May 10, 2013
Apr 17, 2013
Apr 11, 2013
- The need of more provinces for Federation or Division?
- Shouldn’t Punjab government be held responsible for the deaths due to consumption of poisonous cough syrup in Punjab?
- Is Delimitation without census alone in Karachi is fair with the people of Karachi?
- Extremist Religious Groups in Pakistan Justifies: "Attack on Malala Yousuf Zai is a Reaction of Drone-attacks"
- In Quaid’s Pakistan Independence is a Responsibility not a Privilege: Are you ready to play your part?
- Do you think that the recent statement of Mr. Altaf Hussain is an eye opener for the Pakistani Nation?
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Updated: 1 day 12 hours ago
The Taliban had vowed to sabotage the parliamentary elections because they believe Western democracy is un-Islamic. However, they failed to disrupt the elections which saw an unprecedented turnout.
Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Monday that the May 11 elections amply demonstrate that “as a nation we can withstand any challenge”.
“In these elections, the people of Pakistan courageously withstood the threat of terrorism and defied the unfounded dictates of an insignificant and misguided minority,” Gen Kayani said while addressing a day-long conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Monday.
The conference titled ‘Saving Lives by Jointly Defeating IEDs’ was attended by experts from several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Turkey.
The army chief also proposed a regional military forum to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have inflicted heavy casualties on US-led foreign forces fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The proposed counter-IED forum could go a long way in eliminating the threat posed by homemade bombs, if supported by the international community, he added.
Speaking at the event, experts from the US and Britain acknowledged Pakistan for taking concrete steps in recent months, towards stopping the smuggling of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), one of the main ingredients used in IEDs.
US officials claim that about 80% of the IEDs used in Afghanistan have homemade explosives as the main charge, and more than 80% of these are derived from CAN fertiliser produced in Pakistan.
However, Gen Kayani dispelled the impression that CAN smuggling was the sole stumbling block in eliminating the threat of homemade bombs.
“Production of CAN has come under national and international focus, to the extent of creating a perception that controlling CAN alone can remove the menace of IEDs. Our arguments against this singular perception were taken as unwillingness to act against IEDs,” he added.
However, CAN is only one of the precursors of IEDs, dozens of other are readily available. Moreover, Pakistan is not the only country producing CAN, other regional countries also produce CAN which has a higher degree of nitrogen content than what Pakistani CAN possesses, he said.
The army chief further said that ammonium nitrate, produced in certain regional countries, has 34% to 35% nitrogen content as opposed to 26% contained in what is produced in Pakistan. There is evidence that as Pakistan tightened the control on sale and distribution of CAN, terrorists simply switched to other precursors, like potassium chlorate, not produced in Pakistan, he argued.
Therefore, he said that the underlying complexity of the issue “forces us to adopt a multinational and holistic government approach.”
The army chief told the conference that contrary to prevalent perceptions, Pakistan had come a long way in fighting the IEDs threat during the past three years. “Pakistan has taken significant policy initiatives to counter IEDs. The Pakistan Army, aware of the seriousness of the threat, is leading the drive to create a pragmatic, cost-effective and efficient counter-IED strategy,” he said.
This strategy, he added, aims at creating awareness, assisting in legislation and adopting best practices from across the world to suitably equip and effectively train our forces. He added that the policy was meant to develop a proactive rather than reactive response to the threat at the national level.
Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Director for Operations/Intelligence Integration, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation USA, Brig Gen Roberts P Walters Jr concurred with Gen Kayani and praised Pakistani efforts to reinforce its border to curb fertiliser smuggling into Afghanistan. Walters praised Pakistani efforts to reinforce its border to curb fertiliser smuggling into Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
PESHAWAR: Tremors were felt in parts of Swat, Chitral and Peshawar late on Monday, Express News reported.
According to US Geological Survey, an earthquake with an intensity of 5.0 in the Richter scale was felt in Farkhar, Afghanistan. The epicentre is at a 200 km distance from Chitral, Pakistan where earthquake jolts were also felt.
The quake was 208 kilometres deep and struck at 21:48 GMT, USGS said.
There were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties.
Last month, a 7.8-magnitude quake, centred in southeastern Iran killed 41 people. In Pakistan, the worst-affected area had Mashkhel, in Balochistan, where the lack of paved roads, electricity, mobile phone coverage and medical facilities has hampered the rescue effort.
Tremors were felt in Sindh and Punjab as well, causing panic and immediate evacuation of offices, towers and residential buildings.
LONDON: HMS Ark Royal, formerly Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier, sailed out of its home port on Monday to be scrapped in Turkey.
Britain, which has always prided itself on its sea power, will have to do without the ability to launch jets at sea until 2020 as it tries to balance its books and two new carriers are built.
Crowds lined the harbour walls at Portsmouth on the English south coast to say farewell to the “Mighty Ark”. Some onlookers wore black armbands or waved flags.
The warship, which saw active service in the Balkans and the second war in Iraq, is being towed to Izmir on Turkey’s west coast. It was sold as scrap to recycling firm Leyal, for £2.9 million ($4.4 million, 3.4 million euros).
HMS Ark Royal and its sister aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious were the biggest ships in Britain’s navy — a key part not only of Britain’s defence but also its ability to project power worldwide.
Invincible was sold to Leyal for scrap in 2011, while Illustrious is serving as a helicopter landing platform and ministers hope to preserve her for the nation after it retires next year.
Britain will have no carrier strike capability until two new, bigger Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers come into service from 2020.
Ark Royal sailed back into Portsmouth in December 2010 as part of eight percent defence spending cuts introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government in a bid to shrink Britain’s budget deficit.
“Ark Royal, like her sister ships, has served this country with great distinction,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman told AFP.
“Retiring her five years earlier than planned was a difficult decision but it was the right one that, combined with her sale, has saved over £100 million.
“A decommissioning ceremony was held in March 2011 to pay tribute to her 31 years’ service with the Royal Navy.”
