Tag Archive | "FBI"

India to give 7th dossier to Pak

Statements of key witnesses in the Mumbai attack case in an anti-terror court in Mumbai will be forwarded by India to Pakistan, reported Indian media on Sunday.

The 7th dossier includes certified copies of the statements by witnesses. The statement includes the deposition of a magistrate before whom the lone captured gunman Ajmal Kasab had given a voluntary confession of his alleged involvement. It also includes testimony by FBI officials.

The magistrate’s statement is significant as she told the trial court that Kasab had disclosed before her that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan by Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The fresh dossier will be used as evidence in the trial in Pakistan, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said in Mumbai on Sunday.

The court has allowed the prosecution’s plea for certified copies of the statements and within a day or two they will be forwarded to Pakistan through diplomatic channels, Nikam said.

Evidence about articles seized from terrorists such as ‘rubber boat’ and food items bearing labels ‘Made in Pakistan’ will also be forwarded to the neighbouring country, Nikam said.

Earlier also the government of India had sent evidence to Pakistan in this case, which included confession of Kasab and the voluminous chargesheet filed by the police in the court.

APP adds: India has not provided any documents to Pakistan relating to the Mumbai attacks, said the Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit on Sunday

Talking to a private TV channel, he said “We have asked India again and again to share the information through the Foreign Office rather than sharing it through the Indian media,” he said.

{Source: The Nation}

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Mumbai Attackers Came from Karachi: FBI


MUMBAI — An official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday told the special court hearing the 26/11 case that 10 terrorists, including Ajmal Amir Kasab, had come to Mumbai from Karachi to carry out the attacks.

The forensic expert, whose identity has been kept under wraps, said that he had examined five Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and a satellite phone which the Mumbai police had recovered from the terrorists, all of whom, barring Kasab, had been killed by the security forces.

Data obtained from the GPS systems proved that the terrorists had travelled from Karachi to Mumbai, said the FBI official, deposing in person before Judge M.L. Tahaliyani.

One of the GPS sets recovered from Taj Hotel, one of the buildings attacked during the November 26-29, 2008 carnage, showed various locations of Mumbai and Rawalpindi.

The witness gave hard and soft copies of the data report submitted by him to the Mumbai police earlier. It is reliably learnt that more US nationals are expected to testify in the court via videoconferencing. The services of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited had been sought to provide infrastructure to enable this.

-Source: Kahleej Times-

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I want to make peace with America: Dr Aafia Siddiqui

Before she left court, Siddiqui insisted she's not paranoid or psychotic and described her fears that her statements Monday might be her last.

NEW YORK: A US-educated Pakistani scientist accused of shooting at FBI agents and helping al-Qaida turned a hearing to decide if she’s competent for trial into a pulpit for telling anyone who would listen that she doesn’t hate America but doesn’t trust its courts.

Aafia Siddiqui repeatedly spoke on Monday to spectators, a US marshal’s deputy sitting behind her, her lawyers and even a team of five prosecutors and aides in front of her at the start of the afternoon session of the daylong proceeding. They were her first public comments since she was brought to the United States from Afghanistan 11 months ago.

‘I want to make peace with the United States of America,’ Siddiqui said to the backs of those at the prosecution table. ‘I’m not an enemy. I never was.’

Siddiqui is accused of having ties to al-Qaida and grabbing a US Army officer’s rifle in Afghanistan in July 2008 and firing at US soldiers and FBI agents. She was shot in the abdomen in the encounter and was brought to the United States weeks later to face charges of attempted murder and assault.

A defence attorney has disputed the US government’s account of what happened in Afghanistan, and a not guilty plea has been entered for Siddiqui. In court on Monday, she said: ‘I did not shoot anybody. I didn’t fire any bullets.’ If convicted of the charges, Siddiqui, 37, would face a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Throughout Monday’s hearing, Siddiqui rubbed her wrists, reddened by what she said was rough treatment by jailhouse guards who forced her to court in observance of the judge’s order that she appear.

