Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Oil approaches fresh high of $94

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 10:36:26
Oil futures have surged to a new record near $94 due to the falling value of dollar and Mexico's plan to cut oil output by 20 percent.

"The dollar seems to be the force that's driving us now," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., in Chicago.

Light, sweet crude for December rose $1.67 to settle at a record $93.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $93.80 earlier.

Oil prices were also supported by news that Mexico's Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, was to temporarily halt as much as 600,000 barrels of daily crude production due to the tropical storm Noel in the Caribbean.
OPEC has shrugged off calls from importer nations to raise output, saying politics and speculation, not a supply shortfall, are to blame.

Oil prices have soared by more than a third since mid-August. Moreover they could get another boost this week if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates.

Analysts say with the US currency falling to a fresh low against the euro, oil which is priced in dollars has become an attractive commodity to investors.

"It is certainly possible they will move higher ... I personally don't believe we will see oil prices at a 100 dollars but it is not impossible given the situation," said David Moore, a commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.


“50 Years of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law"

Opening address by HRH Sultan Azlan Shah at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference
Monday, 29 October 2007, 04:25pm

Opening address by HRH Sultan Azlan Shah at the 14th Malaysian Law ConferenceSultan Azlan Shah speaks out

“50 Years of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law"

Assalamaualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

Salam Sejahtera.

Bismillahi Rahmanir Rahim.

This year marks the 50th year of our nation’s Independence. It is also the 50th year of our Merdeka Constitution.

Malaysia and its people have every reason to celebrate this joyous occasion as the country prospers as a constitutional democracy with a constitutional monarchy in the form as established by the Merdeka Constitution in 1957.

Not all countries that achieved their freedom at the end of the colonial period are today able to celebrate their independence with pride. Some are under military rule, whilst others have had their institutions undermined or even abolished.

The 50th anniversary of our independence is therefore an appropriate moment for all of us to reflect upon the strength of our constitutional system. As we rejoice in our success, It is important to be alert to the pitfalls of failure if proper regard is not given to our constitutional mechanisms.

We must ever be mindful that written constitutions are mere parchment pieces.

It is important that there must be, in the hearts and minds of those who are entrusted to administer and uphold the constitution, a belief in the values and principles that animate the august document.

I had occasion to observe when sitting in the Federal Court in 1977 that the “constitution is not a mere collection of pious platitudes”. I spoke then of the 3 essential features of our constitution. I said:

“It is the supreme law of the land embodying three basic concepts: One of them is that the individual has certain fundamental rights upon which not even the power of the state may encroach.
The second is the distribution of sovereign power between the states and the federation,…

The third is that no single man or body shall exercise complete sovereign power, but that it shall be distributed among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, compendiously expressed in modern terms that we are a government of laws, not of men.”

The prescription that “we are a government of laws, not of men” describes the basic principle that runs through our entire constitution-the principle of the Rule of Law.

The Rule of Law is the defining feature of democratic government. In delivering the eleventh Tunku Abdul Rahman lecture in November 1984, I again defined it as follows:

“The Rule of Law means literally what it says: The Rule of the law. Taken in its broadest sense this means that people should obey the law and be ruled by it.

But in political and legal theory it has come to be read in a narrow sense, that the government shall be ruled by law and be subject to it.

The ideal of the Rule of Law in this sense is often expressed by the phrase “government by law and not by man””

In a speech delivered in Kuala Lumpur in April 2004, Lord Woolf spoke of the ‘Rule of Law’,

“The Rule of Law is the rule by the laws that govern a true democracy.
They are the laws that provide for a proper balance between the protection of human rights and the interests of the State. Laws which an independent and responsible judiciary can enforce to protect all members of society from abuse of power.”

The reference by Lord Woolf to the role of the judiciary is highly significant. I wish to state with all fortitude that without a reputable judiciary-a judiciary endowed and equipped with all the attributes of real independence-there cannot be the Rule of Law.

All countries, including those that are totalitarian regimes, have courts. But as I observed previously:

“The [mere] existence of courts and judges in every ordered society proves nothing; it is their quality, their independence, and their powers that matter.”

In matters concerning the judiciary, it is the public perception of the judiciary that ultimately matters. A judiciary loses its value and service to the community if there is no public confidence in its decision-making.

In this regard the principal quality a judiciary must possess is “impartiality”. Lord Devlin said of “judicial impartiality” that it exists in two senses-the reality of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality. He emphasized that the appearance of impartiality was the more important of the two.

Impartiality also means that judges are not only free from influence of external forces, but also of one another. No judge however senior can dictate to his brethren as to how a decision should be arrived at.

It is of the essence of a judge’s character that he must be a person of unquestionable integrity who brings an unbiased mind to his task. Like Caesar’s wife, he should be above suspicion.

It is said that public confidence in the judiciary is based on four evaluating criteria. They are:

(1) the principle of independence of the judiciary;

(2) the principle of impartiality of adjudication;

(3) the principle of fairness of trial; and

(4) the principle of the integrity of the adjudicator.

How does our judiciary measure today against these criteria?

Sadly I must acknowledge there has been some disquiet about our judiciary over the past few years and in the more recent past. In 2004, I had stated that it grieved me, having been a member of the judiciary, whenever I heard allegations against the judiciary and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary.

Recently there have been even more disturbing events relating to the judiciary reported in the press. We have also witnessed the unprecedented act of a former Court of Appeal judge writing in his post-retirement book of erroneous and questionable judgements delivered by our higher courts in a chapter under the heading “When Justice is Not Administered According to Law”. There are other serious criticisms.

I am driven nostalgically to look back to a time when our Judiciary was the pride of the region, and our neighbours spoke admiringly of our legal system. We were then second to none and the judgements of our courts were quoted confidently in other common law jurisdictions. As Tun Suffian, a former Lord President of the then Federal Court, said of the local judges who took over from the expatriate judges after Merdeka that the transformation was without “any reduction in standards”.

Admittedly society is more complex today and the task of judges may be more difficult then what it was before, but the values I speak of are universal and eternal.

There is no reason why judges with the assured security of tenure they enjoy under the Constitution should not discharge their duties impartially, confidently and competently.

Judges are called upon to be both independent and competent. In these days, judges must ever be mindful that the loss of independence can come from many sources, and not just from the executive. Therefore, judges must piously resist the lure of socializing with business personages and other well connected people. They may discover at their peril that they have compromised themselves in the cases that come before them with the unedifying spectacle of recusal applications.

Nothing destroys more the confidence the general public, or the business community has in the judiciary than the belief that the judge was biased when he decided a case, or that the judge would not be independent where powerful individuals or corporations are the litigants before him.

Confidence in the judiciary may also be eroded where the business community perceives incompetence in decision-making. A judgement in a banking or commercial transaction that is contrary to the established norms or which is incomprehensible in its reasoning is bound to give rise to suspicion and loss of confidence.

It therefore becomes apparent, that our attempts to establish ourselves as a leading financial and commercial center will fail, if we do not have a competent judiciary to decide on complex commercial disputes. In this regard, it is utmost importance that the foreign investor have faith in the competence and integrity of our judiciary.

The international foreign investor also expects a speedy resolution of their cases before the courts. Delays cause a loss of profits to the business community. In the recent World Bank survey on resolution of commercial disputes, Malaysia ranks poorly, 63 amongst 178 economies. A similar report by the US State Department warns American businessmen to be wary of the slow process of adjudication of cases before the Malaysian courts. This is indeed a poor reflection on our courts.

Countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong, who have a similar legal system and who share similar laws, and whose judges and lawyers are trained as ours, are ranked in these surveys as amongst the best in the world (Hong Kong is placed first and Singapore ranks as fourth in the world).

The reason is obvious: these countries have undertaken major reforms in their court structure and procedures and have introduced more efficient and transparent commercial courts so as to attract the foreign investor.

Maybe it is also time for us to consider such changes in our legal system and introduce a strong central commercial court in Putrajaya as in London, with especially trained judges who are familiar with the new and ever changing commercial laws and their developments, so that we too can become the center for the resolution of commercial disputes in the region.

I should point out that mere cosmetic changes alone would not suffice. If we wish to achieve this goal, it is imperative that major reforms are introduced. Many other countries have taken such steps to establish specialized commercial courts. Recently, the Dubai Commercial Court (where one of our own former Chief Judge has recently been appointed to sit as a judge in this new court), and the Qatar Commercial Court have been established.

I know that judging is an arduous task calling for a good mind and a capacity for hard work. The inevitable consequence of incompetence is delayed judgments and backlog in cases leading to all round dissatisfaction.

Only last week, I read in a latest Malaysian law report that a case of medical negligence involving a death of a lawyer took 23 years to reach the Court of Appeal. Similarly there have been reports that some judges have taken years to write their grounds of judgements involving accused persons who have been convicted and languishing in death row.

Surely, such a situation cannot be tolerated in any progressive nation.

It will also be appropriate for me to say a few words on lawyers.

The administration of justice is not just the role of the judiciary. I had said previously in July 1984 on the occasion of a farewell dinner speech to the Bar Council on leaving office as the Lord President, that there cannot be an independent Judiciary without an independent Bar. I stated further that the judiciary cannot function without legal profession.

This symbiosis calls for a proper understanding of the relationship between the Bench and the Bar. The Bar and its leadership must ensure there is a high standard of integrity and ethics among its members. A Bar that is riddled with bad practices cannot assist the administration of justice.

In this respect the relationship between judges and lawyers must be a roper and correct one. As I have said earlier, judges are supposed to be no respecters of persons who appear before them. This rule applies not only to litigants but also to lawyers. It is not just a matter of prudence and good practice, but fundamentally one of ethics.

As is often said, there are good lawyers and bad lawyers. Whilst the majority of the lawyers discharge their duties as officers of the court with professionalism and dedication, there have been cases of some others who have brought disrepute to the legal profession. There have been allegations against some lawyers that in clear dereliction of their responsibilities, they have either misled the courts, or attempted to choose the judges or courts for their cases to be heard so as to obtain a favourable decision in their client’s favour. This is serious interference with the administration of justice and the process of the court.

There is one further important point that I feel compelled to say.

This deals with a judge’s quality in decision-making. We in Malaysia live in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Our founding fathers accommodated this diversity into our Constitution that is reflected in the social contract, and saw this diversity as strength.

Judging in a diverse society is not an easy task. Judges in many parts of the world face similar difficulties. Those of you who were present at the lecture delivered by Justice Albie Sachs at the Second Tun Hussein Onn Lecture last week will know how the Constitutional Court of South Africa, as the guardian of the constitution, wrestle to arrive at a just decision when dealing with the issues relating to diversity or discrimination.

Judges in Malaysia must be ever mindful that they are appointed judges for all Malaysians. They must be sensitive to the feelings of all parties, irrespective of race, religion or creed, and be careful not to bring a predisposed mind to an issue before them that is capable of being misconstrued by the watching public or segments of them.

I am reminded of the proud accolade of the late Tun Suffian in his Braddel Memorial Lecture in 1982, when speaking of the Malaysian judiciary to a Singapore audience he said:

“ In a multi-racial and multi religious society like yours and mine, while we judges cannot help being Malay or Chinese or Indian; or being Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, we strive not to be too identified with any particular race or religion – so that nobody reading our judgement with our name deleted could with confidence identity our race or religion, and so that the various communities, especially minority communities, are assured that we will not allow their rights to be trampled underfoot.”

I have found it necessary to speak at some length on these matters because it is my earnest hope that the Malaysian judiciary will regain the public’s confidence and it will once again be held in high esteem as it once was held.

In conclusion, I wish to say as I have said on previous occasion ‘in the judiciary, people place their trust and hope’.

It now gives me great pleasure in officially declaring open the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.

I wish all of you a fruitful and meaning full discussion and exchange of ideas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Somali PM Gedi resigns

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 13:51:18
Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi
Somali PM has resigned following a long-running feud with the president who accused him of failing to quell insurgency in the capital.

Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi personally handed on Monday his resignation to President Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf who swiftly accepted it.

Critics blame Gedi for being behind the decision to invite Ethiopian forces into Somalia soil to help rescue the struggling interim government in its battle against the extremist militia.

Gedi took the helm of the transitional federal government in 2004 but often has had a fractured relationship with the president, fuelled by clan rivalries during the three years they have worked together in Somalia's transitional government.

Aides close to the president said that the resignation was part of a deal to end what he called the political confusion in Somalia.

The nation of 10 million has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a conflict that has defied at least a dozen peace initiatives.


Monday, October 29, 2007

" DEMOCRACY IS HYPOCRISY " 10/26/2007 8:15:00 PM

Iran slams US for imposing sanctions, Putin warns

26/10/2007 Iran said Thursday the latest "hostile policies" taken by the United States were counter to international law, and accused Washington of hypocrisy. Earlier, the US declared the Revolutionary Guards a "proliferator of weapons of mass destruction", a reference to ballistic missiles they are allegedly developing, while their elite overseas operations arm, the Quds Force, was singled out as a "supporter of terrorism". The US has stepped up its sanctions on Iran for "supporting terrorists" and pursuing nuclear activities. The new measures target the finances of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and three state-owned banks. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the moves were part of "a comprehensive policy to confront the threatening behavior of the Iranians".

"Today, Secretary Paulson and I are announcing several new steps to increase the costs to Iran of its irresponsible behavior," Rice said, who made the announcement alongside Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The US has repeatedly accused Iran of destabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, blaming the Revolutionary Guards for supplying and training "insurgents". Several Democratic presidential candidates, though not front-runner Hillary Clinton, said they were worried the White House had begun a march to war.

"I am deeply concerned that once again the president is opting for military action as a first resort," said Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, a long-shot Democratic candidate. It is the first time the United States has sought to take such measures against another country's military. Russia and some other U.S. allies believe dialogue rather than more punishment or military action is the way forward.

Meanwhile, Russia's President Vladimir Putin warned strongly against new international sanctions on Iran, saying they would lead to a dead end. Putin, in Portugal for a summit with leaders of the European Union, said the standoff over Iran's nuclear program should be resolved through talks, pointing at North Korea as an example. "Why worsen the situation and bring it to a dead end by threatening sanctions or military action," Putin said.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Emerging economies eye IMF power

By Steve Schifferes
Economics reporter, BBC News, Washington

Treasury secretary Henry Paulson with Brazil's finance minister Guido Mantega
US Treasury secretary Paulson was criticised by Brazil's Mantega

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is supposed to be the financial institution that supervises the world economy.

Largely controlled by the US and Europe, it has given advice and funding to developing countries who got into economic difficulties.