London decided to decommission the Ark Royal and also retire the fleet of Harrier jets deployed on board.
The Queen Elizabeth Class carriers were ordered in part because it would be more expensive to scrap pre-agreed contracts.
The government felt it could bridge the 10-year carrier gap by using foreign bases and overfly rights if required.
There have been five ships called Ark Royal, all of which were aircraft carriers except the first — a wooden sailing ship that saw battle in 1588 in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
MOSCOW: Russian security services claimed on Monday that they had foiled a terror attack on Moscow, killing two of the plotters and arresting another.
“Our forceful actions prevented an attempted act of terror in the capital,” the National Anti-Terror Committee said in a statement.
The statement said the men, all three of them ethnic Russians, were detected on the outskirts of Moscow. A gunfight erupted during their attempted arrest which left a Russian federal security official lightly injured.
The committee added that all three men are suspected of having received their training in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been personally informed about the foiled plot.
NEW DELHI: Afghan President Hamid Karzai will seek greater Indian military aid during a visit this week to New Delhi, officials of both countries said Monday.
India has provided billions of dollars of aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and is keen to ensure that no radical regime takes power in Kabul after international troops pull out in 2014.
Afghanistan’s request “will include all kinds of assistance from India in order to strengthen our military and security institutions,” Karzai’s presidential spokesperson, Aimal Faizi, told reporters in Kabul.
Karzai, set to start his two-day trip to New Delhi late Monday, will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the future of the war-torn country and also meet Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Discussions will cover a potential arms deal between the two countries, an Indian foreign ministry official told AFP in New Delhi, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“India is ready to meet any request that would strengthen Afghan security institutions. He (Karzai) is visiting India to discuss a potential arms deal,” the foreign ministry official said.
But any Indian activity in Afghanistan triggers sensitivities in neighbouring rival Pakistan, which fears losing influence in Afghanistan.
India has been training a limited number of Afghan military officers for years at its military institutions, but has provided little weapons assistance except for some vehicles.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India said the country needs India’s help with equipment and weapons and was hoping to boost defence ties.
In 2011 India and Afghanistan began a “strategic partnership” aimed at deepening security and economic links.
BEIRUT: At least 23 members of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have been killed fighting alongside regime troops in the Syrian town of Qusayr, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.
“Reliable sources informed the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 23 members of Hezbollah’s elite forces were killed and more than 70 others wounded in clashes in the town of Qusayr yesterday,” the group said in a statement.
The deaths came in fighting that followed a long-expected government assault on Qusayr, a rebel stronghold in the central province of Homs.
Fighters from Hezbollah, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have reportedly been battling alongside his troops for weeks in the Qusayr area.
The government has made recapturing Qusayr and the surrounding region a key priority, partly because of the town’s strategic importance.
It connects the capital Damascus to the coast, and also lies near the border with Lebanon.
The Observatory said that at least 55 people were killed in Qusayr on Sunday, most of them rebels, excluding those Hezbollah fighters and regime soldiers.
At least 94,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, according to the group, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground.
SITTWE: Myanmar’s victims of sectarian strife were spared the full force of Cyclone Mahasen, but many are now returning to flimsy tents in flood-prone camps with the monsoon just weeks away.
Myanmar’s Rakhine state is pockmarked with makeshift settlements for up to 140,000 people – mainly Rohingya Muslims – displaced by sectarian unrest last year that claimed about 200 lives and saw whole villages razed.
Many were evacuated last week ahead of Cyclone Mahasen, which later veered into neighbouring Bangladesh. But most have now returned, according to Kirsten Mildren of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“They are actually no better off than where they were last week before the storm,” she said, adding the cyclone was simply a “dress rehearsal” for the rainy season – set to hit in a few weeks.
Many of the camps consist of little more than ramshackle bivouacs of bamboo and tarpaulin flung up in soggy paddy fields.
Sanitation is a key concern. Rain last week left standing water in many of the camps and Mildren said water-born diseases such as cholera were a particular fear.
“Thousands are sheltering in areas that make them vulnerable and we need to find solutions to this, ” she said. “If one week of rain has done this, imagine what it’s going to be like in a couple of months.”
Many Rohingya are completely reliant on humanitarian aid, with an almost total segregation of Buddhist and Muslim communities.
A lack of adequate food has also raised fears about malnutrition among children, many of whom have gone without access to education for almost a year.
“It makes me sad just to talk about our life here,” 55-year-old Hla Hla Myint told AFP, describing conditions at the Mansi camp near the state capital Sittwe.
“Ants, leeches and earthworms come into our tents. We are living in the water. I am so sad. We have no food,” she said.
While the former factory worker sought shelter from the cyclone with her two daughters in a local school, her husband and son stayed behind to guard their tent – all they had to protect them from the monsoon.
Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship – they are considered by the United Nations to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Attacks against Muslims – who make up an estimated four percent of the population – have spread to other parts of Myanmar, overshadowing widely praised political reforms as the country emerges from decades of military rule.
After months of warnings from rights groups and aid organisations, local authorities are now scrambling to build enough wooden shelters before the tents are swamped.
“I don’t think we have much time left – just over a month. These houses have to be finished in that time,” Rakhine government spokesman Win Myaing told AFP.
He said about 70 percent of the required shelters had been built, although he could not provide exact figures.
The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, which has previously warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe”, said some 70,000 people most at risk from the monsoon would be housed in new wooden blocks.
That is in addition to shelters for 12,000 people already built by UNHCR along with an unknown number constructed by the government, according to spokeswoman Vivian Tan.
The semi-permanence of the wooden structures has caused concern that they will prolong segregation of communities — a solution, albeit temporary, that was advocated by a recent official report on the unrest.
Independent analyst Richard Horsey said a “huge challenge” would be to provide aid “without making these camps into permanent settlements”.
Tan said the aim was to eventually return the displaced to their old communities.
“This cannot go on for a long time. Solutions will need to be found in their own villages,” she told AFP.