Siddiqui, a specialist in neuroscience who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, had appeared in court twice after she was brought to the US last August but had refused to attend proceedings since then. On Monday, she pulled a white scarf over her face so only her eyes were seen. US District Judge Richard Berman said he will rule later if she’s competent to stand trial in October.

Psychologists say she’s had delusions that include seeing her three children in her cell and being visited by flying infants and dark angels. L. Thomas Kucharski, a psychologist for the defence, testified Siddiqui suffers from delusional disorder and depression and is unfit for trial. Two mental health experts for the government, Gregory B. Saathoff and Sally C. Johnson, testified she’s fit for trial because her behaviour reflects malingering or grossly exaggerated psychological symptoms aimed at getting a result, such as avoiding trial.

When Johnson testified that Siddiqui had said the judge is a pawn of a Zionist conspiracy and only wants to kill her, Siddiqui turned toward spectators and nodded her head enthusiastically in apparent agreement. Johnson said Siddiqui’s descriptions of seeing her children in her cell and other events had subsided over the months and an analysis of her recorded conversations with her brother and others had shown that she understood the charges against her and the legal process.

Kucharski testified that her prospects might be worse if she were found incompetent because it could trigger a court order of forced medication to treat symptoms so that she could become competent for trial. And, if her symptoms are not treatable, she could remain institutionalised for life, he said.

Before she left court, Siddiqui insisted she’s not paranoid or psychotic and described her fears that her statements Monday might be her last.

‘It’s probably the last opportunity I’m going to get,’ she said, noting the possibility she will be subjected to forced medication. ‘I’ve seen people on the drugs. They can’t talk.’

At least twice during the hearing she indicated she will not cooperate with her court-appointed lawyer, Dawn M. Cardi.

Cardi said outside court that her client’s behaviour supported her argument that she’s unfit for trial.

‘She’s not making any sense,’ Cardi said.

The lawyer noted that Siddiqui had shouted to spectators that she could bring peace to Pakistan and Afghanistan if she were permitted to speak with President Barack Obama. It was an example of grandiose behaviour that supports conclusions that she is delusional, Cardi said.

In court, Siddiqui told spectators: ‘The American president wants to make peace. I want to help him. Am I making sense? I’m sincere.’

(Source: DAWN)

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Al-Kini group behind bombing incidents in Pakistan: FBI

The FBI said that the Al-Kini group was responsible for a series of attacks in Pakistan, including the Marriot hotel bombing in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has informed Pakistan that Al-Qaeda’s network known as ‘Al-Kini group’ was behind a series of bombing incidents in the country, including last year’s deadly suicide attack on Islamabad’s Marriot hotel.

In its latest communication to Pakistan’s Federal Investigating Agency (FIA), the FBI has described the Al-Kini Group to be not only involved in the Marriot bombing, but its various terror cells were also involved in a suicide attack that had killed an army surgeon general, Lt. Gen Mushtaq Baig, in Rawalpindi and the bomb attack on a police station in Sargodha.


Usama al-Kini, also known as Azmarai, was Al-Qaeda’s Pakistan chief until he was killed in one of the drone attacks in North Waziristan last year.

Its not clear who heads the Al-Qaeda network in Pakistan, but FBI’s correspondence suggest terror-cells of those loyal to Al-Kini were still operating as a separate group, and carrying out attacks within Pakistan.

Perhaps the deadliest of the known attacks by the group was a dumper-truck bomb that caused mass destruction at Islamabad’s Marriot hotel in September last year, killing 53 people and injuring dozens of others.

 According to the FBI three US nationals were among those killed in the attack. A highly informed source said the FBI has asked the FIA and Islamabad Capital Territory police to share their investigations they had carried out so far which may help them in apprehending three people described as absconders, including a person identified as Ibrar-ud-Din Syed.

