Subdivision Tips, South Australia (C: +61431138537), https://www.facebook.com/RealEstateSA5000/

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wanted: Investors to turn Saddam's villas into gold

31 Mar 2010 09:58:01 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Sabah al-Bazi

TIKRIT, Iraq, March 31 (Reuters Life!) - Saddam Hussein made his palaces a desert paradise, but now his hometown is seeking foreign investors to turn the late dictator's playground into a tourist mecca.

Local officials see the 76 abandoned Saddam villas sprawled across hundreds of hectares (acres) as a potential gold mine for Tikrit's cash-strapped Salahuddin province.

"These villas only need rehabilitation and a few other things to turn the whole area into a wonderful tourism site," Jewher Hamad al-Fahel, the head of Salahuddin's investment commission, told Reuters Television.

Saddam built big at Tikrit, his tribal stronghold about 150 km (95 miles) north of Baghdad. He put up six villas at his birthplace, the village of al-Awja, alone and made the Tikrit palace complex his largest.

Boasting artificial lakes and date orchards, the site totals 136 buildings and covers more than 400 hectares (1,000 acres), according to the U.S. Army. American troops used it as a base until turning it over to Iraqi authorities in November 2005.

Now many of the sand-coloured structures, often domed and turreted and with marbled interiors, sit decaying near the Tigris River. Some still show heavy damage from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Saddam.

SMOOTHING THE WAY

Salahuddin Governor Mutasher Hussein Allawi said he was eager to smooth the way for foreign investment in the villas since his budget was too small to rebuild decrepit infrastructure quickly.

"Iraq needs huge investment companies, because the devastation that took place after 2003 is something terrible", he said.

Foreign tourists to Iraq are overwhelmingly Muslim pilgrims visiting holy sites, with a handful of visitors drawn to ancient ruins.

The number of religious visitors hit 1.25 million last year, more than doubling since 2007 as violence has eased, according to a Tourism and Antiquities Ministry spokesman.

Iraqis seeking an in-country getaway tend to go to mountain areas in the north.

Tikrit's would not be the first Saddam mansion to be turned into a resort. A guesthouse at a hulking palace at Babylon, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, has become a popular spot for honeymooners. [ID:nLN352150]

Central and southern Iraq hold about 160 Saddam mansions, 60 in Baghdad alone. Those in the mainly Kurdish north have yet to be tallied.

On a bustling Tikrit street, resident Abdulla Mohammed said he welcomed foreign investment.

"Salahuddin's security situation is good compared with other provinces, we are upbeat about the future," he said.

Salahuddin province's stance underscores Iraq's eagerness for outside investment. Deputy Industry Minister Adel Karim told Reuters Iraq could offer production-sharing deals with state companies to draw foreign investors. [ID:nKAM332914] (Additional reporting by Aseel Kami, writing by Ian Simpson, editing by Paul Casciato)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FACTBOX-Facts about Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahayan

30 Mar 2010 14:36:48 GMT
Source: Reuters
March 30 (Reuters) - The body of Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, 41, managing director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), among the world's biggest sovereign funds, has been found, a Moroccan government official said on Tuesday.

His aircraft crashed into a reservoir 10 km (6 miles) south of the Moroccan capital Rabat last Friday.

Here are some facts about Sheikh Ahmed:

* Sheikh Ahmed is the son of the founder of the seven-member UAE federation, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, and worked as a European equities analyst at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), for six years before becoming its boss.

* ADIA is among the world's top state-run investors, funnelling funds from the emirate's oil exports into stocks and bonds overseas from its headquarters in a skyscraper on the island city's shoreline.

* His sovereign wealth fund, formed in 1976, is believed to have assets of around $500 to $700 billion, ranging from Citigroup bonds to a stake in Britain's Gatwick airport to residential property in major cities.

* In a rare interview in January 2010, Sheikh Ahmed said the wealth fund was refining its investment approach and might consider a larger investment than its rarely exceeded 5 percent stakes. In the wake of the global financial crisis, Sheikh Ahmed said ADIA was reviewing its performance.

* ADIA has switched its weightings across asset classes to reduce the impact of economic downturns over the past 18 months, he said, adding its allocation to global equities had averaged 40-60 percent, with 60 percent of that indexed.

* Regionally, the wealth fund has its largest allocation in the United States, with 35 to 50 percent, followed by Europe at up to 35 percent and Asia at up to 20 percent.

* Sheikh Ahmed was No. 27 on Forbes list of the world's most powerful people in 2009. The magazine described him as "elusive".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Death Toll In Iraq Bombing Rises To 59

Death Toll In Iraq Bombing Rises To 59
On Friday, few hours before election results were released, two bombs struck a crowded market in Iraq's mainly Sunni northern Diyala province killing 59 and wounding 73, in one of the country's deadliest attacks in months. [ID:nLDE62Q080] (Additional reporting by Aseel Kami and Muhanad Mohammed; Writing by Rania El Gamal; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

A resident looks at a damaged building after bomb attacks in Khalis, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad March 27, 2010. REUTERS/Helmiy al-AzawiBAGHDAD, March 28 (Reuters) - The death toll from two bombs that struck a crowded market in Iraq's mainly Sunni Diyala province rose to 59, police said on Saturday, as politicians started coalition talks to form a new government.

The attack on Friday night, one of Iraq's deadliest in months, also wounded 73 people, Major Ghalib Attiya, a police spokesman in Diyala, said.

"From the style of the attack and its magnitude, I can say it has al Qaeda's fingerprint," he said, adding that an investigation was under way to determine if the militant group was responsible.

The blasts occurred a few hours before officials released full preliminary results from the March 7 parliamentary poll.

Authorities said a roadside bomb was placed near a coffee shop in the centre of the town of Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, followed soon after by a car bomb that shattered nearby buildings and shops.

"There are still bodies under the rubble, I want to know what is the fault of these innocent people to be killed like that?"
Yunnis Mohammed, a shop owner, said at the blast scene.

Rescue workers were still searching for survivors on Saturday.

While overall violence has dropped sharply in the past couple of years, the blast on Friday, a night out for many families, underscored the fragile security situation in Iraq as it struggles to end years of war and sectarian conflict.

The death toll exceeded that of a suicide bombing that killed 41 people on the outskirts of Baghdad in February and three suicide attacks on Baghdad hotels in January that killed 36.

Iraq's political blocs have begun what could be weeks of jostling for a place in the new government. The results of this month's election saw secularist challenger Iyad Allawi's alliance winning the most seats in the coming parliament, just ahead of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition.

© REUTERS 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

TIMELINE-Former PM Allawi wins Iraqi election

FACTBOX-Five facts about Iraq's Iyad Allawi
26 Mar 2010 19:45:12 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, March 26 (Reuters) - As leader of the largest bloc in the new Iraqi parliament, secularist former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will be the first to try to form a government.

Allawi, 64, ran on a nationalist platform, hoping to capitalise on widespread disenchantment with the Islamist parties that have dominated the political scene since 2003.

Here are five facts about Allawi:

* A secular Shi'ite, Allawi headed a transitional government in 2004 and 2005, when the United States pulled the strings and Iraq was on the verge of a sectarian civil war.

* A fluent English speaker, Allawi received a medical degree in London. He spent more than 30 years in exile and returned as a U.S. ally after the invasion.

* Allawi, a former member of the now-outlawed Baath party, says he survived a 1987 assassination attempt in London by Baathist agents when Saddam Hussein was in power.

* He has become a leading critic of the U.S. invasion and of the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He accuses it of failing to provide better services and security and to reduce unemployment after almost four years in office.

* He was once also highly critical of Iran for meddling in Iraq and supporting Shi'ite militia, but he is reported to have sought to mend fences with Tehran. A visit he paid to Saudi Arabia before the election sparked controversy among Iraqis suspicious of foreign interference. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Jon Hemming)


-----------



26 Mar 2010 19:31:12 GMT
Source: Reuters
March 26 (Reuters) - Iraq announced on Friday that former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition won the most seats in the March 7 parliamentary elections. Here is a timeline of Iraq since the U.S. led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

2003

March 20 - U.S. and British forces invade from Kuwait.

April 9 - U.S. troops take Baghdad, Saddam disappears.

July 13 - The Iraqi Governing Council -- 25 Iraqis chosen under U.S. supervision -- holds inaugural meeting in Baghdad.

Aug. 19 - Suicide truck bomb at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad kills 22 people, including U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Dec. 13 - U.S. troops capture Saddam near Tikrit. U.S. governor of Iraq Paul Bremer breaks news with: "We got him."

2004

March 8 - Governing Council signs interim constitution.

June 1 - Governing Council dissolved to make way for interim government led by Iyad Allawi. Ghazi al-Yawar named president.

June 28 - United States formally returns sovereignty. Coalition Provisional Authority dissolved. Bremer leaves Iraq.

2005

Jan. 30 - Shi'ite-led United Iraqi Alliance dominates vote for local council and interim parliament. Most Sunnis do not vote.

March 16 - National Assembly holds first meeting.

Oct. 15 - Referendum ratifies constitution by 78 percent despite Sunni Arab opposition which nearly vetoes it.

Dec. 15 - Parliamentary election. More Sunnis vote this time than in the provincial election.

2006

Feb. 10 - Final results give Shi'ite-led UIA near majority with 128 seats. Sunni Arabs have 58 and Kurds 53.

Feb. 22 - Bombing of Shi'ite shrine in Samarra sparks widespread sectarian violence, raising fears of civil war.

June 7 - U.S. aircraft kill al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Nov. 5 - A Baghdad court finds Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity. He is executed on Dec. 30.

2007

May 28 - Iranian and U.S. ambassadors to Iraq meet in Baghdad to discuss ways to improve security in the country. The talks end a three-decade diplomatic freeze between the two foes.