At Bawdupha camp near Sittwe, more than 7,500 Rohingya have moved into 20 new barracks, each comprising eight one-family rooms. A dozen more are being built, but residents worry whether they would withstand a cyclone.
“The house is a temporary construction, not strong. I am concerned if there is a storm, it will be swept away,” said Muhibulah, 55, who has been living in the camp with his wife and three children for almost a year.
Like many Rohingya he has little faith in the authorities.
“We don’t trust the government. Absolutely not,” he said.
SEOUL: South Korea on Monday predicted further missile tests by North Korea which fired four short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan at the weekend, drawing criticism from Seoul and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
“Our military is closely monitoring activities by the North’s military since there is a possibility of additional launches in the future,” Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters.
The North fired three short-range guided missiles off its east coast on Saturday and another on Sunday, apparently as part of a military drill.
Such drills are not unusual but they come at a time of simmering military tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Following the North’s nuclear test in February and subsequent UN sanctions, tensions escalated sharply with Pyongyang issuing near daily threats of retribution against the South and the United States.
Although the situation has calmed somewhat in recent weeks, Pyongyang has continued to denounce a series of South Korea-US joint military exercises which it sees as dress rehearsals for invasion.
The defence ministry spokesman declined to identify the missiles fired at the weekend, but media reports said they might be KN-02 surface-to-surface weapons with a range of up to 160 kilometres.
South Korea labelled the tests “deplorable” and “provocative”, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Pyongyang to refrain from any further missile drills.
“It is time for them to resume dialogue and lower the tensions,” Ban said in Moscow.
At one point, North Korea had been primed to test a pair of medium-range missiles, but US intelligence said the weapons were removed from their launch pads in early May.
BAGHDAD: A “war on mosques” – deadly attacks by militants on Sunni and Shia places of worship – using weapons ranging from bombs to mortar rounds is raging in Iraq.
Dozens of attacks this year have stirred already-simmering sectarian tensions between Iraq’s Sunni minority and Shia majority, and led some would-be worshippers to stay away.
“There is an increase in the frequency of reciprocal attacks targeting Sunni and Shia mosques,” political analyst Ihsan alShammari told AFP.
“It is a war on mosques.”
Iraqis have lived with near-daily violence since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and militants still attack both security forces and civilians almost each day.
Now, they have set their sites on mosques as well.
In one of the deadliest attacks, two bombs exploded near the Sunni Saria mosque in Baquba, north of Baghdad, after prayers on Friday.
One device blew up as worshippers were leaving, and the second went off after people gathered at the scene of the first blast, killing a total of 41 people.
The attacks came after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged belt on Thursday at the entrance to alZahraa husseiniyah, where family members were receiving condolences for victims of violence the day before.
That bombing killed 12 people. And there have been many more such attacks.
Sheikh Sami alMassudi, deputy head of the Shia endowment which manages Shia religious sites in Iraq, said that more than 45 mosques and husseiniyahs (Shia worship places) belonging to the endowment have been targeted this year.
And an official from the Sunni endowment said that more than 10 mosques had come under attack in the past month alone.
“We are threatened, to the point that we did not go to work last Monday after we received threats,” the official said.
It is unclear which group or groups are behind the violence.
Whoever is behind the bombings, they have certainly had an effect on attendance.
“I stopped going to pray after the closure of the mosque near our house because of the attacks,” said Ihsan Ahmed, a 25-year-old Sunni.
A bomb killed the muezzin, who calls worshippers to prayer, at the mosque about two weeks ago, Ahmed said.
“All this happened in front of my eyes. How can I go again? Even my wife and my children prevent me from going,” he said.
Ali, a 29-year-old Shia, said that some people have become afraid to go to husseiniyahs for prayers as well.
“People have become reluctant to go to husseiniyahs, but I did not stop,” Ali said.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Nuri alMaliki called for joint Shia-Sunni prayers on Fridays in a major Baghdad mosque.
“Those who target mosques are enemies of Sunnis and Shias alike, and are planning to ignite (sectarian) strife,” he said in a statement.
Tensions are festering between the government of Maliki, a Shia, and Sunnis who accuse authorities of marginalising and targeting their community through wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.
Protests broke out in Sunni areas of Iraq almost five months ago.
While the government has made some concessions, freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-alQaeda fighters, the underlying issues have not been addressed.
On April 23, security forces moved against protesters near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.
Dozens more died in subsequent unrest that included revenge attacks on security forces, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that ravaged the country between 2006 and 2008.
The violence has not let up in May, with more than 260 people killed in attacks so far this month.
United Nations envoy Martin Kobler has appealed for Iraqi leaders to bring a halt to the violence, including the attacks on mosques.
“It is the responsibility of all leaders to stop the bloodshed,” Kobler said. “Small children are burned alive in cars. Worshippers are cut down outside their own mosques. This is beyond unacceptable.”
GAZIPUR: A Bangladesh factory where Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Inditex SA ITX.MX inspectors spotted cracks in the wall this month is still making Wrangler shirts for the world’s largest apparel maker, US-based VF Corp (VFC.N).
VF confirmed on Saturday it was still using Liz Apparels to make its clothing following an inspection ordered by the factory owner, Nassa Group, on May 12. VF, whose other clothing brands include North Face, Timberland and Nautica, said its philosophy was to “stay and improve” working conditions.
“We are in daily contact with the facility and VF’s leadership is closely monitoring the status in this facility and others in our Bangladesh supply chain,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
VF’s continued relationship with Liz Apparels stands in stark contrast to the approach by some of the world’s best-known retailers, who immediately severed ties with the same factory.
The differing views show how Western retailers and brands are struggling to assess safety risks at thousands of Bangladesh garment factories after the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza in another Dhaka suburb, which killed 1,127 people.
Their task is made tougher by a lack of robust safety rules, a severe shortage of trained building inspectors and equipment needed to make proper safety assessments, and widespread concerns about corruption.