A joint investigation team (JIT) headed by former director general FIA Tariq Pervez had carried out an investigation into the Marriot Hotel bombing and compiled a report.

Dr Muhammad Usman, a resident of Hayat Abad Peshawar, Rana Illyas Ahmed a resident of Sumanderi Faisalabad and Muhammad Hameed Afzal a resident of Toba Tek Sing were arrested by Pakistani security agencies for involvement in the Marriot Hotel bombing and are being tried in the ATC.

The source said in line with the FBI’s request, the director general FIA has sought permission from the federal government to share their investigation with the US agency for the apprehension of individual involved in the bombing as three Americans had been killing in the terrorist attack on the hotel.

The Pakistan’s federal investigating agency have also been requested to allow the FBI to carry out some forensic tests in their laboratories on left over pieces of the explosive laden vehicle, frame parts, the engine and its shrapnel which were seized by the Pakistani agencies.

The FBI believes that the relevant forensic testing on residue samples, found from the scene of the terrorist attack, would help the Pakistani authorities in their investigation.

The source said information collected from one of the arrested members of al-Kini group, Omar Farouk, revealed that the group had financed two terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2007, including the attack on Sarghoda police station in 2007.

The FBI has stepped up its efforts to collect further information in close liaison with the FIA and other security agencies in Pakistan to tighten the noose around the Al-Kini network, which many believe had remained the most effective al-Qaeda wing within Pakistan.


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Curbing extremism

An amendment to the Pakistan aid bill moved in the US Congress requires, among other things, that Islamabad implement economic, legal and social reforms that would discourage ‘violent Islamic extremism’. Pakistani citizens must demand the same from their government.

The fight against extremism in any form concerns Pakistan most deeply and directly, for as events in the country’s north-western areas illustrate, extremism and the militancy it sponsors represent a potent threat to the writ of the state.

Firstly, of course, the militants must be effectively neutralised. The army operation should be taken to its logical conclusion and all areas be brought under the control of the government, while the millions of people affected must be rehabilitated.

Reconstruction efforts need be initiated, in which regard the involvement of local people may well prove invaluable. Not only would they have an idea of where the money is best spent but such involvement would help return to them a sense of ownership.

Subsequently, the root causes of extremism will have to be addressed. It is vital that poverty alleviation measures be undertaken and employment opportunities be created in underdeveloped areas; an industrial base could be set up, for example.

People with jobs and regular incomes are, after all, far less likely to turn towards extremism or militancy. And Pakistan will have to find ways of ensuring that development funds do not leak down corrupt or bureaucratic holes.

Employment opportunities must be accompanied by the setting up of schools and vocational training centres. This requires a coherent education plan and a significantly bigger budgetary allocation.

The education sector has traditionally been subjected to arbitrary changes; now a needs-assessment exercise by legislators and experts must lead to solid policy.

Concurrently, the madressah system must be reworked. Such institutions must be identified, counted and registered, after which curriculum reform can be devised.

While all madressahs are not connected to extremism, their graduates are often unfit for the job market.

This must be remedied. Furthermore, issues such as deficiencies in the state education system and the lack of access to it must be addressed, for these are among the factors that lead to the popularity of madressahs.

Then there exists the pressing need for access to quality healthcare and, most vitally, justice in its real sense.

We must learn the lesson taught by Swat, where the promise of justice under Sharia initially led many citizens to extend support to the extremists.

Most importantly, perhaps, areas such as Fata, the rest of the tribal belt and the designated Northern Areas must be brought into the political mainstream.

The Political Parties Act must be extended so that all political organisations can carry out their legitimate activities in all areas.

Access to genuine representation allows citizens to effectively present their concerns, thereby reducing the need to bargain with a gun.

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Daggar — devastation all around

DAGGAR: Burnt vehicles, spent artillery shells and broken electric poles were strewn across the dusty road. There were devastated houses riddled with bullets and artillery shells all around.A few young men sat chatting inside a tobacco shop which opened for some time on Sunday during a curfew break. On a corner of the main street, Amir Basha examined his devastated grocery shop.

