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Monday, 02 October 2006 02:55

Gloria R. Lalumia's World Media Watch for October 2, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR OCTOBER 2, 2006

1//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy--TALIBAN BACK IN BUSINESS IN BORDER AREAS (President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's controversial peace deal with Pakistan-based Taliban has already resulted in a new assertiveness by the 'Islamic Scholars' in the Waziristan agency which borders Afghanistan. On Thursday, an Afghan national identified as Malang Khan was shot dead by Taliban vigilantes for allegedly spying for the United States army. "Malang had been spying on the Taliban in the North and South Waziristan agencies for Americans. A satellite phone set has also been recovered from him," said a note pinned to his body. Khan's bullet-riddled body was discovered in Khadi village on the road that leads to Mirali town from Miramshah, capital of North Waziristan agency. The note warned that all spies would meet the same fate. ... . The Taliban are now showing every intention of taking over administrative control of the Pashtun-dominated semi-autonomous North and South Waziristan. One pamphlet distributed on Wednesday said: "There is complete lawlessness in the area and crimes have increased. So after the peace accord, Taliban has set up an office to serve residents of the area and restore peace." The office, complete with telephone facilities, has been set up within the premises of the main bus stand in Miramshah. And the local Taliban Shura [council] has constituted a committee to jointly run the office. That the Taliban have the blessing of the Pakistan government has become clear with military authorities returning automatic rifles and other material seized from a madrassa [seminary] run by the Afghan Jehadi commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqani here on Wednesday morning.)

2//The Daily Times, Pakistan--LJ FORMING NEW MILITANT CELLS (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [LJ], a banned sectarian militant group, has started a recruitment drive and is forming new cells at the district and provincial levels, Daily Times has learnt. Intelligence agencies have reported to the Interior Ministry that "notorious terrorist" Matiur Rehman had been tasked with reorganising Lashkar cells, sources told Daily Times. Rehman is believed to have links with Al Qaeda and is one of the prime suspects in the London airline plot. He is also believed to have been involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, the multiple assassination plots on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and the attack on the US Consulate in Karachi in March 2006. The report added that drug money "from the Taliban" was being used to fund the recruitment drive and reorganisation. ... . The Interior Ministry has asked the home secretaries and the Islamabad chief commissioner to use "all possible resources" to foil the LJ attempt to recruit new members, the sources said. They added that the police had been asked to form raiding parties to track down the LJ activists. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed in 1996 by a breakaway group of Sipah-e-Sahaba. It is banned in Pakistan and internationally as a terrorist group.)

3//The Toronto Star, Canada--59% POLLED SAY AFGHAN MISSION LOST CAUSE (A clear majority of Canadians consider the mission in Afghanistan a lost cause, according to an extensive survey that hints at deep public skepticism about the war on terror. Decima Research polled more than 2,000 Canadians last month just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped up his efforts to promote the mission. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents agreed Canadian soldiers "are dying for a cause we cannot win," while just 34 per cent disagreed with that statement. An even larger majority said they would never fight in Afghanistan themselves under any circumstances - not even if they were forced to in some military draft. The online survey of 2,038 people was conducted Sept. 8-18 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The doubts of respondents about Canada's chances in Afghanistan paled in comparison to their downright dismissal of the overall U.S.-led war on terror. Almost three-quarters said the Bush administration had made the world more dangerous, 76 per cent said American policy had contributed to a rise in terrorism, and 68 per cent predicted the U.S. will eventually abandon Iraq without success.)

4//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--RUSSIA'S NEW VIETNAMESE COURTSHIP (Russian-Vietnamese trade, energy and security ties are on the upswing, underscoring Moscow's latest bid to re-energize its strategic relationship with Hanoi and re-establish itself as a major Southeast Asian player at a time the United States, the European Union and China are likewise competing for regional influence. Vietnamese Vice President Truong My Hoa said after meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in Moscow on September 20 that "all-around cooperation between Vietnam and Russia should be further developed" and that "Vietnam wants Russia to invest not only in its oil-and-gas industry, but also in atomic-energy and hydroelectric-power projects". Fradkov diplomatically praised Vietnam's economic "renewal process" and indicated Russia's keen interest in responding to Hanoi's calls for closer ties. ... . Significantly, Russia's new strategic push into not only Vietnam but Southeast Asia is predicated and somewhat restrained by Moscow's bigger concern of maintaining stable relations with China. Russia walks a thin line by helping Vietnam to improve its defensive capabilities, which for geographical and historic reasons are largely aimed at counterbalancing China. ... . Top Gazprom and Petrovietnam executives met on September 20 to discuss a new bilateral agreement where the two sides drew up new guidelines for joint operating in oil production and processing and sketched a general scheme to develop Vietnam's nascent natural-gas industry. An official statement issued by Gazprom after the meeting announced that it plans to start new drilling in the Gulf of Tonkin by November.)