Wal-Mart told Reuters on Friday that Liz Apparels in Gazipur, near the capital Dhaka, had previously made clothing for its stores but was now on its “red” list of unapproved suppliers after a safety audit in early May found the cracks.
Wal-Mart has not published the full findings of that audit, conducted by testing and inspection company Bureau Veritas (BVI.PA), which also included checks for fire hazards and a review of building plans. It has asked the Bangladesh government to investigate what it called “potentially dangerous conditions” in the building.
Inditex, which owns the Zara clothing chain, said it sent inspectors to the factory on Wednesday after seeing Wal-Mart’s report, and they too saw wall cracks, which the company plans to report to the Bangladesh authorities.
But VF said the building was cleared for “normal operations” after the May 12 inspection. VF, headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, later said it would pay for its own inspections which had not yet been completed.
“The cracks that developed here are not really dangerous, not dangerous for the structure,” said Mohammad Jasim Uddin, an executive director of the Nassa Group. He said he had studied civil engineering and was responsible for looking after structural safety of all the factories owned by the group.
The day before Rana Plaza crumbled, the building’s owner dismissed concerns over cracks in the wall and insisted the structure would stand for a century. The 8-storey building had three additional floors added without proper approval. There was no indication that the building housing Liz Apparels deviated from its approved plans.
Reuters Television video taken inside Liz Apparels on Wednesday showed a vertical crack running up one wall, which appeared to have been re-plastered recently. Other cracks were visible near the ceiling. Reuters could not independently assess whether the cracks posed a structural risk, and it was not clear how they compared with those seen at Rana.
Liz Apparels, which is not currently making clothes for Wal-Mart or Inditex, is one of 34 factories owned by Nassa Group, a major player in Bangladesh’s fragmented $20 billion garment industry with annual sales volume of $270 million.
Inside the factory on Wednesday, rows of workers stitched denim-coloured fabric into long-sleeved shirts, adding Wrangler labels and price tags. Nassa has about 3,500 employees working in the 7-storey building, which was built in 2003.
Liz Apparels was inspected on behalf of Nassa Group by Shaheedullah and New Associates Ltd, which VF called “one of the top three engineering companies in Bangladesh.” The third-party engineering consultant examined all the columns and beams on all floors and found “no significant or impermissible foundation settlement has taken place.”
“We also certify that the building can continue to be used for normal operation,” Shaheedullah wrote in a letter dated May 14, a copy of which Nassa officials gave Reuters.
Sultan Mahmud, a civil engineer who works for Shaheedullah, said he inspected the building on his own and spent two hours taking measurements, studying soil reports and structural and architectural drawings. He also used a hammer to knock on columns to listen for any void and to gauge the strength.
On Wednesday, VF said based on Shaheedullah’s inspection and a review by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Export Association, “it has been determined that normal operations can continue at this facility.”
Two days later, in response to further questions from Reuters, VF said it was paying for additional inspections but provided no details on who would conduct the reviews or when they would take place.
“VF will continue to be diligent about following up on any concerns in relation to structural integrity, fire safety and any issues where we determine there is a concern of worker safety,” the company said, adding that it had increased the frequency of unannounced inspections in Bangladesh.
Inditex declined to comment on the inspection done for Nassa. Wal-Mart said its ethical sourcing team had asked to see the entire Shaheedullah report and will review it.
Jamilur Reza Choudhury, a former professor of civil engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said Shaheedullah’s founder was a “very reputed engineer” but that a proper inspection required machines such as Ferro scanners which are used to check for steel reinforcement in concrete. Visual inspections were not enough.
“To complete a proper, thorough and dependable inspection it requires up to two months, not two hours,” he said.
Because Bangladesh is prone to earthquakes, groups such as the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center recommend Ferro scans. However, a review of Bangladesh’s building code posted on its website found no requirement for these scans.
Wal-Mart has asked Bureau Veritas to examine the 279 Bangladesh factories that make clothing for its stores, part of its response to a series of garment factory disasters including a fire that killed more than 100 people in late November.
Wal-Mart said the review conducted at Liz Apparels included thermal circuit imaging to check for possible electrical faults, a comparison of approved building designs against the actual building construction, and a visual inspection.
It was not clear whether this audit included a Ferro scan. The retailer has so far released only a few details of the inspection, but said it intends to start publishing results from its Bangladesh factory audits on its website starting in June.
Bangladesh has only about 200 trained building inspectors and should have 200,000, said Emdadul Islam, the chief engineer of the state-run City Development Authority. The country’s population is above 160 million, making it the world’s eighth largest, according to the CIA World Factbook.
“There are 1.25 million buildings in the capital city alone and there are no statistics on how many buildings there are in the country,” Islam said.
Jay Jorgensen, Wal-Mart’s chief compliance officer, said Veritas sends in a small team of engineers to conduct fire, electrical and structural reviews at the Bangladesh factories. It takes between 8 and 20 days to complete each safety audit at a cost that can exceed $10,000 per factory, he said.
“The audits that we’re doing now, with this special focus on safety, I still don’t know anybody else who does that level of detail,” Jorgensen told Reuters on Thursday.
When a review turns up safety concerns, Wal-Mart notifies the factory owner and the local authorities, and also calls other companies that may use the same supplier.
After Rana Plaza collapsed, Nassa Group voluntarily shut down three of its factories for safety reasons, said Khandaker Mohammed Saiful Alam, managing director of the group.
But it left Liz Apparels operating because “the tiny and hair-like crack lines are only on plaster and not the bricks on the main wall,” Alam said.
NEW DELHI: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged Monday to build trust with India and declared that ties between the Asian giants were key to world peace as he visited New Delhi only weeks after a border spat.
Speaking alongside his counterpart Manmohan Singh, Li said China wanted to increase cooperation with India, saying his choice of destination for his first foreign visit showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi.
“The purpose of my current visit to India is three-fold – to increase mutual trust, to intensify cooperation and to face the future,” Li said.