But now the shoe is on the other foot, with a worldwide credit crunch that is roiling financial markets in the US and Europe while the emerging economies like China and India appear to have escaped unscathed.

As the world's bankers and financiers met at the annual World Bank and IMF meeting, almost every issue debated involved the growing power and influence of emerging economies.

Indeed, economic growth next year will probably be driven far more by China than by the United States, which is not only the world's largest economy but also one that is expected to slow down sharply as the credit crunch hits the housing market.

"We need to continue to be vigilant because all of our capital markets are not functioning normally," said US Treasury secretary Henry Paulson

Finance ministers in emerging countries pointed out the irony of the situation.

"Countries that were references of good governance, of standards and codes for the financial system, these are the very countries that are facing serious problems of financial fragility, putting at risk the prosperity of the world economy," said Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega.

Some even asked why the IMF had not warned the US earlier of the risk it was running by allowing unregulated mortgage lending. Others asked when the Fund was going to take action to close USA's huge trade deficit by slowing spending and raising interest rates.

But in fact, the IMF's hands are tied. It simply cannot enforce its will against the US, its largest shareholder which still has a veto over its actions.

Currency issues

Nor is there much the IMF can do to force China to devalue its currency faster, despite its new role as monitor of "global economic imbalances", code for China's huge and growing trade surplus which now stands at $1.5 trillion and is set to rise by $400bn next year.

A model of Beijing's Central Business District (CBD), made up of 200,000 pieces of Chinese 100 yuan bank notes
Allowing the yuan's value to rise would benefit China, the IMF insists.

The US Treasury, the G7 group of industrial nations, and the IMF have all argued that if China allowed its currency to float freely, and presumably rise sharply, it would improve both China's economy and help the rest of the world.

"A more flexible exchange rate would give monetary policy more scope to focus on domestic objectives, particularly the need to slow lending and investment growth," the IMF said in a recent report.

But the Chinese disagree, fearing that a sharp revaluation would hurt exports and jobs.

As former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told a meeting at the Institute of International Economics, it is hard to lecture your Chinese counterpart on economic management when his economy is growing at 11% a year, while yours is only growing at 3%.

The West's other complaint, that China is violating the rules of the IMF, can seem like hypocrisy since Western countries have often ignored IMF criticisms, Mr Summers added.

Sovereign wealth funds

Another topic concern about the world's economic decision makers is the role of sovereign wealth funds.

The reform should aim at significantly raising the overall quota shares of developing countries
Li Yong, China's vice finance minister.

These are investments funds are created by governments to invest overseas, and both Singapore, Norway and Middle Eastern oil countries have been running such funds for a long time.

Now China has said that at least $200bn of its surplus will be invested in companies around the world, and this has sparked political controversy in both the US and Europe.

To the Chinese, the sudden desire of Western countries to regulate and restrict their investments also smacks of hypocrisy, as in the past they have had no compunction about forcing poor countries to accept Western investment as the price of aid.

The issue will continue to be controversial, as countries decide which assets are too strategic to be sold to the Chinese.

Governing the IMF

The IMF has been attempting to recognise the rising economic power of India and China by giving them more voting power in the organisation.

School children in Nairobi's Kibera slum
Africa's poor should have a greater voice, say IMF's critics

"The reform should aim at significantly raising the overall quota shares of developing countries, particularly emerging market economies, and strengthening the voice of the low income countries in the Fund," according to Li Yong, China's vice finance minister.

But further reform has stalled because it would involve smaller European countries giving up their seats on the IMF board.

And the governing structure, based on the size of each country's economy, still gives little voice to poor countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, the new emerging giants are voting with their feet. By building up giant trade reserves, they say they have no need to ask the IMF for funds in a crisis.

And without such lending, the IMF increasingly looks like an organisation in search of a role.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Anti-globalization demos in Washington

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 11:56:00
Anti-globalization rallies began on Friday.
Thousand stage anti-globalization rallies in streets of Washington ahead of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings.

Demonstrations continued Saturday for the second successive day with crowds chanting slogans in protest at IMF and World Bank policies. They said the industrial countries' push for globalization has had no results but the spread of poverty in poor and developing countries.

A woman was reportedly injured and taken to hospital. Several window shops were smashed during the protests as well.

The rallies were held under tight security measures as ministers from around the world were to attend the meetings.

Several protesters were beaten and arrested by the police Friday on the first day of the rallies.

source presstv

Friday, October 19, 2007

Deadly Attack on Bhutto

Friday, October 19, 2007

KARACHI, Pakistan — A top provincial security official said Friday that the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto bore the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda-linked, pro-Taliban warlord based near the Afghan border.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf labeled the attack part of a "conspiracy against democracy," reaching out to the former prime minister with whom he is trying to forge a pro-U.S., anti-militant alliance.

The "signature at the blast site and the modus operandi" suggested the involvement of militants linked to warlord Baitullah Mehsud and Al Qaeda, said Ghulam Muhammad Mohtarem, the head security official in the province where Mehsud is based.

"We were already fearing a strike from Mehsud and his local affiliates and this were conveyed to the (Bhutto's Pakistan's) People's Party but they got carried away by political exigencies instead of taking our concern seriously," Mohtarem said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing of Bhutto's convoy, which killed up to 136 people as she triumphantly paraded through her hometown of Karachi Thursday.

On the eve of her return from eight years in self-imposed exile, a provincial government official had cited intelligence reports that three suicide bombers linked to Mehsud were in Karachi. The local government had also warned Bhutto could be targeted by Taliban or Al Qaeda.

Local media reports this month quoted Mehsud — probably the most prominent leader of Islamic militants destabilizing its northwestern border regions near Afghanistan — as vowing to meet Bhutto's return to Pakistan with suicide attacks.

It remained unclear if the attack would stiffen Bhutto and Musharraf's resolve to fight militancy together or strain the already bad relations between Bhutto and the ruling party supporting Musharraf.

Bhutto's husband said on Dawn News television that he suspected "elements sitting within the government," who would lose out if Bhutto returned to power, were involved in the bombing.

He didn't elaborate, though Bhutto has accused conservatives in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q party and the security services of secretly supporting religious extremists. Bhutto has made enemies of Islamic militants by taking a pro-U.S. line and negotiating a possible alliance with Musharraf, who is detested by militants for his alliance with the Bush administration.

Musharraf and Bhutto have been longtime rivals despite their shared liberal values, but his camp said he was "deeply shocked" by the midnight explosions, which went off near the armored truck carrying Bhutto, tearing victims apart and throwing a fireball into the night sky.

Officials at six hospitals in Karachi reported 136 dead and around 250 wounded, making it one of the deadliest bombings in Pakistan's history. Karachi police chief Azhar Farooqi said that 113 people died, including 20 policemen, and that 300 people were wounded. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the death tolls.

The attack shattered the windows of the truck but police said Bhutto was unhurt and was hurried to her house. An Associated Press photo showed a dazed-looking Bhutto being helped away from the scene.

The general "condemned this attack in the strongest possible words. He said this was a conspiracy against democracy," the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said.

Musharraf appealed for calm, promised an exhaustive investigation and stiff punishment for those responsible, APP reported.

Presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi said he doubted the attack would deflect Bhutto from her move toward an alliance with Musharraf, who seized power in a coup and has been under growing pressure to return Pakistan to a more democratic system.

"If someone thinks that by spreading this kind of terror they will stop the political process in Pakistan, I don't think that's correct, I don't think that will happen," Qureshi told The AP.