June 15 - U.S. military says it has completed its troop build-up, or "surge", to 160,000 soldiers to quell violence.

Aug. 1 - The main Sunni Arab bloc pulls out of Maliki's cabinet, plunging the government into crisis.

Aug. 14 - Truck bombings against the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq kill more than 400 people. The bombings are the deadliest militant attacks in Iraq since 2003.

Aug. 29 - Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr imposes ceasefire on Mehdi Army militia for six months after clashes with police.

2008

Jan. 12 - Parliament votes for junior members of Saddam's Baath Party to return to government jobs, a benchmark of reconciliation.

March 25 - Maliki launches crackdown on militias in Basra, sparking battles with Sadr's Mehdi Army. Fighting rages for a week in south Iraq and many weeks in Baghdad, killing hundreds, but Mehdi army is eventually defeated and Sadr disbands it.

July 19 - Iraq's main Sunni Arab bloc rejoins the government when parliament approves its candidates for ministerial posts.

Nov. 17 - Iraq and the United States sign an accord requiring Washington to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011. The pact gives the government authority over the U.S. mission for the first time, replacing a U.N. Security Council mandate.

2009

Jan. 1 - U.S.-Iraq security pact comes into force, placing the roughly 140,000 U.S. troops under Iraqi authority.

Jan. 31 - Iraq holds provincial elections, the most peaceful vote since the fall of Saddam, demonstrating big security gains. Results show Maliki's nationalist coalition scores big victory at the expense of sectarian and federalist parties.

Feb. 27 - U.S. President Barack Obama announces plan to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, but says will leave up to 50,000 troops to fight insurgents and train Iraqi forces. He makes an unannounced visit to Baghdad on April 7.

June 30 - Iraqi forces assume responsibility for securing cities after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from urban areas.

Aug. 19 - Suicide bombers targeting the foreign and finance ministries kill at least 95 people in Baghdad.

Oct. 1 - Maliki announces his State of Law coalition will run against former Shi'ite allies in national elections.

Oct. 25 - Twin car bombs target the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial government building, killing at least 155 people and wounding more than 500 in central Baghdad.

Dec. 8 - Four car bombs explode in Baghdad striking government buildings despite a security crackdown, killing at least 112 people and wounding 425.

- Hours later, Iraq sets March 7, 2010 as the long awaited date for a general election.

2010

January - The Justice and Accountability Commission, a body that replaced a "de-Baathification" committee established after the U.S. invasion, bars nearly 500 candidates from the March 7 parliamentary vote.

Jan. 25 - Suicide bombers target three landmark hotels. More than 30 people are killed.

March 7 - Parliamentary elections.

March 26 - Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition wins 91 seats, two more than Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)


----




Iraqi panel orders vote recount in Baghdad
19 Apr 2010 13:31:08 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Baghdad a key prize

* Recount could alter election results

* Sunni-backed bloc says ruling undermines vote

(Adds reaction)

By Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD, April 19 (Reuters) - A panel on Monday ordered a recount of ballots cast in Baghdad in Iraq's March 7 election, raising the prospect of a change in the results that gave a cross-sectarian group backed by minority Sunnis a slim lead.

Any revision could inflame sectarian tensions at a time when Iraq is emerging from the worst of the fighting between Sunnis and majority Shi'ites that was unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Electoral commissioner Hamdiya al-Husseini said the manual recount of more than 2.5 million ballots would begin immediately but she was not sure how long it would take.

The capital accounts for over a fifth of seats in the 325-seat parliament, making it a key prize, and Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law alliance had sought a recount after coming a close second in the election.

"We expect that this will change the results for the benefit of State of Law," said Kamal el-Saadi, a senior member of Maliki's coalition.

Seen as a milestone for Iraq as it signs multibillion-dollar deals with global oil firms to develop its vast crude reserves and as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw, last month's ballot produced no outright winner.

The Iraqiya list of former prime minister Iyad Allawi came in first with 91 seats, according to preliminary results, after winning the broad backing of Sunnis frustrated at the rise of Shi'ite political supremacy since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Maliki's State of Law won 89 seats while erstwhile Shi'ite allies grouped in the Iraqi National Alliance got around 70. Minority Kurds who enjoy virtual autonomy in the north collectively control about 58 seats.

The blocs have been involved in negotiations to form coalitions to create a working majority in the next parliament and select a prime minister. Those talks are likely to be put on hold until the vote recount is concluded and the various factions know how strong their hands are.

'EDGE OF PRECIPICE'

Maliki's alliance and the INA, led by religious parties with close ties to Tehran, have been inching toward a union that could sideline Allawi, a step that would likely anger Sunnis.

While Allawi is a Shi'ite Muslim, Sunni supporters regard his strong showing in the election as a vindication of their claim that they deserve to exert greater influence over Iraq than they feel they have been granted in the last seven years. Haider al-Mulla, a member of a Sunni party within Allawi's coalition, said the ruling by the review panel showed that Maliki's government had undue influence over the judiciary.

"This decision will result in consequences which throw the legality of the election on the edge of a precipice and threaten the entire political process," Mulla said.

Husseini of the independent electoral commission said it was only votes in Baghdad that were going to be retallied.

"Most of the appeals were about the results in Baghdad and for this reason they only decided to order a recount in Baghdad," she told Reuters.

Tariq Harb, a lawyer for the State of Law, said it presented 24 boxes of files containing proof of voting irregularities to the review panel hearing complaints about the election.

The panel has to finish reviewing more than 300 complaints filed by various parties before the election results can be certified. That could take several more weeks, officials said. (Additional reporting by Waleed Ibrahim; Writing by Michael Christie; editing by Noah Barkin)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Allawi edges ahead of PM again in Iraq election

20 Mar 2010 16:33:04 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Former PM Allawi pulls ahead of Maliki

* Close vote signals long, difficult political talks

(Adds votes cancelled, quote, final paragraphs)

By Khalid al-Ansary

BAGHDAD, March 20 (Reuters) - Secularist Iyad Allawi edged ahead of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday in a neck-and-neck election race that has laid bare the ethnic and sectarian divisions threatening Iraq's fragile stability.

The new results from Iraq's electoral commission, with about 93 percent of an early vote count complete, gave a lead of some 8,000 votes to Allawi, a Shi'ite former prime minister with wide support among minority Sunnis who fear consolidation of the dominance of Shi'ite religious parties in Iraq since 2003.

The lead in the popular vote has changed hands several times and the eventual winner may be able to claim a symbolic victory, but no matter the final result both Maliki and Allawi's will need to engage in long and potentially divisive talks to try to form a coalition capable of forming a government.

As early results trickle in after the March 7 polls, the divided vote is a reminder of Iraq's precarious position on the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein and plunged Iraq into a bloody civil conflict.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since 2003, along with more than 4,000 foreign soldiers.

Iraq may have held one of the most competitive elections in the region's history, but the course of its democracy is far from certain. It is far safer than it was at the peak of sectarian killing, but a tenacious insurgency keeps Iraq under siege just as U.S. troops halve their force by this summer.

A close election may actually exacerbate those threats by making it harder to form a government coalition and accommodate the conflicting visions, and personal political ambitions, of groups as dissimilar as Maliki's mainly Shi'ite State of Law coalition and Allawi's cross-sectarian Iraqiya list.

Maliki, who has won over many Iraqis with his nationalist rhetoric and steps to crush sectarian violence in Iraq, leads in seven provinces in central and southern Iraq, six of them mainly Shi'ite.

The prime minister now has a narrow 6-percent lead over Allawi in Baghdad, the diverse capital city, but he has virtually no support in largely Sunni provinces where many are sceptical of his Shi'ite Islamist roots and condemn his support of a ban of hundreds of candidates, including prominent Sunnis.

Allawi, who has tried to model himself as a non-sectarian outsider, swept western and northern areas home to large numbers of Sunni Arabs. The physician and fluent English speaker holds a narrow lead over a Kurdish bloc in Kirkuk, the disputed city that is Iraq's northern oil hub.

JUMBLE OF POSSIBLE ALLIANCES

Both Maliki and Allawi supporters are predicting they will get more than 90 seats in Iraq's 325-member parliament.

Full early results will be released in the next few days, and final results may take weeks.

Each camp has suggested an alliance between the two men is unlikely, making it even more important where other contenders, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a Shi'ite bloc closely allied to Iran, and an alliance of two leading Kurdish parties, will throw their weight.

Even before full results are out, fissures are appearing in electoral blocs such as the INA, suggesting the calculus of coalition-building will be even more complex than expected.

Sami al-Askari, a politician close to Maliki, predicted Allawi's alliance would soon splinter. "I don't think this coalition will last long," he said.

Both State of Law and Iraqiya have complained of vote irregularities, and such an outcry could intensify if one bloc feels it was edged out of an outright win.

"Even if fraud was limited, we still feel cheated," said Jamal al-Bateekh, an Iraqiya candidate.

One interesting outcome of this month's vote was the miserable showing some of Iraq's most important leaders, reflecting perhaps Iraqis' exasperation with poor services, rampant corruption, and indiscriminate violence.

Compared to the 543,747 votes Maliki himself got, and 354,097 for Allawi, Interior Minister Jawad Bolani got just 2,992 votes. Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim did even worse, with a personal tally of only 687 votes.

Qasim al-Aboudi, spokesman for Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission, said officials had so far examined 1,150 complaints and rejected ballots from about 60 polling stations, out of 50,000 nationwide, for various reasons.

