Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lashkar commander Zarar confesses to role in 26/11

Top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zarar Shah, captured in the crackdown on terrorists earlier this month in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, has confessed the group's involvement in terror attacks in Mumbai, a media report said on Wednesday.

Shah has also implicated other LeT members, and had broadly confirmed the confession made by the sole captured terrorist Ajmal Qasab to Indian investigators -- that the 10 assailants trained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and then went by boat from Karachi to Mumbai, the Wall Street Journal reported quoting a senior Pakistani security official.

The paper said Pakistan's own investigation of terror attacks in Mumbai have begun to show substantive links between the LeT and 10 terrorists who took part in the Mumbai carnage. Pakistani security officials were quoted as saying that a top Lashkar commander, Zarar Shah, has admitted a role in the Mumbai attack during interrogation.

The paper quoted a person familiar with investigation as saying that Shah also admitted that the attackers spent at least a few weeks in Karachi, training in urban combat to hone skills they would use in their assault.

The disclosure, it said, could add new international pressure on Pakistan to accept that the attacks, which left 183 dead in India, originated within its borders and to prosecute or extradite the suspects.

That raises difficult and potentially destabilising issues for the country's new civilian government, its military and the spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence -- which is conducting interrogations of militants it once cultivated as partners, the Journal said.

Friday, December 26, 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

University, college teachers pay revised

The government on Tuesday announced the revision of pay-scales of university teachers as a first step towards restoring the dignity and pride in being associated with the teaching profession.

Announcing this in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari, said the pay revision was only one of the steps required to improve the quality of higher education.

The Minister said henceforth there would be only three designations for university and college teachers – assistant professor, associate professor and professor.

Only those with a Ph.D would be appointed, promoted or designated as professor. But this provision would not be applicable to those already holding the designation.

For the first time, posts of professors will be introduced in both undergraduate and postgraduate colleges. The number of posts of professors in undergraduate colleges will be 10 per cent of the number of posts of associate professors.

In postgraduate colleges, there will be as many professorial posts as the number of departments.

The National Eligibility Test will be compulsory for appointment at the entry level of assistant professor for all those who do not have a Ph.D.

In place of grade pay as applicable to Central government employees, the term “Academic Grade Pay (AGP)” will be used for teachers and equivalent positions. Different AGPs of Rs. 6,000, Rs. 7,000, Rs. 8,000, Rs. 9,000, Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 12,000 have been approved for teachers and equivalent positions.

A Higher AGP (HAGP) of Rs. 6,000 has been recommended for all assistant professors at the entry level to make it more attractive compared to the entry level grade pay for the Civil Services and other professionals under the 6th Central Pay Commission. And, 10 per cent of the posts of professors in universities will be in HAGP of Rs. 12,000 with prescribed eligibility conditions.

Those working as a lecturer (selection grade) or a Reader will continue with the designation till they are selected as associate professors.

Parity between teachers and librarians/directors of physical education (DPE) will be maintained except for the age of superannuation which will continue to be 62 years for librarians/DPEs.

As is the practice, the Centre will pick up 80 per cent of the additional expenditure that States will have to bear on account of the pay revision. But this will be applicable only to those administrations which accept the entire pay revision scheme.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

700 Billion Dollar Bailout Or Bust?

A Q Khan offered Osama N-weapons before 9/11: Book

Barely a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, two Pakistani nuclear scientists, said to be close to disgraced Abdul Qadeer Khan, met up with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and offered to supply him with atomic weapons, according to a newly released book.

Chaudiri Abdul Majeed and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who held a series of senior posts in Pakistani nuke programme, went to Taliban headquarters in Kandahar in mid-August 2001 and spent three days with bin Laden who was keen on acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the book says.

In fact, Mahmood was said to be more close to Khan, the 'Father of the Islamic bomb' and the mastermind behind a vast clandestine enterprise which sold nuclear secrets to rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Libya. He also set up the pilot plant for Pakistan's uranium-enrichment programme.

However, the so-called deal did not materialise as the meeting between the Pakistani nuclear scientists and bin Laden ended inconclusively when the al-Qaida leader, along with some of his senior associates, had abruptly left for the mountains of northwestern Afghanistan.

And, according to the book, 'The Man From Pakistan' -- the true story of the world's most dangerous nuclear smuggler AQ Khan -- before leaving, bin Laden had told his followers that "something great was going to happen, and Muslims around the world were going to join them in the holy war". A couple of weeks later, the twin towers in New York were brought down.

The 414-page book is authored by two investigative journalists -- Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins.

What's more revealing is that a year before they met bin Laden in Kandahar, the two Pakistani nuke scientists had set up a non-profit organisation, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, to carry out relief work in Afghanistan, including advising the Taliban on scientific matters.

And, on the board of the organisation were several Pakistani army generals sympathetic to the Taliban cause, and it was one of the few non-government groups that the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, had allowed to operate in Afghanistan, the book says.

"(But) not long after opening their office in a house in Kabul, the scientists met with Mullah Omar and bin Laden, and the conversation had shifted from relief work to weapons development. At one point, during his visits to Afghanistan, Mahmood provided Osama bin Laden's associates in Kabul with information about the construction of a nuclear weapon," the authors write.

However, post-9/11 attacks that shook the US, as part of his crackdown on terror groups operating in Pakistan, the then Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf forced Mahmood to opt for an early retirement as "he had expressed sympathies for the Taliban and other Islamic extremists".

