Pakistani militants abandon deal

A group of Taliban militants in a Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan say they have scrapped a peace deal with the government.
The faction, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, in North Waziristan withdrew from the deal as the army stepped its offensive against the Taliban in the north-west.
The announcement comes a day after his men ambushed a Pakistani military convoy, killing 16 soldiers.
The group signed the peace deal with the army in 2007.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur's group had initially pledged to stay on the sidelines during the continuing operation against the country's top Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud.
Neighbouring South Waziristan is where the Taliban commander is said to be based. The army wants to eliminate his network of militants based in the mountainous territory there.
The group said they were abandoning the peace deal because of continued US missile strikes and Pakistan's widening anti-Taliban offensive in the north-west.
Announcing their decision, spokesman Ahmedullah Ahmedi, also said they would now carry out attacks on military targets in the region until the army left and US drones strikes were halted.
Most of the drone strikes have been targeted at Hafiz Gul Bahadur and another tribal leader, Maulvi Nazir.
Both leaders signed the peace deals with the army in 2007.
A Pakistani soldier stands with his heavy machine gun on a hill of the Biha valley in upper Swat on June 20, 2009

But Maulvi Nazir also abandoned his deal when he declared war on the Pakistan army two days ago.
The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says the scrapping of the deal leaves the army facing a near impossible task - no one has ever defeated a combined insurgency in the Waziristan area.
Pakistan's army began its military offensive in the Swat valley two months ago after the earlier peace deal the Taliban there broke down.
Separately, Pakistan's prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that the second and third tier leadership of the Pakistani Taliban have been "eliminated" in the government's offensive against the militant network.
He added that the top leaders would soon meet the same fate.
The full-scale operation against the Pakistan Taliban leadership in their main stronghold in the Afghan border region of South Waziristan has yet to begin, says our world affairs correspondent, Mike Wooldridge.
One issue cited by the army as they prepare the ground is that they want to avoid provoking a wider tribal uprising.
READ MORE - Pakistani militants abandon deal

Taleban commander rival Qari Zainuddin killed in Pakistan

Tribal leader Qari Zainuddin surrounded by his armed guard as he talks to media in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan
(Sabir Khan/AFP/Getty)
Qari Zainuddin surrounded by his armed guard as he talks to media in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan
A pro-government tribal leader opposed to the Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud was shot dead today, dealing a serious blow to the Pakistani military's offensive against the militants in the lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Qari Zainuddin, the leader of a rival faction of Mr Mehsud’s tribe inhabiting the troubled South Waziristan region, was shot dead in his house in Dera Ismail Khan by a lone gunman, who escaped after firing.
The murder came as the military prepares an offensive against Mr Mehsud, who has been accused of a string of bomb attacks, including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, in 2007.
Baz Mohammad, an aide of the militant commander who was also wounded, alleged that a guard had barged in to a room at Mr Zainuddin's compound after morning prayers and opened fire. He vowed to avenge Mr Zainuddin’s death.
Mr Zainuddin had publicly supported the military operation against Mr Mehsud. He had presented himself as a more moderate tribal commander, denouncing the terrorist attacks allegedly sponsored by Mr Mehsud.
"Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism," Mr Zainuddin said in a recent interview.
Analysts said that Mr Zainuddin's murder was a serious blow to the military campaign against the militants, as support of his faction was considered crucial. "[It] is a warning to other pro government tribal commanders," said Mahmood Shah, a retired brigadier who had served as top official in the tribal region.
Pakistan mounted a military offensive against Mr Mehsud this month in South Waziristan which is suspected to be the centre of the terrorism that has rocked the country.
Pakistani and Western intelligence agencies believe that the region bordering Afghanistan is also the base of al-Qaeda activities and the hiding place of Osama bin Laden.
General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of the Pakistani Army, said that the main objective of the recent military operation was to eliminate Mr Mehsud.
Pakistani air force jets have been bombing Makin, a Taleban stronghold. Yesterday at least 21 people were killed in air strikes in South Waziristan. Residents said some civilians were also among the dead.
A military spokesman said that the security forces had secured a main supply route in the region and were closing in on Mr Mehsud's stronghold.
Earlier today three missiles fired by a US predator in the Ladha district in South Waziristan, killed at least six people.
Security sources said that the missiles were fired after the assassination of Mr Zainuddin, and hit compounds of the supporters of Mr Mehsud. It was the third US drone attack on Mr Mehsud's stronghold.
READ MORE - Taleban commander rival Qari Zainuddin killed in Pakistan

Can Obama relax his hard stance on fighting Taliban?