He had returned to the town on Sunday during the curfew break from Peshawar where he and his family have taken refuge after fleeing the fighting some three weeks ago. ‘I don’t think my family can return home soon,’ he muttered shaking his head in despair.

Ambela, a small mountainous town of some 10,000 inhabitants became the frontline in the military’s battle against the Taliban. The troops have flushed out militants after fierce clashes which also forced almost the entire population to flee the town.

But the militants still lurked in the mountains not far from there. ‘We fear that they may come back after the troops are withdrawn,’ said Mr Basha.

A few families have trickled back after security forces relaxed curfew restrictions to allow farmers to harvest the wheat crop. ‘This is the only source of living for me and for my family,’ said Rehman Gul, a 50-year-old farmer working in his small field with his two sons.

But most of the crop may go waste as uncertainty and fear held back most farmers from returning home.

According to officials, more than half of Buner’s 700,000 population have left there homes. They have joined another one million refugees from Swat and other conflict zones triggering one of the worst humanitarian crises in the country’s 62-year history.

The government rushed some 5,000 army and paramilitary troops to Buner after the Taliban advancing from the neighbouring Swat valley seized control of the district which is famous for its fruit orchards and fertile land.

The Taliban’s offensive was embarrassing for the military and the weak civilian government. Pakistani military said scores of militants had been killed in Buner. But the fighting is far from over.

Hundreds of militants are still entrenched in Sultanwas and Pir Baba areas, just three miles from Daggar, the main town and administrative headquarters of Buner. The mountains echoed with the thunder of artillery fire at regular interval.

Life is slowly returning to Daggar and Swahri which have been least affected by the fighting but a deep feeling of unease was quite evident. People fear that fighting could resume with the Taliban still holding on in many parts of Buner.

‘The militants are still controlling some key routes and villages,’ conceded a nervous Yahya Akhunzada, the district DCO, sitting inside his heavily guarded office.

He said there were some 350 militants, including some Arabs and Uzbeks, were holding on in Sultanwas which has become Taliban’s main base in the region. It has also been described as ‘Peochar’ of Buner.

The militants were also controlling Pir Baba, another town where the shrine of highly revered Sufi saint is located. ‘Armed Taliban are patrolling the streets,’ said Mohammed Khan, a local shopkeeper.

Mr Akhunzada said the situation was still tense. ‘We can only ask the people to return when the entire area is cleared,’ he said. He expressed the hope that the militants would be driven out soon.

Officials fear that more militants could enter Buner as the army presses ahead in Swat. More than 15,000 troops are battling some 5,000 militants in the valley.

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Kayani tours Swat as troops pound militant hideouts

PESHAWAR: Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on Thursday toured frontlines in the northwest Swat valley, where his troops are battling against Taliban militants, the military said.The army chief of staff met field commanders and troops, saw ‘firsthand certain operations being carried out against the militants’ and reiterated his resolve to defeat the extremists, the armed forces said in a statement.

It was Kayani’s first reported visit to the area, which has been ripped apart by a nearly two-year Taliban insurgency to enforce sharia law, since the military launched a massive operation in the district last week.

Artillery batteries shelled suspected hideouts in Swat and the neighbouring district of Lower Dir on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of new casualties on the 18th consecutive day of operations in the northwest.

‘Militant hideouts were targeted in Dir and Swat and many of their hideouts were destroyed in mountains,’ one security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The military says up to 15,000 troops are taking on about 4,000 well-armed fighters in Swat, where Islamabad has ordered a battle to ‘eliminate’ militants.

Overall, the military says, more than 750 militants and 33 troops have been killed in its operations in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat, although there is no independent confirmation of the figures and no word on civilian casualties.

