Pak loads tit-for-tat wanted list
Eden ecstasy after agony
Big guns line up for FBI chief
Diplomat Advani demolishes label
Calcutta Weather

 
 
PAK LOADS TIT-FOR-TAT WANTED LIST 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Jan. 19: 
With US secretary of state Colin Powell taking off from the subcontinent, Pervez Musharraf today raced back to hard-nosed bargaining.

The Pakistan President said “we do not have” any of the non-Pakistanis sought by India and prepared to spring Islamabad’s own list of most-wanted, allegedly sheltered in India.

Musharraf also added to Delhi’s doubts about his sincerity in ending the standoff in the region by saying no Indian terrorists figuring on the list of 20 were in Pakistan. “…as far as non-Pakistanis are concerned, I do not know anybody in the list. We do not have them”, Musharraf told CNN in an interview today.

Asserting that he had already done “more than enough”, he said the ball was now in India’s court. “It is high time that he (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) takes some initiative also,” he said, when asked why he would not call the Indian Prime Minister over phone to reduce tensions.

Musharraf’s foreign minister Abdus Sattar said Islamabad is preparing its own list of wanted criminals. “We have names on our list. We will forward it in course of time to the Government of India,” Sattar said in Islamabad a day after Powell had hinted that a truce hinged on Islamabad’s ability to hand over some of those wanted by Delhi.

South Block said the list being drawn up by Islamabad was a ploy to divert attention. “It raises serious doubts about the sincerity and questions the credibility of the Pakistani President’s speech (last Saturday),” a foreign ministry official said. “There is all the more need, therefore, for India to move with caution and see to what extent Islamabad is willing to stop cross-border terrorism.”

South Block officials pointed out there could be no de-escalation till India was satisfied with the ground situation in Kashmir. Delhi is in possession of intercepts, which indicate that Pakistan has instructed terrorist groups operating in India to lie low for a few months.

“Both the US and Musharraf are keen on a de-escalation. There will be no let-up in either the diplomatic or military offensive till we have results on the ground to prove that Pakistan has given up cross-border terrorism as a foreign policy instrument,” an Indian official said.

Some officials believe that Musharraf’s statement quotes the “opening price” in what seems to be the beginning of tough bargaining with India.

Musharraf’s remarks can be seen in two ways. First, he is not sincere about his promise to deliver the terrorists. The other is his compulsion to reassure the domestic audience.

   

 
 
EDEN ECSTASY AFTER AGONY 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Jan.19: 
The best day-night address in town tonight produced the best result for India: A thrilling 22-run win over England in the first of six ODIs.

Marcus Trescothick scripted an outstanding innings (121 off only 109 balls), which ended with a poor verdict, but Ajit Agarkar’s second spell (three wickets in four overs) eclipsed the unofficial England captain’s excellent work.

If what was on offer at the Eden is a trend-setter, this series should be among the most absorbing. In fact, not far from the scheduled close (10.15 pm), England were in the driver’s seat.

Less than half-an-hour later, victory was India’s and it was time for a million mashaals to make the night warm. For the statistically inclined, the last six wickets fell for 35 runs — quite out of character in the Nasser Hussain-era.

At a time when our cricket’s bottomline ought to read much better, the win produced more than just mashaals. It even prompted the BJP’s Uma Bharti to smilingly nudge the CPM’s Subhas Chakraborty as if to say “great show by India”.

Till the other day, Agarkar was criticised for myriad reasons and also in the firing line was captain Sourav Ganguly. Today’s performance, then (on the captain’s home turf), was probably Agarkar’s way of thanking Sourav for unstinted support.

Understandably, Sourav was overwhelmed when he superbly caught Ashley Giles, stopping England at 259, well short of India’s highest at the Eden.

The very next moment found Sourav and Sachin Tendulkar in a winning-embrace, a picture which conveyed the same emotion as Sourav and Rahul Dravid holding hands after that memorable victory in last year’s Kandy Test.

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Sourav acknowledged feeling “special.” He quipped: “There can be few things better than winning in Calcutta.”

Not only did India get off to the desired start, Sourav himself scored a tidy 42 and, in the second session, kept cool when England threatened to win in a canter. The confidence gained should influence the remainder of the series.

Despite the defeat, Hussain remarked there were “few” areas where his team needed to improve. Perhaps, he is right, though the Andrew Flintoffs and Jeremy Snapes need to quickly get their calling right.

However, Hussain left nobody in doubt over his feelings on the umpiring.

Familiar with the Code of Conduct and not wanting to invite Match Referee Denis Lindsay’s wrath, Hussain didn’t specifically mention umpiring, but did say: “We are frustrated about a few things, which the ICC should pay attention to… Everyone saw what happened… It was not good for us…”

Clearly, umpire S.K. Sharma’s leg-before decision against Trescothick was awful — the Jawagal Srinath delivery pitched outside leg and, so, the Man of the Match couldn’t have been asked to take that long walk back.

For India (and England), it was the proverbial turning point.

   

 
 
BIG GUNS LINE UP FOR FBI CHIEF 
 
 
FROM SEEMA GUHA
 
New Delhi, Jan. 19: 
Hoping to enlist the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put pressure on Pakistan, India will roll out the red carpet when the agency’s chief, Robert Mueller, comes here next week.

Besides holding talks with Indian intelligence officials, the FBI director will call on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, home minister L.K. Advani and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.

US diplomats said Mueller’s visit has been “shaping up for quite some time” and is in keeping with the growing interaction at all levels between India and the Bush administration. Mueller is expected here late Monday or early Tuesday, the diplomats said.

Mueller’s tour comes close on the heels of the visits of home minister L.K. Advani to the US and secretary of state Colin Powell to India and Pakistan.

For India, engaged in tough negotiations with Pakistan for handing over most-wanted terrorists and criminals, the timing of Mueller’s trip is crucial.

Indian officials believe that at least one of the men India wants Pakistan to send back may also be the person the FBI is looking for in connection with the September 11 terror strikes.

Sheikh Mohammad Omar, one of the three persons swapped by India for the hijacked passengers in 1999, could be part of the al Qaida network. His name has figured in transactions through banking channels in Pakistan.

The FBI has been investigating the Omar angle and it has exchanged notes with Indian officials on all those involved in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane in Kathmandu.

When Northern Alliance soldiers marched into Kabul after the fall of the Taliban, they found Indian Airlines boarding passes from a house suspected to be used by al Qaida activists.

The Indian officials are hoping that if Pakistan is persuaded to extradite Omar to the US, the case for the handover of Masood Azhar, who was also freed during the hijack crisis, could brighten. But Pakistan has already ruled out turning over any of its nationals. Masood is a Pakistani citizen.

Another twist was added to the handover tussle with Advani claiming today that he had raised the issue of an extradition treaty with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf on the eve of the Agra summit.

Advani said Musharraf had agreed on a treaty but backtracked the moment the name of Dawood Ibrahim, suspected mastermind of the Bombay blasts and believed to be in Karachi till recently, was mentioned. The home minister said he had told Musharraf that Dawood and some of the other Bombay blasts accused were staying in official residences and travelling in limousines.

Indian intelligence agencies believe that Dawood had been asked to leave Pakistan after the anti-terrorism heat began piling up on the Musharraf regime.

   

 
 
DIPLOMAT ADVANI DEMOLISHES LABEL 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Jan. 19: 
L.K. Advani, whose political profile is inseparable from the Ayodhya movement, today lived up to his newfound role of globetrotting diplomat by making his first serious effort to reach out to the minorities.

Flanked by clerics and intellectuals, Advani attacked Pakistan at a function organised by the Islamic Council of India but took care to make it clear that his criticism was not a reflection on Muslims living in India.

Among those present were the vice-chancellors of the Jamia Millia Islamia and Hamdard universities, the shahzada nasheens (head priests) of the Dargah Nizamuddin and Ajmer Sharief, as well as diplomats from Islamic countries.

Describing the December 13 attack on Parliament as a “turning point for India”, he said the war against terrorism was not between Christians and Muslims or Hindus and Muslims but between a “civilised society and barbarians”.

“In the eyes of Islam, the killings of innocents was a sin and a crime,” Advani said. Pointing out that India had more Muslims than Pakistan, he said that despite the terrorist strikes and the border tension, Hindus and Muslims were living peacefully.

He also appreciated the increasing participation of Muslims in the anti-terrorism campaign in India — the most vital “test” of nationalism from the Sangh parivar’s point of view.

The head priest of Dargah Khwaja Nizamuddin reciprocated Advani’s sentiment by admitting that clerics had “failed” to educate the people on the real meaning of Islam. Islamic Council chairman Qazi Mohammad Mian Mazhari asserted that Indian Muslims would not allow Pakistan to succeed in its designs in Kashmir, which he called a “symbol of Indian secularism”.

Within the BJP, it is an accepted fact that Advani is Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “natural successor”. But there were doubts whether he would be accepted by a coalition of ideologically disparate entities or, for that matter, by the liberal sections because of his hawkish image.

Even the BJP had appeared convinced there was little point in projecting him as a minority-friendly leader as his image of a Hindutva hardliner had raised what seemed like a well-entrenched mental block among the minorities against him. Today, however, the home minister himself indicated he was ready to shed the ideological baggage of the past.

In his Nagpur declaration of 2000, former BJP chief Bangaru Laxman had described Muslims as the “blood of our blood and the flesh of our flesh”. This was perceived as the first serious realisation on the BJP’s part that it would not help to alienate a community that accounted for nearly 16 per cent of the population.

But the speech did not go down well with Advani loyalists, who felt Laxman had alienated the party’s traditional supporters.

After Laxman’s exit, the Nagpur message was buried. The hardline-versus-moderation polemics continued to rage, with one section being of the view that issues like the Ram temple should be kept alive in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh elections.

But Advani’s presence at a Muslim function is a sign that for the moment, moderation is likely to prevail in the BJP’s political responses.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Max: 29.9°C (+3)
Min: 18.8°C (+5)

Relative humidity

Maximum: 98%
Minimum: 52%

Rainfall

Nil

Sunset: 5.10 pm

Sunrise: 6.25 am

Today

Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of morning fog in some parts
   
 

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