By Pankaj Mishra

Last month Richard Holbrooke, the US state department’s special representative, met students from Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas. They were enraged by drone attacks, which — according to David Kilcullen, counter-insurgency adviser to US General David Petraeus — have eliminated only about 14 terrorist leaders while killing 700 civilians. One young man told Holbrooke that he knew someone killed in a Predator drone strike.
“You killed 10 members of his family,” he said.

Another said that the strikes had unleashed a fresh wave of refugees.

“Are many of them Taliban?” Holbrooke asked.

“We are all Taliban,” he replied.

Describing this scene in Time, Joe Klein said he was shocked by the declaration, though he recognized it as one “of solidarity, not affiliation.” He was also bewildered by the “mixed loyalties and deep resentments [that] make Pakistan so difficult to handle.” One wishes Klein had paused to wonder if people anywhere else would wholeheartedly support a foreign power that “collaterally” murders 50 relatives and friends from the air for every militant killed.

Much has been made of Pakistan’s “denial” about the threat posed by the Taliban rather than India; correspondingly, western politicians and commentators have applauded the Pakistani military operation in Swat valley that has exposed 3 million people to what Human Rights Watch calls a humanitarian catastrophe. Relatively little attention has been given to the US’ more damaging evasion of the fact that most people in Pakistan, a “frontline” country in the war on terror, are unsympathetic if not actively hostile to it.

Political bitterness rather than racial or religious supremacism fuels this variant of anti-Americanism. Twice in three decades the US has enlisted military dictators in Pakistan to fight its battles — most damagingly in the cold war when, as US President Barack Obama conceded recently in Cairo, the US heedlessly deployed Muslims as proxies against Soviet communism. Many Pakistanis remember how the blowback from the CIA’s anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan (millions of Afghan refugees, a rampant Kalashnikov “culture” and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism) ravaged their country, years before it crashed into the US itself on Sept. 11, 2001. Pakistanis now accuse the US, again not unreasonably, for pursuing its failed war on terror in Afghanistan into Pakistan, reinvigorating the extremists it had helped to spawn.

Though beholden to US aid, Pakistan’s civilian-military elite has been naturally reluctant to fight too hard to redeem the blunders of an overweening and unreliable ally; covertly supporting extremist groups, elements in the army and intelligence have tried to maintain their room for maneuver in both Afghanistan and Kashmir. Occasionally, as in Swat and now again in Waziristan, intense US pressure yields a military assault. It can even attract a degree of public support, as most Pakistanis are appalled by the brutality of Talibanized Pashtuns.

But this does not amount to popular endorsement of drone attacks. Last month Indian-born US journalist Fareed Zakaria told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show that Pakistan was emerging from its state of denial since his Pakistani friends, who previously opposed the drone attacks, now tell him: “You know what? If that’s the only thing that will work, kill those guys.”

Some members of Pakistan’s tiny elite, where Zakaria’s native informants come from, may long to exterminate the brutes: They fear, often correctly, Islamic extremists as embodying the rage and frustration of the country’s underprivileged majority. But as the suffering of civilians in Swat becomes known, the highly qualified public support for military action will wane quickly.

Certainly, claims of success in Swat are premature. The Taliban may vanish in order to regroup as they did after their apparently decisive defeat in Afghanistan in 2001. Furthermore, the refugee crisis can only strengthen the Taliban. Their pied pipers of jihad, nursed on hatred in refugee camps, will easily recruit suicide-bombers among the freshly uprooted millions. Pakistan will suffer many more attacks of the kind we have seen in recent days.