“On the basis of deeper mutual trust, our two countries can further deepen our mutual understanding and construct a new type of relations between major countries, promote healthy and sound development of China and India.
“That will be a true blessing for Asia and the world.”
Li’s visit comes after a flare-up last month in a long-running border dispute between the two countries in a remote Himalayan region.
New Delhi accused Chinese troops of intruding nearly 20 kilometres into Indian-claimed territory, triggering a three-week standoff that was resolved when troops from both sides pulled back.
The Line of Actual Control between the nuclear-armed neighbours has never been formally demarcated, although they have signed accords to maintain peace in the region that was the site of a brief Indo-Chinese war in 1962.
Although Li did not mention the border dispute, he stressed that cooperation between the world’s two most populous nations had global ramifications.
“World peace… cannot be a reality without strategic trust between India and China,” he said.
After arriving in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, Li held a first round of talks with Singh in the evening and the two held more detailed discussions on Monday.
Li is also scheduled to meet Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and senior figures from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party before heading Tuesday to the financial hub, Mumbai.
The border dispute almost led Khurshid to cancel a visit to Beijing before the pullback agreement, despite his insistence that the row should not serve to “destroy” recent diplomatic progress.
Sujit Dutta, a China expert at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, said Beijing could become more assertive in such disputes under its new leadership.
“As Beijing’s new leadership is making a concerted effort to challenge India’s territorial assertions, India will have to plan new attempts to bridge the perceptional distances between these two huge neighbours,” Dutta told AFP.
Other observers said there was a general acceptance that the border dispute should not be allowed to block progress in other areas.
China is India’s second-largest trading partner, with two-way commerce totalling $66.5 billion last year.
Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping told reporters last week he was optimistic that the target of reaching $100 billion by 2015 would be met.
But the figure in 2012 was in fact a fall from the $74 billion for 2011 and India is also facing an increasing trade deficit with China that totalled $29 billion in 2012.
Several major roads in the Indian capital have been closed to prevent Tibetan protestors from disrupting the visit while exile groups complained of heavy-handed policing in their neighbourhoods.
“The police has denied us permission to protest in New Delhi and police deployment in Tibetan resident areas has been intensified. They are not allowing young Tibetans to walk in groups,” said Tsering Choedup, a regional coordinator for the International Tibet Network.
After wrapping up his visit to India, Li is due to travel to neighbouring Pakistan before heading to Switzerland and Germany.
ISLAMABAD / GILGIT-BALTISTAN: Two young siblings achieved rare mountaineering glory for themselves on Saturday by becoming the first Pakistani woman and only the third Pakistani man to set foot on the summit of Mount Everest in Nepal.
Through their feats, 21-year-old Samina Baig and her 29-year-old brother Mirza Ali ensured that their country’s flag fluttered on the world’s highest summit.
An ecstatic Samina informed her family about her successful ascent via satellite phone.
Mirza Ali and Samina can count themselves lucky as they will be remembered as the only Pakistanis to scale Everest on the 60th anniversary of the first conquest by Edmund Hillary on May 19, 1953.
Only two other Pakistani mountaineers, Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara, have ever climbed the highest peak.
“According to initial reports, the two mountaineers and 29 other foreigners reached the summit at 7.30am (local time),” said Pervaizuddin, a resident of Shimshal Valley.
Two twin sisters from India, Tashi and Nugshi, also accompanied Samina and Mirza.
Together, the siblings placed the flags of India and Pakistan side by side on the highest peak on earth – making a statement of peace.
But Samina and Mirza’s effort stood out because the two siblings managed to scale the peak on the 48th day of their expedition, without the use of supplementary oxygen.
Mirza, who has been regularly updating about their expedition on his blog mirzaadventure.blogspot.com, wrote: “We request all our readers and visitors [to] please pray that Samina becomes the first Pakistani woman to reach the summit of Everest. And I hope to be the first young Pakistani without bottled oxygen to unfurl Pakistan’s flag on top of the world together with our Indian friends! Wish us luck! Thank you for sharing and for your support!”
Hailing from Shimshal village in Gojal tehsil of Hunza-Nagar district, Samina has come a long way.
“She is proof that the country has the talent and motivation; unfortunately there is no government support for mountain climbers,” said Colonel Sher Khan, one of the country’s leading mountaineers. “It is a sport without spectators.” Khan counts the people of Shimshal as among the world’s the best climbers.
Samina’s expedition began on April 1. She and her team ascended the mountain via the south face from the Nepalese side.
Mirza and Samina have been mountaineering for leisure for the last 10 years. They have served as mountain guides and expedition leaders for peaks in the Karakoram, the Himalayas and the Hindukush. But Samina has started climbing professionally for the past four years.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.
The first thing that strikes you is the poverty and not just in the shape of the old refugees from Palestine and new ones from Syria. Buildings stand half built. My friend points to a couple of high-rises that seem to go up 40 floors. He says construction was abandoned about 10 years ago as architects had forgotten to design a sewage system for the towers.
The city does not seem planned in the academic sense. Much like Karachi, roundabouts or ‘circles’ as they are referred to locally, serve as geographical reference points.
USAID stamps assert themselves on most plaques at tourist attractions. Expats tell me that the US has pumped huge sums of aid into Jordan. Research tells me that after Afghanistan and Pakistan, the third highest amount of American aid goes to Jordan.
The Umayyad Monemental Gateway to the palace on the Citadel hill in Amman. PHOTO: MYRA KHAN
“Jordanians are confused about the US,” says an American. “On the one hand they are giving Jordanians all this money, and on the other hand they’re starting all the wars in the Middle East.” It makes it hard for them to form a single opinion about the US.
I can relate.
I started feeling cheated by pictures of Queen Rania. Jordan might not be the powerful, liberal country its representatives make it out to be. The litmus test was the way women were perceived.