5//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--TURKEY DEBATES FREE EXPRESSION OF THOUGHT (Turkey is debating freedom of thought and its expression as intellectuals and politicians confront each other over Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK]; intellectuals are pushing for greater freedom, while politicians are resisting their calls for the removal of obstacles in the free expression of thought, the most notable of which is considered to be Article 301. ... . How much progress can a society, containing intellectuals, artists, writers and caricaturists that are unable to express themselves, achieve? Don't people living in Turkey deserve the right to think and freely express what they think? Novelist Elif _afak, who was tried and speedily acquitted in a case under Article 301, says freedom of expression must exist in Turkey not because somebody wants us to have it but for our own people. What can a writer produce if they can't express what they can imagine? If they do manage to produce something, who would like it? Can thought be restricted? Should non-violent thought and its expression be free? How far are the Turkish people free to think and express their thoughts? Who will draw the boundaries? Would the Republic of Turkey be harmed if freedom of expression was fully ensured? Would the integrity of the state be endangered then?)

* * *

1//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy Sep 30, 2006

TALIBAN BACK IN BUSINESS IN BORDER AREAS
Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR, Sep 30 (IPS) - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's controversial peace deal with Pakistan-based Taliban has already resulted in a new assertiveness by the 'Islamic Scholars' in the Waziristan agency which borders Afghanistan.

On Thursday, an Afghan national identified as Malang Khan was shot dead by Taliban vigilantes for allegedly spying for the United States army. "Malang had been spying on the Taliban in the North and South Waziristan agencies for Americans. A satellite phone set has also been recovered from him," said a note pinned to his body.

Khan's bullet-riddled body was discovered in Khadi village on the road that leads to Mirali town from Miramshah, capital of North Waziristan agency. The note warned that all spies would meet the same fate.

On Monday, the Taliban reopened its office in Miramshah and distributed pamphlets in the town asking the local people for cooperation in ‘dealing with crime and criminal elements' and also asked for contributions.

After fighting the Taliban in Pakistan's rugged border areas as part of support for the U.S. -led ‘war-on-terror' in Afghanistan, Musharraf signed a truce with the ‘scholars' in June and followed it up this month with a comprehensive pact under which the Taliban would stop launching attacks across the border on U.S. and allied troops.

''The opening of the Taliban office and the continued execution of suspected spies is a clear indication that the agreement has started to fall apart," said Afrasiab Khattak, a Peshawar-based commentator, who spent ten years in exile in Afghanistan.

Khattak said since members of the Taliban have local roots in Pashtun-dominated Waziristan, it was impossible for the government to control them without the support of local population. It was in 2004 that the Pakistan army launched a major military offensive against the Taliban and members of the al-Qaeda, but ended up with a bloody nose. In all, Pakistan is believed to have lost close to 500 of its soldiers fighting the fierce Pashtun tribesmen.

With the new peace deal, Musharraf has effectively put an end to the two-year-old military campaign to track down remnants of the Taliban which had sought shelter in Waziristan and other border areas after being ousted as the rulers of Afghanistan by the U.S. army in late 2001.

The Taliban are now showing every intention of taking over administrative control of the Pashtun-dominated semi-autonomous North and South Waziristan. One pamphlet distributed on Wednesday said: "There is complete lawlessness in the area and crimes have increased. So after the peace accord, Taliban has set up an office to serve residents of the area and restore peace."

The office, complete with telephone facilities, has been set up within the premises of the main bus stand in Miramshah. And the local Taliban Shura (council) has constituted a committee to jointly run the office.

That the Taliban have the blessing of the Pakistan government has become clear with military authorities returning automatic rifles and other material seized from a madrassa (seminary) run by the Afghan Jehadi commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqani here on Wednesday morning.

Security forces had raided the seminary few months ago and seized the weapons. The return of the weapons is in keeping with the peace deal under which government forces and the militants are expected to return each other weapons and other equipment seized during clashes.

Authorities have also set free several people lodged in the Miramshah jail. Three of these were identified as Yousaf, Noor Hassan and Labir Khan, all of whom were arrested a few days ago near the Pakistan-Afghan border in the Kurram Agency.

On Monday, the bodies of five Pakistan nationals who died fighting in Afghanistan were brought to the South Waziristan agency and although there was no official comment, all five were said to belong to the Charsadda town, 30 km north of here.

Interestingly, Musharraf's peace deal with the Taliban is known to have been endorsed by Mullah Omar, the erstwhile supreme religious leader of Afghanistan, but now known to be living in exile in Pakistan.