On Wednesday, the army claimed that security forces had gained a foothold in the Peochar valley, the stronghold of Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, and were targeting militants’ hideouts there.

According to an ISPR update on Wednesday on the Swat operation, 11 militants, including commander Naseeb Rehman, were killed in different areas of the valley during the past 24 hours. Four soldiers were also killed and 12 others injured during the operation.

It said that consolidation of positions continued at Banai Baba Ziarat and Bariam bridge. A swathe from Khwazakhela to Bariam bridge and Chakdara-Gulabad road were cleared of militants.

‘Normalcy is returning to Buner. People have started harvesting their crops and shops are reopening in the district. All preparations are in place to clear Sultanwas of militants,’ the update said.

Meanwhile, five decapitated bodies were found in different areas of Mingora, the main city of Swat, and 32 militants and an army captain were killed in Lower Dir over the past 24 hours.

Local people said militants were killing rivals and throwing their bodies around the city to terrorise people trapped in their homes because of curfew and the presence of the Taliban.

They said the militants were freely roaming around the city and warning people against leaving Swat. In order to avoid collateral damage in the populous Mingora, security forces have shifted their operation to Peochar.

Sources said that there would be a face-to-face battle if security forces entered Mingora because militants were preparing for a final showdown.

In Lower Dir, 15 militants were killed on Wednesday when helicopter gunships fired missiles at a mother-child health centre near Battano, in Kityari area of Adenzai tehsil.

The centre was occupied by the Taliban militants some days ago. Local people said the bodies were still lying at the centre.

Security forces said that helicopters had also attacked the house of the father-in-law of a local Taliban commander in the village of Khuni Dhand, killing eight militants hiding there.

Helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in Barori, Kityari, Khunidag, Jangu and Tehdodag areas in the outskirts of Chakdara. Troops set up a checkpost in Tendodag.

Nine militants and an army captain were killed in fighting in Hayaserai area of Maidan late on Tuesday night. Troops destroyed 24 houses in the area. These houses were abandoned by local people and occupied by the Taliban.

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We will crush Taliban, must win hearts

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will defeat the Taliban militarily but could lose the public relations war if it fails to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Thursday.

About 700,000 people have fled from their homes, joining more than 500,000 displaced by earlier fighting in the northwest. The United Nations has warned of a long-term humanitarian crisis.‘Militarily we will win the war but it will be unfortunate if we loose it publicly,’ Gilani told the National Assembly.

Most political parties and members of the public support the offensive.

But opposition will grow if many civilians are killed in the fighting or if the displaced are seen to be enduring undue hardship.

About 15,000 members of the security forces are facing about 5,000 militants in the Swat region, the military says.

Soldiers are battling militants in their stronghold in the Peochar valley, a side valley running northwest off the main Swat valley, apparently to block a major escape route.

Taliban are still holding the region’s main town, Mingora, where many civilians have been sheltering in their homes since the government imposed a curfew.

Residents began fleeing late last month when the army attacked the Taliban in two districts near Swat they had occupied in violation of a February peace pact aimed at ending violence in the former tourist valley.


Gilani said the internal displacement was unprecedented in the country’s history and the government had to win the hearts and minds of those forced from their homes.

The US refugee agency said only about 80,000 of the displaced were staying in camps, with the rest staying with friends, relatives, or in rented accommodation or in ‘spontaneous settlements’ that were springing up.

A senior army officer who played a major role in the 2005 earthquake relief effort is overseeing the operation to help the people fleeing Swat.

Gilani said the government planned to hold a conference of aid donors to raise funds but said he also expected the Pakistani people to help.

‘The people of Pakistan have the same passion and love for these displaced people that they displayed during the 2005 earthquake,’ he said.

The military says more than 760 militants and 34 soldiers have been killed in the fighting. Reporters have left Swat and there was no independent confirmation of that estimate of militant casualties.

A Taliban spokesman said on Wednesday only seven of his men had been killed.

