Friday, September 18, 2009

CPC to expand intra-Party democracy: communique
BEIJING-- A communique issued Friday upon the closing of a four-day plenary session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said the Party's internal democracy was "the lifeblood of the Party" and the CPC would "expand intra-Party democracy to develop people's democracy."

The Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee endorsed the decision of the CPC Central Committee on major issues on strengthening and improving Party building under the new circumstances.

The communique said the Party would firmly push forward the intra-Party democracy by sticking to "democratic centralism," with democracy as a base and centralism as a guide.

The Party must "ensure the democratic rights of its members" and strengthen the intra-Party democracy at the grassroots level.

It would "extensively absorb the will and views of all Party members and bring their initiative and creativity to a full play," the document said.

"The CPC will ensure the unity of people of all ethnic groups by intensifying the Party's strength and unity," it said.

The communique said the Party would uphold and improve its leadership system.

It would also improve the systems of Party congress, Party officials' elections and democratic decision-making mechanism within the CPC.

It said the Party must stick to a democratic, open, competitive, credible and vigorous mechanism of selecting Party officials in order to foster more excellent cadres.

Party officials must be "revolutionary, young, knowledge-based and professional" and the CPC must explore extensively to select cadres to ensure the Party boasts excellent members, it said.

Moral integrity should be highlighted when selecting officials and their ability of "promoting scientific development and social harmony" should be improved, it added.

The communique said the Party's grassroots organizations were the foundation of the entire Party work and its combat power, and were "fighting bastions" in implementing the CPC policies.

Efforts should be made to boost the vitality of grassroots Party committees and members, it said.

Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report at the session, which was held here from Sept. 15 to 18.

Some delegates to the 17th CPC National Congress who were in charge of Party affairs at the grassroots, and experts and scholars on Party building studies also attended the meeting.

Dueling marches pit Iran hardliners vs. reformers

Tens of thousands of protesters — many decked out in the green colors of the reform movement and chanting "Death to the dictator!" — rallied Friday in defiance of Iran's Islamic leadership, clashing with police and confronting state-run anti-Israel rallies.

In the first major opposition protests in two months, demonstrators marching shoulder-to-shoulder raised their hands in V-for-victory signs on main boulevards and squares throughout the capital.

Lines of police, security forces and plainclothes Basij militiamen kept the two sides apart in most cases. At times they waded into the protesters with baton charges and tear gas volleys. The demonstrators responded by throwing stones and bricks, and setting tires ablaze.

Hard-liners attacked two senior opposition leaders who joined the protests. Former pro-reform President Mohamad Khatami was shoved and jostled, gripping his black turban to keep it from being knocked off as supporters rushed in to protect him, pushing away the attackers and hustling him away.

The protests were a significant show of defiance after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei explicitly banned anti-government marches on Quds Day, an annual memorial created by Iran's Islamic Republic to show support for the Palestinians and denounce Israel. Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem.

It was also a show of survival. The opposition has been hit hard by a fierce crackdown in which hundreds have been arrested since disputed June 12 presidential elections sparked Iran's worst political turmoil in decades. Friday's protests could escalate the confrontation — hard-line clerics have demanded the arrest of any opposition leaders who defy Khamenei's order and back protests on Quds Day.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who the opposition contends won re-election by fraud, delivered a nationally televised address, railing against Israel and the West.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters at Tehran University, he questioned whether the Holocaust was a "real event" and called it a pretext for the creation of Israel. He said the Jewish state was founded on "a lie and a mythical claim."

Outside the university, while the speech blared on loudspeakers, opposition protesters shouted "liar, liar!"

U.S. officials denounced the Iranian leader's comments on the Holocaust, which Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called "hateful." She said President Barack Obama would not meet with Ahmadinejad during next week's gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.

In protests around Tehran and other Iranian cities, demonstrators chanted "Not Gaza, not Lebanon — our life is for Iran" in a challenge of the government's priority of supporting Palestinian militants in Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas instead of focusing on problems at home.

The Quds Day rallies, which attracted several hundred thousand people, far outnumbered the tens of thousands who turned out for the opposition — a reflection of the government's freedom to rally supporters.

