US Alone, Enables Continued Israeli Mockery of International Justice

UN Human Rights Council adopts five resolutions against Israel

compiled by Cem Ertür
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad

The UN Human Rights Council has roundly condemned Israel in resolutions tabled under the agenda item 7, “Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories”.

Five resolutions have been adopted against Israel, amounting to the greatest number of condemnatory resolutions on a single country:

  • Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan
  • The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
  • Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan
  • The grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
  • Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict


1) Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan
(voted on 24/03/2010: 31 in favour, 1 against, 15 abstentions)

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.2) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted with thirty-one in favour, one against, and fifteen abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements and from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and emphasizes that the displaced persons of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their property; further calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against them and from all other practices that obstruct the enjoyment of their fundamental rights and their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; calls upon Israel to allow the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan to visit their families and relatives in the Syrian motherland through the Quneitra checkpoint and under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to rescind its decision to prohibit these visits, as it is in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; also calls upon Israel to release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, some of whom have been detained for more than 24 years; further calls upon Israel to allow delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Syrian prisoners of conscience and detainees in Israeli prisons accompanied by specialized physicians to assess the state of their physical and mental health and to protect their lives; determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and have no legal effect; again calls upon States Members of the United Nations not to recognize any of the above-mentioned legislative or administrative measures; and requests the Secretary-General to report on this matter to the Council at its sixteenth session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

in favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

against (1): United States of America.

abstentions (15): Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Gabon, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


2) The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
(voted on 24/03/2010: 45 in favour, 1 against)

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.27) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted with forty-five in favour, one against, and no abstentions, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State; also reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; stresses the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

The result of the vote was as follows:

in favour (45): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Zambia.

against (1): United States of America.

abstentions (0):


3) Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan
(voted on 24/03/2010: 46 in favour, 1 against)

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.28) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted with forty-six in favour, one against, and no abstentions, the Council condemns the new Israeli announcement on the construction of 120 new housing units in the Bitar Elite settlement, and 1,600 new housing units for new settlers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo, and calls upon the Government of Israel to immediately reverse its decision which would further undermine and jeopardize the ongoing efforts by the international community to reach a final settlement compliant with international legitimacy, including the relevant United Nations resolutions; urges the full implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement of 15 November 2005, particularly the urgent reopening of Rafah and Karni crossings, which is crucial to ensuring the passage of foodstuffs and essential supplies, as well as the access of the United Nations agencies to and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory; calls upon Israel to take and implement serious measures, including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions, with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and other measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians and Palestinian properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice; and urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process.

The result of the vote was as follows:

in favour (46): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Zambia .

against (1): United States of America.

abstentions (0):


4) The grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
(voted on 24/03/2010: 31 in favour, 9 against, 7 abstentions)

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.29) on the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted with thirty-one in favour, nine against, and seven abstentions, the Council demands that the occupying Power, Israel, end its occupation of the Palestinian land occupied since 1967, and that it respect its commitments within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian State; strongly condemns the Israeli military attacks and operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; demands that the occupying Power, Israel, stop the targeting of civilians and the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people; condemns the disrespect for religious and cultural rights provided for in core human rights instruments and humanitarian law by Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; demands that Israel immediately cease all diggings and excavation works beneath and around Al-Aqsa mosque compound and other religious sites in the old city of Jerusalem; calls for the immediate cessation of all Israeli military attacks and operations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; demands that the occupying Power, Israel, immediately stop its illegal decision to demolish a large number of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem; demands that Israel, release Palestinian prisoners and detainees including women, children and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council; calls upon Israel to lift checkpoints and open all crossing points and borders according to relevant international agreements; and demands that Israel immediately lift the siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip.

The result of the vote was as follows:

in favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

against (9):Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

abstentions (7):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and Ukraine.


5) Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
(voted on 25/03/2010: 29 in favour, 6 against, 11 abstentions)

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.30) on follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, adopted with twenty-nine in favour, six against, and eleven abstentions, as orally amended, the Council reiterates the call by the General Assembly upon the Government of Israel to conduct investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice; reiterates the urging by the General Assembly for the conduct by the Palestinian side of investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice; calls upon the High Commissioner to explore and determine the appropriate modalities for the establishment of an escrow fund for the provision of reparations to the Palestinians who suffered loss and damage as a result of unlawful acts attributable to the State of Israel during the military operations conducted from December 2008 to January 2009; decides to establish a committee of independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights laws to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side, in the light of General Assembly resolution 64/254, including the independence, effectiveness, genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards; and invites the International Committee of the Red Cross and interested parties and stakeholders to consider the launching of an urgent discussion on the legality of the use of certain munitions, as recommended by the Fact-Finding Mission. Draft resolution L.30 was presented by Pakistan at the end of yesterday’s meeting (please see separate release, HRC/10/045E).

The result of the vote was as follows:

in favour (29): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

against (6): Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, and United States of America.

abstentions (11): Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, France, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.



[1]  Human Rights Council renews mandates on right to food and on elaboration of optional protocol to children’s rights convention

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website, 24 March 2010

[2]  Council establishes committee on experts in context of follow-up of Goldstone report, renews mandate on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website, 25 March 2010

Obama tells Pak to catch 26/11 brain

Obama tells Pak to catch 26/11 brain


Ashfaq Kayani, Barack Obama

Washington, March 26: Securely hidden from public view, belying the head-butting, handshakes and the toasts between Americans and Pakistanis taking part in their first ministerial-level “strategic dialogue” this week, US president Barack Obama asked for the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, one of the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Although the top-level Pakistani delegation to the talks, including chief of army staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has been in Washington since Monday, Obama has not met any member of the delegation till the time of writing.