"I don't think this would affect the results or the turnout percentage," he said. (Additional reporting by Muhanad Mohammed and Rania El Gamal; Writing by Missy Ryan; Editing by Jon Hemming)


--------


Iraq's Maliki asks for recount, warns of violence
21 Mar 2010 09:23:28 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Iraqi PM calls for national manual vote recount

* Head of electoral commission questions need for new count

* Weeks of tough talks ahead to form new government

By Rania El Gamal and Khalid al-Ansary

BAGHDAD, March 21 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called for a nationwide recount of votes from Iraq's March 7 parliamentary election, warning the country could return to violence if the demand was not met.

The call came after new results from the electoral commission on Saturday showed secularist challenger Iyad Allawi edging ahead of Maliki's bloc by about 8,000 votes with about 93 percent of the counting complete. [ID:nLDE62J092]

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, also issued a statement on Sunday asking the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for a recount in some provinces.

The tight race portends weeks or months of difficult negotiations ahead to form a new government, raising the prospect of a political vacuum that could set back Iraq's fragile security gains.

"There are demands from several political blocs to manually recount the votes and to protect the democratic experience and preserve the credibility of the political process," said Maliki, a Shi'ite who won over many Iraqis with his nationalist rhetoric and steps to crush sectarian violence.

"I call on the High Electoral Commission to respond immediately to the demands of those blocs to preserve the political stability and prevent the security situation from deteriorating and avoid the return of violence," he added in a statement issued late on Saturday.


Iraq's divided vote is a reminder of the country's precarious democracy as it emerges from the shadow of war and years of sectarian slaughter unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Violence fell sharply over the past two years but a tenacious insurgency keeps Iraq under siege as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by 2012.

COMMISSION HEAD QUESTIONS NEED FOR RECOUNT

Faraj al-Haidari, head of the electoral commission, said members would meet on Sunday to discuss Maliki's demand but questioned the need for a recount.

"Why should we respond to do a manual counting? Why? For what reason?" Haidari said. "If there is a glitch, they can file a complaint and say there was a glitch in that station. They say they want a manual count, but this is up to the commissioners' board to decide. We do an accurate electronic count."


The vote counting process has been dogged by allegations of fraud and irregularities.

Supporters of Maliki's State of Law coalition complained of vote fraud last week and asked for a recount in Baghdad after initial results showed their candidate trailing the Iraqiya bloc led by Allawi, a Shi'ite former prime minister with wide support among minority Sunnis.

The IHEC had said the count was fair and included multiple checks against fraud.

Maliki and Allawi have been locked in a neck-and-neck race and the lead in the popular vote has changed hands several times. Seats in the 325-member parliament will be allocated on the basis of each coalition's results in each of the 18 provinces, not by the national vote count.

Maliki leads in seven provinces in central and southern Iraq, six of them mainly Shi'ite.

Allawi, who has tried to model himself as a non-sectarian outsider, swept western and northern areas that are home to large numbers of Sunni Arabs. He also holds a narrow lead over the powerful Kurdish ruling party in Kirkuk, the disputed city that is Iraq's northern oil hub.

Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is one of two groups that have dominated Kurdish politics for decades. The alliance of the two leads in three provinces. (Editing by Noah Barkin)

------------



Iraq vote results near, Maliki backers urge recount
26 Mar 2010 12:20:49 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Maliki supporters urge recount in Baghdad demonstration

* Final preliminary vote results released 1600 GMT Friday

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD, March 26 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's supporters demanded a manual recount of Iraq's election result on Friday, hours before officials were due to release the final vote tallies.

In the latest in a series of demonstrations that followed Maliki's call for a recount, protesters gathered at Baghdad's provincial government building waving banners that read:
"No, no to fraud" and "Where have our voices gone?"


Iraq's Independent High Electoral Council (IHEC) is to release final preliminary results of the March 7 parliamentary election at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT).

An election official said the top two blocs, Maliki's State of Law and the Iraqiya coalition led by secularist former premier Iyad Allawi, were expected to be one or two seats apart.

The close race has raised tensions in Iraq after an election voters hoped would offer stability after years of sectarian warfare. The tensions foreshadowed potentially divisive talks to form the next government.

Sectarian violence exploded when politicians took more than five months to agree a government after the last parliamentary vote in 2005. Tens of thousands of people were killed.

All of the major parties have alleged irregularities in the election. However, Maliki and his supporters have been most outspoken as the last published results put Allawi's bloc ahead in the national count by about 11,000 votes.

"We condemn the work of IHEC and cases of fraud that have occurred for the benefit of the Iraqiya list," said protester Arkan Shahab, 47.

"The process of fraud that has openly occurred and the abolition of the will of the Iraqi people will have severe consequences for the perpetrators."


Foreign diplomats and analysts have expressed concern about the possibility of renewed violence if the losing parties refuse to accept the results. Violence has dropped dramatically in the last two years but attacks blamed on Sunni insurgents occur daily.

Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad's security spokesman, said security forces were not imposing a curfew but would be ready for any signs of trouble as the vote results were released.

"We have a heavy deployment of troops in all areas, checkpoints, to reassure people and address their concerns," he said. (Additional reporting by Khalid al-Ansary, writing by Jim Loney, editing by Janet Lawrence)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shahbaz has alienated Punjab, hurt feelings









* Punjab governor says statement has damaged image of provincial harmony
* PML-N is heir to Gen Zia’s legacy
* Statement ‘tantamount to bowing to Taliban’

Staff Report

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s statement, asking the Taliban not to target Punjab, has alienated the province from the rest of the country as well as hurt the sentiments of the people of Punjab, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Monday.

“The statement has damaged the image of provincial harmony in the country, as Punjab is the largest stakeholder in the war against terror. Shahbaz’s statement has proved that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is a provincial party, as it has disassociated Punjab from other provinces and hurt the sentiments of Punjabis,” he said while talking to journalists at the 2nd convocation of the Pak-Aims Institute of Management Sciences at Aiwan-e-Iqbal.

“If Punjab provides protection to such elements it would nurture sectarian sentiments,” he said, adding that Shahbaz’s statement would have long lasting effects on the PML-N’s political history. The governor said the statement negated the founding principles of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, adding the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had always worked for the strengthening of the federation. He advised the PML-N not to claim allegiance to Benazir Bhutto’s mission, “as the PML-N has alienated itself from Benazir’s political mission by aligning itself with the Taliban and their supporters”.

Heir: “It is not the stance of the Benazir Bhutto… it is the viewpoint of Gen Ziaul Haq,” he said, adding the PML-N was the heir to Gen Ziaul Haq’s legacy.

To another question, Taseer said the CM’s statement was tantamount to bowing to the Taliban and sectarian elements in the province.

“It is unfortunate that the statement has come at a time when our armed forces are engaged in a war against the terrorists,” the governor said.

To a question, he said terrorists did not respect any treaties. Referring to Sufi Muhammad, he said that he misused time and opportunity in the name of reconciliation provided to him in Swat.

Commenting on Shahbaz’s statement of maintaining anti-US policies, he said that history was a witness to who had sought US help after Kargil.

He said the CM’s statement had clarified the Punjab government’s support for the Taliban, adding that the Anti-Terrorism Act clearly defines that whoever supports and promotes terrorists is their ally.

The governor asked Shahbaz to clarify whether he wished to promote Talibanisation in Punjab.

---

Nighat Orakzai offers dupatta to Shahbaz Sharif

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Nighat Orakzai on Monday removed her ‘dupatta’ and threw it on the floor during the NWFP Assembly session on Monday, asking the Punjab chief minister (CM) to wear it, in protest against a statement given by him in which he asked the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to “spare the province of Punjab from its terrorist activities”.

According to a private TV channel, the PML-Q MPA said that if Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is so scared of the Taliban, then he should starting wearing a ‘dupatta’. She said the Punjab CM’s statement had revealed that he was only concerned for the safety of his province, and called it a “betrayal” of those killed in terrorist activities in the NWFP.

Speaking at a seminar held at the Jamia Naeemia Mosque on March 14 (Sunday), the Punjab CM had said, “Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his term in office, but we, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opposed the former president’s policies and rejected the dictation being received from abroad. If the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause, then they should not carry out acts of terror in the province of Punjab [where the PML-N is the ruling party].”

However, later defending his statement, the Punjab CM said that his remarks were ‘misinterpreted’ and taken out of context. He said that he has always spoken in support of all victims of terrorist activities, especially the people of the NWFP who are bearing the brunt of the majority of terrorist attacks in the country.


---

Punjab CM’s speech sparks heated debate in NWFP assembly


PESHAWAR, March 15 (APP): Heated debate was witnessed in NWFP Assembly on Monday over reported statement of Punjab Chief Minister, Muhammad Shabaz Sharif regarding terrorism in Punjab. The issue was raised in the House by MPA Saqibullah Khan Chamkani of ANP while speaking on a point of order.

Saqibullah Chamkani observed that Punjab Chief Minister might be misreported by Press as the statement is against the policy of government for curbing militancy and terrorism.

He said Punjab government should issue a clarification as the Province is not a sole affectee of terrorism, but the whole country is facing this menace.

The issue gave an opportunity to MPA of PML(Q), Nighat Orakzai who took the floor and started severe criticism over the comments of Punjab Chief Minister.

Nighat alleged that Shabaz Sharif has proved that he is just the Chief Minister of Punjab and has no concerns with other parts of the country.

Remarks of Nighat Orakzai prompted MPA Munawar Khan of PML(N) to respond and clarify the position of his leader.

Munawar Khan said that opposition of PML(N) leadership over renaming of NWFP as ‘Pukhtoonkhwa’ is the reason behind campaign launched to malign the image of Shabaz Sharif.

The speech of Munawar Khan was interrupted by a number of MPAs who wanted to explain their point on the issue and at some times pandemonium prevailed in the assembly and Speaker had to request the members to be calm and sit on their seats.

However taking the floor, Provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussain said Punjab has performed the role of big brother during the migration of IDPs from Malakand division.