But all is not lost. The idea that Pakistan, with its ethnically and politically diverse population of Punjabis, Sindhis and Balochs, is ready to surrender to fanatics led by Pashtuns is a paranoid fantasy — easily dispelled by the briefest scrutiny of structures of religious and political power, and indeed recent election results in any region of Pakistan.

As Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid recently pointed out, Pakistan’s apparently failed state is more than capable of dealing with violent extremists if it can sort out its mixed loyalties. Institutionally distrustful of the US, which recently turned India into its main Asian ally with an extravagant nuclear deal, Pakistan has continued to incite extremists against the US-backed, pro-India regime in Kabul and Indian interests in Kashmir. However, much of the strength of the duplicitous intelligence agency, the ISI, derives from its claim to protect what even moderate Pakistanis regard as their country’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan and Kashmir — national interests that, as Obama partly admitted in Cairo, the US’ overriding geopolitical priorities have often rendered illicit, driving them underground.

The US has the opportunity to shrink the ISI’s malign role and redeem its standing among Pakistanis by urging India and Pakistan to a comprehensive political solution in Kashmir and by explicitly acknowledging that Pakistan, which shares a long border and a large Pashtun population with Afghanistan, will never tolerate a hostile ruler in Kabul, especially if backed by India.

Abandoned by their US allies after the anti-Soviet jihad, some of Pakistan’s megalomaniac generals sought “strategic depth” in Afghanistan against India; even their sober successors are unlikely to affect indifference to their volatile neighbor. Having grudgingly admitted Iran’s influence in Iraq, the US will eventually have to trust Pakistan to control its proxies in Afghanistan — a crucial component of any “regional” solution. The US can reasonably expect responsible behavior from Islamabad only if — as with Iran — it treats Pakistan as a power with inalienable interests, rather than as a nuclear-armed “rogue” state. Obama could then expedite the inevitable task of drawing up a timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan.

Deprived of their main antagonists, the Taliban are unlikely to collectively embrace Sufism. But ending the occupation of Afghanistan would dry up their main source of legitimacy and support and undermine their loose alliance with al-Qaeda. It is no accident that Afghan Pashtuns have not been implicated in any international terrorist conspiracies even as many of them fight NATO troops in Afghanistan. The Obama administration should consider the possibility that, as Graham Fuller, the CIA’s former station chief in Kabul puts it, few Pashtuns “will long maintain a radical and international jihadi perspective once the incitement of the US presence is gone.”

Obama came to power, however, promising to exert brawn in Afghanistan rather than Iraq. Even his harshest Republican critics, including former US vice president Dick Cheney, have applauded his recent military “surge.” Admiral Mike Mullen, the US joint chief of staff, admitted that intensified action in Afghanistan could push the Taliban deeper into Pakistan, further destabilizing the country. Whether Obama, who is probably aware of the dangers of turning the Taliban into Pakistan’s Khmer Rouge, can break out of his hard-line posture remains to be seen.

Pankaj Mishra is author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tibet.
READ MORE - Can Obama relax his hard stance on fighting Taliban?

Several dead in Pakistan bombing

breaking news
A bomb blast has killed at least seven people at a market in the north-western Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan.

Many more people were wounded in the blast, reports said.
"It seems the bomb was planted. At the moment, we have at least seven dead and 50 wounded," government official Syed Mohsin Shah was quoted by Reuters.

In February, 25 people were killed in a bomb attack on a funeral procession in the town, near Pakistan's restive tribal belt.

The attack comes amid a government offensive against Taliban militants in Pakistan's north-western provinces.

Another bomb attack in January killed five people in the town.

Dera Ismail Khan has also been the scene of a number of deadly attacks targeted at the local Shia population since 2007.
READ MORE - Several dead in Pakistan bombing

CIA 'close' to nabbing bin Laden?

Leon Panetta, Director of CIA. Photo Courtesy: AFP.
Leon Panetta, Director of CIA.

The CIA says it believes that al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is alive and still hiding in Pakistan and the US spy agency hopes to close on to him as Taliban and other militant groups shielding him crack under pressure of Pakistan army offensive.

US intelligence chief Leon Panetta said the information his agency had, indicated Laden was in Pakistan and finding him remains one of CIA's top priorities.