In fact, in his writings and speeches, Mahmood had advocated sharing Pakistan's nuclear weapons technology with other Islamic nations to hasten the "end of days", which he believed would give rise to Muslim dominance in the world, according to the book which the 'Los Angeles Times' says is a "richly reported" one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Indian Navy captures 23 Somali pirates

Taking the lead in the fight against piracy, the Indian Navy on Saturday arrested 23 Somali pirates. An Indian warship, INS Mysore deployed in the Gulf of Aden attacked two boats of pirates after receiving signals from a ship that the pirates were trying to hijack.
The Indian warship was patrolling in the Somali waters when it rushed to rescue MV Gibe, a merchant vessel flying the Ethiopian flag.


The pirates on two speed boats had surrounded the merchant vessel, when INS Mysore warship intervened and warded off the attack, Navy spokesperson said here.

The pirates had fired at the merchant vessel with their small arms, when it sent out a rescue call and the Indian warship, which was sailing nearby moved its Marine Commandos on an helicopter to help the distressed cargo vessel, he said.



The attack took place about 150 nautical miles off Aden and INS Mysore was about 13 nautical miles away from the merchant vessel when it picked up the SOS call.

The Navy flew its Marine Commandos on helicopters to the scene of the pirate attack and rescued the ship. MV Gibe was later escorted to safety, he added.

The Indian commandos also recovered 12 AK 47 guns, three rifles, two grenades along with other ammunition.

Out of 23 arrested pirates, 12 are reportedly from Somalia and 11 from Yemen.

The Indian warship, the INS Mysore, was dispatched to the Gulf of Aden after a spike in piracy and hijackings off the coast of Somalia, which is caught up in an Islamic insurgency and has had no functioning government since 1991.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pakistan bans Jamaat-ud-Dawa, shuts offices

The Pakistan government has banned the charity group Jamaat-ud-Dawa and has ordered the closure of all offices of the group, a TV channel reported.

The Dawn News TV channel quoted Rehman Malik, advisor to the prime minister on interior affairs, as saying that Pakistan has banned the group with immediate effect and its activities were under observation.

A government official said that authorities had been ordered to close the offices of Jamaat-u-Dawa.

"Instructions have been issued to seal Jamaat-ud-Dawa offices in all the four provinces as well as Azad Kashmir," said interior ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig, referring to Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

"Now the orders will be implemented."

Earlier in the day, Pakistan said it will fulfil its obligations under a UN Security Council statement targeting four members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa linked to the banned Islamist group.

The statement, which gave no further details, came after the UN Security Council sanctions committee targeted four members of the group blamed for the Mumbai attacks, and a charity widely viewed as its political arm, for an assets freeze and other sanctions.

"Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan has taken note of the designation of certain individuals and entities by the UN under 1267 resolution of the UN Security Council and would fulfil its international obligations," a government statement said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

UNSC bans Lashkar front Jamaat-ud-Dawa

A committee of the United Nations Security Council has placed sanctions against Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front organisation for Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), declaring it a terrorist organisation.

The committee has added Jamaat and four Lashkar leaders to a list of firms and people facing sanctions for ties to al-Qaeda or the Taliban the UN said.

The terrorists added to the sanctions list include Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, which the UN statement described as the leader of the group.

The others are Pakistan-born Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of operations, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, the chief of finance, and India-born Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, described as a financier for the group who served as its chief in Saudi Arabia.

The same four were hit with US Treasury Department sanctions in May. The UN sanctions, covered by Security Council resolution 1267 from 1999, include the mandatory freezing of assets and travel bans.

 

(Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (L) and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi)

Imposing the sanctions, the Council asked all member states to freeze their assets and imposed travel ban and arms embargo against them.

However, it remains to be seen whether Pakistan upholds the UNSC sanctions.

“This has happened after the visit of Zardari and Manmohan to the UN. The anti-terror mechanism put in place by both countries has started working. It's now up to Islamabad to take the final decision but I'm sure that they'll uphold UNSC decision. This is the result of cooperation between the two countries," Pakistan's UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told CNN-IBN.

India had demanded a ban on the outfit following terrorist attacks in Mumbai which were suspected to have been orchestrated by Lashkar.

India had said that the so-called charity organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa is but a front organisation for the outlawed terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, which the UN banned in 2002.

Mumbai Crime Branch, in its investigations of the terror strike, has alleged that Lashkar head Zaki-ur-Rehman is the mastermind of the carnage. The other key players are Abu Hamza Kahafa and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

US TAKES A TOUGH STAND

The United States has said that it will be good if Pakistan "shifts" to a tougher approach towards Lashkar-e-Toiba, the prime suspect in the Mumbai terror attacks, which left at least 171 people dead.

"We're continuing to follow the reports. What we are looking to see, if there's going to be a shift in Pakistan into how they deal with LeT," The White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

"And if it proves out, over time, that there is that shift, then that would be a good one and something that we would welcome. But it's just… it's just too early for us to say," she said.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Counting of votes begin in five states





 

Pakistan cracks down on LeT camp: Report

Pakistani securityforces took over a camp used by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Pakistani Kashmir on Sunday, a witness and an official
from a charity linked to Lashkar said.

"This happened this afternoon, security forces took over the camp," said an official with Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity.

A resident close to the camp on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad said he had seen security forces raid it. The charity official said there were fighters there from Lashkar, the prime suspect in the attacks on Mumbai last month that killed at least 171 people.

More than 160 US, NATO vehicles burned in Pakistan

Gunmen blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said.

The U.S. military said its losses in the raid near the northwestern city of Peshawar would have "minimal" impact on anti-Taliban operations, set to expand with the arrival of thousands more American troops next year.

However, the attack will fuel concern that insurgents are trying to choke the route through the famed Khyber Pass, which carries up to 70 percent of the supplies for Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan, and drive up the cost of the war.

The owner of one of the terminals hit Sunday denied government claims that security was boosted after a raid last month near the pass in which militants made off with one Humvee and later paraded it before journalists.

"We don't feel safe here at all," Kifayatullah Khan told The Associated Press next to the still-smouldering vehicles, predicting that most of his night watchmen would now quit their jobs out of fear. "It is almost impossible for us to continue with this business."

