Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pakistan arrests six more in SLanka team attack

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani police said Tuesday they had arrested another six alleged plotters over the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team that cost the country its World Cup hosting rights.

Six policemen and two civilians were killed and seven Sri Lankan players injured when militants launched a gun and grenade assault on the team as they travelled to a match in the eastern city on March 3, 2009.

Lahore city police chief Aslam Tareen said the latest arrests were made in different swoops in central Punjab province, but gave no precise dates.

“We have arrested six people, they were actively involved in the attack on the Sri Lankan team. They belonged to the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan),” Tareen told a news conference on the eve of the hotly-anticipated cricket World Cup semi-final between arch rivals India and Pakistan in Mohali, India.

The arrests followed the interrogation of two other suspects, already held in connection with the attack, he said.

The detainees were presented at the news conference, their faces covered in masks, but did not speak. Police also displayed four assault rifles, one suicide vest and eight hand grenades allegedly seized from the suspects.

“They told interrogators that they belonged to TTP and the plot was hatched in the tribal Waziristan region,” Tareen said.

Their motive was to take the Sri Lankan team hostage, he said.

Up to 12 gunmen were believed to have taken part in the assault on the bus carrying the Sri Lankan players from hotel to the stadium. They all escaped.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Libya: Qadafi must step down


The US State Department has called on Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi to step down, saying he had lost legitimacy when he turned guns on his own people.

US State Department spokesman Mark C Toner spoke to journalists in South Asia via an audio link on Friday, saying an unfolding humanitarian crisis in eastern Libya had been averted by quick and decisive action. “We call on Qaddafi to step down,” Toner said, but added that the current Nato-led air strikes were not to bring about a regime change but to protect Libyan civilians.

“UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is not about Qaddafi leaving power. It is about direct humanitarian assistance and relief and protection of civilians who are under attack in eastern Libya,” Toner stressed, but added: “We are going to seek to bring pressure on Qaddafi and we’ve done that already.”

When asked by The Express Tribune if sanctions or ground troops were on the cards, Toner said an arms embargo was already in place and Nato was allowed to board ships and ensure that Qaddafi’s arms supply was also cut down.

“The goal is to completely isolate him until his only choice is a stark one; that he steps down from power and allows a peaceful transition to take place,” Toner said.

Toner said the situation remained fluid in Libya but an emerging opposition in Libya was increasingly more coherent. “We need to understand their needs and their aspirations,” Toner said, adding that it was up to the Libyans to decide.

He repeatedly stressed that the enforcement of a no-fly zone over eastern Libya had averted a humanitarian crisis, especially in the eastern city of Benghazi, where, Toner said, 700,000 civilians had been warned by Qaddafi in an edict that they would receive “no mercy.”

Toner said he was not aware of any confirmed civilian casualties in the air strikes by coalition forces, adding he was aware of the Libyan regime’s claims in this regard.

The State Department spokesman said the US acted in concert with key allies and a transition to a broader coalition with Arab participation was underway, with the UAE sending in 12 planes to enforce the no-fly zone.

“We have a strong coalition. It’s an international effort in which Nato has command and control capability and has taken control,” Toner said, adding that support for UNSC Resolution 1973 came after a plea from the Arab League. “It’s up to each country what role they want to play,” he said.

Afridi accuses Indian media of negative campaign

Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, captain Shahid Afridi and Asad Shafiq (L-R) run during a cricket practice session ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final match against India on Wednesday in Mohali March 28, 2011

KARACHI: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi accused the Indian media on Monday of conducting a negative campaign against his team before Wednesday’s eagerly anticpated World Cup semi-final in Mohali.

“There is so much negativity in the Indian media. There is nothing positive to watch on the channels and we are just sticking together as a team and it is just the hotel and ground for us,” Afridi told the Geo News channel.

“The only answer we can give is with our performance. We will try to give 110 percent in this big match. Everyone knows how big a match this is and the pressures that come with it. But we will just do our best whatever the result. After the match we just want to be content in our hearts we gave our best,” added Afridi.

Afridi also said Pakistan were considering playing their controversial fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar.

“I also want him to play but we have not taken a final decision as yet. And we have to take into consideration his match fitness and his form which we will see in the nets,” Afridi said.

“We want him in such a high-profile match but we don’t want him for just four or five overs, we want him to bowl his full quota of overs,” he added.

Pakistan has not played Akhtar, who has announced his decision to retire after the World Cup, since they lost to New Zealand in the pool matches.

Afridi played down his remarks about not allowing Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar to score runs in the semi-final.

“The Indian media has treated this negatively. There is never any doubt about Tendulkar’s greatness. But if someone approaches me and asks me about him obviously as Pakistan captain I will not say we will allow him to score runs I will say we will ensure he doesn’t get his 100th international century,” Afridi said.

