Showing posts from July, 2008

India: The Terrorists Within

A day after major Indian cities were placed on high alert following blasts in the IT city of Bangalore, as many as 17 blasts ripped through Ahmedabad, capital of the affluent western Indian state of Gujarat. Some 30 people were killed, some at hospitals where bombs were timed to go off when the injured from other blasts were being brought in. (Later, in Surat, a center for the world's diamond industry, a bomb was defused near a hospital and two cars packed with explosives were found in in the city's outskirts.) Investigators pointed fingers at the usual Islamist suspects: Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul Jihadi Islami (HUJI) and the indigenous Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). But even as the police searched for clues, the Ahmedabad attacks were owned up by a group calling itself the "Indian Mujahideen."

Several TV news stations received an email five minutes before the first blasts in Ahmedabad. The message reportedly h…

Tension rises in Kashmir, nine dead in two different attacks

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Nine have died, including women and children, in the new wave of violence that bloodied Kashmir this morning. The first episode took place in Srinagar, the most important city of the autonomous region: a bomb exploded in the middle of a group of migrant workers and their families, killing five people - including two children and a woman - and wounding another 24. According to police sources, the attack was carried out by Islamic fundamentalist militias, who intended to strike a squad of paramilitary troops present in the area, but all of the victims are civilians. A witness present at the moment of the explosion says instead that the real targets of the attack were groups of Hindu pilgrims, waiting to get onto a bus that would take them to the shrine of Amarnath.

The second episode was the result of a targeted execution, which resulted in the assassination of a former rebel leader and three of his family members: his wife, one of his daughters, and a nep…

How to Save Afghanistan

It is summer now in Kabul, the snow has largely melted from the 15,000-ft. (4,600 m) peaks, and I am sitting with my friends Hussein, Nabi and Zia in the garden of a 19th century fort. Nearby, 10 carpenters who work with my nongovernmental organization (NGO) are creating a library for a buyer in Tokyo. They're fitting slivers of wood into a delicate lattice and carving flowers into the walnut shutters. They work fast and smile often. But Nabi, a gentle-voiced 66-year-old cook, is not smiling. He is pessimistic about his country. "We have been promised progress by every government since 1973," he growls, "but it is getting worse and worse."

Nabi's pessimism is very common now in Afghanistan. There has been a dramatic series of recent attacks by the Taliban: a mass assault on a jail freed hundreds of prisoners, and a suicide bombing outside the Indian embassy on July 7 killed 40 and injured over 100. Many of these assaults are planned and supported from safe h…

Sher-e-Pakistan Dangal

LAHORE: The participant wrestlers of the Rustam-e Pakistan Dangal took out a Tonga rally through the walled city roads here on Thursday.

The wrestlers were wearing traditional colourful dresses, sitting on decorated horse driven carts (Tongas), and the rally was aimed at to motivate the people to come in the stadium to support the wrestlers.

The Punjab Sports Board has organised the Dangal in an effort to revive the lost glory of the traditional game of the province. The major title bout will be between Bhola Bhala Pehalwan and Nadir Khan Pehalwan while as many as 10 other fights will also be held in the Dangal to commence here at the Punjab Stadium at 5.00 pm. Provincial Minister Sports Dr. Tanvirul Islam will be the chief guest of the Dangal who will give away the prizes to the winners.

Karzai 'impeding Afghan drug war'

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is obstructing efforts to tackle his country's drugs problem, says a former US narcotics official.

Ex-US state department expert Thomas Schweich said Mr Karzai had protected drug lords for political reasons.

In an article for the New York Times, he claimed "narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government".

President Karzai has denied the claims, saying his government was succeeding in the field of counter-narcotics.

"Nobody has done as well as us in the last seven years in the field of counter-narcotics," he told reporters.

He said his government had eradicated or greatly reduced drug production in more than half of the country's provinces.

In his article, in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, Mr Schweich also wrote that the Pentagon and the British military saw poppy eradication as a problem to be tackled later, once the Taleban had been defeated.

Afghanistan's lucrative poppy crop supplies more than 90% of the worl…

Pakistan seeks militancy debate

The Pakistani government has said it aims to create greater national consensus to fight Islamic militancy.

Minister Sherry Rehman said a parliamentary debate would be held to work out a strategy to build consensus.

She was speaking after senior members of Pakistan's governing coalition met to discuss the growing challenge posed by militants.