Opposition supporters wearing green T-shirts and wristbands poured onto main boulevards and squares in the capital, waving green banners and balloons, and pictures of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims to be the rightful winner of the election. "Death to the dictator!" they shouted.

Just hundreds of yards away, crowds of Ahmadinejad supporters marched carrying huge photographs of the president and supreme leader Khamenei. Some chanted, "Death to those who oppose the supreme leader!"

A group of hard-liners attacked Khatami nearby, surging toward him as his supporters shoved them away and surrounded the cleric, witnesses said.

Elsewhere, government supporters also tried to attack the main opposition leader, Mousavi, when he joined another march. As supporters scuffled with the attackers, Mousavi was rushed into a car and driven away, a witness said.

All the witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

The government imposed restrictions on journalists, allowing them to cover the Quds Day rallies but not opposition protests. As often happens during opposition demonstrations, Internet access and phone service was frequently cut, apparently in a state attempt to sever protesters' communications.

In one of Tehran's main squares, Haft-e Tir, security forces wielding batons and firing tear gas tried to break up an opposition march, and were confronted by protesters throwing stones and bricks, witnesses said. Several policemen were seen being taken away with slight injuries.

Protesters set bonfires during another clash in the city, and young men and women wrapped green scarves over their faces against the clouds of tear gas.

At least 10 protesters were seized by plainclothes security agents in marches around the city, witnesses said.

The pro-government Quds Day rallies were held around the country, and the opposition staged competing rallies in several cities. In Shiraz to the south, police rushed protesters with batons, scuffling with them, witnesses said. Footage put out by the opposition showed hundreds of protesters fleeing a police charge in the northern city of Rasht.

Hundreds of thousands marched in support of Mousavi in the weeks after the June election, until police, Basij militiamen and the elite Revolutionary Guard crushed the protests, arresting hundreds. The opposition says 72 people were killed in the crackdown, though the government puts the number at 36. The last significant protest was on July 17.

The Quds Day occasion was established in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the revolution that created Iran's Islamic Republic. Customarily on Quds Day, Iranians gather for pro-Palestinian rallies in various parts of Tehran, marching through the streets and later converging for the prayer ceremony.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad hailed the commemoration as a "day of unity" for Iranians and denounced criticism of the election.

Karzai Apparent Afghan Election Winner,CIA Chief

In an exclusive VOA interview, CIA director Leon Panetta says that even if suspect ballots are discounted, President Hamid Karzai will in all likelihood win re-election.

"It's clear that there was some degree of corruption and fraud involved in the election," Panetta said. "It's being viewed now by the commissions involved in counting those votes. I think what appears to be the case is that even after they eliminate some of the votes that resulted because of fraud, that Karzai will still - still looks like the individual who's going to be able to win that election."

The preliminary final results have Mr. Karzai with enough votes to avoid a runoff with former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. Mr. Karzai has angrily denied major fraud and denounced the media for what he says are exaggerated reports of electoral corruption.

The election comes at a crucial time as the U.S. ponders its strategy in Afghanistan and whether more troops are needed. The Taliban has expanded its influence and ratcheted up attacks on NATO troops.

CIA chief Panetta says that the Taliban fighters of 2009 are not necessarily the same as the Taliban of 2001, and that in fact there is no single Taliban. He says there are different groups, usually along tribal lines, fighting for different reasons.

"It's a mixed bag. You don't have just one brand of Taliban," Panetta noted. "The ones that we're most concerned with, however, are those that are obviously engaging in military action, are taking American lives, and are operating in a way that we see as much more effective and much more efficient in terms of warfare. And that's what concerns us, it concerns the president of the United States."

Panetta says the Taliban attacking NATO troops are still getting help from across the border in Pakistan.

"Well, we think that they continue to receive encouragement from al-Qaida in Pakistan, and they continue to receive encouragement from the terrorists who are located in Pakistan, and that because of that relationship we view them very much as a threat to peace in Afghanistan," Panetta said.