The attack at the Portward Logistic Terminal reduced a section of the vast walled compound to a smoldering junkyard.

Khan said armed men flattened the gate before dawn with a rocket-propelled grenade, fatally shot a guard and set fire to a total of 106 vehicles, including about 70 Humvees.

Humvees are thought to cost about $100,000 each, though the price varies widely depending on armor and other equipment, meaning Sunday's losses may exceed $10 million.

An Associated Press reporter who visited the depot saw six rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks packed close together, some on flatbed trailers, all of them gutted and twisted by the flames.

Khan said shipping documents showed they were destined for U.S. forces and the Western-trained Afghan National Army.

The attackers fled after a brief exchange of fire with police, who arrived about 40 minutes later, he said.

The nine other guards who were on duty but stood helplessly aside put the number of assailants at 300, Khan said, though police official Kashif Alam said there were only 30.

At the nearby Faisal depot, manager Shah Iran said 60 vehicles destined for Afghanistan as well as three Pakistani trucks were burned in a similar assault.

The attack was the latest in a series that have highlighted the vulnerability of the supply route to the spreading power of the Taliban and other Islamic militants in the border region.

Vast quantities of supplies pass through Pakistan after being unloaded from ships at the Arabian sea port of Karachi. Some is routed through Quetta toward the Afghan city of Kandahar, but most flows through the Khyber Pass toward Kabul and the huge U.S. air base at Bagram.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan said in a statement that an unspecified number of its containers were destroyed in Sunday's attack but that their loss would have "minimal effect on our operations."

"It's militarily insignificant," U.S. spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielsen-Green said. "You can't imagine the volume of supplies that come through there and elsewhere and other ways."

"So far there hasn't been a significant loss or impact to our mission," she said.

Still, NATO has been seeking an alternative route through Central Asia, which it acknowledges is more expensive.

Pakistan halted traffic through the Khyber Pass for several days in November while it arranged for troops to guard the slow-moving convoys.

Shahedullah Baig, a spokesman for the interior minister in Islamabad, insisted Sunday that the extra security covered the terminals.

"They are fully protected, but in this kind of situation such incidents happen," Baig said.

However, Khan, the depot manager, said that was untrue, and there were only a handful of lightly armed police at the targeted terminals on Sunday afternoon.

Peshawar has seen a surge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

The city lies close to the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding.

On Saturday, a car bomb detonated in a busy market area of the city, killing 29 people and injuring 100 more. The blast wrecked a Shiite Muslim mosque and a hotel, but the motive and culprits remained unclear.

The instability in Pakistan's northwest coincides with serious tensions with its eastern neighbor India in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

New Delhi blames the attack, which killed 171 people, on an Islamic militant group fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, heightening tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors that could distract Pakistan from its role in helping the U.S. fight terrorism.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

India's manned moon mission by 2020

India would be able to send a manned mission to the moon by 2020, while the second unmanned spacecraft would be ready by 2012, said a

top space scientist who was involved in the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1.

"If everything goes as per the plan, we will be ready to send a man to moon by 2020," said Jitendranath Goswami, director of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.

PRL is the laboratory that helped build a payload called the high energy X-ray spectrometer that will look for water ice in the polar regions of the moon. Goswami, who hails from Assam, was Saturday interacting with students, journalists, and academics, in Guwahati.

"Maybe in 50 years from now, there will be an alternate space to live in Mars," the space scientist said. Goswami said he felt proud to be part of the historic moon mission and spelt out other programmes in the pipeline.

"As a scientist I have miles to go," Goswami was modest in his reply to a question as to how he felt being part of Chandrayaan-1. "But we're not in any great hurry. We're hoping to get data (from Chandrayaan-1) for a long time."

He stressed on the need to help children get attracted towards science and space technology by urging parents to do something inspirational. "Parents and guardians can inspire their children to achieve something in life," Goswami said.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Next terror attack on US will originate in Pak: Report

Pakistan is the weakest link in world security and the next terror attack in the US will originate in that country, said a
high-powered bipartisan US Congressional commission, adding it is the "intersection of nuclear weapons and terrorism."

"If one has to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report "World at Risk" said while devoting a whole chapter on the Islamic country.

"Although Pakistan is an ally (of US) there is a grave danger it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States, possibly with weapons of mass destruction," the report said.

The Commission was chaired by former US Senator Bob Graham and included Wendy Sherman, a former senior Clinton Administration official, who is now the chair of the foreign policy transition team of the incoming Obama Administration.

Speaking on CNN television, Graham called Pakistan the "intersection of the perfect storm."

In remarks suggesting that Pakistan could be emerging as a most lethal tinderbox, the report noted that "Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a history of unstable governments and parts of its territory are currently a safe haven for al-Qaida and other terrorists."

The authors of the report said they had "singled out Pakistan for special attention in the report, as we believe it poses a serious challenge to America's short-term and medium-term national security interests. Indeed many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the US is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan."

"Moreover, given Pakistan's tense relationship with India, its buildup of nuclear weapons is exacerbating the prospect of a dangerous arms race in South Asia that could lead to a nuclear conflict," the commission warned.

The rapid spread of nuclear technology in countries like Pakistan and Iran are seen as the main dangers with Islamabad seen as perhaps the most dangerous of them all.

The odds that terrorists will soon strike a major city with nuclear or biological weapons are now higher than ever, the panel said, identifying Pakistan as an area of "grave concern" due to terror networks and its atomic arsenal.

"In terms of the next of proliferation and terrorism, Pakistan must top the list of priorities for the next President and the Congress," the report said.

