Russia Says Chechen Rebels Suffer Heavy Losses
By Karina Melikyan
Feb 3 (Reuters)
Russia�s military said Wednesday it had made major advances in its campaign to restore control over separatist Chechnya and reported heavy losses among rebels trying to escape its drive into the capital Grozny.
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, shown on television flanked by top generals, said Russian troops had killed 586 rebels who had tried to flee the largely devastated city.
�The operation to destroy illegal armed groupings in Grozny went brilliantly,� Sergeyev said in Khankala, just outside Grozny. Russian news agencies quoted him as saying the advance was going �two or three times� more quickly than before.
Pro-Russian Chechen leader Bislan Gantamirov told reporters in Urus-Martan, southwest of the capital, that Moscow�s troops were facing very little resistance after spending two days getting the rebels out of the city, once home to 400,000 inhabitants.
Moscow to appeal Indian arms drop sentence
MOSCOW, Feb 3 (AFP)
Moscow is to appeal the decision of an Indian court on Wednesday to sentence four Russians convicted of an arms drop over eastern India in 1995 to life imprisonment, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Two other men who took part in the arms drop � one British, one Latvian � were also sentenced to life imprisonment for the drop, said to have been intended for a Hindu cult in West Bengal.
The men were arrested when Indian air force jets forced down the Latvian Antonov 26 transport plane they were travelling in after the drop.
All six were charged with sedition last week in a Calcutta court.
Moscow said that New Delhi had mis-identified the four Russian crewmembers as Latvians.
Moscow does not believe the sentence is justified, the Foreign Ministry source said.
�It is an unexpected decision. We were expecting a 7 to 10 year prison sentence,� the source said.
Searchers Recover �Black Box� From Downed U.S. Jet
By Michael Miller
PORT HUENEME, Calif.
Feb 2 (Reuters)
Search teams investigating the crash of Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK - news) Flight 261 made a major discovery on Wednesday night � recovering the critical cockpit voice recorder or �black box� from the downed jet, U.S. officials said.
Terry Williams, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said a remote-operated robot submarine recovered the box � which is actually bright orange � from the submerged wreckage of the MD-83 late Wednesday afternoon, and brought it aboard the Kellie Chouest, a commercial salvage vessel used by the U.S. Navy.
The recorder, which should contain the final conversations and sounds aboard the doomed airliner before it slammed into the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, will be rushed to the Washington, D.C. offices of the NTSB for transcription and study, a spokesman for the agency said.
Israel Approves West Bank Withdrawal
By Wafa Amr
JERUSALEM, Feb 2
Israel�s security cabinet Wednesday approved the delayed handover of a further 6.1 percent of the West Bank to Palestinian control.
It made the decision as U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross arrived in the region to try to help Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) energize their troubled peace negotiations.
Austrian President Faces Dilemma
By Richard Murphy
VIENNA, Feb 3 (Reuters)
President Thomas Klestil faced the prospect Thursday of putting the next Austrian government in the hands of two men he has publicly denounced as either unreliable or unsuitable to hold public office.
Joerg Haider�s far-right Freedom Party and the conservative People�s Party of Wolfgang Schuessel are determined to form a coalition, defying pressure from countries appalled at the prospect of Haider getting his hands on the levers of power.
Schuessel would be chancellor, but Haider, best known for remarks playing down the crimes of the Nazis, would not join the cabinet.
As the world stepped on to the 21st century with fresh hopes and expectations, trudging down gloomily into the new era was a brutalized population of the Kashmiri people in the secluded Himalayan foothills.
Abandoned by the international community, for these unfortunate souls the departed years were harrowing times. And they know not what greater tragedy now lie in store for them.
Traumatised by the Indian guns, their travails date back to 1947 when the British withdrew from the subcontinent, after dividing it between the new nations of India and Pakistan. They left behind scores of princely states to decide their own destiny in accordance with their peoples� will. But the Indian ruler of predominantly Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir arbitrarily threw his lot with New Delhi, sparking a revolt from his subjects and a dispute between India and Pakistan over the state�s fate.
India took the dispute to the United Nations that decreed that the state�s people would decide in an UN-supervised plebiscite whether they want to become part of India or of Pakistan. India accepted the decree; so did Pakistan. But India soon reneged upon its commitment. The UN, too, has long forgotten all about its edict. And 52 years, these poor Kashmiris remain deprived of their right to self-determination, with bulk of them still under the Indian occupation.