According to sources at the heart of the bilateral dialogue, however, during pre-talks, inter-agency discussions among US officials and key members of his cabinet at the White House, Obama made it clear that the US-Pakistan strategic partnership cannot be a partnership of hearts and minds unless the Pakistani government firmly targets Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Toiba, which has acquired the image here of the next al Qaeda.

In taking a tough line on Saeed’s arrest, which has been demanded by India, Obama disagreed with the views of the Pentagon, US intelligence agencies and sections of the state department led by special envoy for Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, all of whom are for treating Pakistan with kid gloves on anything to do with India, including the Mumbai terror attacks.

The President appears to have been somewhat cornered into his hardline stand after a key hearing last fortnight of the South Asia sub-committee of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, at which every member of the panel — except one — called for heavy-handed action against the Lashkar by the Pakistanis.

“This group of savages needs to be crushed,” the highly respected chairman of the committee, Gary Ackerman, said at the hearing without mincing words.

Such was the strength of opinion against Islamabad’s double-dealing over Lashkar that even Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani-American scholar whom Pakistani lobbyists had planted at the hearing as a witness, was forced to put the gloss that “the former trainers and associates from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) perhaps now have an opportunity of independently working with the LeT”.

This week’s strategic dialogue made absolutely no progress on the issue of a nuclear deal for Pakistan, similar to the one the US signed with India. The subject does not find even a passing mention in a joint statement released at the end of the talks.

In fact, an American source privy to the entire proceedings blamed the sudden brouhaha over a nuclear deal for Pakistan on a section of the Indian media that thought up the issue as a headline-grabbing curtain raiser for the talks.

“The issue has been injected periodically by the Pakistanis into our talks directly and through third parties since 2006,” conceded the source. “This time the media asked about it at press conferences. If we are asked in public, we are not going to sour the mood by saying that Pakistan cannot have a nuclear deal. We have been diplomatic in public but very clear in private on this issue.”

The Americans are understood to have told Qureshi and Kayani that Pakistan must first put in place proper export control laws which will give the US Congress some confidence that there is at least a fig leaf of rationale behind Islamabad’s request for a nuclear deal.In 1999, as talks between then Planning Commission deputy chairman Jaswant Singh and the US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott got under way on India’s nuclear programme, the Americans similarly asked for new, water tight export control laws on Indian statutes as a guarantee against nuclear proliferation.

An expert on such laws was then posted to the US embassy in New Delhi for six months and she worked with Rakesh Sood, then joint secretary in South Block for disarmament, on new laws. That was six years before the US announced a nuclear deal with India.

This experience offers a road map for any such deal with Pakistan, if at all. Besides, an American source involved in the talks with Pakistan pointed out that “if this president had been in power in 2005, there would have been no nuclear deal even with India. So where is the question of him initiating any such deal for Pakistan?”

A $1.2 trillion timebomb ticks in China

A $1.2 trillion timebomb ticks in China

Venkatesan Vembu / DNA

Hong Kong: A major fiscal shock looms over China, arising from local governments’ shadowy finances and banks’ reckless lending to them as part of the frantic rush to boost GDP growth in China following the global economic slowdown in 2008.

The fiscal crisis represents “the biggest risk to China’s economic and financial stability over the next two years” and has the potential to more than completely wipe out Chinese banks’ equity base, and trigger an equity market panic when it bursts, says Credit Suisse chief regional economist Dong Tao.

At the heart of the crisis are about 8,800 investment vehicles set up at the local government level to take up massive infrastructure projects to prop up GDP growth to make up for the export slowdown owing to the global economic recession.

These vehicles —- called urban development investment corporations (UDICs) —- were set up “in part to circumvent rules prohibiting local governments from borrowing,” notes Louis Kuijs, senior economist in the World Bank’s China office. Local governments injected land and cash into these UDICs as equity, and the land was used as collateral to get bank loans for infrastructure projects.

“UDICs share many common characteristics with the investment vehicles that caused the financial crisis in the US,” adds Tao. “They lack transparency, are high on leverage, rely on short-term funding and land-based valuation, and their assets are illiquid.”

And although it’s very hard to determine how much bank lending has been channelled to the UDICs, Tao estimates outstanding loans to be about 8 trillion yuan (about $1.2 trillion), which is about 24% of China’s GDP, 83% of overall new lending in 2009, and a whopping 180% of the equity base of all Chinese banks.

Estimates by other economists paint a grimmer picture.

Victor Shih of Northwestern University, who has studied local governments’ debt, estimates total bank lending to UDICs (including further lendings) to balloon to 24.2 trillion yuan ($3.5 trillion).

“If large portions of the debt end up being taken over by the central government, that will add significantly to the official government debt,” says Kuijs. In Tao’s estimation, if the central government absorbed 8 trillion yuan of UDICs’ liabilities, China’s debt-to-GDP ratio would explode from an estimated 19.1 in 2010 to an estimated 50.3 in 2010.

The key problem with the UDIC financing model is its use of land as collateral, points out Tao. “If there is a change in the assessment of the value of the land that UDICs pledge to banks as collateral, we may have a serious problem.”

In particular, when property prices in China fall —- as Tao expects them to in the second half of this year, owing to an oversupply of finished apartments and expected interest rate hikes to fight inflation —- “banks will review the value of the land they have as collateral, become risk-averse, and initiate a loan call-back.”
If even one or two UDICs fail as a result, Tao reckons, “it will trigger a wider loan call-back and trigger an equity market panic.”