The Commission suggested that the next President and the Congress should implement a comprehensive policy towards Pakistan that works with Islamabad and other countries to eliminate terrorist safe havens through military, economic and diplomatic means and secure biological and nuclear materials in Pakistan. They should also counter and defeat extremist ideology and constraint a nascent nuclear arms race in Asia.

The report warned that a nuclear or biological attack is likely within five years and called for decisive global action to address the threat. It urged the creation of a new post in the White House that would focus solely on overseeing government efforts to prevent an attack with WMD.

Without urgent action, "it is more likely than not that a WMD will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," the commission said.

"America's margin of safety is shrinking," it added. The main dangers identified by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism are the rapid spread of nuclear technology in countries such as Pakistan and Iran and poor security in biotech industries worldwide.

Tribute to kabutars

INDIA TV reporting on "Kabootars" being affected by the terrorism in Mumbai ! LOL ! ROTFLMAO !!

Fear of a coup in Pakistan

Why did the Pakistan army do this? First, to deflect attention from the Mumbai attack into which the ISI was being dragged (ISI and

the army are very close after Pakistan army chief Kayani handpicked Lt Gen Pasha as the ISI boss). Second, it was signaling to the world that the civilian government didn’t matter; what mattered was the army.

The third reason is that it saw in the situation an opportunity to recoup the morale of its soldiers. The USpressed ‘‘ war on terror’’ on Pakistan’s western front is believed to have badly sapped the army’s morale. Many of the soldiers don’t believe in it — there were as many as 900 desertions last year.

Fourth, it reckons that by playing the India card, it could win back some of its lost credibility and authority among the people. Musharraf ’s last months had badly dented the army’s standing in Pakistani society and the ‘‘ war on terror’’ has eroded its popularity . With Zardari & Co seen as soft on India, the army was now sensing an opportunity of staging a comeback.

In fact, one estimate in New Delhi is that the Mumbai carnage , and the expected backlash from India, is aimed at a larger goal — to set the scene for an army coup. Top officials, however, discount the possibility — at least for now, although they don’t discount that the army is pushing to carve out its independent space and a bigger stake.

That’s where India’s dilemma comes in. If it were to flex its muscle, mass its soldiers along the border and tell Islamabad that it means business — as many people, incensed with the repeated terrorist attacks, would like the government to do — it could be playing into the Pakistan army’s hand.

New Delhi knows that the Americans have more levers on Pakistan than it has. But it doesn’t know how much pressure the US was willing to exert on Islamabad.

While there is an overlap of interest with India now (six American were, after all, killed in the attack), US’s bigger interest is in forcing Pakistan’s hand in the fight against al Qaida and the Taliban.

So, when Condoleezza Rice came over on Wednesday, she said all the right words but, in concrete terms, promised to press Pakistan on one thing — to ask for a ban on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s political wing, Jamaatud-Dawa . The Dawa is not an underground organization like Lashkar, although it recruits people for terror, as it did with captured Mumbai attacker, Ajmal Amir Kasav.

India is also uncertain of the implication of getting the US and others involved in the standoff. It fears that could lead to the internationalizing of the Kashmir dispute.

Everyone loves a good crisis , and all of them were looking to get something out for themselves from it if they could get their finger in the pie. That’s India’s second dilemma — it knows only the US can deliver but it doesn’t know if it’s a good idea to press it for help beyond a point.

Ask any top government official and he or she will say, ‘‘ We want outcome, not statements.’’ But they don’t really know how to secure

that outcome. Should it turn to the doubtful constable — in this case, the Pakistan army — for help? Not really. Should it insist with the friendly officer — in this case, the US — to make his boss wait and catch the thief first? It’s of no use, he won’t .

So, India waits staring at the various non-options , waiting for a bright idea to strike it. Meanwhile, the thief is at the safe distance, from where he is now thumbing his nose at you.

Will Pakistan arrest Lashkar chief?

With pressure mounting, could Pakistan finally take action against Lashkar chief Hafeez sayeed?

Sources have told NDTV in Pakistan that it is possible. This comes after America did some tough talking with the army and the civilian government to arrest the LeT founder.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is grappling for control with the all powerful army and ISI calling the shots. However, it is not the first time Zardari is battling intelligence agencies.

Just before slain former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan in 2007, she had openly said she feared there was a threat to her life from former ISI chief Hamid Gul and the intelligence bureau chief Brigadier Ijaz Shah.

Then there was the assassination attempt when she returned in October 2007, killing 140 people in a rally in Karachi. Benazir narrowly escaped and Zardari openly accused the ISI of trying to kill her. Benazir herself hinted at that the next day.

When she was killed a year ago, Zardari openly blamed the ISI. Now that he is the president, Zardari is facing his toughest challenge as he tries to assert authority over an organisation that has the backing of the one institution in Pakistan that matters, the army.

Meanwhile, Interior Advisor to the Prime Minister in Pakistan, Rehman Malik, has said the country would extend unconditional cooperation to India to bring the culprits to justice.

"A criminal is a criminal whether he is from Pakistan, India or anywhere else in the world. But we need concrete evidence against those mentioned by India and the law of the land will take its course," said Rehman.

City has 1100 Pak nationals, many seek citizenship

When country’s top intelligence and security systems are working round the clock to fish out moles and active modules sent to India from

terror camps in Pakistan, it may be surprising to know that more than 1100 Pakistani nationals, most of them Hindus, are living in the city. Actually, some 280 of them have applied for Indian citizenship.

According to a source in city police, approximately 1050 Hindus, 45 Muslims and 15 Sikhs and others from Pakistan are currently staying in the Orange city. Sources also pointed out that around 280 Hindus of Pakistani nationality have applied for Indian citizenship. A couple have already been granted Indian citizenship. Some 300 Pak nationals are staying on long-term visas. As per rules, an applicant has to spend seven years in India to become eligible to apply for citizenship. Two Bangladeshi Muslims are also presently staying in the city.