(MORE)


2//The Daily Times, Pakistan Monday, October 02, 2006

LJ FORMING NEW MILITANT CELLS
By Shahzad Malik

ISLAMABAD: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), a banned sectarian militant group, has started a recruitment drive and is forming new cells at the district and provincial levels, Daily Times has learnt.

Intelligence agencies have reported to the Interior Ministry that "notorious terrorist" Matiur Rehman had been tasked with reorganising Lashkar cells, sources told Daily Times.

Rehman is believed to have links with Al Qaeda and is one of the prime suspects in the London airline plot. He is also believed to have been involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, the multiple assassination plots on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and the attack on the US Consulate in Karachi in March 2006.

The report added that drug money "from the Taliban" was being used to fund the recruitment drive and reorganisation.

Abdullah Faryad, the LJ president in Ditta Khel, has been told to help Rehman reorganise the cells, said the intelligence report.

Sheikh Ahmed Saleem, an Arab member of Al Qaeda, has given money to Qari Idrees, an LJ activist based in Sahiwal, to recruit militants for the new cells, the report said.

Abu Khabaib, an Arab explosives expert who had been spotted several times in the hills of Chitral, is helping Saleem find new recruits, the report said.

(SNIP)

The Interior Ministry has asked the home secretaries and the Islamabad chief commissioner to use "all possible resources" to foil the LJ attempt to recruit new members, the sources said. They added that the police had been asked to form raiding parties to track down the LJ activists.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed in 1996 by a breakaway group of Sipah-e-Sahaba. It is banned in Pakistan and internationally as a terrorist group.


3//The Toronto Star, Canada Oct. 1, 2006. 02:38 PM

59% POLLED SAY AFGHAN MISSION LOST CAUSE
Alexander Panetta, Canadian Press

OTTAWA - A clear majority of Canadians consider the mission in Afghanistan a lost cause, according to an extensive survey that hints at deep public skepticism about the war on terror.

Decima Research polled more than 2,000 Canadians last month just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped up his efforts to promote the mission.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents agreed Canadian soldiers "are dying for a cause we cannot win," while just 34 per cent disagreed with that statement.

An even larger majority said they would never fight in Afghanistan themselves under any circumstances - not even if they were forced to in some military draft.

The online survey of 2,038 people was conducted Sept. 8-18 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The doubts of respondents about Canada's chances in Afghanistan paled in comparison to their downright dismissal of the overall U.S.-led war on terror.

Almost three-quarters said the Bush administration had made the world more dangerous, 76 per cent said American policy had contributed to a rise in terrorism, and 68 per cent predicted the U.S. will eventually abandon Iraq without success.

"I think the reason the Afghan mission is coming under such scrutiny has less to do with Canada's position," said Decima pollster Bruce Anderson.

"It has more to do with doubts about the leadership of the Bush administration in the war on terror than (with) decisions made by the Liberals or the Conservatives to participate in Afghanistan."

This public skepticism could have deep implications for Canada, both politically and militarily.

Kandahar now threatens to become the centre of Canada's political universe, just nine months after a federal election that saw almost no discussion of international issues.

In the last month alone, the NDP called for a quick pullout, while the prime minister launched a media blitz to promote the mission and suggested troops could even remain beyond the currently scheduled end to the deployment in 2009.

Harper has been ubiquitous in his defence of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan over the last few weeks. It was at the heart of his address to Canadians on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

(SNIP)

Anderson said Canadians may start demanding a middle alternative - something that keeps our soldiers in Afghanistan, but with some changes to the current mission.

"If people come increasingly to the view that this is not going to succeed, and that these lives will be lost in vain, they're going to want another solution," he said.

"They might not be able to articulate what it is, or how it should come about, but they are going to be asking their political leadership for an alternative to lives being lost in vain."

Decima's survey also found that:

- 74 per cent of respondents said Bush has made the world a more dangerous place, while just 15 per cent said he has made it safer.
- 67 per cent said they couldn't trust Bush's warnings about North Korea because he was '``wrong about Iraq."
- 65 per cent called the terrorist prisons at Guantanamo Bay an ``embarrassment."


4//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong Sep 30, 2006

RUSSIA'S NEW VIETNAMESE COURTSHIP
By Federico Bordonaro

Russian-Vietnamese trade, energy and security ties are on the upswing, underscoring Moscow's latest bid to re-energize its strategic relationship with Hanoi and re-establish itself as a major Southeast Asian player at a time the United States, the European Union and China are likewise competing for regional influence.