Some in the US and Afghanistan have accused the Pakistani government of not doing enough to confront militants.

The political leaders met in Islamabad on Wednesday, days before Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's first visit to the United States.

Ms Rehman, who is the federal information minister, said the main thrust would be to talk to people in the tribal regions, rather than military means.

"The coalition partners reiterated that Pakistan's territory will not be used for terrorist attacks nor will attacks from external forces on our soil be tolerated," she told reporters.

"The meeting noted that Pakistan's national secu…

NATO troops will not pursue rebels into Pakistan

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said NATO troops in Afghanistan will not pursue Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters across the Pakistan border. However, speaking during a visit to the Afghan capital Kabul, he confirmed that NATO soldiers would defend themselves if attacked.

Responding to continuing reports that Taliban fighters are operating from bases in Pakistan's remote border regions, he called the existence of safe bases for terrorists unacceptable. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi has said that Pakistan will not allow foreign troops to enter its territory.

Next week, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is visiting the United States. US President George W Bush has repeatedly called on Pakistan to do more to tackle Taliban fighters based in its border areas.

Mr Bush is rumoured to be offering Pakistan over 200 million dollars from US anti-terrorism funds to upgrade its US-made F-16 fighter planes. The White House says the Pakistani jets are being…

US moves to upgrade Pakistan jets

The US plans to use about $320 million of "counter-terrorism" aid for Pakistan to upgrade the South Asian nation's F-16 fighter jets, the White House has confirmed.

The financing represents more than two-thirds of the $300 million Pakistan will receive this year in such aid, the New York Times newspaper said on Thursday.

Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said the F-16s are used in counter-terrorism operations and "need to be maintained ... [for] support in our national security efforts".

However some US politicians were angered by the move and have threatened to block it in the US congress, saying that the jets would not help Pakistan's efforts in the so-called war on terror and could be used against India, the newspaper reported.

The news came before George Bush, the US president, is to meet Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, on Monday for talks on the battle against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Aid shift

Perino said Pakistan w…

Helicopter rescues 2 Italian climbers in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — A high-altitude rescue helicopter safely plucked two stranded Italian climbers from one of the world's highest mountains on Thursday, officials said.

Mountaineers Walter Nones and Simon Kehrer were in good condition after being stranded some 21,600 feet up on Nanga Parbat Mountain, said Rashid Ahmad, a representative of a local tour company that supported the Italians' expedition. The men were being transported to the region's main town of Gilgit.

"As far as my information is concerned, they are in a good condition and they don't need any immediate medical care," Ahmad told The Associated Press.

Nones and Kehrer had been struggling to descend from the 26,810-foot mountain since July 16, when fellow climber Karl Unterkircher fell to his death in a crevasse.

Organizers of the Himalayan climb in Italy said that two helicopters reached the climbers at 18,700 feet; thin air makes it risky for helicopters to fly above 19,685 fe…

Pakistan will host Trophy - ICC

The International Cricket Council have confirmed Pakistan will host the Champions Trophy in September as planned despite fears over security.

The decision was taken during an ICC board teleconference on Thursday, during which the Pakistan Cricket Board offered assurances over the safety of competitors.

Concerns were raised over Pakistan's suitability to stage the tournament in the wake of a spate of bombings in the country, the most recent coming in June when a suicide bomber killed 15 people in Islamabad. An ICC task force will head to Pakistan prior to the tournament to evaluate security measures in the cities that will play host to matches - Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi.

An ICC statement read: "The ICC board held a teleconference to discuss the location for this year's ICC Champions Trophy, at the end of which they reiterated their decision of 2006 to stage the event in Pakistan.

"In arriving at that position, the board considered various security reports and discus…

Every Empire has its day of reckoning

“Politics of fear” is in f full swing in United States of America these days.

We the people of Europe are overwhelmingly in the column of Mr Obama but our votes do not count and the people who matter in this contest (the American Citizens) are in two minds. Should they vote for Obama to get that feeling of deed well done and free themselves of any guilt that they might have about the treatment of Blacks in America throughout her history or vote for a steady hand like John McCain and get blamed as a racist nation built on the bones of Native Americans.

Both these assertions are a bit extreme as neither Mr Obama is as naïve as being portrayed by the rightwing media like Fox nor Mr McCain a hawk who wants to stay in Iraq for hundred years as being picked on by the Obama team.