The Pakistan skipper felt the dew factor would play an important role.

“Yes, there is a lot of dew in the evenings but they are using chemicals to counter it. But it is a factor we will have to take into consideration at the toss,” he said.

He also expressed disappointment at remarks from Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik about the government keeping a close watch on the players in the semi-final because of last year’s spot-fixing scandal.

“I don’t think he should have said such a thing at such a time,” Afridi said.

Zero-rated status for all exports maintained: Hafeez

KARACHI: The government, following hue and cry from the industrial and trading sectors, has decided to maintain zero-rated status for all the five sectors � textile, leather, surgical, sport goods and carpet.

Federal Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh during a meeting with the business community assured them that this policy would be maintained for at least three years.

It was further decided to have two rates for tax, like, 6.0 percent on selling of yarn and 4.0 percent on any type of value-addition, which would be charged only from unregistered persons on the basis of value of their supply.

Issues pertaining to withholding tax were also resolved by reducing it from 3.5 percent to 1.0 percent on goods and services while federal excise duty will remain zero.

The 17 percent sales tax has been reduced to 4.0 percent on buying of finished and semi-finished products.

With regards to parameters for audit a committee would be formed, for which SRO 509 (I)/ 2007 has been restored.

The finance minister promised to solve all the problems up to the satisfaction of the textile sector.

Hafeez said the International Monetary Fund�s (IMF) conditions had made it imperative to impose taxes across-the-board on all sectors of the economy.

The businessmen expressed their contentions regarding problems due Afghan Transit Trade and multiplicity of taxes, which had seriously affected the backbone of the economy, especially the textile sector.

Dr Hafeez agreed that tax mechanism should be in such a way that the local textile products remain competitive against the smuggled goods under ATT.

He expressed his concern on the inflationary impact of taxes on the poor masses.

He appreciated the uniqueness of the textile sector, which was responsible for 60 percent of exports and 42 percent of the urban employment.

The finance minister understood the problems being faced by the textile sector due to the ATT and that any mode of front loading in form of sales tax on textile sector should result in lowering the costs of smuggled goods making them more viable.

The stakeholders were satisfied at the win-win situation as well as the textile sector expressed their profound gratitude to the finance minister and the government.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Salman Siddique, former FBR chairman Abdullah Yousuf, FBR Revenue Division Additional Secretary Asrar Raouf and members of the revenue council were present.

Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman Jawed Bilwani, former KCCI vice president Haroon Agar, Pakistan Chemicals and Dyes Merchants Association Chairman Maqsood Butt, APTMA Chairman Usman from Pakistan Yarn Merchant Association and Bashir Ali Muhammad from Gul Ahmed Textiles along with other stakeholders from all over Pakistan attended the meeting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SL invites N. Zealand PM for semi-finals

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse on Sunday invited New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to witness the cricket World Cup semi-finals between the two nations on Tuesday, an official said.

Rajapakse asked Key to visit the island after the home team crushed England by 10 wickets on Saturday to reach the World Cup semi-finals that will be played at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium, spokesman Bandula Jayasekera said.

The 1996 champions will tackle New Zealand on Tuesday for a place in the finals. The Black Caps had knocked South Africa out of the World Cup by defeating them by 49 runs on Friday.

Sri Lanka will meet New Zealand for a second time in the current World Cup after their 112 run victory over the Black Caps in their Group A match at the Wankhede Stadium on March 18.

Wi-Fi cars hitting the information superhighway

WASHINGTON: More cars are hitting the information superhighway thanks to new automotive Wi-Fi technology that allows vehicles to become rolling “hot spots.” Analysts say consumers are warming to the notion of more connectivity in their cars, with “apps” for information and entertainment just as they have with their smartphones or tablet computers.

“Initially, putting Internet access in the car sounds like a distraction and frivolous but as time passes it will become a part of our lives and we will feel uncomfortable not having access,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecoms analyst.

“I think this is going to grow into a vibrant sector.” Market research firm iSuppli said it expects a surge in worldwide shipments of car Wi-Fi systems to 7.2 million units by 2017, from just 174,000 in 2010.

Wi-Fi has been around for several years as an aftermarket accessory but many major manufacturers now offer some form of Wi-Fi or are developing it.

Ford has been offering Wi-Fi in selected models since 2010 and some form of Internet access is also offered by many other major automakers including General Motors, BMW, Audi, Saab and Chrysler.

In mid-March, Finnish telecom giant Nokia announced the launch of a Car Connectivity Consortium of 11 companies with common technical standards, including vehicle manufacturers Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Autonet Mobile, a California-based firm that touts itself as the “first Internet-based telematics and applications service platform” for the auto market, has over 10,000 US customers using its CarFi service at $29 a month, said chief executive Sterling Pratz.