Vietnamese Vice President Truong My Hoa said after meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in Moscow on September 20 that "all-around cooperation between Vietnam and Russia should be further developed" and that "Vietnam wants Russia to invest not only in its oil-and-gas industry, but also in atomic-energy and hydroelectric-power projects". Fradkov diplomatically praised Vietnam's economic "renewal process" and indicated Russia's keen interest in responding to Hanoi's calls for closer ties.

Former Cold War allies, and later post-Cold War antagonists, nowadays there is plenty of economic and strategic incentive for the two sides to forge stronger bilateral ties. Hanoi and Moscow frequently refer to their bilateral relationship as a "strategic partnership". President Vladimir Putin used the term back in February 2001, when bilateral relations first got back on track, and mutual ties have since significantly strengthened.

It's a partnership of mutual convenience. Vietnam desperately needs to enhance its energy security and upgrade its dilapidated armed forces, while Moscow is seeking to expand its influence in Asia's energy sector, mainly through its giant energy concern Gazprom, and increase big-ticket military-related exports.

Significantly, Russia's new strategic push into not only Vietnam but Southeast Asia is predicated and somewhat restrained by Moscow's bigger concern of maintaining stable relations with China. Russia walks a thin line by helping Vietnam to improve its defensive capabilities, which for geographical and historic reasons are largely aimed at counterbalancing China.

Moscow's apparent deference to Beijing's wishes helps to explain why Putin agreed in 2001 to decommission Russia's naval base at Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay three years before its lease expired - though subsequent US overtures to establish some sort of a military presence at the deepwater port have irked China.

That's why Russian and Vietnamese officials have concentrated their new strategic embrace more on business than war games. At the 11th session of the Vietnam-Russia Intergovernmental Committee for Economic, Trade and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, the two sides declared that bilateral trade would likely exceed US$1 billion in 2006.

They also announced plans for the establishment of a new joint-venture bank to be established between the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam and Russia's Vneshtorbank, which will likely be officially opened for business when Putin visits Hanoi during this November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Fueling new ties
Energy security, now as in the past, remains at the forefront of the bilateral relationship. As Vietnam's economy surges, its domestic energy sources are fast diminishing. Russia sits on huge fossil-fuel resources at home, and has the technical know-how to improve Vietnam's current exploitation and management techniques, industry experts say.

Top Gazprom and Petrovietnam executives met on September 20 to discuss a new bilateral agreement where the two sides drew up new guidelines for joint operating in oil production and processing and sketched a general scheme to develop Vietnam's nascent natural-gas industry. An official statement issued by Gazprom after the meeting announced that it plans to start new drilling in the Gulf of Tonkin by November.

The announcement could mark an important new direction for Vietnam's energy sector - though once again heavily reliant on Russian expertise and investment. Russia's hugely profitable Gazprom, which currently provides nearly all the gas needs of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe and is ranked as the world's third-largest corporation, is set to replace Zarubezhneft as Moscow's main energy representative to Vietnam.

(MORE)


5//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey Sunday, October 1, 2006

TURKEY DEBATES FREE EXPRESSION OF THOUGHT
Goksel Bozkurt

ANKARA- TDN Parliament Bureau
Turkey is debating freedom of thought and its expression as intellectuals and politicians confront each other over Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK); intellectuals are pushing for greater freedom, while politicians are resisting their calls for the removal of obstacles in the free expression of thought, the most notable of which is considered to be Article 301.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo_an has repeatedly stated that the government might consider amending the article if the way it is implemented makes an amendment necessary, but so far no concrete steps have been taken. Leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal made his position clear when he told Erdo_an to "knock on someone else's door" if he seeks support for changing Article 301. Fearing that such a move could alienate voters, politicians tend to resist the idea of changing the article.

How much progress can a society, containing intellectuals, artists, writers and caricaturists that are unable to express themselves, achieve? Don't people living in Turkey deserve the right to think and freely express what they think? Novelist Elif _afak, who was tried and speedily acquitted in a case under Article 301, says freedom of expression must exist in Turkey not because somebody wants us to have it but for our own people. What can a writer produce if they can't express what they can imagine? If they do manage to produce something, who would like it? Can thought be restricted? Should non-violent thought and its expression be free? How far are the Turkish people free to think and express their thoughts? Who will draw the boundaries? Would the Republic of Turkey be harmed if freedom of expression was fully ensured? Would the integrity of the state be endangered then?

These are the questions that surround the Article 301 controversy in Turkey. Intellectuals, the European Union, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations are against Article 301. It would be useful to have a look at certain data and laws regarding freedom of expression. In a recently released study, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation identified some 14 articles in the TCK, including 301, that could potentially restrict freedom of expression.

(MORE)

WORLD MEDIA WATCH

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia