Reading the Middle Eastern and South Asian Press

Editor'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.

Border Truce Possible in Kashmir

Pakistan Today, Fontana, Calif.

Pakistan's jehadi groups are in disarray and coming under intense pressure to end cross-border terrorism, according to the Pakistan Observer. They may end up calling for a conditional truce in Kashmir soon. They would reserve the right to resort to armed struggle if there was no acceptable solution to the Kashmir problem in six months. They hope this will shift pressure for a solution to New Delhi. However, some mujahideen groups are saying Islamabad is betraying them, the way it betrayed the Taliban.

Israel Seeks to Replace Palestinian Authority
Al Jazeera Television, Doha, Qatar

The Palestinian minister of local government said that Israel seeks to destroy the Palestinian Authority and establish an Israeli civilian administration in its place. The Israeli government could then find local Palestinian leaders who would help them govern the West Bank, bringing it back to a pre-1993 Oslo Agreement status when the Palestinians were directly governed by Israel. According to the minister, Israel's daily incursions into the West Bank and imposition of curfews indicated it had no intention to give back the West Bank towns to the Palestinian Authority.

Syria Grilled in U.N. on Terror Groups
Albawaba.com, Amman, Jordan


Syria, the current U.N. Security Council leader, was put on the spot recently when Israel urged the council to demand that the Arab nation stop supporting Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said Syria's support of "terrorist groups" was against the Security Council's own resolutions. Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for a recent suicide attack that killed 17 in northern Israel. The group is based out of Damascus. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Syria hosts no fewer than 10 terrorist organizations.

Iran Ups Aid to Islamic Jihad
Albawaba.com, Amman, Jordan

Iran will boost financial aid to the group Islamic Jihad by 70 percent, according to the Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Ramadan Shallah, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, met with Iran's spiritual leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Islamic Jihad has recently claimed credit for some suicide attacks in Israel. Iran has decided to increase funding for several Palestinian resistance groups. Last year, a dispute broke out between Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah over funding by Iran.

Fleeing Pakistanis Turned Back by Iran
Albawaba.com, Amman, Jordan

Forty Pakistanis fleeing their country were rejected by Iran's border police in the Sistan-Baluchistan province. Iranian state radio reported that the Pakistanis were turned back, but did not elaborate on why they were fleeing. It said Pakistani authorities confirmed the information. Iran has increased security along its borders to prevent an influx of Afghan refugees as well as infiltration by al Qaeda fighters.

London: Jewish Youths Attack Son of Saudi Ambassador
Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

In London, the son of the Saudi Ambassador to England was beaten up by Jewish youths. Twelve Jews with baseball bats, bottles and Israeli flags beat the young man and four friends who were wearing Palestinian scarves, according to Ambassador Ghazi Algosaibi. Asked if he would encourage his son to carry out a "martyrdom attack," the ambassador said, "I would not oppose it but I would tell him it was his decision." Revival of Israeli Left?

Palestine Chronicle, Mountlake, Washington

Former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin has reportedly launched a new political movement to rally the divided Israeli political left on a platform of peace with the Palestinians. The new Shahar (Dawn) Movement will promote a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and evacuation of Israeli settlements. Beilin said the Labor party could not lead the peace camp as long as its leaders remained in the Sharon cabinet. He said Labor leaders who served in the current cabinet had damaged the peace process.

Ex-Prisoners Tell of Horrors in Afghan Jails
The Friday Times, Lahore, Pakistan

Two groups of Pakistanis arriving home in April and May from Afghan prisons gave details of their ordeal. The prisoners were tortured and deprived of food and water. Food consisted of a piece of bread or a little rice in 24 hours. Many of them were suffering from consumption, diarrhea and infections. Prisoners died of suffocation because of overcrowding. Their Uzbek captors also forcibly stripped and raped many of the young boys who were imprisoned. They were mostly young rural men who had been urged by local clerics to join the "jihad."

U.S. Envoy: Al Qaeda Can't Hide in Pakistan
The News International, Karachi

The United States is determined to eliminate al Qaeda in Pakistan with the same determination with which it fought the terror network in Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, said, "Afghanistan is no longer the headquarters of the al Qaeda." He said the United States would wipe them out in Waziristan (in northwest Pakistan) or anywhere else in Pakistan where they might be hiding. Pakistan's foreign ministry refused comment on whether this would mean independent coalition troops launching operations on Pakistani soil.

Pakistani Party Says Musharraf Referendum Rigged
The News International, Karachi, Pakistan,

The Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan is alleging that the April 30 referendum on President Musharraf in Pakistan was rigged. In a white paper, it said the fake numbers for the turnout were achieved by printing 130 million ballots whereas Pakistan only has about 70 million eligible voters. The Jamaat-e-Islami said government servants and detainees in jails were forced to vote yes. It estimated the real turnout at about 3 percent.

Muslims Blast U.S. Fingerprinting Plan
Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

New U.S. plans to fingerprint and photograph visitors from certain countries have been denounced in the Islamic world. In Malaysia, political scientist Chandra Muzaffar said the measures would not help the United States deal with terrorism, but just increase resentment. A Bahraini banker planning to fly to the United States said, "This will surely make us feel like criminals." An Iranian homemaker said, "I would never even try to go to the U.S., I cannot tolerate being insulted."


PNS Associate Editor Sandip Roy (sandiproy@hotmail.com) is host of "Upfront" -- the Pacific News Service weekly radio program on KALW-FM, San Francisco.

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