An olive branch in one hand and a sword in the other, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf cracked down yesterday on militants and told India it was time to talk, but said his troops were ready to fight to the last drop of their blood. Eager not to appear to be bowing to Indian demands yet still trying to defuse tensions, Musharraf banned five militant groups in an address to the nation, saying they were stirring sectarian hatred at home. The banned groups included the two pro-Kashmiri organizations accused by India of the attack last month on its parliament.
With a million men poised for war on both sides of the Pakistan-India border, he said that India must not dare to cross the line and his people must not interfere in the business of other countries. "Pakistan's armed forces are fully deployed and prepared to face every challenge. We will shed the last drop of our blood for the defense of the country," he said in a speech laced with a mix of saber rattling and peace-making. "Do not attempt to cross the border in any area because we will retaliate with full force," the military ruler said. "Let there be no misunderstanding."
There was no immediate comment from Indian officials. The United States was quick to welcome Musharraf's speech that outlined a vision for a modern Islamic Pakistan, with a State Department official saying the strategy provided "a basis for both sides to ratchet down the tension". Police were ordered to seal all the offices in Sindh province of the five religious and sectarian groups. "A ban is after all a ban and police have been asked to seal all their offices ... if they are still operative," Sindh's Home Secretary Brig. Mukhtar Sheikh told AFP. The law would take its course if someone tried to resist or violate the ban, he said. "The writ of the government would be enforced and no one would be allowed to break the law as laid down by the president," he said.
Newly-banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba was one of the first to express defiance, vowing its jihad, or holy war, would continue in Indian-administered Kashmir. "The government of Pakistan has no right to ban us as we are a Kashmir-based group fighting against the Indian forces and we will continue our jihad (holy war)," Lashkar spokesman Abdullah Sayyaf said.
India's political establishment gave a cautious welcome to the speech. But the Indian government said it would react officially today after it had studied the text of the address "very closely". The Hindu extremist party, which leads the ruling coalition in Delhi, said it would welcome steps to curb militancy announced by Pakistan only if they halted "Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and the rest of India." The Bharatiya Janata Party said it wanted more than words from the Pakistani leader. "That will be the benchmark. He has to be judged by his actions," BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra told reporters. The US State Department official said Musharraf's speech "marks a clear break with the violence of the past in Kashmir and Pakistani society as a whole."
Musharraf stressed that the issue of disputed Kashmir that has soured ties with India ever since independence in 1947 must be solved through negotiation, words unlikely to find favor with India that claims the whole Himalayan region as its own. "Kashmir runs in our blood. No Pakistani can break links with Kashmir. The whole world knows this, all Pakistanis know this," he said, but said the dispute should not be used as a pretext by extremists. "No organization will be permitted to engage in terrorism under cover of Kashmir cause," he said in measured remarks unlikely to assuage Indian anger but likely to find favor in the international community.
Musharraf's speech came at the end of a day that saw the arrests of about 250 activists detained in police raids on religious schools, or madrassas, belonging to radical groups in the volatile southern port city of Karachi. He told his people he was banning Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, two of the groups of militants battling security forces in Indian-ruled Kashmir that are at the root of the military standoff between the nuclear neighbors that has brought them to the brink of the fourth war. "Militancy, intolerance, extremism ... are to be brought to an end," he said without linking the ban to Indian demands. He said he was ready to talk to India in the spirit of New Delhi's own requests and sent a message to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. "I would like to quote what you yourself said only a few days ago, and I quote: 'Mindsets will have to be altered, and historical baggage will have to be jettisoned'. I take you up on this offer. Let us start talking in this very spirit."
Posted by: Fred ||
01/13/2002 2:01:24 PM ||
Top|| File under: Govt of Pakistan
Israeli Navy gunships shelled the harbor in Gaza City early yesterday, destroying a Palestinian coast guard ship, after the Palestinian Authority ordered the arrest of three of its own officials on suspicion of smuggling arms by sea. The action came amid allegations that the Authority was smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip, after the Israeli Navy boarded and seized an arms-laden freighter in the Red Sea last week. The harbor area was rocked by the resounding sound of at least two shells being launched as the early morning attack left some boats ablaze and destroyed a fuel dump, security sources said. The shelling destroyed two boats, one of which was the Palestinian naval vessel, the Gindalla, an Israeli military statement said.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has jailed three of its own officials, including two senior naval officers, for their alleged role in the affair in which the Karine A, stocked with 50 tons of weapons, was intercepted, officials in Gaza said. It has accused vice admirals Fethi Razem and Fuad Shubaki and arms buyer Adel Moghrabi of responsibility for the foiled smuggling operation, officials said. All three men have also been implicated by the Israelis in the affair, and an official commission of inquiry set up by the Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to help in the investigation. Israel alleges that the Palestinian Authority ordered the cargo of weapons, a charge the Authority has denied.
The Gaza wharf attack followed a second straight day of Israeli aggression into the Gaza Strip, which included the bulldozing of dozens of homes, and which were alleged to be in retaliation for the killing of four Israeli soldiers.
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Posted by: Fred ||
01/13/2002 1:54:48 PM ||
Top|| File under: Palestinian Authority
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.