Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blast destroys CD center in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Unknown people destroyed a CD center by causing an explosion in Cha

According to reports the explosives were planted at the CD center which were blown away in the night time, damaging the center and destroying the goods inside. However, no loss of life was reported.

Owais for unity to thwart nefarious designs of enemies.

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has said, the nation is faced with serious challenges of extremism and terrorism. The sectarian divisions are being exploited by enemies to undermine our country and there is, therefore, dire need for maintaining unity and harmony among our ranks. In a message on the eve of Ashura-e-Muharram, the Governor has said, "I wish that we, as Muslims are able to understand the true spirit of Ashura and are able to derive meaningful lessons from this important historical event." The complete text of the message is given below. "The 10th of Moharram-al-Haram marks the supreme sacrifice offered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) and his companions for the cause of sublime truth. The observance of Ashura throughout the Muslim world is in fact a pledge to raise a voice against tyranny and oppression and to hold the banner of righteousness aloft. Today the nation is faced with serious challenges of extremism and terrorism. Sectarian divisions are being exploited by enemies to undermine our country. There is, therefore a dire need for maintaining unity and harmony among our ranks so that we are able to thwart the evil designs of our hidden enemy, and work collectively for the prosperity and progress of the country. With these ground realities in mind, it becomes incumbent upon members of different sects of our society that they shun their differences and biases and work hand in hand as one nation and ensure a better future for our future generations. I wish that we, as Muslims are able to understand the true spirit of Ashura and are able to derive meaningful lessons from an important historical event".

Pakistani Official Is Fired

Gilani's Dismissal of Security Adviser Reflects Serious Rift

ISLAMABAD -- The dismissal of a top Pakistani security official reveals growing divisions within the government here over how to handle investigations into November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday sacked the country's national security adviser, Mahmood Durrani, for confirming that the sole surviving Mumbai attacker, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, is a Pakistani citizen.

The unexpected move exposed deep strains in the shaky civilian administration. President Asif Ali Zardari, who appointed Mr. Durrani to his post, wasn't consulted on the decision to fire him and learned of it only after it had been made public, according to presidential aides.

Mr. Durrani, a retired army general, was fired shortly after an interview with an Indian television network Wednesday in which he confirmed that Mr. Kasab is a Pakistani. A statement issued by Mr. Gilani's office that evening accused Mr. Durrani of "irresponsible behavior" and of making an unauthorized announcement.

Mr. Durrani, who had also served as ambassador to Washington, said he was shocked when he heard the news of his removal on a private Pakistani news network. He denied any wrongdoing. "It had already been decided that we should confirm that the gunman was a Pakistani because hiding that makes no sense," he told The Wall Street Journal in a telephone interview Thursday.

Mr. Durrani's disclosure marked the first time a Pakistan government official has acknowledged Mr. Kasab's Pakistani origin. Since the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad had dismissed any Pakistani link to the 60-hour siege of India's commercial and financial center, which sharply escalated tension between two nuclear-armed South Asian rival powers. The attacks claimed 171 lives, including those of nine terrorists -- all said by India to be operatives of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

It wasn't immediately clear why Mr. Durrani was singled out for punishment for confirming Mr. Kasab's nationality. A few hours after his disclosure, Pakistan Information Minister Sherry Rehman and the country's foreign ministry also publicly confirmed Mr. Kasab's Pakistani citizenship.

India has blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, once patronized by Pakistan's military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, for staging the Mumbai attacks. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepped up a war of words with Islamabad this week, alleging publicly for the first time that the assault "must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan." Islamabad has denied the allegation.

Mr. Durrani's dismissal came amid reports of mounting differences between Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari. Political analysts said Mr. Durrani's sacking was the latest instance of confusion over who is in charge in Pakistan.

In his interview, Mr. Durrani contended he was removed because Mr. Gilani was unaware of a decision by Mr. Zardari and senior security officials to publicly confirm Mr. Kasab's nationality and because the prime minister felt the need to exert his authority. Officials at the prime minister's office weren't immediately available for comment.

A senior aide to Mr. Zardari said the president wasn't consulted by Mr. Gilani on his decision to dismiss Mr. Durrani, which he came to know about after it had already been announced. "The prime minister did not consult anyone, not even his cabinet ministers," said the aide.

A reversal of the decision by Mr. Zardari could plunge the country into a serious political crisis, the aide said, because it would openly pit Mr. Zardari against Mr. Gilani.