Flagging the risk of policy errors, he adds that Beijing is “too complacent about how a property market correction could aggravate the UDIC problem.”

Zhu Min, deputy governor of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, however, dismisses concerns about the stability of Chinese banks arising from local governments’ debt as exaggerated. Greater economic activity from China’s enhanced infrastructure would offer sufficient payback on loans for these projects, he observed in a speech at the 13th Credit Suisse Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Thursday. “In 1998, following the Asian financial crisis, China unveiled a 400 billion yuan stimulus package, almost all of which went into building highways,” he recalled.

And although the highways remained empty for a while, the roads catalysed economic activity, and today they are packed, he added. “So long as China keeps growing and these loans have gone into real infrastructure projects, things will be okay.”

The problem with UDICs can be solved right away if the central government cracks the whip and asks the central finance ministry, the local governments and the banks to absorb the losses, Tao believes. But Beijing perhaps lacks a sense of urgency, and it may be difficult for the three parties to agree on who should bear how much of the losses.

The UDICs’ financial problems would affect future local government investment spending and could lead to a rise in banks’ non-performing loans, points out Kuijs. “Problems would emerge if the infrastructure projects do not generate enough growth and revenues to pay the operating and interest costs and repay the loans.”

The time duration of the crisis, when it blows up, could determine the severity of the crisis, reasons Tao. “If the crisis lasts just two weeks, there will only be short-lived market panic. If it lasts two months, fixed asset investments could be affected. And if it lasts two years, China may go down the path of Japan in the 1990s —- but without a property safety net.” However, he expects any crisis to be an “abrupt but short one” —- for three reasons.

In China, the government owns all banks, “and once Beijing realises the magnitude of the risks, it will order banks to keep lending.” Of course, banks’ shareholders would lose out.

Secondly, although local governments are low on cash, the central government is cash-rich, and “we could see another 4 trillion yuan or even 8 trillion yuan fiscal spending program to boost growth and stabilise the banking sector.” And thirdly, China is, in the global context, “too big to fail” —- and in any case it has a roadmap in the form of the US bailout of banks.

“You have a Western recipe —- and you have lots of fresh materials (in the form of China’s fiscal strengths)… Even a mediocre chef can cook a reasonably good meal,” says Tao.
But even as he sounds the alarm over local governments’ debt, Tao puts it in perspective. “What’s happening in China is not very different from what’s happening elsewhere: the government leveraging up during a global financial crisis to stimulate the economy.” The critical difference is that China’s starts with a low debt-to-GDP ratio, about 19% currently.

“It’s a hiccup, and a big hiccup at that,” he acknowledges. “But nevertheless, this is not something that will derail my fundamental view of China over the next decade… We remain bullish on China’s long-term outlook.”

Headley Names 6 Pak Armymen In Karachi Project

NEW DELHI: David Coleman Headley has identified five-six serving officers of Pakistan army among the leaders of the Karachi Project, which seeks to organize attacks on India through fugitive Indian jihadis being sheltered in Karachi by the ISI-Lashkar combine.

Sources said that besides serving Majors Samir Ali and Iqbal of Pakistan army, Headley has told his FBI handlers about the role of one Colonel Shah and at least two other officers of the Pakistan army in the Karachi Project.

On February 26, TOI was the first to report about the role of serving officers of the Pakistan army – Majors Samir Ali and Iqbal – in the Karachi Project. These two have been mentioned in the dossier that was submitted to visiting Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir on February 25.

This disclosure demolishes Pakistan’s claim that terrorism against India being directed from its soil was limited to non-state actors. This came on a day when sources in the home ministry disclosed that an NIA team preparing to leave for the US to question Headley will be accompanied by a magistrate.

The magistrate will be sent when the US grants permission for direct access to Headley to record his statement under CrPC 164, which is admissible in an Indian court of law, sources said. The statement would be crucial when a chargesheet is filed against Headley and his collaborators.

A statement made before a magistrate under section 164 of CrPc is admissible in a court of law and can help India’s efforts to get Headley’s record as judicial evidence.

FBI’s chargesheet against Headley also mentions Lashkar members A, B, C and D – identified as Sajid Mir, Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, Muzammil and Abu Hamza or Abu Al Qama – as those who, along with Headley, plotted the attack on Mumbai. The role of top Lashkar jihadis was mentioned also by Ajmal Kasab, the lone Mumbai gunman to have been captured. But what will make Headley’s statement seconding the same before a magistrate significant is that Pakistan cannot trash it as having been extracted under “force by Indian cops”.

This falls in line with the statement made by home minister P Chidambaram on March 20 after his telephone conversation with US attorney general Eric Holden. “It is my understanding that India would be able to obtain access to David Coleman Headley to question him in a properly constituted judicial proceeding. Such judicial proceeding could be either pre-trial or during an inquiry or trial,” the minister said.

He added that the NIA and other agencies had been asked to “quickly prepare the documents necessary to start a judicial proceeding in which Indian authorities could require David Coleman Headley to answer questions and/or to testify.”

As Headley’s extradition appeared difficult, India was immediately focussing on getting direct access to him to know details about the terror plot.

Under the plea bargain, India can have access to the terrorist by deposition, video conferencing or through Letters Rogatory. Sources said India will like to explore all three.

Headley had last week pleaded guilty to all the 12 terror charges of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and Pakistan-based LeT besides aiding and abetting the murder of six US citizens in the 26/11 attacks that killed 166 people.

