Pervez link to Osama’s cash trail
Disgusted Nadira to Naipaul’s defence
George on seat edge
Calcutta Weather

 
 
PERVEZ LINK TO OSAMA’S CASH TRAIL 
 
 
FROM K.P. NAYAR
 
Washington, Oct. 13: 
Bush administration officials warned Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf ahead of yesterday’s order freezing the assets of Rabita Trust that he should dissociate himself from that organisation which had become a funnel for funds through Pakistan for Osama bin Laden, knowledgeable Pakistani sources said today.

The warning may have alerted Jaish-e-Mohammed through its pervasive contacts in the Pakistani intelligence community about the impending assets freeze order and enabled it to reorganise its bank accounts, distribute its assets and rechristen itself as Tehrik al Furqan.

Musharraf has been on the board of Rabita Trust, which was started 30 years ago for charitable work in resettling the then East Pakistan’s Biharis, who wanted to go to Pakistan after the creation of Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s embassy in Washington yesterday pleaded ignorance about any link between the trust and Musharraf. US officials believe the trust, despite its long record of charitable work, was virtually taken over by bin Laden’s network in recent years.

Its secretary general, Wael Hamza Jalaidan, was one of the pioneers of al Qaida along with bin Laden when it was launched in Pakistan to provide relief to the families of those “martyred” in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

It is reasonable to assume that Musharraf, who has patronised Taliban and other fundamentalist forces all through his years in the top echelons of the Pakistani army, would have known about al Qaida’s use of the trust as a channel for its funds.

This contradiction between Musharraf, yesterday’s terrorism sponsor, and Musharraf, today’s coalition partner, represents one of the biggest dilemmas for President George W. Bush as he presses ahead with the campaign against Taliban.

According to accounts in the US media, yesterday’s list and the circumstances surrounding its preparation belie serious rifts within the Bush administration on dealing with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Competing for policy are the treasury department with its brief to stop the flow of money to terrorists; the state department, which is keen to protect its tenuous coalition against terror; and intelligence agencies, which fear that their sources and methods of tracking terrorist finances would be exposed by an open admission through the list that these agencies are wise to what the terrorists are up to.

According to reliable accounts, the state department’s South Asia bureau yesterday drafted a response for spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledging Musharraf’s connection with the trust. This response was to be apologetic on behalf of Musharraf arguing that he was ignorant of al Qaida’s penetration of the trust. But it was dropped on further consideration.

A state department official was, however, quoted in today’s Washington Post as saying the trust is “a highly regarded Islamic trust with several prominent board members. Our feeling is that bin Laden deliberately infiltrated the Rabita Trust and corrupted a reputable organisation. We don’t think the prominent people who have their names on it were aware of the infiltration”.

   

 
 
DISGUSTED NADIRA TO NAIPAUL’S DEFENCE 
 
 
FROM AMIT ROY
 
London, Oct. 13: 
V.S. Naipaul’s wife, the former Pakistani journalist Nadira Alvi, leapt today to the defence of her Nobel Prize-winning husband and dismissed claims that the 69-year-old author was “anti-Muslim”.

In an exclusive interview from her home in Wiltshire, Lady Naipaul rounded on critics who had accused her husband of being against Islam as a religion.

Visibly upset by some of the comments made in newspapers and on television after Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature on Thursday, Lady Naipaul said she was “speaking out from the heart”.

The Times wrote: “An intensely personal view of history, steeped in anti-Islamic sentiment, has defined Naipaul’s every utterance on his ancestral homeland of India.”

More accurately, Naipaul has written of the consequences of “conversion” to Islam, how it is practised by some people and, more specifically, of the contemporary evils of terrorism in Pakistan. None of this has gone down well with Muslim commentators in Britain, some of whom may not even be familiar with his writings.

Lady Naipaul’s comments were not vetted by her husband. Other friends, she said, had warned her of the risks of taking on Muslim extremists.

She said: “We have not emerged from this nightmare. My husband’s books, Among the Believers and Beyond Belief, are a testimony to our suffering. They can show us a way out of this darkness but we lack the intellectual honesty to look at the mirror and accept it as an experiment gone horribly wrong. Only then can we free our people from the monster that feeds off their ignorance every day.”