Pakistan's civilian government, which came to power last year after more than eight years of military rule, has multiple power centers, including a president and a prime minister who are both vocal and visible. The Pakistan military also remains a powerful political force, despite the country's return to civilian rule.

Under Pakistan's constitution, the prime minister is the country's chief executive, but, in fact, all major decisions are taken by President Zardari -- a situation that is creating tension between the two leaders. Mr. Durrani was appointed to his security post by Mr. Zardari and reported to the president directly, an arrangement political analysts said Mr. Gilani resented.

Analysts said the Durrani affair also underscores the indecisiveness that prevails in Pakistan's government over how to deal with India.

"There is no coherent approach on the issue," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former professor at Punjab University and a leading political and defense analyst.

While Mr. Zardari's administration supports a more conciliatory policy with India and closer ties with the U.S., the military leadership persists in taking a harder line against Pakistan's traditional rival. "The escalating tension with India has helped the military to reassert its position," said Mr. Rizvi.

Some analysts believe Mr. Durrani was removed because of pressure from the military, which viewed the national security adviser as too soft on India.

Petraeus: Afghan, Pakistan problems are really one

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. policy to win in Afghanistan must recognize the poor nation's limitations and its neighborhood, especially its intertwined relationship with U.S. terrorism-fighting ally Pakistan, the top U.S. military commander in the region said Thursday.
Army Gen. David Petraeus, who became a household name overseeing the war in Iraq, now oversees the older, smaller and less promising fight in Afghanistan as well. He predicted a long war in Afghanistan, without quantifying it.
Petraeus told a Washington audience that a winning strategy in Afghanistan will look different from the one in Iraq. He offered few specifics as the incoming Obama administration assess its options in the 7-year-old Afghanistan war that has gone much worse than anticipated, just as U.S. fortunes have improved in Iraq. He also suggested the United States and its partners may one day have common purpose with Iran, another Afghanistan neighbor, in stabilizing and remaking that country.
"There has been nothing easy about Afghanistan, indeed nearly every aspect has been hard and that will continue to be the case in 2009 and the years beyond," Petraeus said in an address to the United States Institute of Peace.
The address was part of a conference highlighting world trouble spots at the moment of political transition in the United States. The institute released a sober outline of problems in Afghanistan as part of the session.
The report said the U.S. and its partners have shortchanged Afghanistan by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or clear understanding of how the decentralized country works. It suggested President-elect Barack Obama should refocus the U.S. war and rebuilding effort in Afghanistan and think of the project as the work of at least a decade.
Petraeus' own review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is expected to be presented to Obama the week after he takes office Jan. 20. The plan would shift the focus from the waning fight in Iraq to the escalating Afghan battle.
President George W. Bush's in-house Iraq and Afghanistan adviser has already done a separate assessment; it has not been made public.
The U.S. is rushing 20,000 American troops into Afghanistan to combat a Taliban insurgency that has sent violence to record levels. U.S. officials have warned the violence will probably intensify in the coming year. More U.S. troops, 151, died in Afghanistan in 2008 than in any other year since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.
A suicide bomber struck U.S. troops patrolling on foot in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least two soldiers and three civilians and wounding at least nine others, officials said.
Petraeus linked Afghanistan's fortunes directly to Pakistan's, where a U.S.-backed civilian government is struggling and the country's ability to control militants along its border with Afghanistan is in doubt.
"Afghanistan and Pakistan have, in many ways, merged into a single problem set, and the way forward in Afghanistan is incomplete without a strategy that includes and assists Pakistan," and also takes into account Pakistan's troubled relationship with rival India, Petraeus said.
On Iran, Petraeus said he would leave the details to diplomats. But he suggested that the longtime U.S. adversary could be part of a regional effort to right Afghanistan. Afghanistan's strategic location and recent history both as a cradle of terrorism and source of most of the world's heroin make it of interest to nations from the West to the Middle East and beyond.
"Iran is concerned about the narcotics trade — it doesn't want to see ... extremists running Afghanistan again any more than other folks do," Petraeus said.

Three suspects arrested in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: CIA and police have arrested 3 suspected persons from Shah Qabool Area here and shifted to an unknown location for investigation.According to police sources, CIA and Shah Qabool police station conducted a joint raid in Sarhad market and arrested three suspected persons. Mobile phones along as well as intercoms were recovered from their possession.