Both know that America is a nation built on free market capitalism and democracy, although not the founding stone of the nation, is now firmly rooted among its people. America is a juggernaut which will only change …

Biggest Problem Facing Pakistan

What is the biggest challenge facing Pakistan today, in my view it is Balochistan and I shall tell you why. Foreign actors are showing more than their fair share of interest in this province of Pakistan. But there are a lot of factors playing against those who want Baluchistan separated from Pakistan. The biggest factor is the fact that 50% of the population of Balochistan is Pashtoon and this segment is highly islamised and against the break up of an Islamic country to the extent that any dreams of a new state will evaporate as soon as the Pashtoon population showed its true colours. In any democratic process a referendum is required to create a new state but with 50% of the population opposing it, the defeat of such a motion is assured. Every Pakistani, weather he is a Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtoon or Punjabi should rise up against this foreign agenda of breaking up their motherland and fight for independence not only from those who live outside but also who are there agents inside. Rise…

Baluchistan or Balochistan - A Province of Pakistan

Balochistan, or Baluchistan, is a province in Pakistan, the largest in the country by geographical area. It contains most of the historical region of Balochistan and is named after the Baloch. Its neighbouring regions are Iranian Balochistan to the west, Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the north and Punjab and Sindh to the east. To the south is the Arabian Sea. The principal languages in the province are Baluchi, Brahui, Sindhi and Pashto. The capital and largest city is Quetta. Balochistan is believed to be rich in mineral resources. It is the second major, after Sindh, supplier of natural gas to the country.

Balochistan is located at the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau and in the border region between Southwest, Central, and South Asia. It is geographically the largest of the four provinces at 347,190 km² or (134,051 square miles) of Pakistani territory; and composes 48% of the total land area of Pakistan. The population density is very low due to the m…

Kashmiri people are against the Indian occupation of Kashmir

My visit to Kashmir last week was overshadowed by that of a rather more illustrious visitor, the Indian president. During what was supposed to be a routine trip, President Pratibha Patil was greeted with a general strike, as well as clashes with troops in the state capital, Srinagar.

"We want to convey to the Indian president that the Kashmiri people are against the Indian occupation of Kashmir," said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. While relatively low-key, these protests should serve as another warning to India not to ignore the will of the Kashmiri people, who have for too long found themselves caught in the crossfire of the two regional powers, India and Pakistan.

In 1947, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had a Muslim majority, which - according to the standards of partition - meant it should have become part of Pakistan. However, the Hindu Maharaja decided - in the face of a potential Pakistani onslaught - to choose India. As a result, J&am…

Kalat or Qalat – A town in The Balochistan Province of Pakistan

Kalat or Qalat (Urdu: قلات) is a historical town located in Kalat District, Balochistan, Pakistan. Kalat is the capital of Kalat District and is known locally as Kalat-e Baluch.

Kalat, formerly Kilat, is located roughly in the center of Balochistan, Pakistan, south and slightly west of the provincial capital Quetta. It was the capital of the Kalat Khanate. The population is almost completely muslim.


The town of Kalat is said to have been founded by and named Kalat-e Sewa, after Sewa, a legendary hero of the Brahui people.

The origins of the Brahui speaking tribes are uncertain, but their language indicates they are a Northern Dravidian people whose language has been modified by residence in the proximity of largely Iranian peoples, most notably the Baloch with whom the Brahui have been greatly mixed. The Brahui people had already long been resident in the Kalat area when the Balochi speaking tribes arrived from the west. The Balochis established a large kingdom in the 15th century,…

Fiercely independent tribesmen, angered by a U.S. air strike that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers this week, vowed to raise a militia to help Pakistan's

GHALANAI, Pakistan - Fiercely independent tribesmen, angered by a U.S. air strike that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers this week, vowed to raise a militia to help Pakistan's army defend the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan, a staunch ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, denounced Tuesday's attack on a border post in the Mohmand tribal region as "unprovoked and cowardly" and said it could undermine the cooperation in the battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Elders from ethnic Pashtun tribes in Mohmand, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal regions, issued a statement late on Thursday condemning the attack as "naked aggression" and said they were ready to raise a "lashkar", or army.

"It's the duty of the government to protect and defend the frontiers and we are ready to raise a lashkar to help our army in their cause," the elders said.

"We are ready to fight for our homeland as we fought in Kashmir in 1948," they said, referrin…

Pakhtoon Defenders of Pakistan

The growth of resistance in tribal region of north-western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistan.

