last August. “I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him,” Judge Howard Riddle said. “I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s (European) Convention rights, I must order Assange be extradited to Sweden.” Lawyers for Assange, who has angered the US government by releasing thousands of secret US diplomatic cables on his website, said they would appeal against the decision at London’s High Court, putting the extradition on hold. Mark Stephens, a lawyer for Assange, said the case showed that extraditions under the fast-track European arrest warrant were a form of “tick-box justice”. “We are still hopeful that the matter will be resolved in this country.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\25\story_25-2-2011_pg7_4

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Taliban warn PPP against freeing Davis

By Haji Mujtaba

MIRANSHAH: A Taliban commander has warned the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) against freeing Central Intelligence Agency agent Raymond Davis who is facing double murder charge for killing two Pakistani nationals in Lahore.

“Raymond is killer of Pakistanis and tribal people. We will pick one by one PPP leaders if the American was released,” Maulana Abdul Khaliq Haqqani said on Thursday in a press statement.

He warned that the PPP leaders at provincial, district and town level would be targeted if Davis was released under pressure. “Hand him over to us if the government is hesitant to punish him for his crime,” the militant commander demanded.

The American undercover spy is languishing in Lahore jail waiting for legal battle over Washington’s claim that he is a diplomat and thus entitled to immunity under the Geneva Convention. “Raymond Davis is the killer of innocent Pakistanis. The tribal people will not let go the killer scot-free,” Haqqani warned.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\25\story_25-2-2011_pg7_23

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Japan to lend $170m to Pak flood rehab

February 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Japan International Cooperation Agency will extend a loan of 14.7 billion yen ($170 million) to Pakistan for reconstruction work in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

An official development loan agreement was signed in Tokyo Tuesday.

The Japanese government arm in January had agreed to another loan of up to 5 billion yen, taking total ODA loans to 19.7 billion yen.

Both loans carry an interest rate of 0.01% and will have to be repaid in 40 years.

Pakistan last July was ravaged by the worst floods in its history which submerged one-fifth of the south Asian country and left millions homeless, damaging roads and infrastructure.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=11706

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Israel bombs Gaza after rocket attack

Feb 25, 2011

JERUSALEM: Israel on Thursday warned militants in the Gaza Strip not to “test” the Jewish state, as fighter jets pounded targets across the coastal enclave after a Palestinian rocket attack.

Slamming into a house, it was the first rocket to strike Israel's city of Beersheva since the devastating 2008-2009 Gaza war. “I don't suggest anyone test the determination of the state of Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The warning came after 24 hours of tit-for-tat violence along Israel-Gaza border. Early on Thursday, Israeli jets raided sites across the coastal strip. — AFP

http://www.hindu.com/2011/02/25/stories/2011022565251900.htm

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Oil jumps 7.5% to $119.79 a barrel

Feb 25, 2011 00:03

LONDON: Oil surged more than 7.5 percent to its highest since August 2008 on Thursday on concern that the uprising in Libya would affect crude stocks.

Brent crude oil for April spiked up $8.54 a barrel to a peak of $119.79 before easing to around $114.40 by 1450 GMT. US crude futures for April rose as high as $103.41. They were up $1.70 at $99.80 at 1450 GMT.

Unrest in the world's 12th-biggest exporter has cut at least 400,000 barrels per day from Libya's 1.6 million bpd output, according to Reuters calculations.

ENI Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said Libyan output had fallen much more dramatically, estimating it was putting 1.2 million barrels per day less into the market.

Eastern areas holding much of Libya's oil have slipped from the control of Muammar Qaddafi.Goldman Sachs said the spread of unrest to another producing country could create severe oil shortages and require demand rationing. "The market cannot accommodate another disruption, in our view, with the problems in Libya potentially absorbing half of