Naxal Leader Allegedly Commits Suicide

Naxal leader Kanu Sanyal, 78, commits suicide

Agencies | 2010-03-23 14:50:00
Siliguri (West Bengal): Kanu Sanyal, one of the founding members of the Naxal movement in India, was on Tuesday found hanging in his thatched hut at Seftullajote village. He was 78.

Sanyal is alleged to have committed suicide at his residence in the Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district, police said.

Sanyal, a bachelor, was suffering from age-related ailments. The body has been sent for post-mortem, Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) K L Tamta said.Sanyal was a founder of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) formed in 1969.

The Naxalite movement started from Naxalbari, a small village in North Bengal on May 25, 1967. It was led by Charu Majumdar and Sanyal.

Pakistan Names 12 Taliban Leaders In Custody

Govt ordered to produce Afghan Taliban in court

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif on Friday ordered the federal and the Punjab governments to make necessary arrangements for producing 12 arrested Afghan Taliban before a magisterial court as required under the law.

The chief justice passed the orders while hearing two identical petitions, challenging the possible extradition of the arrested Afghan Taliban after their counsel pointed out that they had not been produced before a court. He argued that under the Constitution, an arrested person should be produced before a magisterial court within 24 hours of his/her arrest while the same constitutional provision had not been implemented in the case.

“The additional advocate general, representing the Punjab government, and deputy attorney general, representing the federal government, are directed to get the needful done in line with submission made by the petitioners’ counsel,” the chief justice ordered.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior submitted a reply before the court, saying it had no concern with the matter and its name might be deleted from the list of the respondents. At this, the DAG submitted that as far as the Ministry of Defence was concerned, the petitioners had not made it a necessary party in the petition. He, however, said he, on his own, had sought a reply from the Defence Ministry but he needed some time in this regard. The court admitted his plea and adjourned hearing till April 12. The petitions were filed by Defence of Human Rights Commission chief Khalid Khawaja.

The arrested Taliban are Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mulla Abdul Salam, Maulvi Kabir, Mulla Muhammad, Ameer Muawiyia, Tayyab Agha, Hakeemuddin Mehsud, Mulla Tayyab Popalzai, Abdul Qayum Zakir, Musa and Mohtasim Agha Jan.

ISI Needs New Phantom Terror Leader to Chase–Qari Zafar, Back From the Dead

[Look for a dramatic expansion of anti-Shia sectarian attacks, Lashkar e-Jhangvi's specialty.  SEE:   Pakistani Taliban confirm death of Qari Zafar ; Wanted Punjabi militant dies in Wednesday’s drone attack]

Qari Zafar alive, plotting attack on DGK oil fields

By Ali Raza

LAHORE: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander and Acting Ameer of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Qari Zafar, claimed to have been killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan on February 24, 2010, is still alive and evolving strategies to carry out terrorist attacks across the country, especially in the Punjab, The News has learnt.

“Qari Zafar and Rana Afzal, terrorists/commanders of the Punjab TTP, are very much alive and are planning to strike sensitive targets in major cities of the Punjab,” revealed a letter written by the commissioner Lahore Division to the Capital City Police Officer, Lahore among others.

“Qari Zafar is now operating with new code name Imam Rabbani and Rana Afzal’s new code name is Wali Manan,” the letter revealed. The letter said one of the likely targets of Qari Zafar and Rana Afzal was the DhodakOil Depot and Fields in DG Khan. It said they had also planned to kidnap foreigners working there for getting their arrested leaders released.

The commissioner Lahore, in another letter, warned security and law-enforcement agencies that Qari Zafar’s group had assigned three terrorists to target the brother and son of the prime minister of Pakistan in the coming days. Sources in the Interior Ministry revealed that intelligence agencies gathered the information regarding the mission and immediately shared it with all concerned.

The letter, quoting a report of an intelligence agency, said terrorist Obaid Ullah of the TTP (Qari Zafar Group), based in Miramshah (NWFP), had deputed three terrorists of his group to target Mujtaba Gilani (brother of prime minister) and MPA Abdul Qadir Gilani, the son of prime minister Gilani. The letter also mentioned the names of terrorists deputed to complete the task. They are Abu Azzam, Abu Mughera and Talah. The letter mentioned that all the three terrorists belonged to different districts of south Punjab. The letter further claimed that the terrorists had already conducted reconnaissance and were waiting for an opportune time to carry out the task.

The Interior Ministry sources said Qari Zafar hailed from Karachi and was the former Imam of Bilal Mosque, Model Colony, Karachi. They said Qari Zafar had joined the TTP in North Waziristan prior to the Pakistan Army’s operation in South Waziristan.

A Deal with the Devil

A Deal with the Devil

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is a vicious, brutal, devious warlord. He Could Also be One of America’s Tickets out of Afghanistan.

Afghan warlord and former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during a 2002 interview in Tehran
By Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai | NEWSWEEK

The sprawling shamshatoo camp, just outside Peshawar, has always been the most tightly organized and disciplined Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan. The only law within its boundaries is that of Hezb-i-Islami (the Party of Islam), led by the notoriously ruthless warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Back in the 1980s, when the camp was Hekmatyar’s main base in the war against the Soviets, people in Peshawar would sometimes see a corpse floating down the canal that ran beside the camp. They knew what that meant: another of Hekmatyar’s supposed internal enemies had been eliminated.