City police’s data also show that around 25 Pakistani nationals who came to city are at present untraceable. Senior officials from the intelligence say that the list of the untraceable Pakistanis is quite old. None of them was present at the designated address when verification was last done. A source said the untraced Pak nationals had remained under cover and did not get themselves registered. “Even if they are alive, they must be very old by now,” said a source from intelligence department.

Migration to India from Pakistan, especially for Hindus, is a regular phenomenon. The most common reason is reunion with families that separated during partition of India. “Residing in an Islamic country also means one often has to face harassment and humiliation,” says Mahesh Tharwani, a migrant who got Indian citizenship about a decade ago.

Prominent Muslims join call for black Eid

Prominent Muslims from the fields of cinema, theatre and media have strongly endorsed the clergy's call for a black-ribbon protest on

Bakr Eid against the Mumbai terror attacks. They point to a larger purpose behind the 26/11 strikes seeing in them an attempt to trigger communal violence. To that end, the symbolic protest is a call to evoke the spirit of India's secular values and ensure harmony among an agitated citizenry.

"Terrorists expect to polarize communities here, and hope the people will take the violence to the next level. The conflict is between a civil, secular democracy and barbaric forces that want to drag us back to medieval times," says theatre personality Feroz Khan. But he's clear Indians will not allow that. For him, the protest is an important milestone. "You've felt it in your heart, now it's time to show it on the streets," says Khan, who has directed well-known plays such as Tumhari Amrita.

The protest becomes more relevant because it cuts across all communities and sects within Islam. "The coming together of the clergy is momentous because religion is their life and terrorism is an attack on their faith," says actor Jaaved Jaffrey.

"This is no mourning. This is a protest against using terms from Islam for acts of terror."

The protest is also a call to nationalism. The Mumbai terror strikes were aimed at the country, says Qari Muhammad Mian Mazhari, editor of Urdu daily Secular Qayadat. "We are first Indians and then anything else.

The attack was on India, on India's systems. We must convert them into a foundation for the creation of a strong nationality spirit, sadly missing today," he says. He adds: "And for this, it is religious organizations which have to come forward and forge the spirit."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

'Gunmen shot' at Delhi's airport

Six gunmen have been shot by Indian security forces at Delhi's main international airport according to airport officials, the BBC reports.

The British Broadcasting Corp. cited unconfirmed reports from airport officials as saying late Thursday that up to six gunmen had been shot and killed at New Delhi's international airport. But Indian officials told the AP there was a minor incident and no deaths.

India had declared a security alert at three major airports, including Delhi and the IT hub Bangalore, and added extra checks to vehicles and luggage after warnings from intelligence agencies, officials said on Thursday.

Local television showed armed police guarding entrances to Delhi's international airport. Police cordons had also been set up outside the airport in the southern industrial city of Chennai.

The heightened security comes days after the militant attacks in Mumbai that killed 171 people.

Indian television said the alert was issued after an e-mail from Deccan Mujahideen, the same group that claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attacks. Officials said they did not have information about this.

“More checking of passenger luggage of people coming to the airport, more thorough checking of vehicles coming to the airport,” Moushumi Chakravarty, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said.

“There are more security measures to control the airspace also. There are security personnel manning the perimeter of the airports.”

Reform India Movement: Is it a Scam

A website called "Reform India Movement" has surfaced on the web, asking people to register in its campaign to help Mumbai. The domain has been registered with Abhijit Dube, Reform India, Mumbai. It was created on December 02, 2008. The IP location has been traced to Ohio - Columbus - Alentus Corporation. The "Reform India Movement" website has become a huge hit on the web.

When you open the site, you find only a single page with this message "Unity is power. Let's unite by registering here." Then there are three fields - Name, Email and Mobile Number. Once you register your details, you get a confirmation message that "your details have been received by us. It is not known whether it's a serious campaign by an individual or an "online game" to fool people. The owner of the site must come up with motive, agenda and his real objective behind creating this campaign. We recommend people to abstain from giving their email id till the true nature of the movement is ascertained.

The website URL is located here -http://www.reformindiamovement.com/live/default.asp.

India has proof ISI trained Mumbai attackers

India has proof that the Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI was behind the deadly Mumbai attacks. Sources have told NDTV that ISI trained the attackers.

The names of trainers and the places where meticulous training took place are also known to the government, the sources said.

The United States is believed to have even more evidence some of which it has shared with India, they said.

The US has told Pakistan that they have proof of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba's role and sought the arrest of its chief Hafeez Sayeed.

Sources added it is hard to imagine that Pakistan army was not aware of Mumbai attack plan.

The deadly attacks on India's financial capital left 178, including several foreigners, dead.

Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who was in Pakistan on Wednesday, is believed to have told his Pakistani interlocutors that Washington had enough evidence to show a Pakistani hand in the attack, the sources said. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

US sets stage for internationally-backed punitive strikes by India

The United States has set the stage for punitive internationally-backed strikes by India against terrorist camps in Pakistan if Islam does not act first to dismantle them by rejecting President Zardari’s alibi that non-state actors were responsible for the last week’s carnage in Mumbai.

The game-changer, outlined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, robs Islamabad of the fig leaf that Zardari used in his interview on Larry King Live that ''stateless actors'' are holding the whole world hostage and Pakistan was not to blame. Rice said in effect that the excuse does not absolve Pakistan responsibility for terrorist acts that originate from its territory,“ Rice said.

Although US officials have not outright approved immediate punitive Indian strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan, it is clear Rice has bought time for Islamabad to prove its bonafides. Pakistan has a ''special responsibility'' and needs to act ''urgently'' she said, even as India has indicated it will wait for a Pakistani response to its demands before any punitive action.

