Archive for the ‘Prime Minister’ Category

Mumbai Terror Attack: Why Wasn’t Intelligence Better?

November 29, 2008

It is the big question: Could more have been done to prevent the Mumbai massacre?

While terrorism experts say Indian special forces performed with remarkable bravery and professionalism in their battle with the terrorists, they believe the attacks should — and could — have been thwarted by better intelligence.

Professor Paul Wilkinson lectures in international relations at the University of St. Andrews and is joint editor of the academic journal Terrorism and Political Violence.

SKY News (UK)

He told Sky News: “We have to accept there was an intelligence failure. They should have nipped this in the bud but it wasn’t on their radar. Intelligence doesn’t come out of this very well. This was a major operation with lots of people involved. It wasn’t just a cell; there were teams of gunmen — lots of well trained people. A large number of people must have been in the know about this attack.”

Former SAS trooper Robin Horsfall, who took part in the storming of the Iranian embassy in 1980, also believes the international intelligence community should have known the attacks were being planned.

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Indian soldiers take cover during a military operation at the ... 
Indian soldiers take cover during a military operation at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Commandos Saturday killed the last remaining gunmen in Mumbai’s Taj hotel to end a devastating attack by Islamic militants on India’s financial capital that left 195 dead, including 27 foreigners.(AFP/Pedro Ugarte)

Pakistan Withdraws Offer To Send Security Chief to India To Assist In Mumbai Investigation

November 29, 2008

Pakistan on Saturday withdrew an offer to send its spy chief to India to help investigate the Mumbai terrorist attacks, damaging efforts to head off a crisis between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian officials have linked the attacks to “elements” in Pakistan, raising the prospect of a breakdown in painstaking peace talks between South Asian rivals that has alarmed the U.S.

An Indian soldier runs to take cover in front of the Taj Mahal ... 
An Indian soldier runs to take cover in front of the Taj Mahal hotel as Indian troops and militants battle in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the luxury Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India’s financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that rocked the nation.(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

However, Washington also kept up the pressure on Pakistan with a suspected missile strike on an al-Qaida and Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border that reportedly killed two people.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted on Friday that his country was not involved in the carnage that left more than 190 people dead in India’s financial capital.

With Pakistan promising to help identify and apprehend those responsible, Gilani‘s office said the head of the Inter Services Intelligence agency would go to India at the request of India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

However, Zahid Bashir, a spokesman for Gilani, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the decision had been changed and that a lower-ranking intelligence official would travel instead.

He declined to explain the about-face, which followed sharp criticism from some Pakistani opposition politicians and a cool response from the army, which controls the spy agency.

Bashir didn’t say who would be making the trip or when.

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Race, Obama, World: After U.S. Breakthrough, Europe Looks in Mirror

November 12, 2008

In the general European euphoria over the election of Barack Obama, there is the beginning of self-reflection about Europe’s own troubles with racial integration. Many are asking if there could be a French, British, German or Italian Obama, and everyone knows the answer is no, not anytime soon.

By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times

It is risky to make racial comparisons between America and Europe, given all the historical and cultural differences. But race had long been one reason that Europeans, harking back to the days when famous American blacks like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin found solace in France, looked down on the United States, even as Europe developed postcolonial racial problems of its own.

“They always said, ‘You think race relations are bad here in France, check out the U.S.,’ ” said Mohamed Hamidi, former editor of the Bondy Blog, founded after the 2005 riots in the heavily immigrant suburbs of Paris.

“But that argument can no longer stand,” he said.

For many immigrants to Europe, Mr. Obama’s victory is “a small revolution” toward better overall treatment of minorities, said Nadia Azieze, 31, an Algerian-born nurse who grew up here. “It will never be the same,” she said, over a meal of rice and lamb in the racially mixed Paris neighborhood of Barbès-Rochechouart.

Her sister, Cherine, 29, is a computer engineer. Mr. Obama “really represents the dream of America — if you work, you can make it,” she said. “It’s a hope for the entire world.”

But the sisters are less optimistic about the realities of France, where minorities have a limited political role, with only one black deputy elected to the National Assembly from mainland France.

Has the Obama election caused any real self-reflection among the majority here? “It’s politically correct to say, ‘O.K., great! He’s black,’ and clap,” Nadia said. “But deep down, there’s no change. People say one thing and believe another.”

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Obama Election Sparks Discussion of Race, Leaders Other Lands

November 12, 2008
A Tehran news weekly was shut down by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week after featuring President-elect Barack Obama on its front cover and asking the question, “Why doesn’t Iran have an Obama?”
Fox News
The news magazine Shahrvand-e Emrouz [Today’s Citizen] went too far for the hardline president, who quickly had Iran’s Press Supervisory Board ban the publication, the Times of London reported.