Afghanistan: War Not Over

The battle continues in 2007

For the past three decades Hekmatyar has been sending similarly stark messages to anyone paying attention. In the late 1980s his fighters often seemed more intent on ambushing other mujahedin factions than on battling the Soviets. After the collapse of the Soviet-backed regime, Hekmatyar’s artillery and rockets destroyed much of Kabul, at a cost of no one knows how many civilian lives, in a failed attempt to grab power from rival mujahedin leaders. The Taliban drove him out of the country in 1996, but he returned after the U.S. invasion to wage jihad against the Americans, and in 2006 he publicly declared an alliance with Al Qaeda: “They hold the banner, and westand alongside them as supporters.”

Now Hekmatyar is trying to send another message to Washington—that he will have to be reckoned with if the Americans want to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Last week a Hezb-i-Islami delegation brought a 15-point “peace proposal” to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, calling for a total U.S. withdrawal by the end of the year. Never mind the details, says Hekmatyar’s spokesman, Mohammad Daoud Abedi, a California businessman who disavows any sympathy for Al Qaeda. “The main point for us is to see a process of the foreign forces leaving Afghanistan,” Abedi says. “We have decided to make conditions right so that international forces can leave with honor.”

The fact is that Hekmatyar has never cared to make life easy or pleasant for the Americans. He and his fighters received the largest share of U.S. aid to the mujahedin in the 1980s, courtesy of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), which controlled the distribution. He responded by denouncing American values at every opportunity. When the Taliban seized power he fled for his life to Iran, but even the Iranians kept him under virtual house arrest until early 2002, when they sent him back to Afghanistan in retaliation for George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech.

Officials in Washington express mixed reactions to the idea of negotiating with Hekmatyar. His fighters are thought to have led assaults that nearly overran two small American bases in Nuristan province last October, killing eight American soldiers and wounding 24. Many national-security professionals, especially in the intelligence field, say they’re disgusted to think of cutting deals with someone who has so much blood on his hands. On the other hand, as Gen. David Petraeus likes to say, you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. People at the Pentagon are speaking more cautiously, mostly echoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s recent assertion that it’s too soon to begin discussing peace in Afghanistan.

In this case, America’s view may be beside the point. “Karzai’s showing us he’s not our puppet,” says Bruce -Riedel, the former CIA analyst who led last year’s review of Afghan policy for the Obama administration. “This isn’t really our dance. This is an Afghan dance.” All the same, some in the American government seem to like the tune. They speculate that with enough U.S. cash to sweeten the deal, Karzai just might be able to direct Hekmatyar’s forces against the Taliban. Although personal comforts and luxuries have never seemed to exert much appeal for Hekmatyar, his appetite for power is vast, and money could help him get more of what he craves.

The Taliban claim they don’t care what Hekmatyar does. “His overall strength is equal to that of one of our smaller provincial commanders,” says a Taliban intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Now he’s presenting himself on a plate to the Americans for money.” They’ve never trusted him anyway, considering him an unprincipled opportunist who’s interested in nothing but personal power.

But while they won’t admit it, they’re worried. With an estimated 15 to 25 percent of the Afghan insurgency’s total armed strength, Hekmatyar’s fighters could pose serious problems for the Taliban in northeastern Afghanistan. Until recently the two armed groups coexisted relatively well, even staging occasional joint operations such as the Nuristan attacks and ambushes against French troops east of Kabul. Still, hostility is growing within the insurgent alliance: some 60 fighters died in open fighting between the two groups in Baghlan province this past February.

And something else may be driving Hekmatyar as well. “Everyone from Karzai to the Americans has been talking about talking to the Taliban,” says Rahimullah Yusufzai, a noted Pakistani journalist and expert on the insurgency. “I think Hekmatyar was feeling left out in the cold and desperate.” The warlord wanted to make himself relevant again. Former ISI chief Hamid Gul agrees. “He’s trying to create a political space for himself,” says Gul, who has known him well for many years. “So when Karzai and the Americans begin talking to the Taliban, he won’t be totally ignored.”

Nevertheless, Hekmatyar will have to step cautiously. “He has always presented himself as this great Afghan freedom fighter, struggling to drive foreign armies and foreign influence out of Afghanistan,” says Yusufzai. “This offer will damage him because he has been talking so big and for so long about the jihad.” That might keep a deal from happening at all. “I don’t see him cutting a separate peace,” says Gul. “He would be hugely discredited, and all his efforts over 30 years to build himself into an Afghan leader would be wasted.”

All the same, Hekmatyar has been known to make surprising moves when it suits his purposes, suddenly allying himself with old enemies he had sworn to kill. Whatever else people may say about him, he can always be trusted to do what he thinks is best for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

With Mark Hosenball and Christopher Dickey

The Story That Is Shutting-Down the Independent Media In Kyrgyzstan

“Critics of President Bakiev insist that his son Maxim Bakiev, newly appointed head of the Development and Innovation Agency of Kyrgyzstan, has close ties to E.Gourevitch which was the main reason for MGN’s unlimited powers over strategic sectors of Kyrgyz economy despite opposition protest.”

[SEE: Italian court seeks arrest of Kyrgyz President's top financial adviser]

US citizen a key player in alleged Italian telecom fraud

An apparently well-connected Soviet-born U.S. citizen has emerged as a key player in a massive Italian telecom fraud, according to court documents and published reports.

Rome Judge Aldo Morgigni has issued an arrest warrant for Eugene Gourevitch, believed to have been born in the Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan and who has reportedly held a U.S. passport since 1990, for alleged involvement in a fraud that is said to have siphoned an astonishing US$2.7 billion from the wholesale telephony divisions of Telecom Italia SpA and Fastweb SpA between 2003 and 2006.