In Washington, experts pressed the administration to expand the scope of punitive strikes to an international level to avoid making it an India-Pakistan issue, particularly since the death toll included citizens of ten countries.

''Rather than simply begging the Indians to show restraint, a better option could be to internationalise the response. Have the international community declare that parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security,'' Robert Kagan, an influential analyst with the Carnegie Endowment, said.

''Would such an action (strikes) violate Pakistan's sovereignty?'' Kagan asked in an op-ed, and answered, ''Yes, but nations should not be able to claim sovereign rights when they cannot control territory from which terrorist attacks are launched.''

Rice echoed this outlook more discreetly and cautiously.

Pakistan's civilian government has sought to portray its helplessness in governing its own territory. In fact, in a startling slip noted by the Economist, Zardari said in a television interview last week that ''if any evidence points towards any individual or group in MY PART OF THE COUNTRY,'' he would take action. The implication, it said, was Pakistan was already severed if with parts of the country out of federal control.

While US position towards Pakistan has hardened perceptibly after the Mumbai attack, Indian officials are still leery about Washington’s approach. The hard part to swallow for New Delhi is that the Bush administration, while pushing for a strategic relationship with India, has bankrolled what some are already dubbing a terrorist state to the tune of $ 10 billion since 2002. Most of the money, according to the US government’s own audit, has gone towards building Pakistan's military muscle against India.

On Tuesday, even as Rice counselled patience and restraint in New Delhi, India’s Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon made the rounds in Washington, explaining India’s position and the growing anger across the country after Pakistan’s latest provocation.

Menon packed more than a dozen meetings, including with former intelligence czar and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State William Burns, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and several top lawmakers as Washington struggled to contain Indian outrage. New Delhi’s message was uniform: India’s patience is wearing thin.

The Indian Embassy said later that ''unequivocal condemnation of the (Mumbai) incident and the need for the perpetrators to be held accountable was reiterated,'' at the meetings. It was also indicated that there would be full cooperation and support at various levels, including government, from the US to India as it dealt with the consequences of the incident, it added.

From all accounts, India too appears to be preparing ground for punitive action if Pakistan fails to respond and act adequately.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

From Mosman with love: heed wisdom of Gandhi


Darshak Mehta.

Darshak Mehta.

RESHMA and Sunil Parekh were among the first to die when gunmen forced their way into the Tiffin restaurant at Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, but it was 44 hours before their family in Sydney had confirmation of the terrible news.

Reshma was shot in the head; beside her, her husband lay with a bullet hole in the back of his neck. Their dinner companions had also been murdered.

Darshak Mehta knew all four. Reshma was his wife's beloved sister and the dinner companions were also friends. A cousin was luckier. Celebrating with family at a Lebanese restaurant on the rooftop of the Taj hotel, they escaped even while carrying an immobile family matriarch down 19 floors of fire stairs.

"If anyone has the right to be angry and stir up a lust for revenge it is me," said Mr Mehta, 51, of Mosman, the son of a wealthy Mumbai family who knew many of those caught up in the terrorist attacks. He and his wife, Alpana, have lived in Australia for the past 20 years.

Mr Mehta said he wanted to speak about his loss not to generate publicity for "a terrible, terrible tragedy" but because he was concerned that media commentary on Muslims has been damaging and inflammatory.

"I don't think at a time like this you really need to stir passions. We are still extremely raw."

He said every Indian he knew was angry about what had happened. Venomous words from Western commentators who assumed they could represent the victims were presumptuous and did not help, and the incendiary approach of grouping all Muslims with the actions of a few extremists was wrong and "extremely counterproductive".

He would prefer to see coverage of the majority of Muslims who are as appalled as anyone by the terrorist acts. Muslims in India number 120 million and, apart from a few highly publicised exceptions, there is relative communal amity.

"The silent [Muslim] majority have got to get up and speak out [against] people going around, in the name of their religion, killing people and spreading hatred. I am sure most of them don't share this agenda and philosophy, and yet they are strangely silent."

Mr Mehta believes now more than ever people need to think of Gandhi's words. "He said an eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind. [And] be the change you want to see in the world."

"It would be so easy for me to be just angry. [The terrorists] have snuffed out two loving members of my family, left my two nieces orphaned - their world is crashing around them. If I was to meet the murderers I would not say … 'I hope you rot in hell'. If you don't forgive, you take yourself down to the level of that person. What will be achieved by being angry?"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Adsense mail to publishers

Google sent out a letter to AdSense publishers this afternoon reassuring them that during these times of “economic turmoil,” Google is working to boost publisher revenue.

Among the things that Google says they’re working on:

Better AdSense for search
Integration of DoubleClick tech into AdSense
Improved ability for AdWords advertisers to target content network
The letter is rather light on specifics, so we have two questions for readers:


1. Have you noticed a drop in AdSense revenue since the world financial markets started tanking last month?
and
2. Does Google’s letter reassure you?
The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Publisher,

We understand that the recent economic turmoil has created a lot of uncertainty in the lives of AdSense publishers. During these difficult times, we’re continuing to invest in innovations that improve publisher monetization and advertiser value in the content network.

We’re focusing on further developing our product offerings and boosting ad performance for publishers. We recently announced advancements in AdSense for search and experiments to make ads more effective. We’re bringing DoubleClick technologies to AdSense publishers, and we’ll continue to launch new products and features. We’re also continuing to improve our offerings for AdWords advertisers, making it easier for them to target the Google content network. Features for advertisers, such as the new display ad builder, are designed to improve ad performance on AdSense publisher sites.

We’ll keep driving technological progress, but our best asset will always be our publisher partners. The strength of AdSense lies in the value of the content you bring to users and the quality of the sites you bring to advertisers. Our success is tied to yours. We look forward to partnering with you for the long term, and remain dedicated to helping you succeed.