In the souks for every 20 men, I see only one woman. In Jordan, by the age of 24 you are assumed to be married, friends tell me. Women, foreign women more perhaps, are hassled by the young men. In most cases, they shout haram, bandying it about unlike how we do in Pakistan.
I can’t say that the women are more conservative because I saw a lot of local Jordanians who were not. There are women who were the hijab and those who don’t. It’s perhaps evidence of natural diversity within a religion or culture, but I expected more respect from the men. The officer giving me a visa on entry asked why my head was not covered if I came from a Muslim family.
Hadrian’s Arch in Jerash built in 129 AD. PHOTO: MYRA KHAN
Restaurants are buzzing in Amman, especially if you walk downhill from the first and second circles. Jordanians enjoy going out, smoking sheesha amid bites of hummus and muttabal. The food is divine. It is safe to say all those falafel places I ate at while studying in England were doing it wrong. Jordanians also enjoy a good barbeque. They don’t skimp on the meat.
Speaking in broken Arabic, only using words such as yanni and taqreeban, I take a taxi to one of the best viewpoints — the Citadel.
It is in this spot that the Roman Temple of Hercules stands next to the Byzantine church and the Umayyad mosque alongside an Early Bronze Age cave. You even walk through a broken Ammonite palace.
Rub a dub dub
The session at the hamam proved to be one of the highlights of my trip. Before you go, ensure you are extremely comfortable with your body. They will ask you to wear nothing but your underwear. Don’t worry, it’s segregated. If you feel uncomfortable, I suggest closing your eyes, because the women who work there don’t take no for an answer.
Remains of the Temple of Hercules, dedicated to the deity and constructed between 161-166 AD. PHOTO: MYRA KHAN
You are first shoved into a steaming sauna that blinds you temporarily. In the midst of your yelps of pain an arm pops through the plastic curtain and hands you a pomegranate juice slushy. Savour this till the end.
After the sauna, another sweltering experience awaits in the jacuzzi. After your pores are opened, you lie on a marble slab where you are scrubbed to remove the grime. After they exfoliate the top three layers of your epidermis it’s off to the massage and then to a wooden coal steam room.
At these ruins I saw the grandest, largest display of Roman architecture I could possibly lay eyes on at a single site. It had everything I studied in history class — the arches, the hippodrome for horses and chariots, the central plaza encircled by pillars, the fountains.
Walls of the city of Petra laced with tombs that have fallen victim to earthquakes and erosion. PHOTO: MYRA KHAN
The most spectacular part was being able to walk in the grooves that chariot trails left behind centuries ago.
There’s a public transport strike for buses leaving Amman. At the time, rumours were circulating that three university students had been shot dead.
Finally on route to Petra, the journey seems bland. Flat desert and sporadic ghosts towns don sides of the roads.
Petra was first ‘sighted’ in 1812, by a Swedish man pretending to be a Muslim trader. Claims go as far back to 300 BC of when it was created. For centuries it remained unknown to the world outside. Bedouins, a nomadic people spread all over Arab world, inhabited the built-in-stone structures and lived here for years without telling non-natives of the existence of Petra.
The end of the entrance to Petra, As-Siq, is a narrow crevice, making it hard for people to discover the city in olden times. PHOTO: MYRA KHAN
You almost miss the narrow opening on the left that takes you into Petra. The entrance is so tall that it has its own name: As-Siq. It is over 1000m. A shallow groove in the wall shows a water irrigation system along the entire way in. The walls reach up to 80 metres in places as if the city wanted to keep itself a secret.
Most of the statues are damaged. Guides say much of Petra was hit by earthquakes in old times, but the dwellings remain. Many Bedouins still act as tour guides, giving camel and donkey rides.
Here, the ultimate destination is the Monastery. What you see along the way is forgotten up a grueling hike through sand, stones, stairs, with Bedouin women selling you their jewelry for almost any price. If you ignore them, they shout, “It’s the same way down!”
The monastery, like every other building, that been carved horizontally into a thick stone wall with stunning precision.
They say Petra was abandoned eventually as trade routes went elsewhere. I can’t imagine why, or how anyone could leave it behind.
Not far from the monastery are viewing points where you can look over the entire valley. A Bedouin says that there is a river with lush green trees below, and that I can see Syria from here.
“Syria? From the south of Jordan?” I ask.
“Yes,” he replies.
I only believe the first half of his sentence.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 19th, 2013.
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday he welcomed a US-Russian peace initiative to end Syria’s civil war but had no plans to resign, in an interview with an Argentine newspaper.
“To resign would be to flee,” he told Clarin when asked if he would consider stepping aside as called for by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.
Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the United States (US) Sherry Rehman, in her farewell speech to a gathering of senior American officials called for using trade as the engine for enhanced bilateral partnership.
The ambassador said during her assignment she was guided by the belief that Pakistan and the US should have sustained relations on the basis of mutual respect. During her address, Ambassador Rehman underscored the need for trade to be the foundation of Pakistan-US relations.
The farewell reception was attended by top US officials including White house advisor Lt Gen Douglas Lute, former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, American think tank experts and journalists.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.
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Raha Moharrak, 25, has become the first ever Saudi woman to climb to scale Mount Everest, Al Jazeera reported on Saturday.
Moharrak, a graphic design graduate, is the only female in a group of four Arabs who announced two months ago that they would be reaching the summit in 2013.
“The first ever Saudi woman to attempt Everest has reached the top!! Bravo Raha Moharrak. We salute you,” said a tweet from the group on Saturday.
The first ever Saudi woman to attempt Everest has reached the top!! Bravo Raha Moharrak. We salute you.
— Arabs with Altitude (@EverestArabs) May 18, 2013
The “Arabs with Altitude” group includes Mohammed Al Thani, a member of Qatar’s royal family, Raed Zidan, a Palestinian real-estate businessman and Masoud Mohammad, an Iranian living in Dubai who owns an ice-cream franchise.
Ahead of their trip, Moharrak said: “I really don’t care about being the first … so long as it inspires someone else to be the second.”
