Monday, July 27, 2009

11 militants killed, commander among 28 arrested in Swat

SWAT: Eleven militants killed and 28 including wanted militant commander Kabir have been arrested during security forces search operation in Swat and Malakand.

According to ISPR, two militants handed over themselves to security forces in Fizagat as looted items recovered from Polytechnic College during operation near Mingora. A militant has been killed and two arrested near Khawazakhela whereas seven hideouts have been destroyed.

Four suspected persons have been arrested and arms cache recovered from their possession in Chor Banda.

In Dir, six suspected militants have been arrested. National lashkar killed ten militants and arrested six during action in Karodara, Chopra and Kandao. ISPR said seven terrorists belonged to Sufi Muhammad group handed over themselves to civil administration in Mohmand Agency.

Barack Obama: US and China will shape 21st century

To the satisfaction of the Chinese at talks designed to usher in a new era of friendship, "not confrontation", Mr Obama said that the ties between the two powers were "as important as any bilateral relationship in the world".
"That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear," he said at the first meeting of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington. In recognition of the importance of the two-day summit it has been described by analysts in the US as the "G2", after the G8 and G20 gatherings.
Mr Obama said he was under "no illusions that the United States and China will agree on every issue", but insisted closer co-operation on a range of challenges from lifting the global economy to nuclear proliferation and climate change was vital for the whole world.
In what appeared to be a co-ordinated new slogan, both Mr Obama and Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, who sent a message to the meeting, said they sought a "positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship".
The talks are a revamped version of a meeting launched by George W Bush that focused solely on economic issues.
The new dialogue, to be held every year in alternate capitals, involves the US state department and Chinese foreign ministry and firmly underlines China's growing global footprint.
Beijing sent 150 officials to Washington for dozens of meetings with their US counterparts, bringing much of the capital to a virtual standstill.
The Chinese are still sensitive about their inferior status and pushed hard for Mr Obama to open the meeting, according to sources close to the administration, because "they are still looking for validation".
But the hosts were happy to pay tribute to China's ascendance and were optimistic about its ability to act as a responsible member of the global community.
Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, made only brief reference to China's poor human rights record, which used to loom much larger in discussions.
Speaking just weeks after the eruption of ethnic violence in China's Muslim-majority Xinjiang province, which left at least 192 people dead, Mr Obama said: "We strongly believe that the religion and culture of all peoples must be respected and protected, and that all people should be free to speak their minds. That includes ethnic and religious minorities in China."
But he bracketed his criticism with acknowledgement of China's great "ancient culture" and the vibrant contribution of Chinese Americans to the US.
For the Chinese, Dai Bingguo, the state councillor, acknowledged the two states "could never be the same", and echoed his hosts by saying neither country could solve the world's problems alone.
"We are actually all in the same big boat that has been hit by fierce wind and huge waves," Mr Dai said of the economic and other crises.
The strongest message behind the scenes from Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, and his staff was that Americans are learning to save more and spend less, meaning China cannot rely on exports to the US for its growth and will have to raise domestic consumption.
The Chinese, holding $801.5 billion (£485 billion) of US treasury debt, meanwhile sought further explanations of what the Obama administration plans to do about the soaring deficits.
Though expectations are low for immediate breakthroughs on a variety of sticking points, even committed China watchers have been surprised by the speed of the growth in bilateral relations.
"There will be areas without a lot of traction," said Drew Thompson, director of China studies at the Nixon Centre think tank, running from the value of yuan to the Dalai Lama and intellectual copyright protection. "But if you don't start to build a relationship you will never achieve the progress that you want.
"There are a lot of things we can't get done without having China on board, and the Chinese are learning that they have a new role and they are leaving big footprints around the world. A certain responsibility comes with that," he added.

Britain 'will need more troops' for success in Afghanistan
Britain may need to send more troops to Afghanistan despite the success of Operation Panther’s Claw, military chiefs admit.

The scale of the challenge was revealed yesterday as it emerged that British soldiers have faced nearly 1,000 roadside bombs in the past three months. Although 3,000 troops managed to drive out about 500 Taleban during the five-week offensive, they will be fully deployed holding an area in Helmand province about the size of the Isle of Wight, their commanding officer admitted.

Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of Task Force Helmand, said that the existing troops could not be expected to mount further significant operations without reinforcements. Gordon Brown hailed the offensive as an “heroic” military success, saying it had made Britain safer and “pushed back the Taleban”. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, however, called for renewed efforts to engage the Taleban politically.

Efforts to bolster faltering public support for British involvement in Afghanistan were undermined further when the Ministry of Defence announced that two more soldiers had been killed. Brigadier Radford said that although 23 soldiers have died since the operation began on June 19, only 10 directly related to the offensive in central Helmand.

Details emerged of the “industrial” scale of the Taleban’s production of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Brigadier Radford, speaking by video link from his headquarters at Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, said there had been 153 IEDs encountered during Panther’s Claw – and 994 since April.

The release of details of Panther’s Claw gave Mr Brown an opportunity to wrest back the political initiative over Afghanistan after the controversy over troop levels and helicopters.But Mr Miliband caught Downing Street by surprise, using a speech to Nato leaders in Brussels to deliver an uncompromising message aimed at President Karzai of Afghanistan. Mr Miliband called for a programme of “reintegration and reconciliation” for moderate Taleban. He rejected talks with insurgents who were fighting British troops in Helmand, telling Channel 4 News: “If they [the Taleban] carry on trying to kill British troops, then of course we can’t reconcile them into the system, because they will be making a choice of violence.”

The two deaths announced yesterday take the total losses to 191 since 2001. Neither was linked to Panther’s Claw. A soldier from The Light Dragoons was killed by an explosion while he was on a vehicle patrol in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand. A soldier from the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery was killed by an explosion during a foot patrol in Sangin, in northern Helmand.

Editorial: Stop targeting China’s political system

Global Times
No matter how differently Western media outlets reported the March 14 incident in Tibet last year and the recent riots in Urumqi, their comments shared the same judgment toward the Chinese government. China’s political system was often the single target attacked quickly and easily.

“One party dictatorship,” “China’s Communist leadership” and “the continued rule of the Communist party” are terms the Western media liked to use while underreporting the severity of the riots and the brutal attacks on innocent people.

This stereotypical thinking shows Western media outlets always feel the political system of their particular country is absolutely superior to China’s.

Once something bad happens in China, they simply blame China’s political system. In their eyes, it is inevitable for such a “backward and flawed” political system to have problems. With no change in the system, China and its government can never solve these problems.

However, every country is distinct and complex. There must be many factors that lead to the occurrence of social and ethnic problems, instead of just one. It is unwise and irresponsible to blame everything on China’s political system.

For example, the imbalance of development and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor are universal problems in China’s transition from planned economy to market economy. This problem becomes entangled with ethnic issues in areas where ethnic minorities live.

As a result, many Western media outlets criticize China’s problems with its policy toward ethnic minority groups and further attack China’s political system. But these problems have nothing to do with the system.

Actually, China’s current political system, in the past decades, has made remarkable achievements in developing the economy, improving the well-being of the Chinese people of all 56 ethnic groups, and promoting the country’s role in the international community. China’s governmental system was the practical choice of the Chinese people and revolutionaries after a long search and struggle.

History and reality have proved it to be the right choice, one in keeping with China’s characteristics.

The Western media’s prejudice toward and ignorance of China’s political system’s achievements stem from deep-rooted distrust of the system’s capability to survive and to succeed.

Any country, including Western countries, cannot be free of social and ethnic problems in its development. Serious social problems such as racial issues and the high rate of crime are rife in the US and other Western countries.

In recent years, social and racial unrests of various scales happened in Western countries such as the US, France and Germany.

If Chinese media simply attribute all this to the US’ political system, it will be “nonsense” to Western media and do nothing good to build mutual understanding between the two countries and the two peoples.

It is time for the Western media to take an objective approach toward understanding and explaining China’s problems and changes, one which is less simplistic and more open-minded.

Only in this way can they tell the truth and achieve mutual trust.

Boys trained for suicide bombing arrested

MINGORA: Security forces have seized 14 vehicles equipped for suicide attacks and arrested nine people trained for suicide bombings and other subversive activities.

The suspects, the vehicles and a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, computers and other equipment seized during an operation were shown to journalists here on Sunday.

Mingora Operational Commander Brig Tahir Hameed said the operation Rah-i-Rast was under way in Swat to secure the remaining pockets of resistance. ‘The security forces have achieved major successes during the search and clearance operation in Swat.’

He said the forces had recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition, vehicles and furniture of schools and banks which militants had looted.

He said normalcy had been restored in 95 per cent of the district, including the city of Mingora, and the operation would continue till the elimination of militants.

A 15-day ban from Monday has been imposed on rickshaws in the valley and owners have been asked to get stickers for their vehicles from police stations.

Brig Hameed said the overall law and order situation was improving. He said several children brainwashed and trained for suicide attacks had been captured.

He said terrorists had deprived the children of an opportunity to get education and their parents had handed them over to the security forces.

He said arrangements were being made to enrol them in schools with free board and lodging and give them monthly scholarship.

The 14 vehicles prepared for suicide attacks, 35,000kgs of explosives, 50 computers, hundreds of guns, over 100 pistols, thousands of rounds and electronic goods seized from militants and their hideouts were displayed at the press briefing

Military hits ‘suicide bomb centre’, kills 20: official

PESHAWAR: Attack helicopters Monday killed 20 militants and destroyed four hideouts, including a training centre for suicide bombers in the northwest tribal belt, the paramilitary said.

The operation was carried out in Tirah valley, 35 kilometres (21 miles) southwest of Landi Kotal, the main town in the Khyber tribal region that straddles a main supply route for Nato troops in Afghanistan.

‘Military helicopters shelled militant hideouts Monday afternoon killing 20 rebels and destroying four of their hideouts,’ a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, Major Fazal-ul-Rehman, told AFP.

He said that the hideouts included a training centre where rebels used to train suicide bombers and foot soldiers, adding that the air strikes were ordered after an intelligence tip-off.

Death tolls released by government are impossible to confirm in areas that are remote and largely cut off from independent media coverage.

Magnitude 5.2 quake strikes northern Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A moderate earthquake on Monday rocked parts of northwest Pakistan, officials said.There were no immediate reports of casualties but tremors were felt in Mansehra and Malakand at 12:24 p.m., Zahid Rafi, a senior officer at Pakistan's meteorological department,told AFP.The quake had a magnitude of 5.2 and the epicentre was located in Balakot, about 138 kilometres north of Islamabad, he said.The quake was also felt in Islamabad and parts of central Punjab province, he said.The US Geological Survey put the quake at 5.1 and said it struck at 12:23 p.m. 138 kilometres north of Islamabad and 77 kilometres east of Mingora, the main town in the Swat district.