He said Punjab Chief Minister might be misreported by press and he suggested Shabaz Sharif to clarify his position as the statement referred to him is harmful to the efforts being made for curbing militancy.

Mian Iftikhar said government’s stance on terrorism was very clear that no leniency would be showed to militants and country would be completely purged from such elements.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Airports under terror threat?

* Circular says terrorist code-named ‘Asadullah’ given anti-aircraft machine gun and ZGO gun to target twin cities

By Shahnawaz Khan

LAHORE: The terrorists’ next possible target site can be the airport, which can lead to an attempt to highjack aircrafts, sources told Daily Times on Sunday.

The security forces have already foiled several bids to smuggle weapons onto aircrafts. In two recent attempts, the forces arrested passengers from the Karachi and Lahore airports trying to bring weapons onboard the aircraft.

On March 10, authorities arrested a passenger who tried to bring a pistol and explosive material on board a Dubai-bound flight of a private airline at the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi. The arrested man was a resident of Rajanpur.

Authorities are still conducting an investigation to determine if the arrested man had any other accomplice travelling on the same flight, sources said.

Similarly on Saturday (March 13), the security forces foiled another attempt to bring a weapon onboard a Karachi-bound flight at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore. The security personnel recovered a disassembled pistol from the hand-carry luggage of a passenger. Sources said the criminal had tried to bring the disassembled parts of the weapon in two separate luggage bags.

The Punjab Home Department has alerted the police and other law enforcement agencies against threats of terrorist activities at sensitive locations in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore, and directed them to take effective preventive measures.

A circular issued by the Punjab Home Department stated that a group of suicide bombers have been trained to target Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore. The group has been provided with suicide jackets and Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (RCIDs), it said.

The circular stated that a terrorist code-named ‘Asadullah’ has been given an anti-aircraft machine gun and a ZGO gun. These guns have been mounted on hill-tops for hitting targets in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the circular stated.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The British Feudal System of Tenure & Sovereignty

The Feudal System of Tenure

To fully appreciate today’s ownership structure, a brief overview of British feudalism is necessary. After the fall of the Saxon empire in 1066 to King William of Normandy, a military regime was imposed on the entire English countryside. Under this regime, a land-holding system was instituted known as feudalism. Through this system, King William appointed approximately 1,500 tenants-in-chief who became the King’s principal tenants of all England, thus becoming in turn the lords of the land (or landlords) of the entire domain. The tenants-in-chief, who were the principal lords of the realm, did not own the land, but were merely tenants of their king. Payment by services of different kinds was demanded by the sovereign for allowing the lords to occupy these large tracts of land. The lords, in return, were allowed to sublet.

A system of parcelling land was established that allowed the respective tenants to pay with goods and services. This system was one of tenure, or the holding of land subject to some superior right rather than ownership. The type of tenure held was related to the duties owed to the landlord, the payment exacted became traditional with each type of tenure so that if one knew the nature of services due, one could identify the type of tenancy held.

---

Lords of the Realm
Lords of the Realm
Buy Now

* Platform: IBM PC Compatible
* Release Date: 1994
* Genre: Strategy
* Style: 2D Turn-Based Strategy
* Similar Games: Lords of the Realm II (IBM PC Compatible), Kingmaker (IBM PC Compatible), Lords of the Realm II (Macintosh)

Game Description
In this medieval strategy game, you and five other Lords of the Realm are contesting for the English throne. It's the year 1268 and you must coordinate all activities of your kingdom , monitor progress and make necessary decisions that affect the daily life and routine of your subjects. You must also become an expert in all matters regarding the feudal system of government, castle building and defense, war and diplomacy. The game contains 3-D rendered animation, turn-based game play, multi-player options (modem, same screen), map and scenario of medieval Germany, professional voice actors and digitized speech, realtime battles and a host of options to customize game play. The game requires a mouse for executing the menu-based system and a number of keyboard equivalents are available. Lords of the Realm has three unique gameplay levels (economy, warfare and limited visibility) with five sub-levels of difficulty. Management takes place at both the Kingdom and County levels with specific characteristics and requirements defining each. Extensive documentation on game play, historical perspective, castle siege, battle management and a comprehensive tutorial round out the package.


---

sov·er·eign (sŏv'ər-ĭn, sŏv'rĭn) pronunciation
n.

1. One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit, as:
1. A king, queen, or other noble person who serves as chief of state; a ruler or monarch.
2. A national governing council or committee.
2. A nation that governs territory outside its borders.
3. A gold coin formerly used in Great Britain.

adj.

1. Self-governing; independent: a sovereign state.
2. Having supreme rank or power: a sovereign prince.
3. Paramount; supreme: Her sovereign virtue is compassion.
4.
1. Of superlative strength or efficacy: a sovereign remedy.
2. Unmitigated: sovereign contempt.


---
Exacted
# To force the payment or yielding of; extort: exact tribute from a conquered people.
# To demand and obtain by or as if by force or authority: a harsh leader who exacts obedience.

Iraq PM leads in early results from oil hub Basra

14 Mar 2010 13:11:31 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds vote figures)

BAGHDAD, March 14 (Reuters) - A list led by Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had a wide lead in early results from the southern oil hub of Basra a week after Iraq's parliamentary election, the country's electoral commission said on Sunday.

Basra will be at the heart of huge oilfield development projects by foreign firms.

Maliki's State of Law coalition had 219,657 votes compared to 121,497 for a fellow Shi'ite list, the Iraqi National Alliance, which has close ties to Iran.

Iraqiya, a secular, cross-sectarian alliance led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, had 36,093 votes. The totals represented 63 percent of the vote in Basra province. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Khalid al-Ansary; editing by Philippa Fletcher)


----

Dr Allawi campaign is financed by the Americans, the British, the Saudis and Pigs of the Gulf. He has 38 body guards and travel using private jets. Most of his former ministers were accused of bribery and theft. Ayman Al-Samarrai, the minister of electricity stole $30 million. His defence minister was accused of purchasing useless weapons from Poland and cashing $200 milion in the process. Under the American occupation, Iraqi governments turned the country int a haven for crooks.

Is it Joe Biden or Joe the Plumber?

By Saeed Minhas

ISLAMABAD: Whether members of the National Assembly were too cautious or too fearful of speaking against the United States remained a big question when hardly three parliamentarians in the Lower House stood up on Friday to talk about the tale of our six senators who had to curtail their US State Department-sponsored visit to Washington in protest against the full-body scanning policy.

Even outside the House, very few wanted to say anything on record as some more sponsored trips to the US are in the pipeline for the parliamentarians, perhaps even for their children and other family members. Currently, children of a few ministers (including the law minister) and some watchdog groups (read PILDAT) are on a tour, revealed a visibly upset senator from FATA. He said many more had made a beeline to enjoy the State Department’s generosity for their children and for themselves by hovering around public affairs’ officers and the US ambassador in Islamabad.

Since our ever-absent Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi failed to grace the House for a successive third session, his second-in-command, Major (r) Malik Amad managed to hush up the matter by telling the House that it is being investigated and the senators should have taken the Foreign Office into confidence before accepting such offers. But he too failed to tell the House that it’s beyond his department’s preview to seek exemption for anybody. His department even failed to provide a proper protocol to premier Gilani during his first visit to the US when only an under-secretary of state received Gilani and his wife and that too not at the apron where a red carpet or an ordinary one was laid, but in the reception room towards which the premier and his wife had to walk after disembarking from the aircraft.

An outspoken member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a party which carries the portfolio of anti-imperialism, agreed to speak but on condition of anonymity. On why he was shying away from speaking against a country who has never been in their good books, he said, “So much has changed in the past decade or so that it’s better to avoid unnecessary confrontation.”

Finding such a symbolic gesture from a party which has always stood against the US despite that it fought the Afghan jihad war on the CIA-sponsored stingers, weapons and medicines left only a few reporters in awe. But this shows why the US had never asked to ban this organisation, but all others involved with the CIA in the past.

However, off-the-record, everyone was churning out remarks about the recent report of the US State Department on human rights which highlighted every sin committed in this country by police, judiciary, government and politicians, including NRO beneficiaries, besides praising the heroic lawyers’ movement. However, the FATA senator while sitting in the galleries and fuming with anger whispered to the journalists nearby if this report mention Joe Biden (the US vice president) being “involved” in our “heroic” lawyers’ movement? What followed was just reactionary: a group of flabbergasted journalists was led by the senator out to the assembly cafeteria, where the senator was like a hot cake and everyone was trying to get a pie.

“It all started by the State Department trying to get rid of Musharraf during the last days of president Bush, but the task was handed over to Biden after his elections in November 2008 as vice president,” he added. He asked to recall when the leaders of the lawyers’ movement were “summoned” to visit the US, and without waiting for our response, he said it was November 2008. He claimed that it’s an open secret in the power corridors of the country and since these satellite rulers of our
beloved country are so powerful that no one wants to annoy them, these things would never come on record.

Coming back to the issue of the six senators, he launched himself into a typical chest-beating style to say that had this been an issue of Punjabi senators, the entire House would have taken it more seriously. But since his provincialism was of no use for any one, journalists kept bringing him back to his earlier disclosure about Joe Biden’s involvement.

By then, perhaps, his guts had also buckled and all he kept repeating was “you will be able to get much more details about this, once the State Department declassifies its information in the next 10 to 15 years and if not banned by the then Pakistani government, people would come to know how a genuine public movement was hijacked by a few self-claimed leaders.”

Since I have been covering the 2008 US elections and know the impact of “Joe the Plumber” on them, I dared to ask him if it was Joe Biden or plumber to which he said “it’s Joe Biden not the other one”.