Musharraf won re-election to the presidency in a vote by lawmakers this month that is being challenged in the Supreme Court. If he is confirmed for a new five-year presidential term, Musharraf has promised to quit the military and restore civilian rule.

Musharraf believes that "all political forces need to combine to face this (militant) threat which is basically the major, major issue that faces Pakistan," Qureshi said.

Leaders of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party were meeting at her Karachi residence Friday, and Bhutto was expected to hold a news conference afterward.

Police were collecting forensic evidence — picking up pieces of flesh and discarded shoes — from the site of the bombing. The truck was hoisted away using a crane. One side of the truck, including a big portrait of the former premier was splattered with blood and riddled with shrapnel holes.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said 18 police died in the attack, and two police vehicles on the left side of Bhutto's truck had borne the brunt of the blast.

He said authorities had done everything possible to protect the huge gathering, but noted that electronic jammers fitted to the police escort vehicles were ineffective against a manually detonated bomb.

In Karachi, which lies in the far south of Pakistan but has been buffeted by militant attacks in recent years, schools were closed and traffic was thin, with residents wary of venturing into the streets.

Unrest broke in two districts but did not appear serious. Hundreds of Bhutto supporters hurled stones at vehicles and shops during a funeral procession for two victims, forcing police to cordon off the area. Elsewhere, Bhutto supporters ordered shops to close and burned tires in the road.

Bhutto had paved her route back to Pakistan through negotiations with Musharraf that yielded an amnesty covering the corruption charges that made Bhutto leave Pakistan.

Authorities had warned Bhutto that extremists sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida could target her in Karachi and urged her in vain to use a helicopter to reduce the risk.

"I am not scared. I am thinking of my mission," she had told reporters on the plane from Dubai.

On arrival, she told AP Television News she was fighting for democracy and to help this nuclear-armed country of 160 million people defeat the extremism that gave it the reputation as a hotbed of international terrorism.

"That's not the real image of Pakistan," she said.

Leaving the airport, Bhutto refused to use the bulletproof glass cubicle that had been built atop the truck taking her toward the tomb of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. An AP photographer who saw the cubicle of the wrecked truck Friday said it appeared to have shrapnel holes from the bombing.

Her procession had been creeping toward the center of Karachi for 10 hours, as supporters thronged her truck, when a small explosion erupted near the front of the vehicle.

That was quickly followed by a larger blast, destroying two escorting police vans.

The former premier had just gone to a downstairs compartment in the truck for a rest when the blast occurred, said Christina Lamb, Bhutto's biographer.

"So she wasn't on top in the open like rest of us, so that just saved her," Lamb told Sky News.

The United States, the United Nations and the European Union condemned the attack.

"Extremists will not be allowed to stop Pakistanis from selecting their representatives through an open and democratic process," said Gordon Johndroe, President Bush's foreign affairs spokesman.

Israeli media: Nasrallah optimism burdens Olmert gov't

Hasan Hijazi - Translated source almanartv


Israeli media followed attentively Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah's comments and broadcast simultaneous translation followed by analyses. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office swiftly responded to Sayyed Nasrallah's words and sought to lower the expectations set by the Hezbollah chief.

"Negotiations are ongoing but the prospect of a large-scale swap deal is still far away," Olmert's office said. The Israeli media attributed Olmert's stance to what it described as the government's embarrassment vis-à-vis the families of the two captured soldiers still held by Hezbollah. Yediot Aharonot's columnist Shimon Shiffer said that Sayyed Nasrallah has succeeded in transferring the whole crisis to the Israeli government and its leader, Olmert. He added that "the Israeli institution believes Nasrallah", therefore when he speaks in an optimistic tone, it means that the problem is at the Israeli side.

According to Israel's media, Sayyed Nasrallah's optimism has created hope within the families of the two captured soldiers. They expressed full confidence in Sayyed Nasrallah's words on the one hand and lashed out at Olmert and his government for failing to release the soldiers.

Qaradawi: Defend Iran against any possible US attack


Prominent Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has urged Muslims to defend Iran against any US possible attack added that as Iran is a Muslim country, it is “obligaagainst it. In an interview with Islam-Online, Sheikh Qaradawitory for all Muslims” to defend it.

"The US is an enemy of Islam that has already declared war on Islam under the guise of war on terrorism," said the president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars. Qaradawi also voiced his support for Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, urging the regional countries to follow diplomacy to resolve their disputes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Israel & Hezbollah plan prisoner swap

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Assad: : cover up failed IAF strike & ME conference

source almanarTV


Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with two Tunisian newspapers published Thursday that Israel is trying to cover up the failure of an Israel Air Force strike on his country early last month.

IAF jets raided a target in northeastern Syria on Sept. 6, which Assad has described as an unused military building while Israeli officials have maintained an unprecedented wall of silence over the affair, though there have been reports - denied by Syria - that the target was a nascent nuclear facility being built with North Korean help.Assad, in the interview, said Israel's silence reflected the failure of Israeli or U.S. intelligence. "They are trying to cover up their failure by shrouding it with mystery," he said.

Assad also all but ruled out his country's participation in a U.S.-sponsored international peace conference on the Middle East, suggesting in an interview published Thursday that the meeting has no chance for success. His comments come amid deep skepticism over the conference among Arab governments, which have expressed doubts the planned gathering in November will tackle the main issues of the conflict with Israel. Top allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have not said whether they will attend.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa predicted the conference would be a failure and said the United States was only hoping for a photo-op between Saudi and Israeli officials rather than real progress.

"Syria has not received an invitation to the conference, and even if it did, it will not take part in a conference that lacks the chances of success," Assad said. The Bush administration has said it will invite Syria to the conference. But Assad had said earlier that his country would not attend the meeting if it did not address Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967.

For its part, the Israeli Military Intelligence has expressed doubts about the likelihood of success at the regional peace summit, saying the Palestinians would like to make immediate gains at the summit, but in return will postpone or fail to carry out their commitments.

In the interview, Assad acknowledged that relations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt were not as they should be but said his country was open to any initiatives to improve ties. He warned against any U.S. military action against Iran, saying it would be foolish and detrimental to the region and to the world.

Leader underlines Muslims unity

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 16:32:21

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution underlines the importance of unity among Muslims to confront the plots hatched by the enemies.

A true Eid is a day when Muslims set aside all differences and draw on Islamic teachings to restore their glory and power, said Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, during a meeting with Iranian officials and diplomats on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

Over the past years, the enemy has tried to undermine the solidarity of the Iranian nation through provoking sectarian and religious conflicts, a plot which has never been successful, the Leader added.

Addressing Iranian officials and the ambassadors of Muslim countries, Ayatollah Khamenei said division and lack of unity among the Islamic Ummah is why bullying powers interfere in the affairs of Muslims.

“This is why the US senate dares to vote for the Iraq partition plan while the Iraqi people and officials have opposed it,” the Leader concluded.

Leader slams ME peace conference

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 14:54:19

Ayatollah Khamenei addressess the Eid al-Fitr congregation.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution has said that the upcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace conference is aimed at saving the Zionist regime.

"So far, the result of all conferences held in the name of peace has been to the detriment of the Palestinian nation; so, they will reject the so-called peace conference," Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in his Eid-al-Fitr prayer sermon Saturday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Inviting all Palestinian groups to unity, fraternity and awareness, he said, "When the Palestinian people regard this conference as deceitful and refuse to attend it, how can other countries allow themselves to participate?"

