Reading the Middle Eastern and South Asian Press

Ed's Note: This roundup assembles from regional news sources a collage of headlines and viewpoints that have gone missing in action in the U.S. press.

Saudis Kicked Off Anti-Terror Team

The Pentagon has removed Saudi Arabia from the anti-terror coalition, the Saudi daily Al Watan reported. The daily added that although Washington is pleased with Saudi cooperation in the campaign against terrorism, the Bush administration is concerned about remarks by some Saudi officials suggesting that the United States withdraw its military forces from the kingdom. The recent U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights also was critical of the Saudi record.
(Tehran Times, Tehran, Iran)

India Tampers With 'Terrorist' Family Members' DNA

The government in the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir fudged DNA samples taken from the relatives of five alleged terrorists killed in an encounter in March 2000 to avoid accusations of having killed innocent civilians. The government says the five are members of the now-outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba and were responsible for a massacre of Sikh villagers. But five families in the area claimed that the bodies actually belonged to their missing relatives. The DNA from the families was sent to a laboratory to be matched against the DNA from the bodies, but officials apparently tampered with the DNA to make sure there was no match with the alleged terrorists. Three of the DNA samples from women relatives turned out to be from men. Lab tests revealed the tampering; tests also showed that the DNA did not match anyway.
(The Times of India, New Delhi, India)

U.S. Bombing Pushes More Refugees to Pakistan

Heavy U.S. bombardment in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan has sparked a fresh exodus of Afghan refugees. An estimated 300-500 refugees are entering Pakistan daily via unfrequented routes in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. Many of the new arrivals had fled to Pakistan before and had recently returned to Afghanistan. Some, however, are fleeing to Pakistan for the first time from northern Afghanistan, which has been seeing a rise of ethnic tension.
(The News International, Karachi, Pakistan)

Jordan Detains Islamic Activists in Palestinian Camps

The Jordanian security services have detained dozens of Islamic activists suspected of being supporters of Jihad in the Al-Salt and Al-Baqa'a camps for Palestinian refugees. These detentions come one week after the explosion of a bomb that was aimed against the head of an official anti-terrorism department in the Jordanian intelligence services. Meanwhile, the Yemeni authorities detained three Yemenis and one Somali suspected of belonging to al Qaeda. A Yemeni security official who refused to disclose his name said that the Yemeni security services managed, during the past week, to arrest 58 wanted persons, all of whom were Arab.
(Al Jazeera Television, Doha, Qatar)

Israeli Attacks Crush Palestinian Economy

Israel is trying to destroy the Palestinian economy to impoverish the Palestinian people in a bid to force them to capitulate, says the Arab Monetary Fund. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip is now running at 80 percent. More than 150,000 Palestinians lost their jobs when Israel barred Palestinian workers from entering Israel, and 200,000 Palestinians have become unemployed as a result of the destruction of factories and service establishments. Infant mortality is three times the rate in Israel. Promised foreign aid has also slipped from $274 million in 1999 to $137 million in 2000.
(Gulf News, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Wife of Alleged Pearl Killer Arrested

The wife of one of the suspects in the murder of Danny Pearl has been arrested. Police went to arrest Amjad Hussain Farooqi at his in-laws' house, but found he was not home. So they instead arrested his wife and searched several houses in the village. Villagers said they had not seen Farooqi in years.
(Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan)

Pakistani Fighters Turn Up in Macedonia

At least two of seven men killed by Macedonia police in a recent clash were Pakistani nationals who fought in Afghanistan. Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski said the men came to the Balkans from Afghanistan. Police say the men were part of an international terror network trying to foment tensions between orthodox Macedonians and Albanian Muslims. The men all carried Arab identification cards and were in their 20s.
(Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan)


Palestinians May Focus Attacks on Occupied Territories

Are Palestinians targeting Israelis in the occupied territories rather than Israel itself? Recent attacks on Israeli settlements and army checkpoints led a Fatah leader to say that while there was no decision to target Israeli occupation specifically, "it is a trend, and a healthy one." Hussam Khader opposes targeting Israeli citizens inside Israel, even if Israel attacks Palestinian civilians. He believes attacking only soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza creates "divisions in Israeli society" and weakens an anti-Palestinian "consensus of fear" forming all over Israel. But some Palestinian leaders say the "1948 lands" are no less occupied than the "1967 lands," and are legitimate targets as well.
(Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo, Egypt)

Chechnya Still A Sore Point in U.S.-Russian Relations

U.S.-Russian cooperation after Sept. 11 led to speculation that one of the most public areas of disagreement between the two countries, Chechnya, would cease to be an issue, with Russia's campaign there merging into the war on terrorism. President Bush even announced that there were al Qaeda terrorists in Chechnya. But now the U.S. State Department has said that human rights violations continue in Chechnya and has criticized Russian sweeps there. The British Foreign Office met with a representative of the Chechens in January. Putin's critics are also claiming his support for the war has yielded Russia nothing. They point out that America has set up bases in Central Asia, has withdrawn from the ABM treaty and is still expanding NATO.
(Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo, Egypt)

Lebanon Won't Be Pressured by U.S. on Hezbollah

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri says Hezbollah occupies a "unique position" in Lebanon. In response to Washington's demand that Hezbollah's assets be frozen, Hariri said that has not been done, but that discussions are continuing around the issue. He said friendly relations with the United States did not obligate Lebanon to agree to all American demands. In other comments, he said the proposed Saudi peace plan could be a complete and lasting solution and that it does address the issue of Palestinian refugees. He said its call for full application of U.N. resolutions 194, 242, and 338 imply the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
(Al Jazeera Television, Doha, Qatar)

Sandip Roy is associate editor at Pacific News Service and host of "Upfront" -- a weekly radio program on KALW-FM San Francisco.
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