For the hunt for Laden, labelled world's most wanted man, Panetta, who was talking to reporters after a speech in the Congress, said CIA had increased the number of officers, agents and local informants to provide information in Pakistan.

"We have number of people and assets on the ground in Pakistan who are providing us information that we need to go after bin Laden," the CIA director said.

Bin Laden has eluded a US manhunt since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, but appears on issued audio and videotapes over the years demonstrating he is still alive.

"Our hopes is that the Pakistanis move in militarily, combined with our operations, we may be able to have a better chance to get him," Panetta said.

He also said al Qaida "remains the most serious security threat" to the United States and its leaders.

Panetta said Washington was aware that if the crackdown by Pakistani army makes progress, al Qaida leaders like Bin Laden and his deputy may have their sights set on new safe havens in Yemen and Somalia, which have large ungoverned territories.

The CIA's chief affirmation that the hunt for bin Laden was still on comes as other top leaders of al Qaida in Afghanistan have reportedly said militants are short of food, weapons and other supplies needed to fight foreign forces there.

On a website used by top al Qaida leaders and other militants to post statements, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid said: "In Afghanistan, we have a severe supply deficit."

Panetta's assertion that Laden is alive runs contrary to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's belief. Zardari had recently said that Pakistan believed bin Laden was dead and not hiding on Pakistani soil.
READ MORE - CIA 'close' to nabbing bin Laden?

Some in Qaeda Leave Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen

Khaled Fazaa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A Yemeni Army checkpoint between the provinces of Aden and Lahj. Officials say some Qaeda fighters are moving to Yemen.
Published: June 11, 2009
WASHINGTON — American officials say they are seeing the first evidence that dozens of fighters with Al Qaeda, and a small handful of the terrorist group’s leaders, are moving to Somalia and Yemen from their principal haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas. In communications that are being watched carefully at the Pentagon, the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency, the terrorist groups in all three locations are now communicating more frequently, and apparently trying to coordinate their actions, the officials said.