The CIA has come under fire for using rough interrogation techniques on al-Qaida and Taliban fighters. The so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were ordered by senior officials in the Bush administration. Speaking to agency employees in April, President Obama initially promised not to investigate or prosecute CIA officers after Justice Department memos disclosing the rough methods surfaced. But in August Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation of CIA officers for alleged abuse of detainees. Panetta, who is a political appointee to the CIA job, vehemently opposed the action.

Asked what he says to angry CIA officers who feel betrayed by the Obama administration's action, he says he tells them to stay focused.

"I think that if we get trapped by the politics of the past it'll take away our future and impact on our ability to do our jobs. So my message to the people at the CIA is, let's do our job, let's stick together," Panetta said. "If we do, I think we can deal with whatever takes place politically in Washington because in the end what Washington needs and what this country needs is a CIA that is focused on doing its job."

The probe is expected to cover both direct CIA employees and contractors. Despite his opposition, Panetta says he and the agency will cooperate with the inquiry.

Hamid Karzai rejects second round

AFGHAN President Hamid Karzai has ruled out calling a second round of elections over fraud allegations that have cast a shadow over US deliberations on whether to send more troops.

Preliminary results from Afghanistan's second presidential election put Mr Karzai on track to defeat rival Abdullah Abdullah without a second round, but European Union observers said nearly one-quarter of votes could be fraudulent.

Asked whether he would agree to a second round to ease concerns about the election's legitimacy, Mr Karzai told CNN: "That is not in my authority to do."

"Taking it to a second round or a runoff by engineering it in that direction, that is itself fraud and not the right thing to do. It's against (the) Afghan constitution," he said. "We cannot claim a wrong and then commit another wrong in order to make a right."

Mr Karzai did not exclude inviting Mr Abdullah into a coalition government but said he would do so only to unite the country, not to respond to fraud allegations, which he insisted were false.

Senior US officials acknowledged they were in a bind over how to handle the election.

US President Barack Obama has made fighting extremism in Afghanistan a top priority and is weighing calls to again boost the US military force in the country, which is set to reach 68,000 this year.

"I would tell you that there is no question that the nature of the election in Afghanistan has complicated the picture," Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.

Mr Karzai, first installed in the wake of the US-led military operation that ousted the Taliban in 2001, enjoyed a warm relationship with former president George W. Bush, but Mr Obama has distanced himself from the Afghan leader.

Vice-President Joe Biden said that if Afghans doubted the legitimacy of Mr Karzai's government in a second term, it "makes everything considerably more difficult".

"That's why we have to follow the process to the end here," Mr Biden, who as a senator reportedly stormed out of a dinner with Mr Karzai, told CNN. "But to be honest to you, it would make this very hard to have a sustainable policy if the government with whom we're co-operating is viewed as illegitimate by the people - in this case, the people of Afghanistan. But that's not determined yet."

Echoing earlier remarks to reporters in Kabul, Mr Karzai acknowledged there might have been irregularities but insisted there was no systematic fraud.

"It's unfortunately mainly in the international community that these allegations are coming," Mr Karzai said. "I can assure you, the vote was true and fair."

His remarks came on one of the deadliest days for Western troops in Kabul. A bomber destroyed a vehicle of NATO-led forces, killing 10 Afghan civilians and six Italian soldiers.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi later said he hoped to bring home his country's 3250 troops "as soon as possible", but only in consultation with NATO allies.

Britain's main opposition Conservative Party, which leads in polls ahead of elections due next year, called for more commitment by NATO in Afghanistan and said it would consider sending more troops should it win office.

But Liam Fox, Britain's shadow defence secretary, warned in an address to a Washington think tank that any build-up would be futile without an accompanying strategy to persuade insurgents to give up violence.

"Unless we have identified a more comprehensive political solution for Afghanistan, any increase in troop members alone would merely maintain the status quo, which is arguably an increasingly dysfunctional state apparatus surrounded by a burgeoning insurgency," Mr Fox said at The Heritage Foundation.

Militants, extremists created deliberately: Zardari

LAHORE : President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the extremists and militants were created decades ago by a deliberate policy to employ religious fanaticism for the achievement of certain strategic objectives.