Gourevitch’s Italian associates allegedly employed fictitious receipts for telephony services to fraudulently claim more than $400 million in value added tax from the Italian authorities through a so-called “carousel fraud.” Judge Morgigni’s 1,600 page arrest warrant claims Gourevitch used his international contacts and financial expertise to help the Italian criminals launder their illicit profits.

Charging Gourevitch with criminal conspiracy and money laundering, Judge Morgigni alleged the U.S. citizen had “created, managed and used… a series of companies through which he moved an enormous quantity of money constituting the ‘cuts’ destined for the various members of the conspiracy”.

Reportedly aged 33 and with an address in Long Island City, New York, Gourevitch is said to have helped to open accounts at a bank in Vienna to launder money from two companies allegedly involved in the fraud, Planetarium Srl and Global Phone Network Srl.

Gourevitch had been used by his criminal associates over a significant period of time “because of his connections in Switzerland and other states, because of his status as an expert in company organization and international money laundering,” Morgigni wrote.

An online curriculum says “Gourevitch is an American entrepreneur with over 10 years experience in investment banking and management consulting.” He was president of Virage Consulting Ltd, a U.S. based management consultancy between 2001 and 2007, and a director of Asian Universal Bank (AUB), a commercial bank based in the Kyrgyz Republic, between 2006 and 2009. Other managerial roles included senior vice-president of Investment Bank of Africa, CEO of a New York hedge fund, Gamma Square Partners, and director of GSN Tech LLC, described as an “offshore software development” company.

In a Twitter posting sent on January 19, Gourevitch responded to allegations of money laundering at the Asian Universal Bank under the heading: “Some undeserved answers for Argodan.” The allegations had been refuted after a thorough audit by the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic and the international detective agency Kroll Associates, he claimed.

The accusations lost all credibility when one considered that “well-known and ethically spotless people” such as former U.S. senators Bob Dole and John Bennett Johnston had accepted seats on the AUB board, Gourevitch wrote in his reply. Gourevitch is listed as contributing $4,600 for the unsuccessful re-election campaign of Dole’s wife, Elisabeth, in 2008.

Writing as CEO of MGN Group, an international investment bank based in the Kyrgyz Republic, Gourevitch acknowledged that the country needed to improve corporate governance and transparency. “We have an educational role,” he wrote in an article published in a special advertising section of BusinessWeek magazine.

A 2008 article in The Times of Central Asia pointed out MGN’s role as advisor to a consortium that participated in the privatization of Kyrgyzstan’s national telecom operator Kyrgyztelecom and praised the bank for its “comprehensive AML (Anti-Money Laundering) Program”.

According to the Turin daily La Stampa, the Bank of Italy was alerted by the Central Bank of Cyprus to allegations that two of Gourevitch’s companies, Wolstin Ltd and Crown Era Investments Ltd, had been “used to launder money derived from carousel frauds and the smuggling of tobacco and drugs, perpetrated presumably in Italy and the United Kingdom”.

Police reportedly succeeded in penetrating the activities of Gourevitch and his associates after intercepting a package posted by him at Milan airport and addressed to a company in Rome. The package contained 10 English mobile phone SIM cards that the alleged conspirators believed could not be intercepted by Italian police, according to a report published Friday by the weekly magazine Panorama. The investigators noted the numbers of the cards, six for Vodafone and four for Orange, and then resealed the envelope and sent them on their way.

Perhaps the most colourful of Gourevitch’s alleged associates, among the 55 others for whom Judge Morgigni issued arrest warrants two weeks ago, is Gennaro Mokbel, the son of an Egyptian military officer and Italian mother. Mokbel is alleged to have used contacts in the Calabrian mafia, known as the ‘ndrangheta, to get a friend fraudulently elected to the Senate.

With alleged connections to right-wing extremists, including two terrorists convicted for the 1980 bombing of a Bologna railway station, and allegedly protected by corrupt officers in the finance police, Mokbel reportedly invested some of his illegal profits in African diamonds and works of art by major modern Italian artists. His collection reportedly included photographs and memorabilia of wartime leaders Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler.

Italian newspapers allege the group may have enjoyed friendly relations with secret service officers, as well as with police and politicians. A British suspect, Paul Anthony O’Connor, was frequently “accompanied by a former agent of Britain’s MI6 (foreign intelligence agency)”, according to Panorama.

And a telephone intercept published by the Rome daily La Repubblica on Sunday purported to indicate that Mokbel was attempting to organize a dinner “with the head of MI5″, Britain’s domestic intelligence service.

Mokbel and his associates obtained access to sophisticated espionage software when they acquired control of Ikon Srl, a software company based near Milan, the Rome daily Il Messaggero claimed last week. The company owned spyware developed by Fabio Ghioni, a hacker who worked for the IT security department of Telecom Italia, that had been used by police and secret services to track terrorists.

“That software was used in investigations into the new Red Brigades (Italian Marxist terrorists), Islamic cells and to combat child pornography,” Ghioni told Il Messaggero. The idea that it had fallen into unscrupulous hands was “decidedly alarming”, Ghioni said.

Confident that his phone calls couldn’t be intercepted, Mokbel appears to have spoken freely over the phone. In one angry call to “his” senator, Nicola Di Girolamo, he allegedly exploded: “You can become president of Italy, but for me you will always be a doorman, meaning you are my slave.” The newly elected senator is alleged to have replied meekly: “Please forgive me.”