Some aides to President Obama attribute the moves to pressure from intensified drone attacks against Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, after years of unsuccessful American efforts to dislodge the terrorist group from their haven there.
But there are other possible explanations. Chief among them is the growth of the jihadist campaigns in both Somalia and Yemen, which may now have some of the same appeal for militants that Iraq did after the American military invasion there in 2003.
Somalia is now a failed state that bears some resemblance to Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, while Yemen’s weak government is ineffectually trying to combat the militants, American officials say.
The shift of fighters is still small, perhaps a few dozen, and there is no evidence that the top leaders — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri — are considering a move from their refuge in the Pakistani tribal areas, according to more than half a dozen senior administration, military and counterterrorism officials interviewed in recent days.
Most officials would not comment on the record about the details of what they are seeing, because of the sensitivity of the intelligence information they are gathering.
Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, said in remarks here on Thursday that the United States must prevent Al Qaeda from creating a new sanctuary in Yemen or Somalia.
The steady trickle of fighters from Pakistan could worsen the chaos in Somalia, where an Islamic militant group, the Shabab, has attracted hundreds of foreign jihadists in its quest to topple the weak moderate Islamist government in Mogadishu. It could also swell the ranks of a growing menace in Yemen, where militants now control large areas of the country outside the capital.
“I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically because we have seen Al Qaeda leadership, some leaders, start to flow to Yemen,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution here on May 18.
For the United States, the movement creates opportunities as well as risks. With the Obama administration focusing its fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a shift of fighters and some leaders to new locations could complicate American efforts to strike a lasting blow.
But in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Qaeda and Taliban forces have drawn for protection on Pashtun tribes with whom they have deep familial and tribal ties. A move away from those areas could expose Qaeda leaders to betrayal, while communications among militants in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen have created a new opportunity for American intelligence to zero in on insurgents who gave up many electronic communication devices shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks to avoid detection.
A senior Obama administration official attributed some of the movement to “the enormous heat we’ve been putting on the leadership and the mid-ranks” with Predator strikes, launched from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama’s strategy so far has been to intensify many of the strikes begun under the Bush administration.
“There are indications that some Al Qaeda terrorists are starting to see the tribal areas of Pakistan as a tough place to be,” said an American counterterrorism official. “It is likely that a small number have left the region as a result. Among these individuals, some have probably ended up in Somalia and Yemen, among other places. The Al Qaeda terrorists who are leaving the tribal areas of Pakistan are predominantly foot soldiers.”
Measuring the numbers of these movements is almost as difficult as assessing the motivations of those who are on their way out of the tribal areas.
But American officials say there is evidence of a shift. One senior American military official who follows Africa closely said that more than 100 foreign fighters had trained in terrorism camps in Somalia alone in the past few years. Another senior military officer said that Qaeda operatives and confederates in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia had stepped up communications with one another.
“What really has us worried is that they’re communicating with each other much more — Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen,” the senior military officer said. “They’re asking, ‘What do you need? Financing? Fighters?’ ”
Mr. Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan placed the defeat of Al Qaeda as the No. 1 objective, largely to make sure that the group could not plot new attacks against the United States.
Thus, the movement of the fighters, and the disruption that causes, has been interpreted by some of the president’s top advisers as a sign of success.
But the emergence of new havens, from which Al Qaeda and its affiliates could plot new attacks, raises difficult questions for the United States on how to combat the growing threat, and creates the possibility that increased missile strikes are in the offing in Yemen and Somalia.
“Those are issues that I think the international community is going to have to address because Al Qaeda is not going away,” Admiral Mullen told a Senate committee on May 21.
The C.I.A. says its drone attacks in Pakistan have disrupted Al Qaeda’s operations and damaged the group’s senior ranks. American officials say that strikes have killed 11 of the top 20 Qaeda leaders in the past year.
“Al Qaeda has been hit by drones and it has generated a lot of insecurity among them,” said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and military analyst in Islamabad.
“Many among them are uneasy and it is possible that they are leaving for Somalia and other jihadi battle fronts,” he said. “The hard core, however, will like to stay on.”
Without singling out any countries, Adm. Eric T. Olson, the head of the Special Operations Command, spoke in general terms last week about how the increased Pakistani military operations in the Swat Valley and early indications of a new Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan had put militants on the run.
“As the Pakistanis are applying pressure,” Admiral Olson told a House panel, “it will shift some of the sanctuaries to other places.”
Jack Styczynski contributed reporting from New York.
READ MORE - Some in Qaeda Leave Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen

India in the Sino-Indian territorial issues angered the Chinese Internet users to play with fire!

印度在中印领土问题上玩火 激怒中国网民!
(Printed in China and India will deploy a large number of border checks and balances in China Su-30. Data: Indian Air Force active-duty multi-purpose fighter Su-30MKI

     Global Times special correspondent in India Xiao Lei is reported that in recent days, India moves continuously, one after another provocation to China's sovereignty. First announced the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh" (China's Tibetan South) 50000 -6 million troops, but also announced the deployment of its northeastern border Su -30 fighter planes and more. Then, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, adding that the issue of territory to the Chinese will never compromise. Chinese experts said that India in this series of moves to undermine the trust between China and India, would seriously damage relations between the two countries. At the same time, China's Internet users in India it is also very angry.

     Global network of 10 surveys conducted by more than 90% of Internet users believe that the move to send more troops to India posed a threat to China; about 55% of Internet users believe that the issue of frequent anti-China voices in India to cater to the interests of international anti-China groups, To gain more political capital of India, while about 33% of users think it is hostile to China and India a true reflection of the mentality, there are about 12% of users believe that this is India's new government took office, in order to consolidate the power of playing a political maneuver. About 65% of Chinese netizens believe that the frequent provocation of China, India, the biggest loss will be India's own. In addition, about 72% of users believe that China should not be at all costs to safeguard Sino-Indian friendship. On how to punish India on this issue, about 76% of users believe that support should be open or ambiguous in India anti-government forces, will certainly not support the choice of less than 19%.