Moharrak studied at a university in Sharjah, UAE, and is originally from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
“We are trying to raise one million dollars for Nepali education projects during our climb to the top,” the group said on its website.
Along wi Moharrak, Thani would be the first Qatari man and Zidan the first Palestinian man to summit the worlds highest peak.
NEW DELHI: Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt, who is in jail for arms possession, is being held in a cell built for militants where he cannot see daylight and wants to be transferred, a report said Saturday.
Dutt, 53, surrendered on Thursday to serve out the remaining three-and-a-half years of a five-year term in a case linked to the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
Dutt’s lawyer, Rizwan Merchant, has demanded the transfer of the actor whom he said was being kept in the cell once occupied by Mumbai attacks gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, according to the Indian Express daily newspaper.
Kasab was executed last November, nearly four years after 166 people died in a three-day rampage that traumatised India.
The steel bunker specially built for Kasab at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail had no ventilation and the actor could not even tell if it was day or night, the lawyer said.
“He (Dutt) is not a terrorist” and should not be kept in such a cell, the lawyer was quoted as saying.
There was no immediate comment available from the jail.
Dutt was convicted in 2006 of possessing guns supplied by gangsters who staged the 1993 bomb attacks that killed 257 people but was freed on bail after serving 18 months in prison. In March, the Supreme Court upheld Dutt’s conviction.
He was cleared in 2007 of more serious conspiracy charges in the blasts, believed to be staged by underworld leaders in revenge for religious riots in which mainly Muslims died after the razing of an ancient mosque by Hindu zealots.
Dutt, whose mother was Muslim and father Hindu, was found guilty of possession of an automatic rifle and a pistol which he insisted were only meant to protect his family in Mumbai’s charged atmosphere following the mosque’s destruction.
After the Supreme Court upheld his conviction, the father of three wept and declared himself “a shattered man”.
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has said the Pakistan and the United States have improved their ties considerably from a low-point in 2011 but asked Washington to end drone strikes in the tribal areas in order to help put the relationship on a sustained upward trajectory.
In a farewell speech to a gathering of senior American officials and Pakistani-Americans, Rehman who resigned from her post this week after May 11 election, also called for using trade as the engine for enhanced bilateral partnership.
The ambassador said during her assignment she was guided by the belief that Pakistan and the US should have sustained relations on the basis of mutual respect.
Commenting on the contentious issue of drone strikes the US carries out in pursuit of militant targets on Pakistani soil, she noted that this kind of footprint roils anti-American discontent and fuels the “cognitive disconnect” between the two nations.
“This is one thing that has to change if we are ever to be sanguine that we are on the path to an upward bilateral trajectory,” she added.
She said terrorism is very much Pakistan’s problem too and the people of the country have been bravely fighting it as proved by the May 11 election.
The farewell reception was attended by top US officials including White house advisor Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, USAID Administrator Rajev Shah and former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, American think tank experts and journalists.
Rehman, who led Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts in Washington in a tension-filled phase following a spate of unsavory incidents in 2011, also highlighted the need for the two countries to acknowledge each other’s roles in the good work they do.
“I take this opportunity to say to the people of the United States, stand by our side as you have done so many times in history. But stand by us as long term friends, for the right reasons, and we can achieve many breakthroughs together.”
The ambassador praised the team of Pakistani diplomats for their dedicated work in helping the two countries navigate some very turbulent waters and onerous challenges in the relationship.
Ambassador Rehman said as she leaves her post, she has the satisfaction of knowing that Pakistan and the US “are on the cusp of a new normal, a less hyperbolic relationship, but one founded as much on the sustainable continuum of shared democratic values instead of only the sharp, edge of strategic compulsions.”
Speaking on the occasion, Deputy US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan David Pearce appreciated Ambassador Rehman’s diplomatic efforts towards improvement in bilateral relations, saying she has “played a key role in helping us rebuild the relationship between the two countries following a very difficult period in 2011-12.”
“Thanks in no small part to your dedication and efforts that the two countries are in a much better place than they were 18 months ago,” he noted.
BEIRUT: The United States chided Russia for sending missiles to the Syrian government as plans for a peace conference promoted by Washington and Moscow were hit by diplomatic rifts over its scope and purpose.
Sectarian bloodshed in neighbouring Iraq during Friday prayers, a hacking attack on a Western newspaper by sympathisers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and defiant comments by a rebel commander filmed eating a slain soldier’s flesh were all reminders of how the two-year-old civil war is metastising.
But the divisions among world powers that have prevented a coordinated resolution were also again on display, just 10 days after Russia and the United States agreed to bury differences and push for an urgent international conference to end the war.
The most senior US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, described Russia’s recent delivery of anti-ship missiles to Assad as “ill-timed and very unfortunate” and risked prolonging a war which has already killed more than 80,000 Syrians and which the UN said had driven 1.5 million abroad.
While not responding directly to US assertions that it had sent Yakhont missiles, a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin said Russia would honour contracts to supply Syria, which has been a customer for Moscow’s weaponry since the Cold War.
“It’s at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering,” Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.
With a range of 300km, the Yakhont could prove a threat to warships in the Mediterranean, should, for example, Western powers abandon their deep reserve and intervene to offer air support to the rebels, as they did in Libya two years ago.
No date has yet been agreed for the international meeting, which appears to face growing obstacles. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Putin in Russia on Friday and said the conference should take place as soon as possible.
But highlighting the diplomatic conundrum it poses, France spelled out explicitly on Friday that it would oppose any meeting if Assad’s regional ally Iran were invited – contrary to the Russian position that Tehran should be part of a solution.
The rebels and key Arab and Western backers will meet in Amman on Wednesday to discuss how to approach a conference. But it is also far from clear that Assad’s opponents can forge a united front or agree to meet the president’s representatives.
After months of diplomatic stalemate, Washington and Moscow have been pushed to convene the conference by the rising death toll and atrocities, signs of escalation across Syria’s frontiers and suspicions that chemical arms may have been used.
