Musharraf to be made part of Benazir probe

Updated 26 April 2013
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Musharraf to be made part of Benazir probe

ISLAMABAD: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi yesterday ordered former President Pervez Musharraf to be made part of the investigation into former Premier Benazir Bhutto assassination case.
It was the first time that the former military ruler appeared before the anti-terrorist court over Bhutto’s murder.
During the hearing, the court granted him the permission to meet his lawyers and also allowed him a 15-minute meeting with his lawyers inside the court premises.
Further, the court admitted the former president’s request regarding unfreezing of his assets and bank accounts for hearing. It also issued a notice to the FIA in this regard.
Musharraf also objected to being declared wanted by the authorities and the ATC decided to discuss the matter in the next hearing. Musharraf argued that since he had surrendered, he should not be declared “wanted.”
Later in the day, Pakistani police say they have defused a car bomb near the house of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Islamabad police chief Bani Amin says the explosive-laden vehicle was found parked about 150 meters from the main gate of Musharraf’s house on the capital’s outskirts.
Meanwhile‚ counsel for Pervez Musharraf Ibrahim Satti advocate has said that putting the name of his client on the ECL is the violation of fundamental rights.
He said that his client’s mother is ill in Dubai and he wants to go abroad.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said if Musharraf wants to proceed abroad he should file an application and a decision will be made in this regard.
The court also directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete the investigation process and present the challan on this count before it till May, 3.
Pervez Musharraf has been granted bail till April, 24 in this case. During the previous hearing, ATC Rawalpindi had summoned Pervez Musharraf and other co-accused in Benazir killing case. Court had already issued final arrest warrant of former president in this case.
On March, 29, Sindh High Court (SHC) had extended preventive bail in respect of Pervez Musharraf in 3 cases including Benazir assassination case and imposed ban on his leaving the country without permission.
Musharraf is facing the charges of not providing desired security to Benazir Bhutto, conspiring to kill Nawab Akbar Bugti, proclaiming emergency in the country on Nov., 3, 2007 and placing 60 judges of superior judiciary including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry under house arrest following the slapping of emergency order.
Earlier, Musharraf was driven to the court in Rawalpindi from his plush villa on the edge of Islamabad where he is serving a two-week arrest order.
Musharraf is accused of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of a barrage of legal cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.
Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, scuffles broke out between lawyers and Musharraf supporters, who threw stones and beat each other with sticks outside the court building.
About 150 lawyers shouted in protest against the former president, while two dozen supporters chanted “Long live Musharraf!” “Today it was routine hearing of Benazir murder case and General Musharraf appeared for the first time in this case,” his lawyer Salman Safdar.
Musharraf spent around 15 minutes in court and then another 15 minutes with his lawyer, before being driven back to his Chak Shahzad residence on the outskirts of Islamabad, which has been declared as a sub-jail.
The court while adjourning the next hearing of the case until May 3, also ordered for Musharraf to be made part of investigations.


Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

Afghan children fill canisters with water from a water pump outside their temporary homes on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Files/AFP
Updated 47 min 38 sec ago
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Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

  • Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought
  • More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces

KABUL: Rain and snow are as important as peace for Afghanistan. But the landlocked and mountainous country this year had its lowest rainfall for years, causing widespread drought and leaving 2 million people facing food shortages.
Livestock in many areas have died, and some farmers have been forced to send their herds for pasture to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Thousands of people have left their homes already due to water shortages, with fears that the situation will worsen in autumn, Afghan and UN officials say.
Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces, including the northern region — Afghanistan’s food basket — have been badly affected, they said.
The aid-reliant Afghan government has begun delivering aid to affected areas. But assistance will be needed for months to come. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rapid action was needed to enable delivery of food and water. More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces, it said.
“Drought is gripping large parts of Afghanistan, with more than 2 million people expected to become severely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance for survival,” OCHA said.
“A quick, comprehensive response will enable the delivery of food and water to the rural villages and help to avoid the migration of families to cities where they risk losing all of their few possessions, and where they lack shelter and access to health facilities and schools for their children,” it said.
Water points and fountains across the country have dried up, and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dry up, the organization said.
About 1.5 million goats and sheep in northeast regions are struggling to find food and more than half of the 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from lack of water.
Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought, limiting communities’ access to markets.
In Helmand, village elders reportedly need to obtain special approval from the armed groups to access markets in areas under government control.
In Uruzgan province, people often cannot access the main market in Tirinkot due to fighting and insecurity on the roads to the provincial capital. Following a temporary closure of the road to neighboring Kandahar province in April due to fighting, wheat prices went up by 50 percent in the city, and the price for fresh produce quadrupled within days.
Engineer Mohammed Sediq Hassani, chief of planning in the government’s Disaster Management Department, said the drought has directly and indirectly taken the lives of dozens of people.

“The impact of drought in terms of taking lives is intangible and slow. An indirect impact can be the recent floods, which claimed the lives of 73 people. Floods happen when there is a drought because of the change of the climate,” he told Arab News.