     Global Netizen commented that China's neighboring countries to deal with malicious provocation showed that hard-line position, otherwise the future will be similar to more and more trouble, more passive. User also commented that "the Government of India playing 'both sides' approach, both from the' Sino-Indian friendship 'in the benefits of fish, but also wants its hegemony, but also with other countries of collusion between hegemony, which is its in real terms. Today's India is not our wishful thinking has been envisaged in the Non-Aligned India! "

     Some netizens said that China must be tough at all to strengthen the western military forces, to strengthen border defense, to deal with "security threat." Some Internet users also said that China should first economic power, waiting for an opportunity to recover the land.

     Asia-Pacific Studies Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Deputy of the Sun Shihai of "Global Times" reporter said that, before the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of possession of the South, then take tough action as well as the troops are trying to show their issues at the border "will and determination" to the country, China and the international community to see. However, India should insist on the way to negotiations with China to resolve border disputes.

     DAI well-known military expert in the "Global Times" reporter, said that while India is the world's attention shifted to the test by North Korea in Northeast Asia, the looting in the Sino-Indian border, will have serious implications for Sino-Indian relations.

     DAI said that the Indian troops destroyed a large-scale Sino-Indian trust between the two countries, it is very shameful act of hostility, as well as China and India to improve relations between the two countries cast a shadow over.
READ MORE - India in the Sino-Indian territorial issues angered the Chinese Internet users to play with fire!

US envoy sees Pakistan backlash

Richard Holbrooke visiting a camp for displaced people
The envoy said that problems facing displaced people were 'overwhelming'
US envoy Richard Holbrooke has said that the public mood in Pakistan is swinging against the militants towards the government.
Mr Holbrooke, who recently returned to the US from Pakistan, told reporters about the "growing consensus" of the need to face down insurgents.
But he also said that Pakistan was in the throes of a major refugee crisis.
More than two million people have been displaced because of the army's offensive in Pakistan's Swat valley.
Mr Holbrooke, who toured refugee camps in the north-west of the country, called the situation there a "major, major crisis" and said people should be allowed return home as soon as possible.
He added that the camps should not be allowed to become permanent.
But he insisted that the army's offensive had the support of the Pakistani public.
Mr Holbrooke said that "outrages perpetrated by the Taliban" such as Tuesday's bombing of the Pearl Hotel in Peshawar which killed at least 18 people, were resulting in a dramatic change in attitudes.
Letter to India
The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington said that US officials and politicians have long expressed the concern that the fight against extremism in the region does not have whole-hearted support of Pakistan's government and people.
However Mr Holbrooke said his conversations with senior Pakistani military officers had assured him of their clear strategy in the battle against the militants.
In recent days the Pakistani army has been targeting militants on a variety of fronts in the north-west of the country. Apart from the ongoing offensive in the Swat valley, the army has been bombarding positions in the semi-tribal areas around North Waziristan.
Separately, Mr Holbrooke said that the US Undersecretary of State William Burns had handed India a letter from President Barack Obama.
"This administration believes that what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan is of vital interest to our national security, and .. that India is a country that we must keep in closest consultation with," he said.
He declined to divulge the contents of the letter.
READ MORE - US envoy sees Pakistan backlash

Seven Killed In Pakistan Hotel Bomb Blast

Seven people have been killed and 34 wounded when a bomb hidden in a vehicle ripped through a five-star hotel in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Blast in Peshawar, Pakistan
The aftermath of the bomb blast at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar

The blast hit the Pearl Continental hotel in the high-security Khyber Road area and fire swept through the building.
The hotel is a favorite of foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis, making it a high-profile target for militants.
Pakistani journalist Safeer Ullah told Sky News he expected the death toll to be much higher.
"There are many bodies lying inside the hotel and there are many more injured," he said.
"It is reported that the bomb was in a car. The attackers fired on a checkpoint in front of the hotel. They then took the car round the back of the hotel and set the bomb off.
"The back of the hotel has totally collapsed."
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban are likely culprits having launched a wave of attacks in Pakistan in retaliation for a military campaign against militants in the Swat Valley region.
READ MORE - Seven Killed In Pakistan Hotel Bomb Blast