Since 1989, the Kashmiris in the Indian-controlled Kashmir are up in arms to overthrow New Delhi�s rule and secure their right to self-determination. To quell their popular movement, India has unleashed on them its military that has let loose an unprecedented reign of terror in the territory. It already has some 700.000 of its crack army and paramilitary troops deployed in the territory in every nook and corner on the task and has nor decided to further beef up this force by inducting more battalions of specially trained Indian soldiers.
Though India does not allow human rights watchdogs into the territory, respected international organisations like Amnesty International and Asia Watch have been painstakingly piecing together information from various sources to report on its human rights situation. And their reports make a horrifying reading on the scale and intensity the brutalities being inflicted by the Indian military on the innocent civilian population.
Over these past ten years and so, the Indian soldiers are reported to have killed about 70.000 of Kashmiris, maimed many more and raped several thousands of their women. Innumerable Kashmiri youth they took away have not been returned to their homes. And they have ransacked and torched scores of Kashmiri dwellings and villages. Such �ommonplace weapons have indeed custodial killings, tortures, disappearances and rapes become with the Indian military to torment and terrorize the local population that there is hardly a Kashmiri family left without a personal tragedy.
Lately, the Indian rulers have also incarcerated almost all the top leaders of the popular All Parties Hurriyet Conference, the umbrella organisation of various political groups and freedom fighters. They include the seriously ailing Hurriyet Chief, Syed Ali Gillani, a heart patient. These Kashmiri leaders have been detained in distant prisons from their homes, under a draconian law allowing the Indian rulers to hold detenus indefinitely, without any charge or trial.
Curiously, much lesser human tragedies elsewhere have outraged the international community. Only recently, it was in rage over the predicament of East Timorese and joined up to get them their desired independence. But the community is yet to show even a semblance of such concern for these beleaguered Kashmiris, whose tragedy is far colossal and for whom the right to self-determination had been mandated by the UN itself and signatories to this decree were all the major world powers. Yet, not only has the community religiously refrained from bringing pressures to bear upon India to make good on its pledge to Kashmiris, it has also turned to blind eye to its ruthless suppression of them. So much so, even the international media keep these grief-stricken people largely blacked out. And the world human rights monitors also seem to have given in and stopped insisting on access to the territory for first-hand reporting on its human rights situation. Obviously, bigger interests have overcome human rights considerations in the territory where world powers find it more profitable to side with the oppressor than the oppressed.
But if India needs to understand that no state terrorism, no matter how brutal and prolonged, has ever succeeded in stifling popular uprisings, the international community must also know that its hand-off policy in Kashmir is serving no cause of regional stability or of world peace.
Failing to subdue the popular uprising in the territory where its military�s brutalities have turned every Kashmiri home into a boiling cauldron of grief, rage and revenge, India has launched into a shrill campaign accusing Pakistan of aiding and abetting militancy in the state.
Though Pakistan vehemently denies the charge, contending that it extends only moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris, the Indian campaign has precipitated a situation that could potentially explode to engulf the two nations into an absolutely undesirable confrontation. Already, they have fought two wars over the Kashmiri dispute that has, in effect, kept them perpetually at loggerheads. And they had a close brush with the third when they got embroiled in an imbroglio on the Kargil mountains in the region last May. Any confrontation between the two holds out frightening possibilities, now that both are nuclear states and next door neighbours, too.
If the international community still just sits back, doing nothing to defuse the tinderbox of Kashmir, it will rue if it explodes, which it can.
The community cannot make hardened position on both sides an excuse for its inaction. If it can act to right the wrongs of the past elsewhere, as it is now doing in the Middle East, it can similarly act in Kashmir. Surely, the Kashmir tangle needs the decision of the bold to unravel. But that can come by with a strong nudge from the international community.
Pakistan�s new military ruler General Pervez Musharraf says if India takes one step towards peace he would take ten forwards. The community should impel India to take that step and come to seriously grapple with this dispute that has kept the two countries� relations perpetually poisoned.
(Submitted by Pakistani Embassy to Kazakhstan)
All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
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