"No Democracy under Occupation“, Fisk

By Robert Fishk, The independent.co.uk, 07.03.10

Democracy doesn't seem to work when countries are occupied by Western troops
In 2005 the Iraqis walked in their tens of thousands through the thunder of suicide bombers, and voted – the Shias on the instructions of their clerics, the Sunnis sulking in a boycott – to prove Iraq was a "democracy". There followed the most blood-boltered period in Iraq's modern history. Yesterday, the Iraqis walked in their tens of thousands through the thunder of mortar fire-at least 24 dead before voting stations closed-to prove that Iraq was a "democracy".


This time, the Sunnis did vote. And we Westerners tried to forget the past, even the recent past. Few news reports recalled that only weeks ago hundreds of candidates, most of them Sunnis, were banned from standing on the grounds that they had once had links with the Baath Party. It was a clear return to sectarian politics. Shias who were close to Saddam still hold their jobs in the "democratic" Iraq for which the Iraqis supposedly went to vote yesterday.


Under Iraq's new laws, the electoral system has been jiggled to ensure that no single party can win power. There has got to be a coalition, an alliance-or a "broad alliance" as the television analysts were telling us-among whomever of the 6,000 candidates from 86 parties gain seats in parliament. But all this means is that the next sectarian government will hold power according to the percentage of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities in Iraq.


The West has always preferred this system in the Middle East, knowing that such "democracy" will produce governments according to the confessional power of each community. We've done this in Northern Ireland. We did it in Cyprus. The French created a Lebanon whose very identity is confessional, each community living in suspicious love of each other lest they be destroyed. Even in Afghanistan, we prefer to deal with the corrupt Hamid Karzai -held in disdain by most of his fellow Pushtuns-and allow him to rule on our behalf with an army largely made up of paid tribal supporters.

This may not be-in the State Department's laughable excuse-"Jeffersonian democracy", but it's the best we are going to get.
And always we defend these miserable results with the same refrain. Do you want the Taliban back? Do you want Saddam back? Or, in the cases of Cyprus and Lebanon decades ago, do you want the Ottoman Turks back? And while we think that election results-however fraudulent or however complex (Iraq's next government may take months to form)-are an improvement, we do not stop to ask who really wins these elections. Iran, whose demented president knows how to handle "democratic" polls, is of course the victor. Its two enemies, the "black Taliban" and Saddam, have both been vanquished without a single Iranian firing a shot.


Sunni politicians in Iraq claim that Iran is interfering, both militarily and politically, in Iraq. But since most of the current ruling parties were nurtured in the Islamic Republic, Iran has no need to interfere. The Dawa Party, to whom we now graciously bend the knee in respect, was 20 years ago kidnapping foreigners in Beirut, and bombing the US and French embassies in Kuwait City. And we are not even mentioning Mosul and other cities in northern Iraq, where the elections are not about democracy at all, but about who controls the oil on the Arab-Kurdish front lines.

Yes, the Iraqis are a brave people. How many Brits would go to the polls under mortar fire? Or Americans, for that matter? It's not that Muslims don't want freedom or democracy. It's that "democracy" doesn't seem to work when their countries are occupied by Western troops. It didn't work in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of American "combat" troops from Iraq doesn't mean that US forces won't remain in great strength.

And as long as the Mubaraks and the King Abdullahs (both of them) have our uncritical political support, their nations will make no real progress towards freedom.



Thus yesterday's election day in Iraq does not represent further proof of the values of our Western democracies. It does mean that a courageous people still believes that the system under which it is voting will honour its wishes.

As so often in the past, however, the election is more likely-under our benevolent eye-to enshrine the very sectarianism which Saddam once used so ruthlessly to enslave his people.
Well, who is going to force the wild American horse to drink civilised Arab water? Don't forget that Judaissm (with Tora as its Mein Kamp) and Christianity didn't mention how people should be governed, But Islam did. It clearly stipulated that the leaders should be clected by a consensus (Shura)

Separation of church and state has suffered since America launched the Jewish wars on Islam. G.W. Bush and his Jewish advisors have declared a crusade against Islam which is on-going under Obama's Jewish infested Whitehouse.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Govt gives 7-point demand list to Mehsuds

Sunday, March 14, 2010





* Demands include handover of 300-plus wanted terrorists, no shelter to non-locals, ban on heavy weapons, no parallel administrative or judicial system

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: The government on Saturday handed over a seven-point list of demands to the Mehsud tribes to set ‘ground rules’ for the return of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes in South Waziristan where the military launched an offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last October, officials said.

The list includes the demand for the handover of over 300 wanted terrorists, including TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, and also demands a guarantee from the Mehsud tribes that they would no longer provide shelter to ‘non-locals’.

Official sources told Daily Times that South Waziristan political agent Shahab Ali Shah handed over the list during a Mehsud tribes’ jirga in Tank city.

Committee: A 12-member committee was formed at the end of the consultative council to discuss the government demands amongst Mehsud tribesmen and later with the administration.

The government is seeking ‘firm commitment’ from the Mehsud tribes to ensure that the TTP terrorists stay out of their areas once the IDPs have returned. However, the tribes do not appear to be ‘strong enough’ to keep TTP out of their areas.

Other jirga members told Daily Times said it was to “hope against hope” that the tribes would hand over the wanted Taliban. “The militants are very strong and we are not. However, if all the tribes unite, this can happen,” the members said.

ANALYSIS: Uncertain future? —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi




Pakistan cannot be described as a failed state, but it is not a success story either. Pakistan is a troubled state that faces the threat of going under due mainly to internal problems and external pressures. However, it also has the potential to overcome these challenges and shape up as a reasonably effective state

A widely shared concern at the international level is Pakistan’s uncertain future. This perspective questions the long-range capacity of the Pakistani state to effectively fulfil its obligations towards the citizenry and the international community.

Several predictions of catastrophic end were made before and after the break-up of Pakistan in 1971. The popular civilian leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto surmounted the crisis of confidence in the immediate aftermath of the separation of Bangladesh. However, the issue of Pakistan’s troubled and uncertain future continued to haunt the Pakistani and other political analysts and historians.

In 1983, Tariq Ali published his book Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State, that attributed Pakistan’s “chronic instability” to its internal contradictions and regional geopolitical factors against the backdrop of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution. He went on to suggest that,
“the question which now increasingly haunts the new generation in Pakistan is not simply whether the country can survive, but whether its existence was necessary in the first place.”


A varying degree of pessimism about the future direction of Pakistan’s political system was expressed by a couple of other writers. However, these predictions did not come true and Pakistan managed to cope with the challenges.

In the early1990s, a new notion of ‘failed state’ emerged out of the internal turmoil in Somalia and a couple of other African states like Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. These developments were described as ‘the coming of anarchy’ from the perspective of the major players in the international system, especially the US.

Some writers attempted to fix the label of a failed state on Pakistan. Others thought that Pakistan was a ‘failing’ rather than ‘failed’ state. Several writers on Pakistan who thought that Pakistan could not be compared with Somalia and Rwanda where the nation-state structure and institutions had totally collapsed and the economy was in ruins effectively challenged this perspective. Pakistan faces enormous problems but its state institutions like the bureaucracy and the military continue to be effective to sustain the state system. Pakistan’s political institutions and processes and societal operations cannot be described as being close to some ruinous end. The economy, though troubled, is much better than African states like Somalia and the Sudan.

Pakistan cannot be described as a failed state, but it is not a success story either. Pakistan is a troubled state that faces the threat of going under due mainly to internal problems and external pressures. However, it also has the potential to overcome these challenges and shape up as a reasonably effective state. Pakistan can go either way: decline and fragment or emerge as a functional democracy and middle-level economy. It cannot turn itself into a coherent democracy and stable economy without international financial, technical and diplomatic support.

Pakistan faces four key challenges: religious extremism and terrorism, poor governance, feeble economy that is heavily dependent on external assistance and the misplaced priorities of the political class.

Religious extremism and militancy are the most serious internal threats to societal harmony, political stability and economic poise. The bomb explosions in Karachi in the course of the Muharram (December) and Chehlum (February) processions were stark reminders of the threat of Islamic-sectarianism. The off-again and on-again conflict in Kurram Agency during 2007-2009 and the killings of the Hazaras in and around Quetta in the past manifested the same malice. The Ahmadi community has often been a target of the wrath of Islamic zealots. The Gojra incident (2009) against the Christian community was another example of increased religious intolerance.

The major cities of Pakistan, especially Peshawar, were hit by a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions during October-December 2009 as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) retaliated against the military action in South Waziristan. As long as religious extremism and terrorist activities in the name of Islam are not curbed, Pakistan will find it difficult to come out of its current predicament.

The federal government is so occupied with terrorism-related issues that it does not have time and resources to improve governance and ensure the quality of life for the ordinary people. Administrative laxity, incoherent management of public affairs, corruption and lack of accountability of officials have adversely affected the output of the government, causing much alienation at the level of the common person.

The feeble economy is the most serious constraint on the capacity of the Pakistani state and the government to perform its primary duties towards the citizenry. Both federal and provincial governments appear helpless in the face of strong economic mafias that manipulate supplies to markets to increase prices of essential commodities.

The economy has also suffered due to acute electric power and gas shortages and the federal and provincial governments have no vision to cope with these problems that have increased joblessness and poverty. The economy is heavily dependent on foreign economic assistance and remittances from overseas Pakistanis. There is no vision to reduce dependence on external economic assistance.

Pakistan is not likely to come out of its current socio-economic difficulties in the near future. This increases the threat of anarchy, if not total collapse, in many parts of Pakistan. Some people would argue that Pakistan already faces an anarchic situation in several areas.

What appears most tragic is that the political leaders and other politically active circles have misplaced priorities. They devote less attention to the above-mentioned threats and pay more attention to advancing their partisan agendas. Their key interests appear to be how to get rid of Zardari; will there be a clash between the Supreme Court and the executive; illegally constructed plazas and buildings need to be pulled own; and how to restrain the government from pursuing security action against the Taliban.