He lauded resistance of the Palestinian people and added, "Despite constant pressure, the Palestinians and the democratic Hamas government still continue their strong resistance in full knowledge of the fact that Palestine can and should be saved by its people. Support of the Islamic Ummah for Palestinians will increase their resistance."

Iraq crisis

The leader said that Iraq crisis is a painful issue for the Islamic world, adding that the US occupiers avoid establishing security in Iraq or are unable to do so.

"The occupiers refuse to let the democratic Iraqi government counter the crimes perpetrated by the blind terrorism now gripping Iraq. It indicates that they actually support such terrorism," he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei added that the Americans and other occupiers are the main cause of every human, developmental and political catastrophe in Iraq.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who's friend and who's enemy?

Abdullah Shamseddine - Translated source almanarTV


Just after Hezbollah Secretary General finished his speech last week marking Quds Day and accused Israel of having a hand in a number of assassinations in the country, first row leaders from the February 14 bloc rushed to denounce the accusation and even call it "a disaster." Observers from the Lebanese national opposition have concluded that the February 14 bloc has decided to gradually go for two parallel goals: To replace the existing enemy, which is Israel, with another, which is Syria and to gradually normalize ties with the Jewish state. The speech of the leaders of the February 14 bloc since the assassination of former Prime Minister Martyr Rafik Hariri points to an escalatory trend for that purpose. In one incident deputy Speaker and key February 14 figures described Israel as "a neighbor". Moreover, the head of the democratic gathering MP Walid Jumblatt frankly said he did not consider Israel an enemy at this stage. His ally, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea called for labeling Syria "Lebanon's enemy", in the wake of MP Antoine Ghanem's assassination last month.
Opposition sources called to regard other concrete evidence that surfaced during the past couple of years. The head of the unconstitutional government Fouad Saniora, in an unprecedented move, agreed that Israeli journalists attend his press conference abroad and did not mind to answer their questions. Saniora's advisers have even started writing article in Israeli newspapers. The development in Lebanon coincided with a number of Israeli statements praising Saniora and his government. Israeli President Shimon Peres has recently stressed the necessity to preserve Saniora's government and said it is one of Israel's most prominent challenges.

US partition plan: remedy or cup of hemlock?

Tue, 02 Oct 2007 21:15:45
By Bita Ghaffari, Press TV, Tehran

There was a time when global hegemonies resorted to well-calculated moves to disguise their underlying ill intentions. Today politics seems to have turned into a childish game with big powers hardly making any serious endeavors to hide their heinous agenda.

The amnesia characterizing the Bush administration is nothing out of the ordinary. Setting a goal and moving in the opposite direction is a distinctive feature of actors on the American foreign policy stage.

Washington's claims that Saddam's hidden WMD arsenals posed an imminent threat to the US, which it used as a casus belli to invade the country, proved nothing but a fallacy.

The US has been subjected to heavy scorn for failing to live up to its promises. WMDs have not been discovered but cities and villages across the battle-scarred country have turned into a scene of ruthless carnage for almost four years.
Terrorism has been fueled rather than abated.

One of the US purported goals in invading Iraq was to restore democracy in the tyrannized Iraqi society and liberate the people from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussain.

Democracy by definition is 'the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives'.

This explicitly denotes that Iraq ought to be administered by the Iraqi people or their lawful representatives. Evidently, the American officials are by no means the 'elected representatives' of the Iraqi people and therefore not the least bit in a position to make consequential decisions that affect the lives of millions of Iraqis.

American warmongers have used establishment of democracy in Iraq as an excuse to justify their military deployment. That explains why the latest motion passed in the US Senate proposing a division plan in Iraq is indeed a mockery of democracy.

Proposing to divide the country along ethnic and religious lines is perhaps the most unwise and dangerous decision which would make matters worse. In point of fact, by doing so, the US has only further exposed its purpose of exacerbating tension among people of different ethnicities and religious sects.

Washington knows well that it can reap benefits by pouring oil on the flames of sectarian violence and has made no secret of its wicked intentions.

At a time when the Muslim world is thinking and talking about ways to push for national reconciliation in Iraq, the US proposal of splitting Iraq into sectarian enclaves is another blow to the Middle East and the kiss of death for the country's democratic future.

Instead of seeking ways of bridging the gap between Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis and Shias, as well as promoting convergence and unity, the US Senate has rendered the world speechless by putting forth a motion on division of Iraq.

What authorizes the US Senate to pass a motion to shape the lives of millions of people on the other side of the planet? By comparison, how would the American Senators like the idea of reviving the United States' notorious history of racial segregation?

Overstaying their welcome in the region, the Americans have developed the illusion that they can play the role of the regional gendarme and make whatever decision they wish; even if it involves splitting a country into ethnic and/or religious-based regions.

The US is getting bolder in the face of millions of freedom-loving people around the world urging the occupiers to leave the war-scarred nation to decide its own fate.

Obviously, the US-proposed plan to segregate the indigenous Iraqi communities is not a cure for the chronic wounds of the Iraqi people but the Cup of Hemlock for the battle-weary land.

The Senate potion is sure to harm more than heal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Telegraph TV Video -

Monday, October 8, 2007

Kumpulan siswa serba salah hadapi pilihan raya kampus

25-09-2007 09:28:20 PM

komentar PETALING JAYA: Sekumpulan mahasiswa, yang sering mendakwa wujudnya penyelewengan dalam pilihan raya di institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA), serba salah berdepan dengan minggu pemilihan pemimpin Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar (MPP) yang bermula esok.

Walaupun bergembira dengan tempoh berkempen yang lebih panjang berbanding tahun lalu, kumpulan tersebut yang dikenali Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) masih meragui kebebasan, ketelusan dan keadilan penjalanan pilihan raya kali ini.

SMM berjaya mendesak untuk memanjangkan tempoh berkempen kepada enam hari, daripada tiga hari, tetapi risau pentadbiran kampus mengenakan syarat-syarat lain yang dianggap tidak adil.

Mengenai Hak Asasi Manusia Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz dua minggu lalu.Keputusan memanjangkan tempoh itu dicapai sewaktu SMM bertemu pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kaukus Parlimen

Nazri kemudiannya membawa 10 tuntutan kumpulan siswa ini kepada Menteri Pengajian Tinggi Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.

Bagaimanapun hanya dua tuntutan itu diterima kerajaan -- memanjangkan tempoh berkempen kepada enam hari, dan merendahkan wang deposit pencalonan kepada RM50.

Untuk sesi-sesi sebelumnya, menurut SMM, terdapat IPTA yang mengenakan wang deposit sehingga RM300.

Tuntutan-tuntutan lain tidak ditunaikan, antaranya, memansuhkan pengundian secara elektronik, membenarkan calon bertanding secara berkumpulan, menubuhkan badan pengendali pilihan raya yang bebas, mengubah tempat pembuangan undi dari kolej kediaman ke fakulti universiti, dan membenarkan pemantau dari luar kampus.

Tuntutan yang sama, bersama laporan dakwaan penyelewengan dalam pengendalian pilihan raya di IPTA, turut disampaikan kepada kementerian berkenaan dan Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Suhakam).

