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

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 142 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

February 21 2004

<%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>

Thou Shalt not Lie

The Home Minister (HM) Altaf H. Chowdhury's much-publicised Jihad against listed criminals has so far resulted in nothing. Instead of arresting criminals and curbing corruption, the HM has turned his hounds on the opposition. Last Thursday, during an opposition-called dawn to dusk strike, the Hmís faithful had mercilessly beaten up the opposition workers near the Dainik Bangla crossing. Two opposition leaders, including an MP, Ahsanullah Master, were wounded. While the newspapers carried the photographs showing police lathi-charge on the leaders, the HM, with his characteristic bombast, denied any police action. "The Awami League leaders were not injured by police personnel, rather they hurt themselves by falling on the road in a melee during hartal hours," reasons Altaf.

People have lost faith in police long ago; the HM was no exception either. But the HM himself has never lied before in such a brazen way, not even in the Parliament.

Ershad Barred

Former President Ershad seems to have become a convenient target of harassment (for political reasons) of the successive governments. Some days back he along with his wife Bidisha was barred from going abroad at what the immigration officials termed "instruction from higher authorities". Later when Jatiya Party MPs wanted to know reason behind this government action in the Parliament, Salauddin Kader Chowdhury, Advisor to Prime Minister, came up with a very interesting explanation. The reason for barring Ershad is the same as it was in the case when Morshed Khan, the present Foreign Minister and myself were not allowed to go abroad during Ershad's regime." The indication is clear since Ershad didn't allow them to go abroad they are now doing the same to Ershad. Strange arguments for someone no less than that of an advisor to the PM. It seems government actions are guided by personal vendetta, than anything else.

FBCCI Blasts the Government

Leaders of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) have come down heavily on the government. The FBCCI blamed the 'culture of conflict for deterioration of law and order. The apex business body condemned the killing, looting and extortion and other forms of adversaries that the business community are facing across the country. They are aggrieved and are concerned ever the deteriorating situation that are resulting from political squabbling between the major political rivals of the country.

Abdul Awal Mintoo, president of the FBCCI, after a meeting of the board of directors at the office of the apex business body of the country last week said, "All countrymen are frustrated and aggrieved over the over all situation of the country." e also said that immediate steps need to be taken to rescue both from this adversarial situation. "We want security of over lives and assets," he added.

The business leaders observed that the government has the responsibility to provide security to the countries traders.

When the Police are away the Extortionists Play

The Daily Star reports a new strategy employed by extortionists to kill or abduct businessmen when they refuse to pay toll or to extract ransom money. Between January 20 and February 14, nine businessmen have been killed in Dhaka and the law enforcers have done little about their murders. In cases where victims have or their relatives been spared their lives, they have been beaten up mercilessly. Incidentally, during the Eid holidays a huge robbery had taken place at Karnaphuli Market. The robbers stole about 10 crore Taka of gold and cash. An association of businessmen in this industry observed a protest-strike and announced that they would stop paying taxes if the authorities did not do anything to recover the losses. But the latest spat of murders has created extreme panic among the business community. The report quotes a hardware trader at Nawabpur: "I would prefer paying the extortionists a fixed amount in toll to going to police to seek action as they cannot ensure I will be alive after refusing to pay toll."

Human Cloning -- Not Such a Good Idea Says the U.S.

The first successful cloning of a human embryo and the extraction of stem cells from it has provoked new calls from a ban on all forms of human cloning in the U.S. reports AP. South Korean scientists have announced successfully cloning although strictly for therapeutic reasons. The American Congress and church leaders, however, consider any form of human cloning for whatever reason, to be unethical and therefore, must be banned.

Crossing Over to the Enemy

An American soldier Ryan Anderson was arrested for his alleged links to Al Qaeda. Anderson who recently converted to Islam, has been accused of giving intelligence to the Al-Qaeda in violation of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

Musharraf Speaks Out

At long last President Pervez Musharraf has admitted that some anti-government activity in Afghanistan was being carried out from over the border in Pakistan. Now, Islamabad promises to take steps to stop this.

Musharraf came up with an interesting conclusion last week: "Certainly everything (within Afghanistan) is not happening from Pakistan, but something is happening from Pakistan". He was addressing at the National Defense College in Islamabad on February 12.

Kabul has frequently complained that anti- government rebels use Pakistani tribal territory across the border as a sanctuary and springboard for launching attacks inside Afghanistan.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of Pakistani troops have remained deployed along the porous border since early 2002 to stop infiltration of Al-Qaiada and Taliban fighters into the country's tribal territory from Afghanistan.

More than 500 fugitives have been captured over the period and Pakistani troops have carried out regular operations in the tribal region to flush out intruders hiding in the rugged region with support from local sympathisers.



(C) Copyright The Daily Star. The Daily Star Internet Edition, is published by The Daily Star