But the Pakistani Pakhtoon identity has a large part to play in this issue as the increasing co-operation between Pakistani Pakhtoon nationalist and Islamist forces against American domination.

In Afghanistan, where the Pakhtoon are the largest single ethnic group, they bitterly resent the disproportionate influence enjoyed by the Tajik ethnic minority in the regime of Hamid Karzai, a legacy of US collaboration with Tajik militias in overthrowing the Taliban. More importantly, it is the Pakhtoon who have been the main victims of US-NATO bombing attacks on the Taliban, who are largely Pakhtoon and operate almost entirely in Pakistani Pakhtoon territory. In one authoritative estimate, civilian casualties in Afghanistan have numbered nearly 5,000 since 2001.

In Pakistan, census data indicate …

Time for solutions in Balochistan

The Balochistan National Party’s (Mengal) president Sardar Akhtar Mengal, is demanding that all Balochistan projects including Gwadar Port and the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline should be scrapped because they were formulated and finalised during the Musharraf regime. He repeated his stance that all resources must be controlled by the people of Balochistan and that the issue of Balochistan’s autonomy could not be achieved through the 1973 Constitution. He said: “The Balochistan issue is not so simple that it can be resolved by seeking forgiveness”. According to him, the Baloch were always ready for a dialogue but the governments had let them down in the past. He also demanded release of all “disappeared” Baloch nationalists. Earlier, on June 6, his lieutenant, Mr Sanaullah Baloch, had resigned as a member of the Senate “in protest against the injustices and the army operation in Balochistan which had led to the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti”. Mr Baloch did this after retur…

Soccer fans held in Kashmir over pro-Pakistan slogans

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - About a dozen spectators were detained in Indian Kashmir for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans at a soccer match aimed at generating goodwill and ending alienation among locals, police said on Monday.

Those detained were among 5,000 people who had come to watch Sunday's final of the Indian national soccer championship, a rare major sporting event held in the violence-racked region.

They shouted "we want freedom, long live Pakistan" before police led them away, a senior police official told Reuters.

"Ten persons have been detained for provocative sloganeering and for inciting others," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

A number of Muslim militant groups are fighting Indian security forces in the region, seeking either Kashmiri independence or the merger of India's only Muslim majority state with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in violence involving Indian troops and separatist militants since a bloody…

Faiz Ahmad Faiz - Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na mang

Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na mang

Maine samjha tha ke tu hai to darakhshan hai hayat
Tera gham hai to gham-e-dehar ka jhagra kya hai
Teri surat say hai aalam mein baharon ko sabat
Teri aankhon ke siwa dunya main rakha kya hai
Tu' jo mil jaye to taqdeer nugoon ho jaye
Youn na tha maine faqat chaha tha youn ho jaye
Aur bhi dukh hain zamane main mohabbat ke siwa
Rahatein aur bhi hain vasal ki rahat ke siwa
Anginat sadyoun ki tareek behimana tilsm
Resham wa atlas wa kamkhwab main bunwaye hue
Ja baja bikte hue koocha-o-bazar mein jism
Khaak mein lithre hue khoon mein nehlaye hue
Jism nikle hue imraz ke tanuron se
Peep behti huee gulte hue nasooron se
Lot jatee hai udhar ko bhi nazar kya kejeeye ?
Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn magar kya kejeeye ?
Aur bhi dukh hain zamane mein mohabbat ke siwa
Rahatain aur bhi hain vasal ki rahat ke siwa

Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na mang

THE FUTURE OF ENERGY - Another silicon valley?

The rise of solar energy, in one form or another

Illustration by Ian Whadcock

WIND power works, and will work better in the future. But wind is only an interim stop on the way to a world where electricity no longer relies on fossil fuels. The ultimate goal is to harvest the sun’s energy directly by intercepting sunlight, rather than by waiting for that sunlight to stir up the atmosphere and sticking turbines in the resulting airstreams.

Fortunately, inventors love that sort of problem. Ideas they have come up with range from using the sun to run simple heating systems for buildings, deploying “reverse radiators” painted black, to the sharpest cutting edge of that trendiest of fields, nanotechnology, to ensure that every last photon is captured and converted into electricity. The most iconic form of solar power, the photovoltaic cell, is currently the fastest-growing type of alternative energy, increasing by 50% a year. The price of the electricity it produces is falling, too. According t…