The opposition hardly offers any alternate vision on coping with terrorism and reviving the economy. These issues surface in their political discourse only for criticising the government.

There is hardly any thinking about the imperatives of the new security situation against the backdrop of India’s offer to Pakistan to initiate a dialogue and the US decision to step up military activity in Afghanistan while seeking the political option of reconciliation with selected Taliban. What are Pakistani stakes in these contexts? What are the options available to Pakistan at the operational level in view of economic and political constraints?

Pakistan needs to ease tensions on its borders in order to devote more attention to putting its internal political and economic house in order. Pakistan should work towards reducing its liabilities on the border with India and Afghanistan. The dialogue offer needs to be fully explored to cool down the situation on the India-Pakistan border and the LoC. For Afghanistan, it should not return to the highly intrusive policy of the pre-September 2001 period. It should work towards facilitating internal harmony and stability in Afghanistan without betting on some horse.

A low profile regional posture will give enough time to the civilian government and the political leadership to address the political and economic problems. The military will also have more time to cope with religious extremism and terrorism inside Pakistan. There is a need to draw strength from within which is not possible without strengthening the economy and increasing internal political harmony. This calls for a thorough review of the priorities of the political class and the military top brass.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Friday, March 12, 2010

FACTBOX-Lahore, Pakistan's political nerve centre


http://video.ak.facebook.com/cfs-ak-sf2p/27606/000/659/1411321843385_58640.mp4




Lahore shakes with 4.7-magnitude quake
Updated at: 1215 PST, Sunday, March 14, 2010
LAHORE: Tremors were felt in Lahore and its adjacent areas including Kasur, Geo News reported Sunday.

According to Met Office, the quake was recorded at 4.7 at Richter scale. The epicenter is located in eastern part of Lahore at about 178 kilometers in Northern parts of India.

The tremors were felt in Gujranwala and Sargodha and its suburbs.

Panicked people came out on road.


12 Mar 2010 12:48:21 GMT
Source: Reuters
(For full Pakistan and Afghanistan coverage, click [ID:nAFPAK])

By Zeeshan Haider

March 12 (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers targeting the Pakistani military killed 45 people and wounded about 100 in the city of Lahore on Friday, officials said, in the biggest militant attack in the country this year. [ID:nSGE62B0B6]

Following are some facts about the city of Lahore.

WHY IS LAHORE IMPORTANT?

* Lahore is capital of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous and prosperous province, and has a population of more than 5 million.

* Lahore is also regarded as the heart of the country's powerful ruling establishment because traditionally it is home to the country's top bureaucrats and military top brass.

* The country's second-biggest city, with Mughal-era ruins and elegant, British colonial-era architecture, Lahore is also known as Pakistan's cultural centre.

* Punjab is Pakistan's main agricultural province and home to much of its industry.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE IN LAHORE

* Lahore had been generally free of militant violence over the years after 2001, when Pakistan joined the U.S.-led campaign against militancy and violence began increasing.

* However, over the past couple of years, violence has been increasing in the city.

* Gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lanka's national cricket team outside a Lahore stadium in March 2009, killing seven Pakistanis and wounding six Sri Lankan cricketers and a British coach.

* That same month, militants stormed a police training centre in the city killing eight recruits, wounding scores and holding off police and troops for eight hours.

* Twenty-four people were killed in car-bomb attack at police headquarters in the city in May last year.

* Forty-nine people were killed in an attack in a crowded market in the city in December.

* Thirteen people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a police intelligence building in Lahore on Monday.

* Lahore is also home to the headquarters of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a major militant group fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region. While the LeT has not launched attacks in Pakistan, India accused it of being behind the November 2008 attack in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

POLITICS OF LAHORE

* Punjab province returns 183 members of the 342-seat National Assembly and, as such, the provincial capital is considered the country's political nerve-centre although the seat of government is Islamabad, 260 km (160 miles) to the northwest.

* Lahore is the home city and a stronghold of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The party of President Asif Ali Zardari also has considerable support in the city.

* The two parties are in an uneasy coalition in the Punjab provincial government, although they oppose each other at the federal level and will go head-to-head in the next general election, due in 2013.

(Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait) (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)

Iraq's election race tight as results delayed again

12 Mar 2010 11:11:58 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Still no clear result in Iraq vote

* PM Maliki leads early count in Shi'ite areas

* No tally yet for Baghdad, the big prize

By Rania El Gamal

BAGHDAD, March 12 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had a modest lead over rival Shi'ites, partial results from Iraq's tight election race showed on Friday, but a secularist challenger remained far ahead among Iraqi Sunnis.

The race may remain too close to call until initial results are posted for all of Iraq's 18 provinces, including pivotal areas like Baghdad, the ethnically and religiously diverse capital city that is home to at least 6 million people.

Initial results for five provinces have been released so far, showing Maliki's State of Law coalition ahead of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition of powerful Shi'ite parties -- but only by about 16 percent.

The picture following Iraq's March 7 parliamentary poll, a milestone seven years after Saddam Hussein's ouster, was further muddled by another delay by Iraqi electoral officials in giving complete initial results and by growing accusations of fraud.

Complaints of serious fraud mark an inauspicious start to what will likely be long, fractious talks to form Iraq's next government. Violence may have receded, but it lurks under the surface in a country where sectarian wounds have not healed and major questions about land and oil remain unsettled.

Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya list, a cross-sectarian, secularist alliance, was well ahead in two northern provinces home to large numbers of minority Sunnis.

Officials at the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said more results would likely be released on Friday.

Hamdiya al-Husseini, a top IHEC official, dismissed charges of serious fraud coming from Allawi's camp, including reports that ballots were discovered in the garbage and more than 200,000 soldiers' names were missing from voting rosters.

"The process of counting and sorting ballots is going well, with the presence of observers from political parties and under international supervision," Husseini said.

United Nations officials, who are advising IHEC, downplayed the reports of fraud.

SLOW GOING

The coming period is crucial for the Obama administration, facing an escalating war in Afghanistan, as it plans to halve its troop force by Sept. 1 and withdraw fully by end-2011.

Leading world energy firms will be watching closely to see what sort of government emerges to take over the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts they have signed with Iraq.

There are also worrying precedents: After Iraq's last parliamentary election in late 2005, sectarian violence exploded as politicians took months to settle on a government.

Even if Maliki beats out Shi'ite rivals, he will likely need to ally with one or two other blocs to form the next government.

Yet he may face opposition to another term from coalition partners who resent his transformation into a forceful leader who has built up power as premier and taken on Shi'ite militias.

The gulf between Maliki and Allawi, a secular Shi'ite who governed Iraq from 2004-05, widened ahead of the polls as Allawi criticised the ban of hundreds of candidates, including leading Sunni Arabs from Iraqiya, from the elections over suspected ties to Saddam's Baath party. Maliki supported the ban.

U.N. officials acknowledged the counting was taking longer than expected, but defended IHEC officials who they said were grappling with a complicated system set up to thwart fraud.

But confusion has reigned at tally centres, and even IHEC commissioners have seemed unsure of the process.

Adding to that are technical challenges. The IHEC computer system used to enter polling data had slowed or been taken offline intermittently for maintenance, U.N. officials said.

"It is fixed now," said Usama al-Ani, an IHEC commissioner. "God willing, if there are no more technical problems, we can post initial results from at least another three provinces today." (Additional reporting by Muhanad Mohamed and Waleed Ibrahim; Writing by Missy Ryan; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

Lahore suicide attacks: five security men among 57 dead so far














5AadpsdPPWE



Updated at: 1515 PST, Friday, March 12, 2010
LAHORE: Two suicide attackers blew themselves up near security forces vehicles in R A Bazar area of South Cantt as crowds gathered for Friday prayers killing at least 39 people including five security personnel and injuring 95, Geo News reported.

"Thirty-nine people were killed and 95 wounded in the attacks," Inspector General Police Punjab Tariq Salim Dogar told reporters after visiting the blast site.

"We have collected concrete technical evidence, which will help identify the attackers. Both the attackers were on foot," he added.

Five security men were dead and 15 injured in the attack, security sources said.

"There were two suicide bombers who attacked two military vehicles within the space of 15 seconds," SSP Operations Mohammad Shafiq told Geo News.

"The heads of both attackers have been found," he said.

Rescue workers and paramedics rushed to the R A Bazaar, a densely populated area of the city. The area was crowded as the blasts occurred shortly before the main Friday prayers were to start.

Emergency has been declared in city hospitals and injured were shifted to CMH and other hospitals.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and traffic was blocked. Media was not allowed to go near the scene.

---

Both the bombers were on foot, SSP Operations Chaudhry Shafiq told Geo News.

Six security men were among the dead, he added.

Director General Rescue 1122 told Geo News that 20 people have been killed and forty injured.

Rescue workers and paramedics rushed to the R A Bazaar, a densely populated area of the city. The area was crowded as the blasts occurred shortly before the main Friday prayers were to start.

Emergency has been declared in city hospitals and injured were shifted to CMH and other hospitals.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and traffic was blocked. Media was not allowed to go near the scene.

The blasts came four days after a suicide car bomber destroyed offices

---



Suicide blasts in Pakistan's Lahore kill 45
12 Mar 2010 12:20:58 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Military targeted by two suicide bombers

* Taliban attacks despite security crackdowns

* Stocks fall after news of blasts, recover later (Updates casualties)

By Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 12 (Reuters) - Suicide bombers targeting the Pakistani military killed at least 45 people in Lahore on Friday, officials said, in a challenge to government assertions that crackdowns have weakened Taliban insurgents.

"Two suicide bombers attacked within the span of 15 to 20 seconds and they were on foot," provincial police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar told reporters.