The President made this comment in his wide ranging address and discourse with British intelligentsia gathered at London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) - a prestigious and one of the high profile Think Tanks, a day after he arrived in the British capital from Dubai.

Militants and militancy were not created in a vacuum, he said, adding that they have been the product of a deliberate policy to fight the rival ideology.

The free world adopted a novel strategy that was based on the exploitation of religion to motivate Muslims around the world to wage jehad, stated President Zardari.

The President reminded the audience that Afghan Jehadi leaders were described as “Moral equivalents of George Washington.”

President Zardari further said that the strategy may have worked well but some serious mistakes were also made as the world abandoned Afghanistan in a hurry and no thought was given to its stability after the withdrawal of foreign forces.

After the retreat of foreign forces, Afghanistan was abandoned and left at the mercy of the warlords and the jehadis which, he said was a grave mistake.

Zardari also recalled the conversation Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had with the then American President George Bush Senior in 1989, warning of the grave implications of abandoning Afghanistan in a hurry. She told the US President, “Mr. President, I fear we have created a Frankenstein that will come back to haunt us,” President Zardari told the audience.

Zardari said that Pakistan paid the heaviest price of this policy as it ended up with over 2.5 million drug addicts, stunted economic activity and millions of Afghan refugees on its soil which it has been hosting for decades and is still hosting.

He said that the situation of Pakistan was further compounded when the international community gave material and moral support to dictatorships in Pakistan for its own ends.

The dictatorship in Pakistan has been running with the hare and hunting with the hound and played hide and seek with militants for its own political survival, the President viewed adding, “Years of dancing with the dictator has encouraged the crisis of today.”

About fighting the militants, the President said that there was no doubt that Pakistan faced enormous challenges but “greater is our resolve to overcome those challenges.”

He said it was a crisis situation which also offered opportunities. “In times like these we must recognize and seize opportunities, he said and called for taking urgent and bold decisions.

“We can no longer avoid taking firm decisions,” the President said, adding that a decision delayed was “not a problem avoided but a crisis in waiting.”

He said that contrasted with the dictatorship of the past the democracy in Pakistan had taken on the militants head on. “We are determined to fight and we know how to fight,” he said.

He said that democracy in Pakistan had given political ownership to the war against militants as a result of which the Parliament, the state institutions and the whole nation was united against terrorists.

About the wonders achieved by national consensus against militancy, the President said that the dramatic power of national consensus was demonstrated recently in Swat and Malakand where the militants were on the run and the internally displaced persons had started returning their homes in safety.

Extremists and militants who challenge the state and our ideology wherever they may be in Pakistan will be chased and eliminated, the President said.

Reinforcing his commitment to end militancy, the President declared, “Let me assure you that we have not come this far at this price, to fail.”

The President also urged the international community for its support and understanding in “our national efforts to fight militants.” “We expect our friends and allies to make a correct assessment of the challenges we face and to help us,” the President said.

While acknowledging that some support had come from the world community the President said, “This support needs to be reinforced.”

Zardari also rejected the blames that were being laid at the door of Pakistan and said “We need active regional co-operation and understanding rather than resorting to blame game.”

The President also reminded the audience of the struggle in Pakistan for the restoration of democracy. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto made the ultimate sacrifice, so that our nation may live in democracy, he said.

The President said that democracy was gaining ground in Pakistan. Today there was a functional Parliament, an independent judiciary, a vibrant civil society, a fiercely free media and a robust political discourse among political parties, he added. The President said that the real challenge that lay ahead was “to make democracy sustainable, indeed irreversible.”

“The challenge could be met easily if we demonstrated to our people and the world that democracy indeed was delivering,” he observed.

The President said that although some difficult decisions had already been taken to stabilize the economy, Pakistan needed greater economic opportunities to better the lot of its teeming millions.

“It is important that Pakistan is allowed market access to the countries of European Union. We need trade and not aid,” he stressed.

About peace in the region the President said that Pakistan was confronted with the challenge of building a peaceful neighbourhood.