Seorang aktivis mahasiswa memberitahu mStar Online hari ini, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia akur pada tempoh berkempen sehingga 2 Oktober seperti diumumkan pengerusi Jawatankuasa Naib Canselor/Rektor IPTA, Prof Datuk Dzulkilfi Abdul Razak minggu lepas.

Bagaimanapun, katanya, universiti itu mengambil langkah mengejutkan dengan menaikkan wang deposit calon kepada RM100, berbeza hanya RM50 tahun-tahun lalu.

Seorang aktivis di Universiti Malaya pula bimbang kerenah birokrasi akan membuka peluang yang luas kepada calon "Aspirasi", sementara kumpulan pelajar yang bertembung dengannya dan berslogankan "pro-mahasiswa" tidak mendapat layanan yang sama.

Misalnya, kata pelajar Akademi Pengajian Islam itu, rakan-rakan yang sealiran dengannya selalu dipersulitkan mendapat keizinan untuk berkempen di kolej kediaman.

Pengetua kolej pula sentiasa memerhatikan suasana kempen itu sehingga ramai pula pelajar takut untuk menghadiri kempen calon "pro-mahasiswa".

"Sebab itulah SMM menggesa kempen dan pengundian dipindahkan ke fakulti, bukan lagi di kolej kediaman seperti sekarang," katanya kepada mStar Online.

Bagaimanapun perkembangan positif kelihatan muncul di UPM hari ini.

Komputer riba yang dirampas minggu lepas daripada seorang aktivis Barisan Mahasiswa Bersatu (BMB), gabungan yang ditubuhkan tanpa keizinan rasmi pentabiran dan dianggap melanggar peraturan pilihan raya, dilaporkan akan dipulangkan semula.

Pihak pentadbiran UPM dilaporkan "tersilap" menjalankan prosedur sewaktu melakukan rampasan tersebut.

Perkembangan di luar jangka itu bagaimanapun tidak menghalang BMB daripada terus mendakwa wujud persaingan berat sebelah, yang membabitkan pihak universiti, melalui blog gabungan itu di

Hari ini, artikel teratas awal-awal lagi mendakwa pihak universiti berlaku tidak adil apabila menyebarkan sebuah akhbar cetakan luar Akhbar Mahasiswa di kampus tersebut.

Sementara coretan kedua di bawah artikel ini pula memaparkan amaran UPM agar pelajar tidak melanggar peraturan universiti dengan membuat kenyataan kepada media dan juga mengedarkan bahan sebaran.

Kedua-dua notis itu dikeluarkan 28 Jun lalu.

Sejak 2005, pilihan raya perwakilan pelajar menjadi medan ketegangan antara kumpulan-kumpulan siswa dengan pentadbiran universiti.

Sebuah stesen swasta, tidak lama selepas pilihan raya MPP tahun itu, pernah membangkitkan persoalan kenapa terjadi gejala "pelajar pro-mahasiswa bertembung dengan pentadbiran universiti"?

Sejak dua tahun lalu, rekod-rekod dakwaan pilihan raya yang berat sebelah itu sering disampaikan kepada Suhakam.

Oleh kerana tiada siasatan rasmi dilakukan, dakwaan tersebut tidak dapat disahkan kecuali menjadi bahan berita di media-media alternatif dan pembangkang.

Persoalannya, kenapa perlu kampus dijadikan medan perebutan yang begitu sengit sehingga kekecohan demi kekecohan -- walau tidak begitu besar -- mula melimpah ke pengetahuan umum, gejala yang jarang terjadi dekad-dekad sebelumnya?

Apakah "kepentingan besar" yang sedang dipertaruhkan sehingga wujud persaingan antara kumpulan-kumpulan siswa dengan pentadbiran universiti, yang dituduh memihak kepada mahasiswa "Aspirasi"?

Apakah tempoh berkempen antara esok hingga Selasa depan menyaksikan keadilan dan kebebasan pilihan raya kampus atau hanya mengulangi dakwaan penyelewengan (lagi!) untuk diserahkan kepada Suhakam?

Darfur politics aimed at break-up of Sudan

by M A Shaikh(Wednesday, October 13, 2004)

"The very countries and organisations that are now accusing the Janjaweed of committing genocide, and Khartoum of backing it, or at least failing to control it, are the ones that earlier forced Khartoum to accept an arrangement with the southern Sudanese rebels, led by Colonel John Garang, which has set the basis for secession of the south after a six-year transition period."

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, its western region of Darfur alone being larger than France; the “Islamic and Arab” government of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir is financing and arming the Janjaweed– the “Arab” militia which is allegedly ethnically cleansing the “African” tribes in that region. Those are the partly fabricated facts that the US, the UN and Europe are using to break up Sudan into smaller, mutually hostile units or states, in order to prevent the giant of Africa from becoming an oil-rich “Islamic superpower”. It is, of course, true that Sudan is a huge country, but when has the size of a state been the legal or logical basis for splitting up a sovereign state or dividing it?

The very countries and organisations that are now accusing the Janjaweed of committing genocide, and Khartoum of backing it, or at least failing to control it, are the ones that earlier forced Khartoum to accept an arrangement with the southern Sudanese rebels, led by Colonel John Garang, which has set the basis for secession of the south after a six-year transition period. They are also the countries and organisations that helped to bring about the secession of East Timor from Indonesia–another huge Muslim country–while ignoring the justifiable quest for self-determination of the Muslim peoples of East Turkestan, Chechnya and Kashmir (to take only three examples).

The pressure on Khartoum has been increased in recent weeks, with the US formally calling the killings in Darfur genocide. UN officials despatched by secretary general Kofi Annan to the region have been making inflammatory statements, blaming the government alone for the strife, while failing to mention the role of the anti-government insurgents, and calling for autonomy or federal status for Darfur. Western politicians and media, quoting as evidence statements by UN officials and aid agencies, have given prominence to new allegations that the Janjaweed, helped by the government, is forcing refugees who have been displaced to go back and tend the farms they fled earlier. The Janjaweed militia, being nomadic, cannot grow food for themselves, and the government needs to show that the strife is over, they argue. The UN security council recently passed a resolution calling on Khartoum to end the violence and disarm the Janjaweed, or face sanctions.

The government in Khartoum strongly denies the charges. Dr al-Sadiq Abdullah, the press councillor at the Sudanese embassy in London, dismissed the allegation that refugees are being bribed to return as absurd. “Those who have been displaced own their land. It won’t be possible for them to return as slaves to the land they own.” But the world media rarely quote government officials and, together with UN officials and aid-agencies, base their accusations against the Janjaweed and Khartoum solely on statements by refugees and the anti-government militias: the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Movement for Justice and Equality (MJE). The highly one-sided statements made recently by Louis Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and by Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, are good examples of international officials who are supposed to be impartial, are behaving otherwise.

Arbour, who was sent to Darfur by Annan to prepare a report for the security council before it votes on whether to impose sanctions on Sudan, gave several interviews to the media at the end of her visit, instead of maintaining a discreet silence before reporting to her boss. She said, for instance, that the Sudanese government has failed to keep its promise to protect refugees, and that there is evidence that the Janjaweed, who drove villagers out of their land, are policing camps – a brand-new accusation. Ruud Lubbers went even further, proposing publicly that Sudan would have to grant Darfur autonomy to end the conflict. He did not add the obvious remark that the rebels, the SLA and MJE, would have to negotiate seriously with government at the African Union peace-talks, which they have been boycotting at Abuja, Nigeria.

