Imran Khan asks Obama to end US drone attacks

Updated 07 November 2012
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Imran Khan asks Obama to end US drone attacks

GURGAON, India: Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan said Wednesday he hoped President Barack Obama would “give peace a chance” and stop US drone attacks now he had been re-elected.
Khan, leader of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party (PTI), has campaigned for an end to US drone strikes against suspected Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, saying they result in civilian casualties.
“What Pakistan would be hoping for is a de-escalation of violence now in Afghanistan and the drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas,” he told reporters where he was attending the India World Economic Forum.
Khan said that Obama’s first term in office had been “very tough on Pakistan — an increase in drone attacks and a surge in Afghanistan and increased militancy in Pakistan as a result.”
“Now he (Obama) is no longer under the pressure to be re-elected we hope that he will give peace a chance which we so desperately need,” he said.
Khan argues that drone strikes are illegal and counterproductive and last month led thousands of supporters — and some US peace activists — on a march to the edge of Pakistan’s restive tribal districts to protest against them.
The Pakistani politician said he wanted Obama to call a cease-fire in Afghanistan, saying that if Americans do not “get it right it is conceivable that they will leave it in a bigger mess than they found it.”
The White House has said that Washington will gradually hand over security responsibility to the Afghans and eventually withdraw US troops. The US-led NATO force plans to pull out its 100,000 troops by the end of 2014.
Islamist militants have killed thousands of people in Pakistan since 2007, and US officials say the drone strikes are a key weapon in the war on terror.
But peace campaigners condemn them as a breach of international law. Pakistanis call them a violation of sovereignty that breeds extremism, and politicians including Khan say the government is complicit in killing its own people.
Casualty figures are difficult to obtain, but a report commissioned by legal lobby group Reprieve estimated last month that 474 to 881 civilians were among 2,562 to 3,325 people killed by drones in Pakistan between June 2004 and September 2012.


Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

Updated 6 min 8 sec ago
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Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

  • Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday
  • The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation

MOGADISHU: Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has urged troops from two rival provinces to halt their fire after heavy clashes in a disputed northern border region left several dead.
Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday around the border town of Tukaraq in Sool, a disputed desert region claimed by both sides.
“I want to send a plea to the Somalis who are shedding blood in Tukaraq town: I call for an urgent cessation of fire and an end to the bloodshed,” said the president at a mosque on Friday.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the violence without confirming any casualties, although one local elder said troops from both camps had been killed.
“More than 20 soldiers from the two sides died in the clashes and many more were wounded,” Mohamed Hajji Jama told AFP on Friday.
“There is still military tension.”
“The situation is calm now and both forces from the two regions are in their original positions,” said Abdirahman Osman, an elder in another nearby village.
The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation, killing at least 21 people, figures provided by the UN’s OCHA humanitarian arm show.
Fighting had also broken out just before the storm, on May 15, in what local elders said were the heaviest clashes in months, saying unconfirmed reports put the death toll at nearly 30 dead.
According to OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian arm, the bloodshed forced around 10,000 people out of their homes, most of them women and children, and “further (complicated) an already complex humanitarian picture.”