The military said this week there have been no reports of civilian casualties in its actions as soldiers were targeting militants in hideouts in mountains and urban warfare had not started.

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Obama’s Partner in Problem

The best diplomats walk a fine line between flattery and the Stockholm syndrome. The more dire the situation, the easier it is to lose perspective, to mistake a shift in body language for a breakthrough, to mistake a breakthrough for a solution. And so it was slightly disconcerting to hear Richard Holbrooke, our very best diplomatic negotiator, deploying words like “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” to describe the recent round of talks with delegations from Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington, during a White House briefing for columnists just after the talks ended.

He was flanked by General David Petraeus, who reinforced Holbrooke’s message. The talks “exceeded my expectations,” the general said. A good deal of this is, obviously, puffery designed to keep the diplomatic balloon aloft. But there was also, I’d guess, some wishful thinking involved.There really were breakthroughs in the talks. But these were bureaucratic advances, the sort that only occasionally lead to actual changes. Holbrooke was well aware of this, of course, and he was quick to say that “no one is promising that this will win the war.” He then added, with a certain pride of authorship, “But success isn’t possible if we didn’t do it.” And he’s right: for the first time, Afghan and Pakistani Ministers of the Interior sat down and hammered out a rudimentary agreement on information-sharing. Agricultural and trade delegations also met, as did, most significant of all, military and intelligence representatives. (The idea that the Afghan intelligence service would break bread with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, which created the Taliban, is mind-boggling.) These advances were given greater heft by positive developments on the ground - especially Pakistan’s apparent decision to stop the Taliban advance toward Islamabad, using six to eight brigades transferred from the Indian border.

And yet, the rude truth of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan was revealed at a lunch the Presidents of both countries attended with 27 U.S. Senators, an event that really did merit a few over-the-top encomiums like “unprecedented” and “brutal.” The climax came when Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee asked President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan what the purpose of the U.S. mission was in his country. Karzai filibustered, and Corker told him, in no uncertain terms, that his answer was incomprehensible. At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing a few days later, Corker confronted Holbrooke about the lack of credibility both Presidents shared. According to the Obama Administration, Corker said, the Karzai government “is taking more of the illegal [poppy crop] moneys than the Taliban …” In Pakistan, “the leader was formerly called ‘Mr. 10%,’” referring to Asif Ali Zardari’s alleged practice of taking kickbacks on contracts when his wife Benazir Bhutto was in charge.

Indeed, neither President is exactly a paragon of statesmanship. The reality in Afghanistan and Pakistan is that both governments have been unable to provide the most basic services - security, education, justice - for their citizens, which is why the Taliban, which has some fairly strong ideas about law and order, has been able to intimidate its way back into control of some areas. Karzai has an excuse: his country has suffered through 30 years of war, although the alleged participation of his brother in the Kandahar-province opium trade and the utter corruption of the Afghan civil service don’t help his reputation much. Zardari has no excuse at all: his country has a brilliant, educated intelligentsia and governing class, but it has been entirely unable to provide the rudiments of civil society to the Pakistani masses, a remarkable indictment. (See pictures of Pakistan’s vulnerable North-West Frontier Province.)

“You’ve got to go with the incompetents you’ve got,” a Senator who supports the Obama Administration’s policy told me. “We have no alternative.” Holbrooke made a similar point during the hearing. Yes, he said, this situation resembled the war in Vietnam, harking back to his earliest service, as a U.S. diplomat in Saigon. “Structurally, there are many similarities - the enemy sanctuaries across the border, the [failure of] governance, corruption … but there is one core difference: 9/11,” he said. “There was no threat from Vietnam to the U.S. homeland.”

