Obama’s whirlwind tour of SE Asia begins
Obama’s whirlwind tour of SE Asia begins
Obama touched down in Air Force One in Bangkok, sending a message that relationships like the six-decades-old treaty alliance with Thailand will form the bedrock of US diplomacy as the region warily eyes a rising China.
Obama will today become the first sitting US president to visit formerly isolated Myanmar. He will praise President Thein Sein for ending a dark era of junta rule, but also prod him to go much further towards genuine democracy.
Then, in a stark illustration of how far Myanmar has come, the US leader will stand side-by-side with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi at the lakeside villa where his fellow Nobel laureate languished for years under house arrest.
After a 19-hour journey from Washington, Obama first paid homage to Thailand’s ancient history.
“What a peaceful place,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the president, who remarked that they were having a “treat” because the normally crowded tourist attraction had been cleared for their visit.
Then Obama called at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok for an audience with revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, seen as a symbol of continuity for a kingdom with a turbulent political past.
Obama and Clinton greeted and shook hands with the frail monarch, who turns 85 next month.
After talks with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra focusing on trade, regional politics, counter-narcotics issues and terrorism, Obama held a joint press conference with her.
His visit to Asia, coming just 12 days after he won re-election, is the latest manifestation of his determination to anchor the United States in a dynamic, fast-emerging region he sees as vital to its future.
The Hawaii-born US president is making his fifth official visit to the region, where he spent four years as a boy in Indonesia, and is diving back into foreign policy after a year spent on the campaign trail.
The stop in Myanmar will be rich in symbolism, not least when he gives a speech at Yangon University, where restive students stoked revolt repeatedly over five decades of military rule.
The White House hopes Obama’s visit to Myanmar will boost Thein Sein’s reform drive, which saw Suu Kyi enter parliament after her rivals in the junta made way for a nominally civilian government — albeit in a system still stacked heavily in favour of the military.
Officials say that Obama will encourage the regime to double down on more reform, and that his influence could be important at a crucial moment in Myanmar’s emergence from decades of isolation and repression.
The United States yesterday scrapped a nearly decade-old ban on most imports from the country, after earlier lifting other sanctions.
Today, Obama will fly to Cambodia, and a likely tense encounter over human rights with Prime Minister Hun Sen, ahead of the East Asia Summit, the main institutional focus of his pivot of US foreign policy to the region.
On the summit’s sidelines, Obama will meet China’s outgoing premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, whose relations with Beijing have frayed because of rival territorial claims.
Rao Anwar found ‘responsible’ of Naqeeb Mehsud’s murder
- Suspended police superintendent responsible for death of Naqeeb Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model, in fake police encounter in Karachi
- The suspended officer has challenged the constitution of JIT sans representatives of intelligence agencies, armed forces
KARACHI: Rao Anwar, who was remanded in custody on Saturday, has been found responsible for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model from the country’s tribal region.
Mehsud was killed in a fake police encounter on Jan. 12 this year.
“Rao Anwar has been found guilty,” a senior official who is part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing Anwar, told Arab News.
The apex court on March 24 had formed a JIT headed by Aftab Ahmed Pathan, Additional IG Sindh, to probe the incident. The JIT comprised Waliullah Dal, Additional IG Special Branch; Azad Ahmed Khan, DIG South; Zulfiqar Larik, DIG East; and Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, SSP Central Karachi.
The official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News that the JIT report will be produced in the court once signed by all of its members.
Anwar was presented today before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday which sent him on judicial remand to prison till May 2, prosecutor Zafar Solangi told Arab News.
When asked for a comment upon his appearance at the ATC, Anwar said: “I have challenged the JIT and I don’t accept its findings.”
He further claimed: “I have not recorded any statement before this JIT.”
On April 5, Anwar filed a petition praying for the inclusion of representatives of “the intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces.”
Anwar claimed that the inclusion of the members from intelligence agencies and armed forces was required by law.
The police officer was brought to the court amid tight security arrangements, where he was produced along with 11 other accused.
Investigation officer, SSP Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, who is also part of the JIT probing the incident, told the court that investigations are underway and the JIT’s report will be presented before the court once it was finalized. He sought a week for the submission of the report.
Anwar was given into 30-day police custody upon the last court hearing.
Anwar, who is accused of killing Mehsud in a fake police encounter, claims that the slain Pashtun model was an active member of banned terrorist outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). However, the evident subsequently began to pile up against the police team involved in his killing.
Following the incident, a formal inquiry was launched against Anwar. As pressure mounted on him, he decided to go underground and even made a botched attempt to fly out of Pakistan.
He also wrote a few letters to the Supreme Court after the top court began a suo motu hearing of Naqeebullah’s murder, telling the judges that the system was heavily stacked against him and he was not hopeful of getting any justice in the case.
In response, the country’s top court decided to grant him some relief, asking him to surrender himself and let the law take its course.
The court was also willing to reconstitute a joint investigation team to look into Naqeebullah’s killing since the absconding police officer had voiced concern over its composition.
Authorities froze Anwar’s accounts after his repeated non-appearance before the court.
In a surprise move last month, the absconding police officer came to the court in a white car. He was clad in a black dress and wore a medical mask to cover his face.
Anwar’s lawyer told the chief justice that his client had “surrendered” and wanted protective bail. However, the Supreme Court turned down the request and ordered the law enforcement authorities to lock up the former SSP.