Sincerely,

Jim Scott
Director AdSense Online Sales & Operations

I guess, Google is having some problems or disappointed with the publishers performance.
I am not quite sure, how the improved search or doubleclick will boost our earnings… because one way or another, it seems like google stopped sharing maximum revenues with the publishers.I actually noticed that my AdSense clicks have gone up, but my AdSense revenue has gone down in the past 30 days. Some days are better than others. I bet that Google has a couple of guys sitting at their computers and deciding every morning on what percent of revenues should be given to the publishers. The letter from Google does not reassure me. If Google’s revenues go down from AdSense then they’ll probably just give us publishers less money per click to make up for it. Google always wins!.They pretty much have the market cornered.
Funny what happens when companies think they are untouchable and try act as a MONOPOLISTIC BULLY.

They want to know every thing about you through their toolbars and by tracking the searches that you do (in the name of better performance). But when it comes to them they want to keep you in the dark for everything, whether it is the earning guidance
OR
The percentage of revenue that they pass on to the publishers.
The more they have the greedier they get.
SORRY PUBLISHER SINCE YOU ARE STUCK WITH ME I AM GOING TO START GETTING A BIGGER PERCENTAGE OF THE REVENUE,
(That is the reason why Google doesn’t tell the payout percentage)
and blame the revenue reduction on economy.
To make things worse they cancel the publishers accounts at will (without any explanation) and in that case just keep the whole 100% of the revenue.
LOOKS LIKE THE MICRO-SOFT BULLY
GOT TAKEN OVER
BY THE NEW GOOGLE BULLY.
WE ARE GOING TO NEED A GORILLA TAKE DOWN THIS BULLY.
 Google is getting to big. Because of the sudden death Google can penalize you with, it is not possible to make a single living from Google Adsense. Regardless of the amount of money coming in, you always have the risk of facing a ban. Offcourse you will get treated better if you get bigger but nevertheless the risk is there.
I understand Google if they mostly work in name of the advertiser. Those guys are actually paying money to Google. We as publishers get paid by Google.
Finally, if they really took the publisher seriously they should start helping them. For example by:
1) make the interface better and more graphical.
2) have the possiblity to group the reports, channels and Ad review center per website.
3) instead of a ban of the entire account, evaluate each website separately. So if a guy with multiple websites breaks the TOS. Start with not showing ads on that site and give a message in the adsense dashboard.
4) Make a helpdesk that actually communicates with people that have questions about using Adsense. For many it is a daunting task to find their way in the Adsense help center.
And where the **** is the implemtation of the recent adsense in Analytics integration.
All over the place I am reading about new features, metrics, etc regarding Analytics. In real life however, the dashboard got a little bit different look but for the rest everything works the same.


Monday, October 20, 2008

U.S. pilot was ordered to shoot down UFO

Two U.S. fighter planes were scrambled and ordered to shoot down an unidentified flying object (UFO) over the English countryside during the Cold War, according to secret files made public on Monday.

One pilot said he was seconds away from firing 24 rockets at the object, which moved erratically and gave a radar reading like "a flying aircraft carrier."


The pilot, Milton Torres, now 77 and living in Miami, said it spent periods motionless in the sky before reaching estimated speeds of more than 7,600 mph (12,000 kph).

After the alert, a shadowy figure told Torres he must never talk about the incident and he duly kept silent for more than 30 years.

His story was among dozens of UFO sightings in defence ministry files released at the National Archives in London.

In a written account, Torres described how he scrambled his F-86 D Sabre jet in calm weather from the Royal Air Force base at Manston, Kent in May 1957.

"I was only a lieutenant and very much aware of the gravity of the situation. I felt very much like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest," he said.

"The order came to fire a salvo of rockets at the UFO. The authentication was valid and I selected 24 rockets.

"I had a lock-on that had the proportions of a flying aircraft carrier," he added. "The larger the airplane, the easier the lock-on. This blip almost locked itself."

At the last moment, the object disappeared from the radar screen and the high-speed chase was called off.

He returned to base and was debriefed the next day by an unnamed man who "looked like a well-dressed IBM salesman."

"He threatened me with a national security breach if I breathed a word about it to anyone," he said.

The documents contain no official explanation for the incident, which came at a time of heightened tension between the West and the Soviet Union. Planes were on constant stand-by at British bases for a possible Soviet attack.

The files blame other UFO sightings on weather balloons, clouds or normal aircraft. Torres said he had been waiting 50 years for an explanation.

"I shall never forget it," he told the Times. "On that night I was ordered to open fire even before I had taken off. That had never happened before."

UFO expert David Clarke said the sighting may have been part of a secret U.S. project to create phantom aircraft on radar screens to test Soviet air defences.

"Perhaps what this pilot had seen was some kind of experiment in electronic warfare or maybe it was a UFO," he said. "Something very unusual happened."

The files are online at: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos

Life's origin had a violent setting

A classic experiment exploring the origin of life has more than a half-century later yielded new results. New results fom the experiment show that life may have been born violently, in erupting volcanoes in the midst of a thunderstorm.

In 1953, Stanley Miller, then a graduate student of Harold Urey at the University of Chicago, put ammonia, methane and hydrogen — the gases believed to be in early earth’s atmosphere, — along with water in a sealed flask and applied electrical sparks to simulate the effects of lightning. A week later, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, were generated out of the simple molecules.

Enshrined in high school textbooks, the Miller-Urey experiment raised expectations that scientists could unravel life’s origins with simple chemistry experiments. The excitement has long since subsided. The amino acids never grew into the more complex proteins. Scientists now think the composition of air on early earth was different from what Miller used.

Consulting Miller’s notebooks, his student Jeffrey Bada found that Miller had constructed two variations of the original apparatus. One simply used a different spark generator. The second injected steam onto the sparks.

