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16

Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid S Hasan on Thursday said Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir were not dropped for the series against England but opted out due to the “mental torture” they are facing after being accused of involvement in the spot-fixing scandal.
    
“We are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further,” Hasan told reporters in London.
    
“Therefore, they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the rest of the matches until their names are cleared,” he added.
    
Hasan also rejected reports that the players are due to be grilled by the Scotland Yard on Thursday and said the three would remain in England for the investigations.
    
“The investigations are on and we will have to wait for the reports. There are no meetings with the Scotland Yard today. They have voluntarily asked for their names not be included in the team. They will definitely remain in England,” he said.
    
Asked whether the passports of the three players had been confiscated by the Scotland Yard, Hasan said, “Their passports are with the team manager.”
    
Hasan said the players’ morale is low but they would not run away from the investigations.
    
“They are here, they are not running away. They are innocent and they are defending their innocence. They are upright young men, in fact one of them (Mohammad Aamir) created a record of taking 50 wickets in the shortest time. We will give them whatever support they might need,” he said.
    
“Serious charges have been levelled against them and they have to defend themselves. They will even go to court to for that. There have been such incidents in the past. You remember what happened between Imran Khan and Ian Botham, Imran won the case,” he added referring to a 1996 instance when Imran defended himself in a libel action brought by Botham and Allan Lamb over ball-tampering.
    
Asked to comment on the News of the World sting operation on a bookie which started the furore and the photographs of the players with the alleged bookmaker, Hasan said, “I have seen many pictures. I have been a journalist all my life. So, I know what pictures mean.”

19

Seeking to broker a Mideast peace agreement that has eluded US presidents for decades, the Obama administration is overseeing the first direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in nearly two years.
After a day and evening in White House talks with President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sit down together Thursday for the first of what American officials hope will be a series of meetings that lead in a year’s time to an agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state.
“This moment of opportunity may not soon come again,” Obama said at the White House Wednesday night.
Obama said he was “cautiously hopeful” about the talks, which begin with dim expectations and have been marred by two shooting attacks against Israelis in as many days.
Mediated at the State Department by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and special Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell, the two leaders’ discussions face numerous obstacles, not least renewed violence and provocations from Israelis and Palestinians opposed to the goal of an independent Palestine and secure Israel.
Gunmen from the militant Palestinian Hamas group, which opposes the talks, killed four Israeli residents of a West Bank settlement on Tuesday as Netanyahu, Abbas and the leaders of Egypt and Jordan convened in Washington. And on Wednesday, hours before the leaders were to eat dinner together at the White House, gunmen wounded two Israelis as they drove in their car in another part of the West Bank. Hamas claimed responsibility for that attack as well.
After the first attack, security forces loyal to Abbas, who heads a moderate government in the West Bank, quickly rounded up 250 Hamas members and supporters. Netanyahu said the violence would not disrupt the talks.
Before the White House dinner with Netanyahu, Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Obama said they all had a stake in the peace efforts as leaders and fathers.
“Do we have the wisdom and the courage to walk the path of peace?” Obama asked in the packed East Room of the White House. Each of the leaders spoke of his hopes for a breakthrough, with the US playing the role of peace broker, but the event was subdued, reflecting broad pessimism about chances of success after nearly two decades of failed peace talks.
Israelis “recognize that another people shares this land with us,” Netanyahu said at the White House on Wednesday. But he said any agreement must guarantee Israel’s security and could not be a repeat of Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon, where territory evacuated was seized by Iran-backed militants who launched further attacks on Israel.
“We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, and we got terror once again. We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel,” he said.
“Seize the moment”
Abbas joined Netanyahu in declaring that it was time to seize the moment. “We don’t want blood to be shed, neither that of Palestinians nor of Israelis. We want peace, we want normal life. We want to live as partners and neighbors,” he said.
But Israel, Abbas added, needs to give the Palestinians tangible signs, including freeing all Palestinian prisoners and freezing all settlement construction on land the Palestinians want for their future state.
The talks will face their first test within weeks, at the end of September, when the Israeli government’s declared slowdown in settlement construction is slated to end.
Palestinians have said a renewal of settlement construction will torpedo the talks. The Israeli government is divided over the future of the slowdown, and a decision to extend it could split Netanyahu’s hawkish coalition. Netanyahu has given no indication so far that it will continue beyond the deadline. Speaking to Clinton on Tuesday, Netanyahu said his government’s decision on a 10-month freeze that would end in September remained in effect.
Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations broke off nearly two years ago, in December 2008, and the Obama administration spent its first 20 months in office coaxing the two sides back to the bargaining table. Despite the success in launching the talks, gaps between the sides are wide, distrust remains after years of violence and deadlock, and expectations are low.
But American officials are hopeful they can at least get the two sides to agree to a second round of talks, likely to be held in the second week of September.
That could be followed by another meeting between Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly near the end of the month in New York. The stated goal is to reach a final peace settlement within one year.
After listening to the Mideast leaders he convened Wednesday night, Obama pronounced himself carefully optimistic. “I am hopeful, cautiously hopeful, but hopeful,” he said.