It is not right for a UN commissioner to interfere with the constitutional issues of a country that is at war. It is this kind of intervention, not Khartoum’s policies alone, that is prolonging the violence, mainly by encouraging the rebel groups to hold out for greater gains, and encouraging other parties to meddle. John Garang, for instance, hailed Lubbers” proposal “for a federal state”, as he put it, and called on the Darfur rebels to maintain their struggle until they achieve this state. He and the rebels know that federal status is but one step away from secession.

But even secession will not bring peace to Darfur, although the vast majority of its population are Muslim. The anti-Khartoum propaganda that Khartoum is promoting a war between the “Arab” Janjaweed militia and the African tribes of Darfur is causing new fears and hatreds that go beyond the historical feuding over grazing, and which, if allowed to intensify, will poison relations between African tribes and Arabs not only in Sudan but in neighbouring countries. Ethnic feuding can also hinder the growth of Islamic activism, even in regions where the populations, like Darfur’s, are all Muslim. This is a gain for the enemies of Islam, which they will engineer and foster. That is why Sudan’s accusation that Israel is financing and arming the SLA and the MJE, as they did Garang’s Sudanese Liberation Army earlier, is not all that far-fetched. Certainly it is possible that the funds and arms Garang is supplying to the Darfur rebels come from Israel.

Kofi Annan has failed in his duty as UN secretary general to thwart US and European countries” attempts to destabilise an African country. Annan, who is holding his UN position because it is Africa’s turn, should not be blind to the interests of African countries in peaceful co-existence, free from tribal and regional wars that bedevil the continent; Africa certainly does not need to have a new conflict between its Arab and African populations.

But it is doubtful whether Annan will stand up to the US and Europe, which between them control the UN. He may even think that there is no reason for him to do so, when Muslim and Arab countries are more conspicuous for their indifference than for their support of the government in Khartoum.

Saudis host conference to support pro-US regime in Somalia, as opposition groups meet in Asmara

by M A Shaikh (Sunday, October 7, 2007) Media monitors network

"According to one Saudi daily, ash-Sharq al-Awsat, reporters covering the meeting – who had thought there would be long discussions and much haggling – were taken by surprise by the speed with which ‘national reconciliation’ was achieved and the pact signed."

The last thing a Muslim country like Somalia – which has been in the grip of turmoil and lawlessness for 16 years and is now under occupation by Ethiopian and US forces – needs is intervention in its turbulent affairs by Muslim governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that are allies of the US and back its anti-Islamic programme in the Horn of Africa. Yet that is exactly what took place in mid-September, when three top leaders of the so-called Somali interim government (IG) and 300 clan heads (warlords, most of them) gathered in Jeddah and signed a “national reconciliation pact”, as the minority accord was presented. This Saudi-sponsored facade was swiftly hailed by Jordan, Egypt and the Arab League as a new development guaranteed to restore peace, stability and unity to the fractured and ‘failed’ state. It also secured the firm backing of the UN and the European Union – which, like those Muslim countries and the US, oppose the establishment of Islamic rule or even groups in the region.

The Jeddah gathering – held in one of the palace conference halls under the personal supervision of the Saudi king himself – was attended by president Abdullahi Yusuf, prime minister Ali Mohammed Sheddi and the head of the transitional parliament, Adan Nur Madobeh, together with the three hundred clan heads. They were there to consider the text of a ‘national reconciliation pact’ that had been prepared by the National Reconciliation Council (appointed by the IG) and agreed at a meeting held in Muqdishu (Mogadishu), also on the invitation and under the supervision of the Saudis. According to one Saudi daily, ash-Sharq al-Awsat, reporters covering the meeting – who had thought there would be long discussions and much haggling – were taken by surprise by the speed with which ‘national reconciliation’ was achieved and the pact signed.

Not surprisingly, the contents of the pact signed before king Abdullah were kept secret, as they had been during and after the National Reconciliation meeting in Muqdishu. What was revealed at length and covered in the media – especially the Saudi press – was the success of the king in laying the basis for guaranteed national reconciliation that will also secure the support of opposition groups not attending the Jeddah gathering. He was reported as having no doubt that what was achieved in Jeddah was genuine national reconciliation that will bring total peace to Somalia and restore its unity and independence.

That there can be nothing further from the truth than these assertions was already widely known as they were being made. Only a few days before the Jeddah meeting, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Somalia’s Islamic movement, and other major opposition groups had convened a conference of their own in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, attended by the leaders of most of the groups opposed to the IG, who established a coalition and declared war on the Ethiopian army in their country. They declared that the new coalition was established for the purpose of ‘freeing’ Somalia of the Ethiopian occupation, stressing that it would resort to military confrontation if the Ethiopian forces protecting the IG failed to withdraw.

Zakaria Mahmoud Abdi, spokesman of the Asmara conference, said that the coalition will employ both military and diplomatic instruments to achieve its purpose, and warned the Ethiopian occupiers of the consequences of their failure to withdraw. “We do not own military equipment but we have armed Somalis and an armed nation that cannot be defeated.” Those attending the Asmara conference included UIC leaders, secular opposition figures and representatives of opposition-groups living abroad. The UIC leader in his turn rejected the US description of the group as terrorists, saying that in fact it (the US) is the real terrorist. “I am a Somali nationalist fighting for the establishment of a free and united Somalia, and the US administration considers my struggle as pure terrorism,” said Sheikh Hassan Tahir. “The only problem in the region is the intervention by the US and its dependents – the Ethiopian leaders,” he added.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the groups meeting in the Eritrean capital are very important, that their participation is essential to any national reconciliation, and that they would rather go to war than accept the Jeddah charade. Another reason why the Saudi monarch’s claims are false and that there can be no reconciliation is that the IG continues its war on opponents who are still in the country and are not engaged in attacks against it. Moreover, just before, during and after the Jeddah gathering the IG raised pressure on independent broadcasting-stations to physical attacks, such as shelling, which drove even its US ally to public alarm. On September 22 the US state department issued a statement expressing its “deep regrets at the attacks [the previous week] on the Shabel broadcasting station in Muqdishu, which exposed the lives of its staff to danger.” The statement called on the IG to guarantee the safety and protection of the independent press in its country. Even the UN followed up with a similar statement. The continuing clashes between the IG forces and those of Somaliland, which seceded in 1991, do not support the claim that the national reconciliation pact will help the reunification of Somalia.

The UIC, which ruled many areas of southern Somalia for a short period, oversaw the only period of peace and stability that Somalia has known in nearly two decades, before it was evicted fron power by the Ethiopian army last December. The US government, which has the UIC on its list of terrorist organisations, arranged and funded the invasion and saw to it that power was restored to the warlords, who had been responsible for the turbulence gripping the country in the first place. The so-called “transitional national government” (TNG), also known as the interim government (IG), consists in fact of the warlords that had reduced the country to violence and lawlessness; unsurprisngly, the same has happened again, wrecking the UIC’s record of achievement of relative good government in the regions under its control.

But despite its failures, the IG continues to enjoy the backing of the UN, the US and its Arab allies, which label the UIC an “extremist group”. The security council of the UN, for instance, on August 20 issued a unanimous resolution, warning that it will “take measures” against anyone –such as the UIC and Eritrea – that threatens Somalia’s transitional government. Not surprisingly, the US government accuses Eritrea of arming and supporting the UIC, while it backs and finances the continued presence of the Ethiopian army, which protects the IG. As a report in Time magazine on September 17 confirms, it is the US that arranged, funded and armed the invasion in the first place, and that now extends similar assistance to the army’s continued presence.