Three weeks ago, Israeli air strikes near Damascus that were said to target Iranian weapons heading for Lebanon drove home the risk of the Syrian conflict spreading further afield. As much was true of bombings last week across the border in Turkey.
On Friday, dozens of Iraqis were killed in bombings which fuelled fears that the increasingly sectarian war in Syria, where Sunni Islamists are a part of the rebellion and Assad’s Alawite minority is backed by Shia Iran, could plunge Iraq back into its own bloody civil conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Two bombs exploded outside a Sunni mosque in the city of Baquba as worshippers left Friday prayers, killing at least 43 people in one of the deadliest attacks of recent months.
Several other bombings claimed lives around the country – with 19 killed near a commercial complex in the west of Baghdad. Attacks on Sunni and Shia mosques, security forces and tribal leaders have mounted since troops from the Shia-led Iraqi government raided a Sunni protest camp near Kirkuk a month ago.
London’s Financial Times became the latest Western media outlet to be targeted by online activists who support Assad.
Stories on the FT’s website had their headlines replaced by “Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army” and messages on its Twitter feed read: “Do you want to know the reality of the Syrian ‘Rebels?’” followed by a link to a video that purports to show members of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front rebel group executing blindfolded and kneeling Syrian soldiers.
The video could not be independently verified.
Following another of many Internet videos that have caused concern over deepening communal hatreds, a rebel commander who was filmed apparently cutting out and biting into the heart or other organ of a dead solder made a statement on Friday.
“I am ready to be held accountable for my actions, on condition that Bashar and his shabbiha (militias) are tried for crimes they committed against our women and children,” the man known as Abu Sakkar said in a new video posting.
“I send this message to the world: if the bloodshed in Syria does not stop, every Syrian will become Abu Sakkar.”
Asked by the unseen interviewer why he mutilated the body, he said the soldier’s phone contained video clips of him raping women, burning bodies and cutting off the limbs of captives.
A Western diplomat at the United Nations in New York said the target date for the peace conference was June 10-15, but it depended on the readiness of the Syrian parties. An alternative plan would be to hold an international conference and then have the Syrians meet at a later date when they are prepared.
The Russian arms transfer could intensify a push by some US lawmakers for the United States to deepen its role in Syria, particularly after President Barack Obama’s government acknowledged preliminary intelligence that Assad’s forces likely used chemical weapons – something Obama has called a “red line”.
“We can watch from the sidelines as the scales are tipped in Assad’s favour, or protect US national interests by supporting the armed opposition striving to build a new Syrian future,” said Senate foreign relations committee chairman Robert Menendez.
But many US officials fear Western weapons could fall into the wrong hands. Obama said Thursday he would consider both diplomatic and military options to pressure Assad, but insisted US action alone would not be enough to resolve the conflict.
CHITTAGONG: A cyclone slammed into the Bangladeshi coast Thursday as a million people hunkered down in evacuation shelters, including in a region of Myanmar torn by communal unrest.
Four people died as Cyclone Mahasen hit Bangladesh’s Patuakhali coast, officials said. Rain and strong winds lashed neighbouring Myanmar’s northwest coast, home to tens of thousands of displaced Muslim Rohingya.
Weather officials said Mahasen hit Sitakundu, near the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong, at midday and was moving towards the Cox’s Bazaar tourist district. But fears of widespread damage receded as Mahasen lost much of its punch.
“It is not a severe cyclone,” Shamsuddun Ahmed, deputy director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told AFP.
It made landfall packing winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour but “significantly weakened after making landfall”, he said.
Provincial administrator Nurul Amin said four people died in the storm, including one who drowned and another hit by a falling tree, while dozens of flimsy mud and tin houses were flattened.
About 50 Rohingya remained missing after their boat capsized Monday as they tried to escape the oncoming storm.
Low-lying areas were submerged by a one-metre storm surge – smaller than feared. “We’re lucky it hit the coast during low tide,” said Ahmed.
About a million people spent the night in 3,000 cyclone shelters, schools and colleges along Bangladesh’s long coastline which is home to 30 million people, officials told AFP.
Jahangir Alam, 22, carried his paralysed mother to the third floor of a Chittagong school that became a makeshift shelter. “We didn’t want to take any risk,” he said.
Chan Mia, 50, who brought his family of seven to the same shelter, said the main worry was over storm surges “that can sweep the village within minutes”.
Of the total evacuated, 600,000 people were in the Chittagong region, provincial administrator Mohammad Abdullah told AFP.
“We have enough food, medicine and other facilities in these shelters,” he said, adding the armed forces were on standby.
Mohammad Mehrajuddin, a government official in southern Nijhum Dwip island, said many villagers refused to move to shelters for fear their cattle would be stolen.
There was a similar reluctance to move among the Muslim Rohingya across the border in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, reflecting a mistrust of security forces and of local Buddhists after communal violence last year.
Myanmar state media said that by Wednesday 70,000 people had been evacuated from the camps and vulnerable villages.
Half the residents at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the outskirts of the Rakhine capital Sittwe appeared to have left overnight, according to AFP journalists who visited Thursday.
Than Win, 38, was among those who stayed to guard his tent.
“Some of the IDPs do not trust the authorities,” he said. “They worry they will be kept elsewhere and will never be able to come back.”
Buddhist-Muslim clashes in the region last year left about 200 people dead and neighbourhoods burned to the ground.
In Sittwe, where skies cleared by Thursday afternoon, Myanmar authorities said they would order those most at risk to leave the camps if it became dangerous.
“If they still refuse to leave when the critical time comes, we will force them to move their old people, women and children living in these tents,” Hla Thein, chief justice of Rakhine state, told AFP.
“But the wind’s not very strong and the rain is not so heavy,” he added. “As there wasn’t much sign of a storm, some people think it’s too much trouble to move.”
Bangladesh and Myanmar have been frequent victims of cyclones that have killed hundreds of thousands of people in recent decades.