<%-- Page Title--%> Newsnotes <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 141 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

February 13, 2004

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Nuke Khan Dropped, but Escapes the Noose
From Pakistan's source of pride to a perpetrator in nuclear pilferage, and lastly the declaration of clemency, such is the fate of Abdul Qadeer Khan. The government's decision to sack the man who was the engineer of nation's nuclear might, showed a volatile side of the President Pervez Musharraf's government. Falling prey to the big brotherly shove from the other side of the Atlantic, Musharraf's regime has carried out a probe into the six scientists involvement in the nuclear scam.

The fate of the darling of the regime flipped when Abdul Qadeer Khan was found connected to an alleged nuclear scam. First the accusation gained ground and then the top scientist gave in. He along with five of his colleagues sold nuclear weapon technology to countries like Iran and Libya. To prove this, a probe was launched in November 2003 when Iran provided information to the UN nuclear watchdogs. Khan, whose contribution has given Pakistan a formidable standing against their Goliath of a foe that is India, has been the unblemished icon of nationalism in his homeground. After he and one of his top aide, Mohammed Farooq, failed to account for the money in personal bank accounts, their case took a serious tern. At first, Khan and his associates denied the allegation saying that they were not involved in such proliferation of nuclear knowledge. However, putting a full stop to all speculation, Khan himself met with Mosharraf on February 4 and confessed his involvement in the scam and then sought clemency. His confession, which he announced on national TV, absolved the Pakistan government of any responsibility. Many Pakistanis and Western diplomats however felt that Khan has been a mere scapegoat. Pakistan's military has strongly denied remarks attributed to a friend of Khan saying that Khan had told investigators that Musharraf was an ally in his act of transferring nuclear know-how to North Korea. Annalysts kept saying that it would be difficult to punish top scientists, as it may trigger nationalist outbursts. Though the Pakistan government at first expressed their firm resolve to try anyone involved in transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, as does the UN and the guardian of non-proliferation of nuclear weapon, the US, Khan was finally granted full clemency.

Hajj Stampede
When the Saudi monarch ordered on February 2 an 'overall plans' to modernise the holy city of Makkah and Medina after 251 pilgrims lost their lives in a stampede, the Saudi Interior Minister Nayeb Bin Abdul Aziz has dubbed this year's Hajj a 'great success' and has also added that 251 people trampled to death during stoning of the devil ritual 'met their fate'. The stampede also left 240 injured. Among the dead there were 40 Bangladeshis. The worst toll of the pilgrimage was in 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims were trampled to death or suffocated in a stampede in a tunnel.

The authority has drawn up a plan to accommodate 1.2 million people, compared to the present capacity of under half a million. The plan envisages an increase in car-parking capacity from the existing 585 spaces to a massive 45,000 vehicles, and to expand the pedestrian from 6,000 square metres to 120,000 square metres. The plan includes ultra modern malls and markets to cover 660,000 square metres. One of the major projects is the 1.6 billion dollar Omar mountain, overlooking the mosque, where several hundred old buildings are due to be cleared. Meanwhile, the future hajis can only hope that all this reconstruction and the redesigning will make their pilgrimage safer.

The Number 119
One hundred and nineteen is the number of abductors in Chittagong. These formidable perpetrators' fate may never take them to the altar of law due to police inaction. With connections in high places, and strong political clout, the abductors are keeping a firm grip on the port city, where businessmen live in constant fear. The police have produced a list of these criminals, who are allegedly linked with the abductions. BNP and Jamaat along with the Awami League, are to share the blame for harbouring these felons. In the abductors' list, names of two of the Honourable people's representatives have surfaced. A Prothom Alo report confirmed that these two were connected with the abduction of Jamaluddin, a businessman. Abul Kashem, the chairman of the union of Kanchannagar of Fatikchari, and Mamunur Rashid, one of the ward commissioners in Chittagong City, are two absconding alleged abductors. The rise in the number of abductions is something that is affecting the lives of every one. Yet there is no solution in sight, as all depend on the political will of all the parties.



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