For 10 years until she met her husband in 1995, Nadira Alvi wrote a weekly column, which appeared in The Nation, an English language daily published from Lahore. When Naipaul’s first wife, Pat, an Englishwoman whom he had met in Oxford, died, Sir Vidia Naipaul married Nadira Alvi whom he had encountered in Pakistan while researching a book.

Lady Naipaul said that her husband did not need her defence “but I am disgusted and even bewildered at the recent media hype on his stand against Islam shown on a major British television channel and in print, quoting, as always, academics and writers who sit cosily in the UK or the USA”.

Kenya-born Lady Naipaul emphasised: “I am a Muslim. I was born into a Muslim family who trace their ancestry back to their Semitic or Arab inheritance although they have lived in the subcontinent for the last 200 years.

“I am also a Muslim woman who has written for 10 years against the oppression of her people, particularly women, by clerics and the feudal (lords) of our sporadic one-legged democracies.”

She added: “I only wish to ask all my husband’s detractors of what they really know of Islam in its present form and how it is put into practice in tyrannies like Pakistan. I have to ask them if they have ever stood with a group of crusading women in the High Court in Pakistan — it is women only, men being too frightened to attend — to face fierce mullahs crying for the death of a terrified 12-year-old boy accused of blasphemy.

“Have they ever visited Pakistani jails? Have they stood, seen and heard the shrieks of women being beaten by supple kikkar (acacia) rods for a confession by the police?”

She recalled that her columns were never refuted or challenged. “As a Muslim woman and, above all, a mother, I have stood close to heresy by simply being a helpless witness to these demonic punishments.”

She argued: “I am not a heretic. Like Mr Tony Blair I would and can challenge leaders like Qazi Hussain, of the Jamat-e-Islami, with quotes from the Quran and the life of the Prophet, and receive answers that reeked of mindless intolerance and a deep wish to punish an already afflicted and downtrodden population.”

Lady Naipaul was bitterly critical of some Muslim spokesman in London. “My people are not represented by the so-called Council of British Muslims, who ironically have escaped to the West and can sit here waving the green flag, criticising the very government and laws that protect them. My people — and that is 80 per cent rural Pakistan — are crushed by mullahs who they really loathe. But people are mute due to fear.”

   

 
 
GEORGE ON SEAT EDGE 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
Agra, Oct. 13: 
The Prime Minister’s search for a new defence minister has turned into a cliffhanger between George Fernandes and K.C. Pant.

The decks were more or less cleared for the reinduction of Fernandes as defence minister and Harin Pathak as minister of state for defence on Monday. Fernandes met Atal Bihari Vajpayee today for half-an-hour and highly-placed government sources had confirmed that he would be reinstated at 12 noon on Monday.

However, the proposal has run into opposition from within as well as without the government.

A section of the BJP is trying to resist Fernandes’ rehabilitation because the Venkataswami Commission probing the Tehelka disclosures has yet to give him a clean chit. This section is believed to be pitching for Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant who had served as defence minister in the Congress regime.

The Congress and the Left, too, launched a high-pitched campaign against Fernandes’ re-induction, fuelling speculation that the Cabinet shuffle plan had been deliberately leaked to test the political waters. However, the Prime Minister is said to be in favour of reinstating Fernandes.

Sources said Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and nominees of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) were likely to be taken into the Cabinet in a “larger” expansion sometime before the winter session begins in November.

Mamata may get the rural development ministry because there is increasing pressure from within the party to get minister M. Venkaiah Naidu to take on the job of the organisation’s general secretary. The post fell vacant after Narendra Modi took over as Gujarat chief minister.

Ever since Fernandes put in his papers after the Tehelka expose, foreign minister Jaswant Singh had been juggling the two portfolios.

But after the September 11 terror strikes in the US and the subsequent attack on Afghanistan, Vajpayee was under pressure to have a full-fledged defence minister.

It was felt that Singh was far too involved with the external affairs ministry to be able to devote enough time to defence.

The sources hinted that civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain may be taken off the department after the Alliance Air hijack fiasco and given some other ministry.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 33.5°C (+1)
Minimum: 26.1°C (+2)

Rainfall

0.4 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 98%,
Minimum: 64%

Today

South-west monsoon withdraws from the state. Partly cloudy sky, possibility of light rain accompanied by thunder in some parts.
Sunrise: 5.36 am
Sunset: 5.10 pm
   
 

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