In another candid call, published Friday by the weekly L’Espresso, Mokbel sighed: “Three years in prison would be just a bit of rest for me.” He may now have the opportunity to put that boast to the test.

KYRGYZSTAN, the Previous Chapter, 2005–‘Tulip Revolution’ turns against US

KYRGYZSTAN: ‘Tulip Revolution’ turns against US

27 July 2005

Doug Lorimer

The day after his landslide victory in the Kyrgyzstan’s July 17 presidential election, Kurmanbek Bakiyev told a press conference the presence of a US military base in the Central Asian republic should be reconsidered. Bakiyev was the leader of last March’s “Tulip Revolution” — a pro-democracy uprising that forced the previous president, Askar Akayev, to flee to Moscow, where he claimed the uprising had been organised and financed by Washington to install a pro-US regime.

The March 24 uprising was sparked by widespread anger among Kyrgyzstan’s 5 million inhabitants over electoral fraud, government corruption and widespread poverty.

Akayev had been the country’s president since 1990, when it was a constituent republic of the USSR. Shortly after, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991, Akayev was re-elected in multi-party elections.

Akayev’s regime followed the recipes prescribed by the International Monetary Fund to restore capitalism in Kyrgyzstan. As a result, the tiny republic now has the largest debt per capita in Central Asia and almost 60% of the population live below the poverty line, according to World Bank figures.

Following 9/11, the US military were allowed to use the Manas airport base in Bishkek to conduct military operations against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Rent paid by the US to use the base has reportedly provided millions of dollars to Kyrgyzstan’s state budget. Akayev supported Washington’s global “war on terror” and was applauded by the US for his suppression of “Islamic extremism”.

In September 2003, however, Akayev agreed to allow Russian military forces to be deployed at Kant airbase, just 46 kilometres from the US base. This was seen by Western analysts as a move by Akayev to cultivate closer ties with Russia as a counter to US influence.

In an interview with Associated Press in Moscow on July 1, Akayev said Washington wanted to project its influence in Central Asia and was apparently vexed by his efforts to balance US, Russian and Chinese interests in Central Asia. “I did everything to balance the interests of the three great powers. But the United States doesn’t want a balance. Americans want [others] to have a clear orientation on Washington.”

US conspiracy?

Akayev’s claim that the US had organised his overthrow was based upon reports that Washington had provided support to the Kyrgyz opposition through pro-Western non-governmental organisations. The February 25 Wall Street Journal, for example, reported that one of the main NGOs working with the opposition, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, was being funded by the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which is financed by the US government.

US President George Bush later hailed Akayev’s ousting as part of the “march of freedom around the world” that included the US- organised elections in occupied Iraq. He told the general assembly of the Organisation of American States on June 6: “In the last year-and-a-half — think about this — we’ve witnessed a Rose Revolution in Georgia, an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, a Purple Revolution in Iraq, a Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon — and these are just the beginnings. Across Central Asia, hope is stirring at the prospect of change — and change will come.”

In the July 17 presidential election, Bakiyev won 89% of the votes cast. Human rights commissioner Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, known for his Islamist orientation, finished a distant second with 3.73% and Akbaraly Aitikeyev, the head of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, followed him with 3.63%.

Bakiyev had served as prime minister under Akayev in 2000-02, but had resigned after police fired on opposition protesters. He then moved over to the opposition, leading protests in March that culminated in an opposition takeover of government buildings in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, and Akayev’s flight to Moscow. Bakiyev took over as interim prime minister, pending the new presidential elections.

At a July 18, news conference, his first after winning the election, Bakiyev told reporters: “This election can be called a convincing victory of the popular revolution.” He then went on to say that Kyrgyzstan intended to review the presence of US troops on its soil. He made no mention of the presence of Russian troops.

The Kyrgyz news agency AKI quoted Kyrgyzstan’s ambassador to Moscow, Apas Jamagulov, as saying on July 18 that the US base at Manas would be “gradually” shut down, while stressing that the Russian base, at Kant, would remain operational.

At a July 5 summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — an alliance comprising Russia, China and all of the former Soviet Central Asian republics except Turkmenistan — the leaders of these six member-states issued a call for the US to set a deadline for removing its troops from air bases in two of the SCO’s member-states, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Originally set up in 1996 to deal with border disputes between its member states, the SCO has transformed itself into a regional security alliance, including organising joint military exercises.

US officials responded angrily to the SCO call. On July 14, General Richard Myers, the top US military officer, accused Russia and China of bullying the Central Asian states into issuing the call. “Looks to me like two very large countries were trying to bully some smaller countries”, Myers told reporters at the Pentagon.

Bakiyev’s support for the SCO call, however, would not require no “bullying” from any outside powers, but simply that he reflect the sentiments of the majority of the Kyrgyz people. Three years ago, the US BusinessWeek magazine reported that an April 4, 2002 US State Department study had found that “that most people in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan oppose an extended US military presence”.

US officials have made no comment on Bakiyev’s post-election support for the SCO call. However, on July 20, the Pentagon announced that US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld would visit Bishkek on July 25-26 to meet with Kyrgyz defence minister Ismail Isakov.

‘Next oil frontier’

In his July 14 comments on the SCO call, Myers said that having bases in Central Asia “is important to the United States for lots of reasons, not just for operations in Afghanistan”. He failed to elaborate what these other reasons are. However, they were outlined several years ago in BusinessWeek.

The May 27, 2002, edition of BusinessWeek ran a cover story — “The Next Oil Frontier”— in which it reported: “American soldiers, oilmen, and diplomats are rapidly getting to know this remote corner of the world, the old underbelly of the Soviet Union and a region that’s been almost untouched by Western armies since the time of Alexander the Great.