The closure of the propular reformist weekly suggests that Ahmadinejad is determined to silence his critics as he prepares for elections next June that could hand him a second-four year term.

The Iranian media has blamed numerous problems in recent weeks on Ahmadinejad. His expansionary budget is blamed for rampant inflation, oil prices have plummeted, aides have admitted that he suffers from strain and exhaustion, and an embarrassing forgery scandal claimed the scalp of his interior minister last week, the Times reported.

This week, however, Ahmadinejad collected support from some newspapers for his message of congratulations to Obama, which several newspaper commentaries on Tuesday presented an important opportunity.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an official ...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
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 Could Britain Have a Black PM?

From the BBC

Now the US has elected its first black president, how long until the UK has a black or Asian prime minister?


When Barack Obama claimed that his story could only have happened in America, he might have been looking across the Atlantic for evidence.

The odds of a black or Asian person taking the keys to 10 Downing Street any time soon are slim.

Tony Blair acknowledged as much in 2001, when he suggested the US was ahead of the UK in having people from ethnic minorities occupying some of the top political posts.

Mr Blair was mindful of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice at the heart of the White House, but probably hadn’t even heard of Obama.

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Czech Republic Discussing U.S. Missile Shield

October 28, 2008

From Jan Lopatka, Reuters

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek faces a battle to win parliamentary approval for a U.S. radar station to be built on Czech soil as part of a missile defence shield planned by Washington.

The two houses of parliament in the central European state, which joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, are expected this week to start debating two treaties that would allow the tracking radar to be stationed southwest of Prague.

The missile defence shield, which would also include 10 interceptor missiles based in neighbouring Poland, would help detect and shoot down any ballistic missiles fired at Europe and the United States by countries such as Iran.

Plans for the shield are backed by the fragile centre-right coalition government, but have alienated many ordinary people who fear they could make their country a target and undermine its security.

The plans also face resistance from the government’s parliamentary foes and have angered Moscow, which regards them as threat to its own security.

Asked about the prospects for ratification by the lower house, Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told Reuters: “There will be a problem. We must fight until the very last moment.”

“I hope that after all the people will realise the responsibility that they have,” he said.

Topolanek cancelled talks this week with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington after doubts about the outcome grew following heavy losses by his Civic Democrats in an upper house election on October 25.

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Britain in for long haul in Pakistan: Foreign secretary

April 21, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – Visiting Foreign Secretary David Miliband Sunday said Britain wanted a long-term partnership with Pakistan to end militancy in its tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
Miliband was in Peshawar city in northwestern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, for talks with new local government leaders. He is due to meet Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad on Monday.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband (seen here earlier this year) ... 
Foreign Secretary David Miliband has visited Peshawar city in northwestern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, for talks with new government leaders.(AFP/Shaun Curry)

“Britain is going to be a partner for a long term. We are not here for a quick fix,” Miliband told a press conference later.

“We are here for a long-term partnership with the country with whom we have very strong cultural, economic and political ties.”

In Peshawar Miliband met provincial governor Owais Ghani and chief minister Amir Haider Hoti to discuss security issues and ongoing cooperation over development in Pakistan’s tribal areas, officials said.

A new government comprising secular parties has replaced the Islamist-led administration of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal which ruled the rugged and lawless North West Frontier Province between 2002-2007.

Britain is providing development aid for Pakistan, especially in its troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, a known hideout for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

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Pakistan: Can Tribal Elders Turn Over Osama to U.S.?

March 31, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Voice For Peace
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 31, 2008

Several tribal elders and maliks interviewed by Voice For Peace have shown willingness to hand over Osama bin Laden and other terrorists hiding in tribal areas to the United States as according to them, they are criminals and they must face charges in court of law whether it is in the United States or tribal areas. They suggested that the US forces and tribal people should carry out search operation jointly.

There are indications that Osama bin Laden may be hiding in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border as he according to reports, he along with his other colleagues were shifted to Bajaur Agency after launching of operation in Waziristan tribal region. At that time political agent of Bajaur Agency was from Waziristan Agency. Several maliks and elders confirmed the shifting of Osama to Bajaur Agency. Due to the sensitivity of the matter they requested that their names might not be disclosed.

On the other hand Pakistan media has been creating another militant leader in Bajaur Agency. A statement of the militant leader was carried out by several newspapers of Pakistan. According to The News International report, a militant leader with alleged ties to al-Qaeda has welcomed an offer by Prime Minister Gilani to negotiate with the militants accused of launching terrorist attacks from the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammed said on Sunday his fighters were not “enemies” of Pakistan, adding “our war is with America”.

Speaking in the Bajaur tribal region, Maulvi Faqir told more than 4,000 supporters — hundreds of armed militants among them, “We welcome the government’s announcement of talks with the Taliban.”

