Archive for June, 2012

Gen Kayani, John Allen agrees on cross-border cooperation

In what appeared to be a positive step to cope the threat of terrorism, Pakistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been agreed on cross-border cooperation.

General John R Allen, Commander of the ISAF, held a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and discussed issues of bilateral cooperation.

According to a joint press release of the Pakistan Army and ISAF, the purpose of his visit was to build on the positive momentum established during last month’s meeting of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-ISAF Tripartite Commission.

The press note further said that all stakeholders further discussed the mutual progress made to eliminate terrorism, combat extremism and ensuring that the territory of both Pakistan and Afghanistan are not used as safe hideouts to launch attacks against each other.

Gen Kayani also discussed current operational realties with Gen Allen. The two officials expressed the willingness to achieve the joint targets set in the trilateral military conference, held last month.

The press note quoting Gen Allen said, “This visit helped advance our efforts to achieve the regional stability. Additionally, the meeting provided us perfect opportunity to refocus our attention on our continuing efforts to eliminate the corrosive effects of extremists operating on both sides of the border”.

The ISAF Commander’s visit is in the backdrop to a deadly cross-border attack by over 100 insurgents in the borderarea, targeting a patrol party of Pakistani security forces.

According to the military officials, some 14 militants were killed in the operation while 14 personnel embraced martyrdom.

Earlier, General Kayani told the visiting ISAF Commander that insurgents returned to Afghanistan and roamed freely in the war-torn country after launching attacks on Pakistani forces.

The military chief further asked the NATO General to take action against the Maulvi Fazlullah-led branch of militants.
In reply, General John Allen asked Pakistani to take action against Haqqani network, saying that Maulvi Fazlullah wasinvolved in terrorist activities in Afghanistan and was operating from Pakistan’s tribal areas.

June 30, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Hijackers on China flight used a crutch as weapon

The suspected hijackers who attempted to take over a domestic flight operating over Xinjiang on Friday had used a crutch to threaten passengers and the aircraft crew.
More details of the hijacking have emerged even as rights groups claimed it wasn’t a hijack but a brawl over a seat dispute.

Officials however claimed that the hijackers, brandishing sharp pieces of the crutch, attempted to force their way into the cockpit within 10 minutes of the flight taking off from Hotan city to the capital of the province, Urumqi.

Passengers apparently used belts to tie the hands of the six suspected hijackers.

Seven persons were injured in foiling the attempt; four were hospitalised.

“All six of the hijackers were ethnically Uyghur, and they tried to break into the cockpit using a broken crutch as a weapon, but were overpowered by passengers and crew,” Global Times quoted Hou Hanmin, chief of the regional information office, as saying. Hou added that investigation into the incident was on but it was not clear whether six arrested were part of a terrorist group.

The hijack was a violent terrorist attack, Hou said, adding that four passengers are receiving hospital treatment and their conditions are stable.

This was the second attack on an aircraft operating in the remote and restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR); in March, 2008, a teenage girl attempted an attack on a China Southern airlines flight from Urumqi to Beijing. That attempt was foiled as well.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, meanwhile, has decided to honor the crew of the flight as “China’s Civil Aviation Anti-hijacking Hero Crew,” and also expressed appreciation to the passengers who bravely aided the crew.

A Web user under the screen name Cameral claimed on Tencent Weibo that a friend of his on the plane helped to fight the hijackers, three of whom were sitting in the front and the other three in the middle of the vessel.

The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress said it was not a hijacking attempt but a brawl over a seat dispute, which was being blown out of proportion.

Friday’s incident occurred occurred less than week before the third anniversary of the July 2009 riots in Urumqi in which at least 192 people were killed in fighting between Han Chinese and the dominant community of the region, Uyghurs.

Tension, according to agency reports, are already high in Hotan, where authorities raided a religious school and are conducting home searches, according to the Washington-based Uyghur American Association.

June 30, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Army doctors extend help in Punjab

Karachi: Doctors from the medical corps of the Pakistan Army were called on Saturday to hospitals in Punjab, the largest Pakistani province where doctors have been on strike for about two weeks crippling hospital operations.

The Punjab government has lately requested the Pakistan Army for doctors so that they can take over the duties of the striking doctors who are demanding a raise in their salaries and perks.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that upon the request of the Punjab government some 150 doctors have been assigned duties at the government hospitals in the province so that the patients could be attended to.

The doctors from the medical corps, both male and female, of the army will perform their duties in army uniform. However, the doctors will assist the core medical operations and will not assist in management and other administrative affairs.

The two-week-long strike of the Young Doctors Association at public hospitals has almost shut the outpatient departments of all the hospitals.

The poor patients in the province are the ones who are suffering. The strike has been causing immense hardship to patients and their attendants who visit the government hospitals in the thousands on a daily basis across the province.

The young doctors’ boycott of duties at outdoor wards is a part of their pressure tactics to force the government to accept their demands, So far, the Punjab government has not given in.

However, with the arrival of the doctors from the army, the situation may not improve because some 6,000 young doctors are on strike and the available number of doctors is far below this.

June 30, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Saudi Royal Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Death

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – For the second time in less than a year, Saudi Arabia was thrown into the process of naming a new heir to its 88-year-old king after the death Saturday of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz.

That forces a potentially pivotal decision: Whether to bring a younger generation a step closer to ruling one of the West’s most critical Middle East allies. King Abdullah has now outlived two designated successors, despite ailments of his own.

It’s widely expected that the current succession order will stand and Nayef’s brother, Defense Minister Prince Salman – another elderly and ailing son of the country’s founding monarch – will become the heir to the throne of OPEC’s top producer.

But Prince Nayef’s death opens the possibility that a member of the so-called third generation of the royal clan -younger and mostly Western-educated – will now move into one of the traditional ruler-in-waiting roles.

“Saudi Arabia will have to decide if this is the time to set the next generation on the path to rule,” said Simon Henderson, a Saudi affairs expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

First, however, the Saudi leadership must fall behind the replacement for Nayef, the hard-line interior minister who headed Saudi Arabia’s fierce crackdown that crushed al-Qaeda’s branch in the country after the 9/11 attacks. Nayef, who Al-Arabiya reported died in Geneva, Switzerland, was named crown prince in November after his brother Prince Sultan died.

The Allegiance Council, an assembly of sons and grandsons of the first Saudi monarch, King Abdul-Aziz, will choose the next crown prince.

The likely choice is the 76-year-old Salman, who served for more than four decades in the influential post of governor of Riyadh, the capital, as it grew from a desert crossroads to the center of political power for the Western-allied Gulf states.

Nayef, 78, was seen as closely in tune with Saudi’s ultraconservative Wahhabi religious establishment, which gives legitimacy to the royal family and strongly opposes pressures for change such as allowing women to drive or participate on the Saudi Olympic team. Salman also has little inclination to challenge the authority of the clerics or push hard for reforms, experts say.

President Obama said Nayef “dedicated himself to the security of Saudi Arabia as well as security throughout the region.”

“Under his leadership, the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives,” the White House statement added.

Nayef had been out of the country since late May, when he went on a trip that was described as a “personal vacation” that would include medical tests.

The royal family, which closely guards information about the health of its members, confirmed the death but gave no details. It said the funeral would be held Sunday after prayers in Mecca.

June 17, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More