The dead in the attack, the bloodiest this year, in a military neighbourhood of the city near the border with India included nine soldiers, military officials said. Almost 100 were wounded. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For full coverage of Pakistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK]

For an analysis, click on [ID:nSGE62A03O] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Pakistani authorities have said security crackdowns have weakened al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants fighting to topple the U.S.-backed government.

But the Taliban have renewed pressure on unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari, who faces calls from opponents to hand over his strongest powers to the prime minister.

If that does not happen, Pakistan could face new political turmoil while being pressed to defeat the Taliban.

There have been five blasts this week alone, including a car bomb suicide attack on a police intelligence building in Lahore on Monday that killed 13 people, and a shooting and bombing at a U.S.-based aid agency that killed 6 in the northwest.

STUBBORN INSURGENCY

Aside from facing a stubborn insurgency at home, Pakistan is also under heavy American pressure to open a new front and go after Afghan Taliban militants in border sanctuaries, a move that would tax its stretched military.

While Taliban bases have been smashed in government offensives in militant strongholds such as South Waziristan, fighters have a history of melting away to rugged areas which are hard for the military to penetrate.

"The militant network is not substantially or reasonably damaged and they are still capable of striking," said analyst Khadim Hussain.


A Reuters photographer said soldiers cordoned off the site of Friday's blasts and were not allowing anyone to approach. Troops were deployed on the rooftops of houses. An army helicopter was flying over the area.

Rescue workers with stretchers rushed towards the blast site.

Police official Mohammad Shafiq told reporters the heads of both attackers had been found. Suicide bombers often strap explosives to their bodies and the blasts take off their heads.

Pakistani markets have mostly shrugged off violence, which has spread from militant strongholds in the northwest near the Afghan border to major cities. But Friday's blast had an impact on trading, dealers said.

"The market entered the negative zone only because of the bomb blasts in Lahore and it is likely that investors will be more cautious now, ahead of the weekend, due to security fears," said Sajid Bhanji, a dealer at brokers' Arif Habib Ltd.

However, the main KSE <.KSE> index later recovered and was trading 1.4 percent higher.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned the blasts in a statement, vowing "terrorism will never be allowed to succeed in its nefarious designs". (Additional reporting by Augustine Anthony, Zeeshan Haider and Sahar Ahmed; Writing by by Michael Georgy; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait) (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)

--------------


Twin suicide attacks seconds apart targeted the Pakistani military Friday, killing up to 45 people in the second attack to hit security forces in the country's cultural capital this week. The bombers walked up to army vehicles in the crowded R A Bazaar area of Lahore, blowing themselves up as people sat down to eat before the main Muslim weekly prayers were to begin, a senior official said. Lahore, a city of eight million near Pakistan's border with India, has been increasingly subject to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks in a nationwide bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,000 people in three years. The bombers targeted the cantonment, home to army officials and military installations, as well as hospitals and schools run by the military. There were civilian homes, shops and restaurants in the vicinity of the attack. Footage of the blasts broadcast by private Geo TV showed people running and shouting in panic.


One man, who apparently shot the video on a mobile phone, is heard murmuring: "Oh my God, Oh my God, Be kind to us God." Jumpy images of the second explosion showed a thick ball of smoke with a huge bang and people shouting. Mohammad Nadeem, a man in his 20s whose traditional white shalwar khamis was stained with blood down the front, told AFP he was saying prayers in the mosque when he heard the first blast and rushed out only to hear another explosion. "The second blast took place very near a military vehicle. I sensed real danger and started running," he said. "There were scenes of destruction in nearby restaurants and shops. There were broken chairs and tables and other items lying everywhere on the ground." The army sealed off the tree-lined street. Security officials said at least five soldiers were among those killed when the twin blasts shattered windows and sent debris flying from nearby buildings. "Forty-three people were killed and 134 wounded in the attacks," Lahore civil defence department chief Mazhar Ahmad told AFP. But a senior security official put the death toll at 45 and said six army personnel were among the dead. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Pakistan's Taliban claimed a suicide attack Monday that destroyed offices in Lahore used to interrogate militant suspects, killing 15 people, and pledged further attacks. Violence in Pakistan is concentrated largely in the lawless northwest border area with Afghanistan, but analysts have warned that extremism is taking a hold in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous and politically important province. Eight attacks have killed more than 170 people in Lahore over the past year, a historical city, playground for the elite and home to many top brass in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence establishment. "We have the heads of both the bombers. There was an interval of 15 seconds between the two attacks. They were on foot. Their target was army vehicles," added police official Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is on the frontline of the US war on Al-Qaeda, under pressure to act against Islamist militants in the border area with Afghanistan -- which Washington calls the most dangerous place on Earth. The first two months of this year saw a decline in violence by militants in Pakistan after a significant increase in bloodshed in late 2009. Officials linked the reduction to the suspected death -- still not confirmed -- of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and military offensives that have disrupted militant networks. Pakistan's military claims to have made big gains against Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds over the past year, following major offensives in the northwestern district of Swat and the tribal region of South Waziristan. Washington says militants in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt are fuelling the war in Afghanistan, where more than 120,000 NATO and US troops are spearheading a last-ditch strategy to defeat a nine-year Taliban insurgency. Despite a series of reported arrests in Pakistan in recent weeks, scepticism remains on whether its powerful spy agency has made a decisive break with Islamist hardliners after well-established historical ties. Pakistan has confirmed only the arrest of Mullah Adbul Ghani Baradar, described by US officials as the Afghan Taliban number two, but also reported to have been in contact with Afghan government officials.
(AFP/Str)


----------

Terrorists fail to dampen Lahori spirit

* Majority of markets remain open day after series of blasts across city
* Shopkeeper says businesses open to show terrorists they had failed to defeat Lahoris

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: The city showed on Saturday that it would not give into fear and stay indoors as life returned to normalcy after Friday’s twin-suicide blasts in RA Bazaar and low-intensity explosions in Allama Iqbal Town.

Government offices, schools and colleges remained open, along with a number of private institutions, although numbers of students in attendance remained low in public schools.

Also, an impression that private schools remained closed because of the attacks was not justified, as private schools stay closed on the weekends in normal routine. Many business centres were also closed until noon though they opened up in the evening.

Most of the city’s markets, despite closing in the late hours of Friday, were seen open with the exception of two major markets, namely Liberty Market and Hall Road. The markets, which remained open, included DHA commercial markets in H and Y blocks, MM Alam Road, Mehmood Kasuri Road, Ghalib Market, Moon Market, Kareem Block Market, Fortress Stadium, Shahalam Market, Akbari Mandi, Brandth Road, Anarkali, Mozang, Ichhra, Samanabad, Barkat Market, Model Town Link Road, Township Market, Panorama Centre, Yateem Khana, Pakki Thatthi Bazaar and Ghalib Market.

The traders’ body had announced to observe a strike on Saturday to show solidarity with the victims of the RA Bazaar bombings, as well as to avoid any further untoward incidents in the city.

However, most of the shopkeepers decided to open their businesses after the City District Government Lahore announced that government institutions would remain open, with a promise that the provincial government would provide citizens with “maximum possible security”.

The general public, especially businessmen, blamed India for creating such chaos through the resurgent terrorism. People from all walks of life strongly condemned Friday’s horrific incidents, saying terrorist activities were aimed at weakening Pakistan’s economy. They said unscrupulous elements who did not want to see Pakistan as a developed Asian nation were bent on scaring foreign investors away.

They also said they would not let Pakistan’s enemies succeed in their evil intentions and fight terrorism together. They urged the government and opposition parties to sit together and evolve a strategy to counter terrorism. Muhammad Ali, a shopkeeper at Fortress Stadium, told Daily Times that traders had decided to open their shops on Saturday in order to “show the terrorists that they could not scare the city into hiding”.

“It would not be advisable to close up the city, as it would give the terrorists the impression that their bloody campaign had been effective and that they were succeeding in their agenda to impose their ideology upon the masses,” he said.

Naila Mazhar, a customer, said she had come out to shop with her family despite Friday’s blasts. “Giving in to the terrorists and staying at home is not a good idea in the current situation, although life is dear to everyone,” she said, adding that citizens should be aware of the people around them and should support the soldiers who were sacrificing their lives to protect the country.

The Horse and Tattoo Show at the Lahore Race Club also drew a massive crowd, including families, and the Rangers’ officials who performed different activities received a thundering response while the tent-pegging activity also took place.

Several schools in Allama Iqbal Town and Cantonment remained closed on Saturday after Friday’s twin-suicide blasts in RA Bazaar and the low-intensity explosions in Allama Iqbal Town.

Normalcy has returned in the area, however, parents remained apprehensive about sending their children to school. An impression was formed that perhaps the closures meant that school administrations had caved into fear, although it is common practice for most educational institutes to remain closed on the weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top cleric among 5 killed in Karachi



Mufti Saeed among 4 people gunned down in Karachi
Updated at: 0330 PST, Friday, March 12, 2010
KARACHI: Prominent religious clerics and the head of Aalami Khatm-e-Naboowat organization Molana Saeed Jalalpuri were among four people gunned down while another two sustained wounds on Thursday when some unknown assailants opened fire on them, Geo news reported police sources as saying.

SSP Gulshan Javed Mahar told Geo News that the assassination took place on Abul Hassan Isfahani Road in Gulzar Hijri locality of Karachi in the wee hours on Thursday.

Also, two people were taken under custody following the firing incident, he said.

The motive behind the killing was yet to be known.

Four deceased persons were identified as Mufti Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri, Mufti Huzaifa Jalapuri, Mufti Qamar Zaman and Mufti Atiq ur Rheman.

The injured persons have been admitted to hospital for medical attainment while the dead bodies have been deposited in hospital for postmortem, hospital sources said.