That is why both Holbrooke and Petraeus will do everything they can to nudge and puff Zardari and Karzai into being statesmen who occasionally act in their own national interest, as Zardari seems to have done by deciding to fight the Taliban. That is why Secretary of Defense Robert Gates acted with such alacrity to replace a good general, David McKiernan, with another, Stanley McChrystal, better versed in the tactics used to fight terrorist insurgencies. That is why we are in Afghanistan and Pakistan: because our enemies - the people who killed 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 - are festering there. It would be nice if, unlike Vietnam, our “friends” proved as competent as our enemies, but that is where the wishful thinking inevitably begins.

(Source: time.com)

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Urgent priority for Pakistan to tackle terror: Brown

LONDON: Speaking at a joint press conference in London, President Asif Ali Zardari and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that both their counries were united in the fight against terrorism.

PM Brown said that Pakistan was taking action against extremists and that it was an urgent priority for the country to tackle the issue of militancy and terrorism.He said that Britain will provide 12 million pounds in humanitarian aid to people displaced by the fighting in Swat. Brown also said that Britain will redirect a development aid program for Pakistan.

President Zardari defended the ongoing military operation in the tribal areas and said that the militants are fighting for a new world order.

He said that the people of Swat do not want Taliban control over their area but ‘want our type of democracy’.

President Zardari also said that all governments are satisfied with Pakistan command and control system.

When speaking of the US drone attacks on Pakistani territory, he said that the government has asked for ownnership of drones from the United States. Zardari said that the issue is still in the negotiating phase.

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Zardari seeks world aid for civilians in Fata conflict

UNITED NATIONS: President Asif Ali Zardari appealed for global aid Tuesday for the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the fighting against Taliban militants, AFP reported.

‘We’re appealing to the world, myself and the (UN) secretary general… to draw attention on the human catastrophe that is taking place,’ he told reporters after conferring with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

‘They (civilians) are losing their crops, they’re losing their earnings, their livelihood and their homes, so we want the world to help us,’ he added.

‘The secretary general has been kind enough to accept our appeal to him and he is going to appeal to the world with us jointly to help Pakistan.’

Ban meanwhile told reporters that in his meeting with Zardari, he expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the humanitarian situation in northwestern Pakistan where commandos are stepping up a punishing offensive against militants that has now displaced more than half a million people.

Tens of thousands of terrified civilians have been streaming out of three battle-torn northwest districts each day, with the UN refugee agency saying that 501,496 stranded people had registered with authorities since May 2.

‘I expressed my deep concern and I expect President Zardari to take all necessary care to protect the civilian population,’ the UN boss said.

‘The UN is ready to stand by to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance.’ Ban said he asked the Pakistani leader ‘to facilitate the smooth delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of humanitarian workers,’ adding ‘it is a very serious situation.’

A UN statement said Ban ‘supported the fight against extremism and expressed confidence and trust in the leadership of President Zardari.’

In Geneva, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes earlier Tuesday said he would ‘substantially’ increase an aid appeal for Pakistan after half a million people fled the conflict in the northwest over the past 10 days.

The United Nations had made an appeal for 165.9 million dollars for humanitarian aid in Pakistan for 2008-2009.

Clearly that is not going to be enough, Holmes, who runs the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists.

He said that even before the latest fighting between the military and Taliban in northwest Pakistan, the United Nations was already dealing with about half a million displaced people in the country.

With half a million more people fleeing in the past 10 days, ‘it is a situation that we are struggling to keep up with,’ Holmes said.

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US ‘missile strike’ kills eight in Pakistan

A suspected US drone attack killed up to eight people in a remote Pakistani tribal area near the Afghan border on Tuesday, the second such strike in a few days, security officials said.

No high-value targets were killed in the strike in the village of Sara Khwara in South Waziristan, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of the area’s main town Wana and just a few kilometres from the Afghan border.

A known Taliban and Al-Qaeda hub, Wana is a stronghold of Maulvi Nazir, a key Taliban commander accused by the United States of recruiting and sending fighters to Afghanistan to attack US and NATO forces.

“It was a drone strike on a compound, where militants used to stay before crossing the border or after coming back from Afghanistan. Eight militants were killed,” said one Pakistani security official on condition of anonymity.