“Whatever Washington’s misgivings, there is little doubt that once Ethiopia committed itself to an invasion, the US provided intelligence, military targeting and logistical support to Ethiopian forces in Somalia – support which continues to this day,” report says.

But the Somali people, most of whom support the UIC, do not need media reports – or even open admissions by Washington – to see the extent of the US’s backing for the Ethiopian army or of its own military presence in their country. They believe that Ethiopia cannot continue to finance the presence of thousands of troops by itself. They also know how interested the US government is in propping up the IG and keeping out the UIC, as they daily see US troops hunting, or searching for, members and supporters of the UIC. Those troops cross into Somalia from neighbouring Djibouti, where there is a US military base set up to combat “terrorist groups”, especially al-Qa’ida, in the entire Horn of Africa.

The majority of Somalis also deeply resent the presence of troops belonging to Ethiopia – a strategic enemy of their own country. Like other Muslims, they now know that the US ‘war on terrorism’ is a war on Islam and Muslims, and that knowledge is confirmed for them by Washington’s support for Christian Ethiopia and its war on the UIC. This explains their anger at the IG’s reliance on US and Ethiopian political, financial and military support, as it explains Washington’s strong interest in replacing the Ethiopian army with an international force under UN control. The US government believes that the presence of such force as the IG leaders and the Saudi palace called for at Jeddah, when the “National Reconciliation” pact was being signed there, will end the nationalist anger in Somalia at the IG, and end support for the UIC. That belief is likely to prove misguided when the results of the Asmara conference are seen on the ground in Somalia.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Musharraf grants amnesty to Bhutto

Fri, 05 Oct 2007 19:28:14

President Musharraf
President Musharraf has signed a hard-bargained reconciliation deal with Benazir Bhutto, while the Supreme Court set back his re-election plans.

The deal was formalized in a presidential ordinance granting an amnesty to Bhutto, her husband Asif Ali Zardari and associated politicians and bureaucrats who were charged between 1985 and 1999 with embezzling millions of dollars and other corruption charges.

In return, the self-exiled liberal politician was to abandon plans for her liberal Pakistan People's Party to boycott the ballot by parliament and four provincial assemblies, DPA reported.

Aimed at promoting national reconciliation, the agreement gives much-needed legitimacy to the vote, which was undermined by the resignation this week of dozens of opposition legislators opposed to Musharraf's re-election while he holds the post of army chief.

The general, who came to power in a 1999 coup, says he will give up his military status soon after he wins another mandate.

Musharraf to win Pakistan election

Sat, 06 Oct 2007 16:03:31

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf
Unofficial results show victory for Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Saturday's presidential election as the voting ends.

Although the ruling-party lawmakers claim Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has swept the voting; the Supreme Court can still disqualify the military leader.

The election by federal and provincial lawmakers was a one-sided affair. Opposition parties abstained or boycotted to protest Musharraf's running for a new five-year term while still army chief.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the official results can only be declared after it rules on complaints lodged by Musharraf's opponents that his candidacy is unconstitutional.

Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq announced that Musharraf had won 252 of the 257 votes cast in Parliament, with three ballots judged invalid and two votes going to his main rival, retired judge Wajihuddin Ahmad.

Menang pilihan raya kena buang kolej?

Surat 1

Menang pilihan raya kampus terus kena buang kolej, itulah kekecewaan yang jelas dijelaskan oleh seorang calon siswa promahasiswa yang telah berjaya dengan cemerlangannya memenangi kerusi dalam Pilihanraya Kampus (PRK) kali. Nampaknya bagi calon promahasiswa akan mendapat hadiah buang kolej dari HEP yang diketuai Azali apabila menang pilihanraya. Akibat tidak berpuashati dan iri hati terhadap kemenangan calon pro mahasiswa yang tidak boleh dihalang lagi, Dr Azali telah mengamalkan undang-undang rimba untuk menekan pihak kolej membuang pelajar tersebut.

Ini bukanlah taktik dan cara baru yang digunakan oleh Azali untuk menekan mahasiswa, perkara ini telah menjadi strategi utama azali dalam menekan dan menindas mahasiswa. Tahun lepas sahaja hampir 38 orang ahli-ahli Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam UPM yang tidak bersalah dan aktif di Universiti telah diambil tindakan buang kolej ekoran terlibat dalam pilihan raya kampus. Pembuangan pelajar ini termasuk 6 orang calon Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar (MPP) promahasiswa yang baru sahaj memenangi pilihan raya kampus pada waktu itu. Dimanakah lagi nilaian demokratik yang ada di UPM apabila orang yang gila kuasa memegang ketua yang mengendalikan hal ehwal pelajar. Lalu, terus diamalkan undang-undang rimba untuk menekan mahasiswa.

Signifikannya isu ini, kita perlu lihat dari skop yang luas. Pertama, amat tidak wajar calon MPP yang menang dalam pilihan raya kampus dilayan sebegitu rupa tidak kiralah dia aspirasi atau promahasiswa. Mereka berhak mendapat penghormatan dan penghargaan kerana telah berjaya mengharungi cabaran dalam pilihan raya kampus kali ini. Keduanya, sikap yang diambil oleh pihak kolej membuang pelajar yang berkaliber amat tidak professional dan memalukan. Hal ini kerana, calon yang menang dalam pilihan raya kampus telah terbukti mereka berkaliber sebab itu mereka telah diberi kepercayaan oleh mahasiswa. Mengapakah pihak kolej sanggup diperkudakan oleh azali? Sanggup mengkhianati pelajar melayu islam yang sepatutnya dijaga kebajikannya bukannya dibuang kolej sesuka hati.

Perkara yang ketiga, membuang pelajar yang telah dilantik menjadi oleh tangan mahasiswa merupakan pencabulan demokrasi kampus yang cukup menyedihkan. Mereka ini Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar amat wajar terus dibenarkan tinggal di Kolej kerana mereka sebagai wakil-wakil mahasiswa perlu duduk bersama mahasiswa untuk mendengar segala rintihan mahasiswa. Kelima, UPM sedang dan ada yang sudah mendapat ISO 9001, kalau macam inilah layanan mereka terhadap mahasiswa. Saya lihat wajar ditarik kembali ISO 9001 kepada mereka kerana layanan mereka terhadap mahasiswa yang menjadi pelanggan mereka amat teruk.

Konklusi daripada kes ini membuktikan bahawa demokrasi kampus benar-benar telah dicabuli oleh tangan-tangan raja rimba yang mengguna undang-undang rimba. Raja rimba ini sepatutunya tidak campurtangan dalam urusan mahasiswa sampai peringkat mengarahkan pengetua kolej membuang pelajar yang tidak sehaluan. Raja rimba ini sepatutnya tugas utama dia diamanahkan di jawatan TNCHEP bukan untuk meninda pelajar tetapi adalah untuk membantu kebajikan pelajar. Kalau inilah yang berlaku, betul seperti kata pengerusi GMPS, Azali sepatutnya tempatnya bertanding dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang, tengok diri betul-betul best atau kuat kerana menjadi TNCHEP semata-mata. Pangkat dan darjat suatu yang pasti akan hancur, yang kekal hanya amal kebajikan kita.

Abdul Basit Abdullah
Barisan Mahasiswa Bersatu (BMB)

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