The government was pursuing a conscious policy of building cooperative relationships with Afghanistan and India, he stated adding, “We believe that regional dialogue and cooperation is the way forward.

The president further said that the terrorist attacks were also directed against the peace process with India.

“Terrorist attacks are always directed at democracy. They are also directed against the peace process with India that we have initiated,” is how the President described the terror attacks.

The President called upon the international community to beef up support for the democratic government to fight the militants by strengthening Pakistan’s economy and democracy.

Voicing hope that the democratic world will play its part in assisting Pakistan, the President assured that “Pakistan will deliver on its part to make the world a safer and better place to live.”

The President said that a democratic Pakistan is the world’s best guarantee for the triumph of moderation among Muslims of the world.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Spokesman to the President Farhatullah Babar, Secretary General to the President Salman Farooqi, Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Sanam Bhutto, Pakistan High Commissioner to UK Wajid Shamsul Hassan, writers, intellectuals and diplomats also attended.

Indemnity for Baloch leaders to be announced

ISLAMABAD: Under the proposed package for Balochistan, the government will announce indemnity for all Baloch leaders and workers as it is necessary for removal of all cases against Baloch leaders.

A private TV channel while quoting government sources said President Asif Ali Zardari would visit Quetta and hold a grand jirga and all dissident Baloch leaders would be invited to the jirga.

According to sources, the president during his visit to the province is likely to announce indemnity for all Baloch leaders and workers.

The package will include solutions to issues related to economics and politics and the province will get 12 per cent shares in the federal assets in the province such as the gas infrastructure, mines and the Gawadar Port.

Meanwhile, Secretary General Baloch National Party (BNP) Sadiq Raisani while talking to a private TV channel termed the proposed package for Balochistan a tactic, saying the Baloch people have no hopes from any package.

He said hundreds of people lost their lives while nearly 8,000 Baloch leaders and workers are languishing in jails and torture cells and cases have been filed against hundreds of people, adding that the entire system has been silent over injustices with the Baloch people since 1940.

The BNP leader further said that the people of Balochistan have their own package which is to end the occupation over Baloch land and that the people of Balochistan will not accept any package for the province.

Mir Hasil Khan Bazinjo of National Party while talking to a private TV channel said that practical steps including tracing missing people, release of Baloch leaders and withdrawing of FC from the province were needed before announcing any package.

President Awami National Party (ANP) Balochistan, Commander Khudad Khan while talking to a private TV channel termed the proposed package a positive development, saying it would be difficult to say before the announcement of the package.

Asked about the issue of the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, he said that the courts wil have to decide as the issue was in court

Suicide Blast Kills 25 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide car bomb attack on Friday in a Shiite marketplace in northwest Pakistan has killed at least 25 people and wounded 36, a police commander in the city of Kohat said.

The attack flattened a two-story hotel and a number of shops at the Kacha Pakha bazaar. Rescue teams worked through the afternoon to pull victims from the rubble. The bomb contained more than 300 pounds of explosives, Ali Hassan Khan, the police commander, said

Kohat is a market town in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province about 30 miles south of the volatile city of Peshawar and 100 miles west of the capital, Islamabad.

The Kohat district is predominantly Sunni Muslim, and its outlying areas have long served as a safe haven for Taliban fighters. But there are a number of Shiite communities in the district as well, and sectarian violence there has been chronic and deadly.

A crowd of Shiite residents in Kohat town, angry at the failure of the police to provide security in their vulnerable neighborhoods, attacked a police car with rocks when it arrived at the scene of the blast on Friday.

Recent operations by the police and government security forces against Taliban militants have further heightened tensions in the district.

The News International, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, reported the arrests of 22 suspected Taliban insurgents on Monday — along with the seizure of dozens of weapons and 11 pounds of hashish — followed by eight more arrests on Thursday.

The police also demolished the houses of two fugitive insurgents in the Kohat district, the paper said, which resulted in the reprisal bombing of the home of a member of a pro-government militia.

Also Thursday, a bomb exploded in a Kohat electronics shop, injuring at least three people. Five neighboring shops were demolished by the bomb, which had been planted in a barrel of clarified butter.