Miller had reported that he had detected five amino acids produced by the original apparatus. Johnson’s work revealed small amounts of nine additional amino acids in those samples. In the residues from the apparatus with the steam injector, the scientists detected 22 amino acids, including 10 that had never before been identified from the Miller-Urey experiment.

Bada says the results show that the tidal pools near volcanoes, where similar conditions exist, would have been the places where the amino acids could have accumulated in concentrations, enabling more complex reactions to occur.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

FAQ on Provident Fund and gratuity

What is Provident Fund?

The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, provides for compulsory contributory fund for the future of an employee after his retirement or for his dependents in case of his early death. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir and is applicable to:
Who are covered under it?

Every factory engaged in any industry specified in Schedule 1 in which 20 or more persons are employed, every other establishment employing 20 or more persons or class of such establishments which the Central Government may notify, any other establishment so notified by the Central Government even if employing less than 20 persons.

Who are the contributors towards the fund?

As per amendment-dated 22.9.1997, both the employee and the employer contribute to the fund at the rate of 12 per cent of the basic wages, dearness allowance and retaining allowance, if any, payable to employees per month. The rate of contribution is 10 per cent in the case of some establishments which are mentioned in the Act.
What is the interest rate?

The rate of interest is fixed by the Central Government in consultation with the Central Board of trustees, Employees' Provident Fund every year during March/April, so it can vary from year to year. The rate is yet to be finalised for this year with the EPF Board toying with an 8 per cent and the Unions demanding a 9.5 per cent.
Can you withdraw from the Provident Fund?

The entire amount of the PF along with the accumulated interest can be withdrawn by an employee on retirement after attaining the age of 55 years. However, in cases of termination, retirement on account of permanent disablement, on migration from India for a permanent settlement abroad and in cases of retrenchment, the amount can be withdrawn before the completion of 55 years. A person can also withdraw 90 per cent of the amount a year before his or her retirement.

What are the special cases where you can withdraw from PF?

In case a person is going for a job change, his Provident Fund account can be transferred for further continuation in the next office. For this, the concerned person has to fill the Transfer Application in form 13 and submit it to the concerned Provident Fund office. If a person is switching to an organisation which does not come under this act, he can receive all the accumulated money which is in his PF account till now. In cases of untimely death of the person, his nominees receive the same.

What is Pension Fund?

The Employees' Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 was amended in1971 and was renamed as the "The Employees' Provident Fund & Family Pension Act , 1952". It was felt that in case of premature death of the worker or a permanent disablement the Provident fund was too less an amount to support him and his family. This led to an introduction of another social security benefit in the name of pension.

After the last amendment in 1995, Employees' Pension Scheme-95 came into effect from 16.11.95. The assets and liabilities of the erstwhile Pension Fund were transferred and merged with the new Pension Fund. The benefits and entitlements to the members under the old scheme remain protected and continued under the new Employees' Pension Scheme-95. The existing members (as on 16.11.95) of the Provident Fund who did not opt for joining the erstwhile Employees' Family Pension Scheme-1971 and the beneficiaries under the erstwhile Employees' Family Pension Scheme-1971 in case of death/exit occurring between 1.4.93 and 15.11.95 have option to join the new scheme.

ho are covered under the Pension Scheme?

All the members of the ceased Family Pension Scheme and anyone who joins a covered establishment (it has 20 or more than 20 people working) on or after 16-11-95 has to compulsorily join this scheme. But his salary range should be higher than Rs 6500/ per month at the date of appointment.

How do you contribute towards pension fund?

An employer contributes to the pension at the rate of 8.33 per cent of the employees' salary. The Government's contribution is 1.16 per cent. It is calculated on the basis of the wages at the end of the year. The employee does not make any contribution. The calculation of pension is done on the basis of last salary drawn and the number of years of services rendered by the employee. Actual amount accumulated in the Pension fund is not taken into consideration.

When are you entitled to get pension?

A person is entitled to receive pension after the completion of 10 years of service and on attaining the age of 58 years. On ceasing employment earlier than 58 years, pension may be availed of by a member at his option, before attaining the age of 58 years but not below 50 years. Such early pension will be subject to discounting factor. These eligibilities are not counted in cases of permanent disability or death of person.
In case of death, the spouse is entitled to receive (ceases in case of remarriage) or children (should be below 25 years of age). In case the person has died and has not got any eligible family members, the parents; are entitled to receive it. If absence of any family member the nominee of the deceased person can get it.

What is Gratuity?

Gratuity is a retirement benefit for long services as a provision for old age. The Act provides for the payment of gratuity to workers employed in every factory, shop & establishments or educational institution employing 10 or more persons on any day of the proceeding 12 months. A shop or establishment to which the Act has become applicable shall continue to be governed by the Act even if the number of persons employed falls bellow 10 at any subsequent stage.
Who all are covered under it?

Previously there was a wage ceiling above which employees were liable to the benefits. After the 34th amendment to this act in 1994 no such ceiling exists. All employees irrespective of their salary amount are now covered under this Act.

Who contributes to this fund and what is the maximum amount payable?

The employer has to contribute to this fund. The amount of gratuity payable is computed at rate of 17 days wages based on the rate of wages last drawn, for every completed year of service. The maximum amount of Gratuity payable was Rs one lakh earlier but after the 11th amendment to the Act in 1998 the amount payable under the scheme has been raised to Rs 3.5 lakh. Companies have a choice of opting for a higher benefit of gratuity that is - a higher total amount to be paid.,

When can you expect gratuity?

Completion of at least five years of continuous services is necessary to receive this amount. However, it does not apply in cases where a person has stopped working due to death or disablement. In the natural course an employee can receive it on his superannuation, retirement or resignation.