Joe Biden, World Tour 2009

Resetting Brzezinskis Grand Chessboard

Joe Biden travels to Georgia to affirm US support

US Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Georgia today, almost a year after a war with Russia that turned the small nation on the far frontier of Europe into the epicenter of the simmering conflict between Moscow and the West.

Biden will hold two days of talks with President Mikhail Saakashvili and opposition leaders to demonstrate US support for Georgia, a loyal ally concerned about Washington’s efforts to court the Kremlin.

The Russia-Georgia war capped years of increasing tensions between the West and Russia, a country key to US and European efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, battle terrorism and secure Europe’s energy supplies.

Biden’s trip comes just a few weeks after President Barack Obama’s summit in Moscow and amid increasing concern among some of Russia’s East European neighbors that warming relations between the US and Russia might leave them out in the cold.

He will arrive from Ukraine, another former Soviet nation looking to strengthen ties to the US and Europe.

Saakashvili and Biden will attend ceremonies tonight, including a banquet where both will exchange toasts, a ritual of hospitality that Georgians have turned into an art form.

On Thursday, Biden will hold formal discussions with Saakashvili, whose government was shaken this spring by mass street demonstrations demanding his resignation. The vice president will also meet with leading members of the opposition.

Political foes blame Saakashvili for the August war’s disastrous results and accuse him of riding roughshod over democratic rights.

Saakashvili has said he tried to defend Georgia from Russian aggression, and he announced a series of political reforms Monday meant to address his critics’ complaints that his administration was restricting rights.

After Georgia used military force to try to seize a breakaway region from Moscow-backed separatists in August, Russia sent tanks and warplanes deep into Georgian territory, crushing the country’s army.

The conflict ended hopes in the West that Russia, after recovering from the economic and social turmoil of the post-Soviet era, would become a docile, democratic member of the club of European nations.

Instead, Russia has tried to reclaim its historic role as an assertive regional power with global ambitions.

Shortly after the Georgian war, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared that Moscow has a “zone of privileged interests” among former Soviet and Eastern European satellites.

The US and Europe have rejected sphere-of-influence geopolitics, which give great powers sway over their smaller neighbors. And they show no signs of backing down.

Neither do they seem willing to risk a confrontation with Russia on the issue.

The US has pledged to support NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. But Germany and other European member states are skeptical.

DNA samples do not fit suspected Jakarta bombers

DNA samples do not fit suspected Jakarta bombers

Tajikistan News.Net
Wednesday 22nd July, 2009

DNA samples taken from the families of suspects in the Jakarta suicide bombings do not match bodies taken from the blast site.

Indonesian police have confirmed the mismatch on remains found at the scenes of last Friday’s deadly blasts.

The man who was suspected of bombing the Marriott hotel, Nur Hasbi, and a florist named Ibrahim, missing from the Ritz-Carlton hotel, are no longer being regarded as the chief suspects.

Nur Hasbi was described by police as a graduate of Abu Bakar Bashir’s Islamic boarding school and had been named as the suicide bomber.

The negative DNA results will ensure the identities of the suicide bombers remain a mystery until two severed heads found at the bomb sites are identified.

Photos of the reconstructed faces of the two suspected suicide bombers are now being shown to witnesses.

No one to defend Musharraf in SC

No one to defend Musharraf in SC

By Ansar Abbasi

MURREE: It would have to be a diehard loyalist legal eagle of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf to swoop in to his legal defence before the Supreme Court’s 14-member bench, as the government clearly has no plans, or intention, to protect the man who had ruled the country for over eight years with absolute authority and impunity.

An official source closely associated with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told The News on Tuesday the attorney-general had been asked not to defend Musharraf before the 14-member bench of the apex court, which is currently hearing an all important case that would focus on major distortions made in the system by Musharraf on and subsequent to Nov 3, 2007.

Musharraf is currently in London and as things are proceeding in Islamabad, the former dictator is left with two options: either to settle for an exiled life in the UK or to show courage of facing independent courts in Pakistan. Musharraf has recently purchased a flat in an expensive locality in London — Edgeware road.

The Prime Minister Secretariat source said although the government may like to retain some of the bits of Musharraf’s unconstitutional actions of Nov 3, 2007, it does not want to defend Musharraf himself before the 14-member Supreme Court bench.

The source though insisted the president and the prime minister are in unison to secure appointments of all the judges, those who took oath under the PCO on Nov 3, 2007 or those who were appointed on the recommendations of de facto chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

Interestingly, the PPP is divided on the issue as the likes of Raza Rabbani and Safdar Abbasi seek complete cleansing of the system from the distortions created by Musharraf.

While the government would defend the PCO judges and also those appointed on Dogar’s recommendation, a law ministry source said the Nov 3 decision of the seven-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the principles as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Al-Jihad case would serve as the cornerstone to decide the future complexion of the superior judiciary.

The seven-member bench of the de jure Supreme Court had barred Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007, from taking any action contrary to the independence of the judiciary.

The Supreme Court had also noted no judge of the Supreme Court or high courts, including chief justices, should take oath under the PCO or take any other extra-constitutional step. It had clearly stated any further appointment of the chief justice and judges of the apex court and chief justices of high courts or judges of provinces under the new development “shall be” unlawful and without jurisdiction.

Musharraf, however, turned a blind eye to this order of the Supreme Court and so did the then-chief justice Dogar, who was immediately appointed as the chief justice of Pakistan in clear violation of the Constitution as well as the decision of the Supreme Court. More than 60 judges of the superior judiciary, however, refused to show their allegiance to the dictator whereas others like Dogar, who were in minority, took oath under the PCO.