“The game the Americans are playing has some of the highest stakes going. What they are attempting is nothing less than the biggest carve-out of a new US sphere of influence since the US became engaged in the Mideast 50 years ago.

“The result could be a commitment of decades that exposes America to the threat of countless wars and dangers. But this huge venture — call it an Accidental Empire — could also stabilise the fault line between the West and the Muslim world and reap fabulous energy wealth for the companies rich enough and determined enough to get it.”

“From incidental sums fewer than five years ago”, the report added, “the amount of US investment in the region has jumped to $20 billion… Major investors include ChevronTexaco Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, and Halliburton.”

The BusinessWeek article explained that key to these companies exploiting the oil and gas wealth of Central Asia is the construction of pipelines that lead south to the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean, where it can be shipped by tanks to the energy-hungry Japan and China. However, Washington wants pipelines “that will help its friends in the region and freeze out its enemies — especially the Iranians”.

That, of course, means the construction of oil and gas pipelines that run south through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The big US oil companies have had such pipeline projects on their drawing boards since the mid 1990s but have been held up by the continuing warfare in Afghanistan — first between the Pakistani-trained Taliban and the rival Islamist and warlord factions grouped in the Northern Alliance, and now between the US-led occupation forces and the remnants of the Taliban.

“What is fast evolving is a policy focused on guns and oil”, the 2002 article in BusinessWeek observed. “The guns are to protect the local regimes from Islamic radicals and provide a staging area for attacks on Afghanistan. The goal is ‘to get rid of terrorism, not just get it out of Afghanistan’, says A. Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The guns, of course, will also protect the oil …”

From Green Left Weekly, July 27, 2005.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

Intercepts reveal LeT plan to target Indian interests in Afghanistan

Sachin Parashar, TNN
NEW DELHI: There is no dearth of Indian officials who believe that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) played an important role, if not the main lead, in the February 26 Kabul attack and going by what is on record, the confidence doesn’t seem misplaced.

The fact that LeT is now deeply involved in attempts to drive India out of Afghanistan has been made obvious by several satellite phone conversations intercepted by Indian agencies in the past few months.

These intercepts, which have been brought to the notice of US security agencies, are in Urdu and not just in Pashto which, according to Indian officials, suggests the involvement of LeT. The location of the satellite phone in most of these conversations was established in areas adjoining the Kunar province along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. It is well known that Kunar is the place where LeT was first formed in the early 1990s.

One such conversation was intercepted in the first week of February by RAW in which terrorists were heard talking about the need to hurt India in Kabul. Even though this was taken as a precursor to a major attack on Indian interests in Kabul, the attacks on February 26 could not be prevented because the modus operandi or the timing was not discussed in the conversation.

“Unlike earlier, apart from Pashto, many of these recent intercepts have been in Urdu. These were taken up with US agencies and they later authenticated them,” said an official source, adding that through the intercepts, India has been able to confirm at least five meetings since September last year in which plans to attack Indians in Afghanistan were discussed.

These intercepts also revealed that ISI officials were in constant touch with not just LeT but also other groups in Afghanistan to carry out attacks against Indians and Indian establishments in Afghanistan.

The first of these was in Kunar in September last year in which LeT played host to ISI, Taliban leaders and other groups like Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) which is headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an ISI lackey and rabid India-baiter.

According to Indian officials, it appears that the LeT is trying to revive its old base in Kunar and use it to carry its battle against India to Afghanistan.

A week after the February 26 attacks on Indians in two guesthouses, a spokesperson for the Afghan intelligence service had said that the perpetrators were from LeT because they were heard talking in Urdu by those present at the spot. He had said the Afghan government was very close to establishing this. US counter-terror coordinator Daniel Benjamin said in Delhi on Thursday that US was focusing on LeT because it was filling up the gap left by “a diminished Al Qaida”.

US to Soften Sanctions, Drop Iranian Embargo Plans

US softens Iran sanctions plan to win support: report

(AFP) – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — The United States has stepped back from a series of harsh measures against Iran and softened proposed UN sanctions to win the backing of China and Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The newspaper said proposals that would have effectively closed international airspace and waters to Iranian state-owned air cargo and shipping lines had been scrapped.

The proposed package of sanctions had also been stripped of plans targeting insurance for certain Iranian companies and the sale of Iranian bonds.

The United States is working to develop consensus among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on sanctions punishing Tehran for its nuclear program.

But while the United States, Britain and France agree on the need for tough new measures, Russia and particularly China have been more reluctant to sign off on new sanctions.

The Journal said the revised sanctions would more narrowly target "major power centers in Iran, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," and would firm up existing pressure on Tehran.

The scrapped proposals included tough new measures that would increase Iran’s isolation to unprecedented levels.

The US proposals reportedly sought to ban Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines cargo craft from entering international airspace and to prevent the purchase or sale of any Iranian bonds linked to the Tehran government.

It would also have prevented "the provision of insurance services to Iranian companies for international transport-related contracts," the Journal said.

Instead, the proposed resolution now seeks to enforce existing sanctions on cargo shipments, urges the country to take additional steps to bar insurance provisions and calls for "vigilance" in transactions involving Iran.

The United States had hoped to get a new round of UN sanctions passed early this year, possibly around April, the newspaper said, but difficulty securing support could push the effort back into the summer.

While Washington suspects that Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons, the government in Tehran insists its nuclear program is merely designed to meet its domestic energy needs.