Martyred Ulemas’ funeral after Friday prayer
Updated at: 0630 PST, Friday, March 12, 2010
KARACHI: The funeral prayer of the prominent religious cleric and the head of Aalami Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Naboowat organization Molana Saeed Jalalpuri and others will be offered after Friday’s prayer today, while they will be laid to rest within the limits of Molana Yousuf Ludhianvi’s mausoleum, Geo news reported.

Meanwhile, religious scholars have called upon government of Sindh for judicial inquiry into his assassination.

This was decided during a meeting comprising of many religious clerics, which held in Banuri Town late on Thursday night.

Dead bodies of the martyred Molana Mufti Saeed Jalalpuri, his son and others had been shifted to Jamiatul Uloom Islamia located in Banuri Town yesterday.

Talking to newsmen in Banuri Town, Ameer Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Karachi Qari Uthman held the Sindh government responsible for tragic assassination of Mufi Saeed Jalalpuri and others, demanding government of booking the assailants to justice at any cost.

Police have also closed down for traffic, the Jamsheed Road stretched from Guru Mandir to Jail Chowrangi owing to security arrangements, besides deployment of heavy contingents of police and rangers, police sources said.


--


Top cleric among 5 killed in Karachi

* Sipah-e-Sahaba chief in critical condition, four others wounded

KARACHI: At least five people have been killed and four others wounded as unidentified assailants attacked religious leaders from two different groups in separate incidents in the city on Thursday.

Maulana Ghafoor Nadeem: The central leader of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Nadeem was shot en route to the city courts near Annu Bhai Park, Nazimabad No 7. One of his sons, Mavia Nadeem, was killed on the spot, while the SSP leader, his sons Shoaib and Rashid and security guards Nadeem and Waseem were severely injured and rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. They were later shifted to the Liaquat National Hospital, where Maulana Nadeem is said to be in critical condition, while the others are reportedly out of danger. Maulana Nadeem was also serving as the central information secretary of the Ahle-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat (ASJ).

Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri: Seperately, the leader of the Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat, his son and two others were gunned down in Sachal police precincts. According to police, Jalalpuri, his 16-year-old son Huzaifa, friend Fakhar Zaman; and driver Abdul Rehman, were on their way to a mosque where Jalalpuri delivers a sermon every Thursday.

Gunmen on two motorcycles intercepted their car near Post Office Society and opened fire on the vehicle. The injured were taken to the Patel Hospital, where doctors pronounced them death.

The bodies of the victims were then shifted to the Jamia Binoria. Police have reportedly arrested two men suspected of involvement in the killings but no FIR had been registered until the filing of this report. Tensions gripped the city following the attacks, with the Gurumandir area was nearly rendered off-limits as mourners gathered there overnight, while localities including Stadium Road, Nagan Chowrangi, Shah Faisal Colony and Old Golimaar witnessed panic and sporadic firing. atif raza


----


Three Sunni Muslim clerics killed in Pakistan
12 Mar 2010 04:03:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
KARACHI, March 12 (Reuters) - Four people, including three Muslim clerics, were gunned down and one wounded in a drive-by shooting in Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi in a suspected sectarian attack, police said on Friday.

Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri, a senior Sunni Muslim cleric, was ambushed by three gunmen riding on a motor-bike as he was travelling in a car with his three colleagues late on Thursday.

"The attackers opened indiscriminate firing on the car of Mr. Saeed Jalalpuri as he was returning home after delivering a sermon in his mosque," Karachi police chief Wasim Ahmed told Reuters.

Two other clerics and a friend of Jalalpuri travelling in the car were killed while another man was wounded, he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"It is a targeted attack. It could be a sectarian attack. We are looking at all possibilities," Ahmed said.

Earlier on Thursday, gunmen attacked a radical Sunni Muslim cleric, Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem, in the city. Nadeem was wounded but his son was killed in the attack.

Thousands of people have been killed in tit-for-tat attacks by rival militants from Pakistan's majority Sunni and minority Shi'ite Muslim sects in the past two decades.

Thirty-one people were killed, many of them Shi'ites, in two bomb attacks in Karachi last month when Shi'ites were celebrating a religious ceremony.

Forty-three people were killed in a bomb attack on a Shi'ite procession marking Ashura, one of the most important events in the Shi'ite calender, in December. Officials suspect al Qaeda-backed Sunni Muslim militants were behind these attacks. (Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Michael Georgy and Sugita Katyal)

(For full coverage of Pakistan and Afghanistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK] (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)


Three Sunni Muslim clerics killed in Pakistan
12 Mar 2010 04:03:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
KARACHI, March 12 (Reuters) - Four people, including three Muslim clerics, were gunned down and one wounded in a drive-by shooting in Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi in a suspected sectarian attack, police said on Friday.

Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri, a senior Sunni Muslim cleric, was ambushed by three gunmen riding on a motor-bike as he was travelling in a car with his three colleagues late on Thursday.

"The attackers opened indiscriminate firing on the car of Mr. Saeed Jalalpuri as he was returning home after delivering a sermon in his mosque," Karachi police chief Wasim Ahmed told Reuters.

Two other clerics and a friend of Jalalpuri travelling in the car were killed while another man was wounded, he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"It is a targeted attack. It could be a sectarian attack. We are looking at all possibilities," Ahmed said.

Earlier on Thursday, gunmen attacked a radical Sunni Muslim cleric, Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem, in the city. Nadeem was wounded but his son was killed in the attack.

Thousands of people have been killed in tit-for-tat attacks by rival militants from Pakistan's majority Sunni and minority Shi'ite Muslim sects in the past two decades.

Thirty-one people were killed, many of them Shi'ites, in two bomb attacks in Karachi last month when Shi'ites were celebrating a religious ceremony.

Forty-three people were killed in a bomb attack on a Shi'ite procession marking Ashura, one of the most important events in the Shi'ite calender, in December. Officials suspect al Qaeda-backed Sunni Muslim militants were behind these attacks. (Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Michael Georgy and Sugita Katyal)

(For full coverage of Pakistan and Afghanistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK] (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)


----


Mufti Jalalpuri, others laid to rest in Karachi
Updated at: 1755 PST, Friday, March 12, 2010
KARACHI: Mufti Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri of Aalmi Tahaffuz-i-Khatm-i-Nabuat, his son Huzaifa Jalalpuri and close associates Fakheruz Zaman and Abdul Rehman were laid to rest at Jamia Masjid Khatman-un-Nabi.

Mufti Jalalpuri, his son and other associates were gunned down on Thursday evening when they were returning from Jamia Masjid Khatman-un-Nabi on Metrovill Road in Gulshan-i-Iqbal area.

Their funeral prayers were offered at Jamia Masjid Binori Town. Dr. Abdul Razzaq led the funeral prayers, which were attended by a large number of Ulema and students.

On this occasion, religious cleric advised the enraged people to stay calm and expressed grief on the killing of noted scholars.

People close to Maulana Jalalpuri said that he was an active member of Shahid Khatme-e-Nubavat Tehrik. He was receiving written threats by the enemies of Islam.

Mufti Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri was considered a close friend of Maulana Muahammad Yousuf Ludhyanvi Shaheed and Mufti Nizam ud Din Shamzi Shaheed.


---


Slain cleric, SSP leader’s son laid to rest: Police say same culprits responsible for both attacks

By Atif Raza

KARACHI: Police claimed on Friday that the same culprits were responsible for the two separate attacks on religious leaders on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a large number of people attended the funeral prayers for the chief of the Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri, his son Huzaifa Jalal and his two associates at Jamia Masjid Binori Town in Guru Mandir area on Friday. They were laid to rest at Masjid Khatm-e-Nabuwwat in Metroville in Gulshan-e-Iqbal,

Unidentified men had gunned down the four men on Thursday night near Post Office Society.

The funeral prayers for Mavia Nadeem, son of Sipah-e-Sahaba leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem, were offered at Siddique-e-Akbar mosque at Nagan Chowrangi that was attended by a large number of Ahle-e-Sunnat wal Jamaat activists and others.

He was laid to rest at Muhammad Shah Graveyard in North Karachi.

Mavia was also gunned down on Thursday when four men had opened fire on him in Nazimabad when he was accompanying his father on the way to city courts.

Mourners at both funeral prayers shouted slogans again the government and arrest of the murderers.

The funeral prayers for Maulana Jalalpuri were led by Maulana Abdul Razzak Sikander, while Maulana Masoodur Rehman led the prayers for Mavia.

A heavy contingent of law enforcement personnel were deployed at both funerals, while police closed the traffic as a precautionary measure.

Police believe that the same culprits were responsible for the killings of Mavia Nadeem and Maulana Saeed Jalalpuri, his son and two associates, and released the sketches of the suspects.

A source in the Sindh police said investigation would be initiated with the assistance of the Crime Investigation Department and the Specialised Investigation Unit.

The source said since the culprits failed to murder Maulana Ghafoor Nadeem and create sectarian strife, they went on to attack Jalalpuri.

He said in both incidents, there were four culprits on two motorcycles and empty shells of 9mm pistols were found at both crime scenes. He also said according to eyewitness accounts, same motorcycles were used in both the incidents.

Panic in city: Panic prevailed in various areas of the city, particularly North Karachi, Orangi, SITE and Abul Hassan Ispahani Road, following the two incidents, and commercial activities remained suspended. Most of the petrol stations were also closed in different areas of the city.

Leaders of the defunct SSP announced they would stage a protest demonstration over the killing of their leader’s son in front of the Chief Minister’s House after the funeral, but cancelled the plan after negotiations with the law enforcement agencies.

A spokesman for the Ahle-e-Sunnat wal Jamaat told journalists that his organisation demands the government to provide foolproof security to its leaders and arrest the murderers of Mavia. He also demanded that compensation should be paid to Mavia’s family.