Within a few days of his appointment, the de facto chief justice constituted an 11-member bench and validated the abrogation of the Constitution by Musharraf, overturned the order of the de jure Supreme Court and had ruled that all those judges of the superior judiciary who had not taken oath under Musharraf’s PCO had ceased to be judges. However, the nation neither accepted Musharraf’s unconstitutional action nor did it accept Dogar and joined the countrywide judicial movement that finally ended up in the restoration of all the deposed judges in March this year.

Countrywide protests rage as no let-up in loadshedding

[Is “Load-sharing” a diversionary tactic in the battle between a government committed to America’s war and its people who only want to live as human beings?]

Countrywide protests rage as no let-up in loadshedding

One killed in Faisalabad; train bogies, Pepco offices, police vehicles, public, private properties damaged in various cities

By our correspondents

LAHORE: Protest demonstrations against unscheduled and long power outages across the country turned violent on Tuesday, claiming at least one life in Faisalabad.

In almost all major cities of the country, protesters took out rallies, blocked roads, torched Pepco offices, damaged public and private vehicles and set fire to properties to vent their anger on the government as well as Pepco authorities.

Major demonstrations were held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Jhang and other main cities. A partial strike was observed in Lahore on Tuesday in response to a call, given by the Aunjuman-e-Tajiran. The protesters blocked roads and raised slogans against the government and Pepco officials. Shah Alam Market and The Mall business centres witnessed clashes between trader groups. Protestors burnt tyres at The Mall, Dharampura, Shahdara and Defence Road in Walton area.

Rawalpindi: Transporters and traders of twin cities observed complete strike against the increase in fuel prices through a presidential order as well as frequent loadshedding. Faisalabad: Police said one Muhammad Sharif, son of Abdul Ghani, was sitting on a canal bank when a stone, thrown by protesters, hit him accidentally. He was rushed to District Headquarters Hospital, but he could not survive.

The residents of Samanabad in Faisalabad stopped the Pakistan Train, coming from Karachi, on Tuesday and damaged its bogies to protest power outages. Jhang: An angry mob, in a fit of anger, Tuesday burnt tyres and damaged public and private properties worth millions of rupees as a protest against unscheduled load-shedding in the city.

Hundreds of protesters carrying batons and iron rods gathered at Ayub Chowk. They blocked roads for hours, reached the district council secretariat and damaged the official vehicles. The mob stopped a train and burnt three bogies. Later, they attacked the jeep of DSP (City Circle) and a police wagon, and burnt both the vehicles. Some policemen were also injured in the attacks. A group of protestors entered Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company offices after breaking its locks and burnt all records.

OKARA: In Hujra Shah Muqeem, people observed strike against Pepco and took out a rally. Some protestors entered the office of the SDO South and damaged furniture, record and building. They set the record and building on fire. Some policemen were taken hostage by the protestors for quite some time.

PESHAWAR: Protests against loadshedding continued as angry consumers blocked Grand Trunk Road near Nishtarabad, Shabistan Cinema and Kohat Road on Ring Road Chowk here Tuesday. The protesters burnt old tyres to block the roads and vehicular traffic for more than an hour at the three places.

Holbrooke rules out US army action in Pakistan, Again

[If American Special Forces are not planning to come to Pakistan, then why does Obama have to keep sending Holbrooke to convince them otherwise?]

Holbrooke rules out US army action in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke Wednesday ruled out interference by US forces in Pakistan, saying there is no US army present in Pakistan nor does his country want any US military action here.

He said this while talking to a delegation of the welfare organizations and veterans hailing from Malakand and Swat, who called on him in Islamabad. On the occasion, US ambassador in Pakistan Anne W Patterson was also present.

Holbrooke said the government and people of Pakistan are to play more vital and real role in the rehabilitation of the affectees and US role is limited to the extent of giving assistance, which would be performed to the core.

The delegation apprised the US special envoy of their grievances in connection with problems involved in the rehabilitation of Malakand affectees.

Pakistan’c Latest “Plan B”

[Pakistan’s Latest “Plan B” qari zain

He hasn’t been forgotten yet.]

New Taliban group with new chief formed in SWA

WANA: Three groups of Taliban in South Waziristan Agency have chosen Ikhlas Khan alias Waziristan Baba as the new Ameer of Abdullah Mehsud group on Wednesday.

Three groups namely Turkistan Bathni, Haji Tehsil Khan Wazir and Ikhals Khan Mehsud formed a new group with name of Abullah Mehsud.

New Ameer Ikhlas Khan alias Waziristan Baba is 42 years old, he joined Abdullah Mehsud three years ago.

Expressing his views after assuming the chieftaincy, Ikhlas Khan alias Waziristan Baba said Bitullah Mehsud is involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; now, nobody will be allowed to do wrongs on the people.

The offices of new group have been set up in SWA areas including Gomal, Umar Adda, Jandola, Pang, and Sheikh Autar and more offices will be opened in other areas.

Ikhlas Khan said they will avenge the killings of innocent people, adding, ‘Those who are playing gory games with our brothers and sisters, are not people’s well-wishers.’

Holbrooke Issuing Orders, or Practicing Damage Control?

Holbrooke calls on Kayani, Gilani

ISLAMABAD: US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke held Wednesday separate meetings with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and discussed the rehabilitation process for Malakand IDPs.

Holbrooke called on Kayani at GHQ and mulled over the Swat operation results and steps taken for the rehabilitation of the affectees. They also gave thought to cooperation in war against terrorism.

According to sources, General Kayani told the US envoy that the IDPs’ repatriation proved well ahead of expectations.

The Army Chief said special attention was paid to keeping the collective damage to the minimum.

Later on, Richard Holbrooke called on the Prime Minister. On this occasion, US ambassador in Pakistan Anne W Patterson, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Sate Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and MNA Sughra Imam were also present in the meeting.

Holbrooke held his meeting with Pakistan Army Chief as elaborate and very positive.