Kim's No 1 son confirms succession of little brother Kim Jong Un

The oldest son of Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s supreme leader, has given the first confirmation that his youngest brother is to inherit power in the isolated dictatorship, even as its Government is threatening pre-emptive nuclear attack against any infringements of its “dignity and sovereignty”.
Months of rumours and speculation were confirmed today when Kim Jong Nam, the first son of the country’s “Dear Leader”, told Japanese television that his half-brother, Kim Jong Un, 26, had been designated heir apparent.
“I hear the news by media. I think it’s true,” Mr Kim told the Japanese television station TV Asahi in an interview recorded in the Chinese enclave of Macau, where he is a regular visitor. “[it] is my father’s decision, so once he decides we have to support . . .
“I hope he can do his best for North Korean people for their happiness and better life.”
Mr Kim added: “I cannot tell what kind of person is my brother. Just I can say it’s my brother. My father loves very much my brother as his son.”
He denied rumours circulating among Asian diplomats that people close to him in North Korea have been purged, and said that he had no personal interest in power. “Sorry, I’m not interested in politics,” he said.
At 37, Kim Jong Nam is the oldest of the Dear Leader’s three sons by two different mothers. In 2001 he was humiliated after being detained in Japan while attempting to visit Tokyo Disneyland on a forged passport. He has also been spotted in Paris, Beijing and most often recently in Macao, the Chinese gambling enclave.
The succession in the world’s most closed and isolated nuclear-armed state had been a subject of intense speculation since Kim Jong Il suffered an apparent stroke last year.
It seems possible that the recent nuclear tests, and the continuing escalation of official rhetoric, are intended at whipping up support and enthusiasm for the Government at a time of uncertainty and transition.
For the first time since the emergence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme 15 years ago, the state media referred to it yesterday as an offensive, rather than merely defensive, weapon.
“Our nuclear deterrent will be a strong defensive means . . . as well as a merciless offensive means to deal a just retaliatory strike to those who touch the country’s dignity and sovereignty even a bit,” said an opinion article on the Korean Central News Agency.
“It is the revolutionary spirit of the army and people and the mode of counter-action for self-defence to decisively wipe out the aggressors,” it continued, promising “the toughest measures and . . . pre-emptive attack with the advanced pre-emptive strikes”.
The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour after crossing North Korea’s border with China, today begged Pyongyang to release them. “We ask the Government of North Korea to show compassion and grant Laura and Euna clemency and allow them to return home to their families,” the relatives said in a statement.
“We think the imprisonment, trial and sentencing of Laura and Euna should be viewed as a humanitarian matter,” Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said. “We hope that the North Koreans will grant clemency and deport them.”
Mrs Clinton has promised “significant action” against Pyongyang, but there is still no clear indication what form this will take.
“The character of North Korea’s behaviour is a fairly familiar pattern of doing something outrageous and then expecting to be paid for stopping doing it,” Dennis Blair,, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, said in a speech in Washington late yesterday.
“Overlaid on that are the succession concerns of the current leader. He had a stroke last summer and recently designated his son as his successor . . . any time you have a combination of this behaviour, doing provocative things in order to excite a response, plus succession questions, you have a potentially dangerous mixture.”
READ MORE - Kim's No 1 son confirms succession of little brother Kim Jong Un

India deploys new jets along China border

NEW DELHI, June 9 -- Indian defense officials say they will deploy their new Sukhoi 30-MKI advanced fighter jets along the country's sensitive border with China.

Defense Ministry representative Col. R. Kalia said Tuesday the four multi-role strike fighter jets would be deployed next week at the Indian air force base in Tezpur, about 115 miles north of Assam state's main city of Guwahati, near where China is alleged to have made border incursions, Times of India-IANS reported.

"Four Sukhoi 30-MKI fighter jets would land first and soon it would be a full squadron comprising of 18 aircraft," Kalia said.

The newspaper said the fighter jets are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and have been made to Indian specifications. They are a variant of the Sukhoi SU-30 produced by Russia's Sukhoi Corp. and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for the Indian air force.

"There are more plans to improve infrastructure in the northeastern region, including developing four or five airfields and advanced landing grounds, besides putting our best assets in the region," an unnamed senior Indian air force official told Times of India-IANS.
READ MORE - India deploys new jets along China border

65 Years On...

...and let's not forget the price that men paid to keep the world free.