Another security official said two missiles were fired, killing seven to eight militants.

“Foreigners and local Taliban were assembled there. It was a compound — like a house in the mountains,” added the official. Foreigners is a word routinely used in Pakistan to refer to suspected Al-Qaeda militants.

But one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two women and two children were among those killed in the strike, executed on intelligence that militants were heading to Afghanistan intending to carry out an attack.

It was the second suspected US strike in three days. Security officials said six militants were killed in another strike in South Waziristan on Saturday.

The United States has adopted a new strategy to defeat Islamist extremists, putting Pakistan at the heart of the fight against Al-Qaeda and sending an extra 21,000 US troops to neighbouring Afghanistan to battle the Taliban.

Pakistan publicly opposes drone attacks, saying they violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the populace. Since August 2008, more than 40 such strikes have killed more than 390 people.

The US military does not, as a rule, confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy drones in the region.

Pakistan has called for military equipment and drones in order to better attack the extremists themselves, and thus save the government from the furious anti-US backlash that officials say weakens their rule.

Under heavy US pressure, Pakistan is pressing a ground and air assault against Taliban militants in three districts of North West Frontier Province, which unlike the tribal areas comes under direct government control.

The New York Times warned this week that Al-Qaeda was seizing on turmoil to strengthen its presence in nuclear-armed Pakistan and bolster militant groups.

The daily quoted unnamed intelligence officials as saying that Taliban advances in Swat and Buner, closer to Islamabad than the lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border, have already helped Al-Qaeda in its recruiting efforts.

Pakistan rejects criticism that it does not do enough to counter Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants holed up on the Afghan border. More than 2,000 troops have died at the hands of Islamist extremists since 2002.

Militant attacks have also killed more than 1,800 people since July 2007.

(Source: www.msn.com)

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Talk Shows

  • SAWAL YEH HAI with Dr Danish: Oct 30
    October 31, 2009 | 10:03 am

    Regional peace and proxy war against Pakistan, Kashmir issue, withdrawal of USA from Afghanistan. Guests: Brig. (R) Imtiaz Former (DG IB), Nosheen Wasi (Analyst), Muqtida Mansoor (Analyst) and Asadullah Bhutto (Jamaat Islami)

  • DUNYA TODAY with Moeed Pirzada: Oct 30
    October 31, 2009 | 6:28 am

    Freedom being enjoyed by Media in Pakistan and attemots to regulate it by the parliament. Guests: Qamar Zaman Kaira (PPP), Justice (R) Tariq Mahmood (Former PSCBA) and Nadeem Malik (Anchorman)

  • LIVE WITH TALAT on Aaj Tv: Oct 30
    October 31, 2009 | 5:45 am

    Relationship between the Treasury bench and the Opposition. How friendly it is and why no outcome of the latest Zardari-Nawaz meeting? Guest: Sen Ishaq Dar (PML-N)

  • BOLTA PAKISTAN on Aaj Tv: Oct 30
    October 31, 2009 | 5:34 am

    Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas discuss Hillary Clinton’s conversations with TV Anchormen - Talat Hussain, Hamid Mir, Dr Moeed Pirzada, Naveen Naqvi, Nasim Zehra, Mubasher Lucman

    October 31, 2009 | 5:06 am

    Discussion on approval of NRO by the Standing Committee of the parliament. Guests: Haider Abbas Rizvi (MQM), Dr. Ambreen Hussain (Chairman Political Science Punjab Univ)

  • DUNYA TODAY with Moeed Pirzada: Oct 29
    October 30, 2009 | 12:20 pm

    Dr. Moeed Pirzada discusses Hillary Clinton’s public diplomacy and people-to-people contacts. Guests: Hamid Mir (Geo), Dr. Farrukh Saleem (Analyst), Zafar Hilaly (Ex-Amb to USA)

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