The group recently signed agreements with General Motors and Subaru.

Pratz told AFP that consumers are looking for better entertainment options for passengers in their vehicles and use Wi-Fi for videos, gaming and social networking.

“They feel there is a better way to stay entertained in the car compared with the DVD player. They lead a connected lifestyle and when they get in the car they feel disconnected,” he said.

A next step, Pratz said, is other types of applications that can allow parents to monitor speeds of their teen drivers and to find their car if it is stolen.

Autonet, which started in 2005 and has funding from venture capital firms, only operates in the US market but Pratz says he plans talks with European carmakers and is considering Asia as well.

In Europe, Audi is using a system from Marvell Technology and Harman Automotive to create a factory-installed mobile hotspot, allowing up to eight devices to be connected.

“I believe today’s consumers want the convenience of seamless connectivity and live content whenever and wherever they choose – whether in the home, office, classroom or automobile,” said Weili Dai, Marvell’s co-founder and vice president in announcing the system.

“Finally, the car is connected to the rest of our lives.” Saab meanwhile has announced its own system based on Google’s Android operating system, dubbed IQon, touted as “a completely new car infotainment user experience.” The Swedish automaker will allow third-party developers to develop “apps” by accessing 500 signals from different sensors in the vehicle.

“With Saab IQon, there are no limits to the potential for innovation,” said Saab’s Johan Formgren. “We will be inviting the global Android developer community to use their imagination and ingenuity.”Analysts say the market is likely to grow as more applications become available — for entertainment, navigation or even for diagnostics of the automobile.

Yet a key question for developers of the technology is whether to offer Wi-Fi as a separate data system or allow consumers to bring their own.

Ford’s Wi-Fi system called MyFord Touch, which is added to its SYNC connectivity for mobile phones and music players, offers no separate data plan but instead allows consumers to plug in their own devices – smartphones, tablet computers or wireless cards.

This not only allows consumers to avoid a new data fee but enables easier adaption of a rapidly changing market for wireless devices, said Ford spokesman Alan Hall.

“We created the ability for a customer to bring in their 3G and 4G devices, and the car can take that signal and turn it into a Wi-Fi signal for four or five passengers in the car,” Hall told AFP.

Ford expects to have this Wi-Fi system on 80 per cent of its cars sold in North America within four years, Hall said, and is also launching the system globally next year.

Doug Newcomb of the auto research firm said the Ford strategy appears to make more sense rather than asking customers to pay an additional monthly data subscription.

“Several years ago before smartphones and the iPad, (a separate Wi-Fi system) might have made more sense,” Newcomb said.

Security Tigntened for Semi Final between Pakistan and India

MOHALI: Security tigthtened at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Sunday as India training session ahead of the high-profile World Cup semi-final against Pakistan.

Match between the India & Pakistan on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, gained an added security headache Sunday when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani confirmed he will attend Wednesday’s match.

Police were there in greater numbers in and around the ground on Sunday and there were even “media security officers” escorting reporters into the ground.

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, were put through their paces once again by coach Waqar Younis

The India squad arrived for their scheduled training session today, with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh the only notable absentee.

However, it was notable how Sachin Tendulkar, who comes into this game on the back of 99 hundreds, stood away from the fray and opted for the more traditional warm-up method of knocking in a few bats.

Pakistan-India War 2011

Pakistan and India both are the greatest and nuclear powers of Asia, also the both nations are greatest power in the Cricket, as they both proved it by beating Australia (World Champion) in the World cup event after 12years.

Pakistan has won its quarter final match against West Indies by 10 Wickets and target the score in just 21 overs. Pakistani Eagles has lost only one match throughout the tournament, otherwise their performance is remarkable, specially win from Australian team and West indies team.

Although India also qualified for semifinal against Pakistan scheduled on 30-03-2011 at Mohalli, but India has only one match win from a strong side, otherwise he lose or tied his matches against strong side, like the match between England and India was tie.

Now the both neighbor nation will fight their battle in the Cricket ground at Mohalli, and of course the team plays better will wins this match, this match also calls as Mini World Cup final, due to the interest of both nations in this match.

However, any team wins, it should be the win of peace and people of both countries should accept the result of this match heartily and pleasantly, because it is a game.

Shiv Sena Threatend Pakistan for Final

ISLAMABAD: If Pakistan reaches in the final of the Cricket World Cup, they would have to play in Mumbai. However, the leader of the Shiv Sena, issued a threat that, in that situation, it would decide whether or not to allow Pakistan to play the final. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that India should take some kind of action against such threats. After all, all the teams competing in the World Cup should be able to play their matches in an environment free of any fear. Furthermore, if the situation does become one where Pakistan has a decent chance of reaching the final, then the ICC should have the option of shifting the venue to a location where such a threat will not be present.