Maulvi Faqir comments came a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in his inaugural speech that fighting terrorism was his government’s top priority. Gilani also said his government was willing to talk to militants who laid down their arms and “joined the path of peace”.

Expanding education and development in the impoverished region would be a “key pillar” of the government’s strategy against the militants in the tribal zone, the prime minister said. Maulvi Faqir said the government should not cooperate with the United States. ìWhenever Pakistan will work for the American interests as its ally, we will have our opposition to that matter,î Maulvi Faqir said amid chants of ìdeath to America.î 

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the negotiation offer of the incoming NWFP government, saying that they were open to talks on enforcement of Shariah and restoration of peace in the restive Swat valley.

Talking to this scribe by telephone from an undisclosed location, TTP spokesman Sirajuddin said: “We hail the provincial government’s efforts for establishing law and order in the restive valley. However, end to the military operation is a prerequisite to achieve peace in the area,” he said.

He also demanded an immediate announcement regarding the implementation of Shariah in the Malakand region and reminded that government was duty-bound to fulfill its religious obligations.

Siraj also lauded MPA from Swat, Waqar Ahmed Khan for raising voice on the floor of provincial assembly for the people of Swat and showing his concern over the situation in the troubled region. He urged all political parties to unite in order to help restore peace in the picturesque valley.

Taliban Welcome Pakistan’s PM Talks Offer

March 29, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 29, 2008

Taliban fighters, who engaged the Pakistan army being considered one of the best armies of the world, have welcomed the offer of talks made by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. From the offer and response one thing becomes clear that Taliban are actually the men of these politicians and they had used them against President Pervez Musharra.

There are many people, who have been raising the questions. Is there any justification for talks with criminals as now most of the people are considering Taliban militants criminals?

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Saturday welcomed the announcement of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani he made in his first speech in the National Assembly after securing vote of confidence about scrapping the Frontier Crime Regulation through which tribal areas have been governed since independence.

“This is the demand of whole tribesmen that Shariah should be enforced in the tribal areas as the areas cannot be run through FCR enforced by the Britishers for keeping the tribesmen subjugated,” said a purported spokesman of Taliban movement Maulvi Omar while talking to local newsmen by phone from undisclosed location.

The Taliban spokesman also welcomed the offer of prime minister for talks with Taliban saying that peace could only be restored through talks. “The prime minister’s announcement creates a ray of hope for peace in the tribal areas,” he added.

It merits a mention here Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani urged militants to renounce violence and offered to hold talks with those who give up arms and join the new democratic era. Addressing the parliament after wining a unanimous vote of confidence, Gilani said terrorism was the biggest threat undermining Pakistan’s stability. “Our first priority will be restoration of law and order and elimination of terrorism from the country,” said Gilani.

Maulvi Omar demanded of the prime minister to abandon the war on terrorism launched by President Pervez Musharraf on the instruction of the United States. “Taliban are ready to respond positively to the initiatives of the present government for restoration of peace in tribal areas and other parts of the country,” he added.
“our only demand of the Taliban movement is the withdrawal of Pakistan from the US-led coalition against terrorism,” he added

Pakistan: New PM To Be Named Tonight

March 22, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 22, 2008

Political games being played in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan have entered a decisive phase. According to a report, the husband of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who was gunned by terrorists before the elections, Asif Ali Zardari has chosen a person from Pubjab province to become the prime minister.
There are also reports of serious differences that have erupted in Pakistan People’s Party as most of the members of National Assembly think that Amir Fahim, president of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians is the right person to lead Pakistan at this critical time.
Reports said that Pakistan Peoples Party would likely to nominate Yousuf Raza Gillani as the new prime minister of the country, sources said.
According to Geo News, PPP has completed consultations with coalition partners about the prime minister and the allies have endorsed the nomination.
The formal announcement of the name of prime minister is expected tonight. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would announce the name.

Bhutto’s party to nominate Pakistan PM at weekend

March 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – The party of Pakistan‘s slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto will name its candidate for the post of prime minister at the weekend, a spokesman said Friday.

 Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, seen here in January 2008. ...

President Pervez Musharraf has summoned the new parliament on Monday to elect a prime minister, which will clear the way for a coalition government hostile to him to start business.

“We will announce our candidate for prime minister on late Saturday or early Sunday,” Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AFP.

The names of the contesting candidates have to be filed before Sunday afternoon for Monday’s vote, he added.

Bhutto’s teenage son and successor as chairman of the party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, returned to Pakistan from London this week to personally announce the candidate.

The PPP emerged as the largest party from general elections on February 18 but has struggled to settle on a candidate amid a power vacuum left by the charismatic Bhutto’s assassination.