Not only on the beaches of Normandy...

but also in the China-Burma-India theater...

Not a very well-known piece of WW2 history was the Second Chindit Expedition, conducted from February to August 1944. The expedition originated from Assam state in north-east India into Burma. Consisting of troops mainly from the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade. Their main mission was to wrest control of north Burma from the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

This area was where the famous Burma Road was located. The road itself, being the critical supply route from British India to Nationalist China bases in Yunnan, was overran by the Japanese army in 1942.

On June 6 1944, the climatic battle for north Burma began. The 77th Brigade was given the objective of taking the city of Mogaung and liberating the Burma Road. The 77th was ultimately successful but suffered 50% casualty, not just in the battle that lasted 21 days but also from disease and malnutrition.

Lest we forget.
READ MORE - 65 Years On...

‘Close missionary schools in Lahore'

Islamabad: In a new threat, the Taliban has asked Pakistan to close missionary schools in Lahore. There would be dire consequences, if the schools were not closed, Taliban threatened.

Taliban said that explosions would be carried out in Lahore, if the schools were not closed.

The Taliban says, “either school be closed or long holidays be given to students.” The Taliban has also asked to remove CCTV cameras from the schools.

Though holidays were scheduled to be announced on June 16, the school has been closed in the wake of threats. The schools have also cancelled the examinations were scheduled for today. The schools in Lahore remain closed for two and half months.
READ MORE - ‘Close missionary schools in Lahore'

Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism

Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism.

It's shocking to write. But it's time to start calling it what it is.

When Jim D. Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 rounds and a shot-gun, he killed 2 people and was charged with murder. His motive was "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general as well as gays." He should have been charged with terrorism.
Sunday George Tiller, a Wichita doctor, was killed INSIDE the lobby of his Wichita church. Reformation Lutheran Church became a crime scene; fundamentalist terrorism.
The right wing media hacks make targets of the left. The fundamentalist reverends blather their intolerance of other Americans. Their marriages are in jeopardy if the GLBT community can walk down an aisle. Their children are going to be molested if you have to rent to a same sex couple. Fear...fear...fear the queer.
Bill O'Reilly's hit piece on Dr. Tiller is a training tape for Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists. Never did he ask the woman interviewed how she, as a 13 year old, got pregnant, who was the father, or where her parents were when she underwent an abortion at Dr. Tiller's clinic. I'm sure O'Reilly's drivel will insist on personal accountability for the murderer. I'm sure he won't be in line for any "accountability" for calling the doctor "Tiller the baby-killer" or his clinic a "death mill."
Are anti-choice groups celebrating today? An abortion doctor is dead so women won't have unwanted pregnancies!
The "war on terror" needs to include domestic religious, fundamentalist terrorists.
Who is next?
READ MORE - Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism

Taliban militants abduct 400 students

Islamabad, Jun 2 : Heavily-armed Taliban militants on Monday abducted nearly 400 students and staff members of a cadet college after intercepting a convoy of buses in a lawless tribal region near the North West Frontier Province.
There was initially some confusion about the exact number of students who had been abducted. Police officials later put the number of abducted students and staff members at nearly 400.
Earlier, Mirza Muhammad, an advisor to the Pakistani Prime Minister, said all but 17 of 500 students from Razmak Cadet College who were travelling in a convoy to Bannu town in NWFP had been kidnapped by militants.
Mr. Muhammad said the students, aged between 15 and 26, had left the college after it closed for a break. The students were accompanied by security guards.
A bus carrying 17 students managed to evade the militants, Muhammad told Dawn News channel. Police officials said another bus too evaded the abductors and reached a nearby police station.
Mr. Muhammad said students who reached Bannu and police officials had told him the kidnappers were Taliban fighters.
Reports said the students had left the college in a convoy of 29 buses. All the buses crossed the Khajori check post in North Waziristan Agency before they were intercepted by the militants.
Mr. Muhammad said police and the political administration of North Waziristan had launched efforts to free the students.
The abductors had not made any demands so far, he said.
READ MORE - Taliban militants abduct 400 students
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