13

New Delhi: Central Government on Wednesday expressed its willingness to hold talks with any group from the Kashmir Valley wishing to come forward amid indications that it would be soon coming out with a series of measures to address the issue.
Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram on Wednesday said that Central Government is hopeful of re-starting the process of dialogue in the near future in Jammu and Kashmir.
Presenting Home Ministry’s monthly report card, he recalled, that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had convened a meeting of all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir on August 10, 2010, in the wake of violent protests in the State.
Chidambaram said that the highlight of the month was the conference of Director Generals of Police during which he had pointed out that “a political solution must be found to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir.” The Central Government has offered a dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and all political parties and groups.
 “We are concerned that we have not been able to stop the vicious cycle in which that State is caught. However, it is my hope that, in the next few days, we would be able to find that elusive ‘starting point’ from where we could reach out to the protestors, reassure them of their rights and dignity, restore peace and order, redeem the promises made, and re-start the process of dialogue that will lead to a solution.” said Chidambaram.
Presenting the report card of the Ministry today, Chidambaram said: “Our efforts to put an end to the cycle of violence are yet to bear fruit.”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, Omar Abdullah, called on the Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram here on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Omar said that the situation in the state should not be seen only as a law and order problem and political initiatives should be taken at the earliest, sources said.
The Chief Minister urged Chidambaram to take steps in this direction at the earliest like amendments to Armed Forces Special Powers Act and announcing an employment package for its five lakh unemployed youths besides an employment package for surrendered and released militants, sources added.
Omar said the time was ripe for the Centre to implement its assurance of having a political approach on Kashmir as stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minister himself on the floor of the Parliament, sources added.

14

Srinagar: Barring Islamabad district in South Kashmir and Maisuma locality of Srinagar, life across the Valley Wednesday returned to normal on the call of Hurriyat Conference (G).
Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani spearheading the ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign, had last week issued fresh 10 –day-long protest programme calling for street protests and shutdown across the Valley. However, Geelani had given relaxation for a complete day on August 27, September 1 and 3 to allow people to offer congregational Friday prayers and pile us stocks in view of Ramadan.
Reports and eyewitnesses told Press Bureau of India that after remaining paralyzed for four consecutive days due to Hurriyat strike and government curbs, life in Srinagar and most of the parts of the Valley returned to normal this morning.
 All shops, government and private offices, banks and financial institutions, business establishments, school and colleges, petrol pumps across the valley resumed their work. The markets that wore a deserted look in the past days, were bustling with shoppers.
The transport that remained affected due to the curfew, restrictions and strike also returned on almost all the roads and highways.
Many government, semi-government and private banks that resumed business activities after four day gap were over crowded with the customers. A serpentine queue of people could also be witnessed outside the ATM’s.
Choked roads, traffic jams, unruly scenes were witnessed at many places in the city centre as people swarmed to make necessary purchases. Traffic cops had a tough time while regulating traffic at important roads and transaction.
The commuters travelling in the city, particularly through Maulana Azad road, residency road, Hari Singh high and Jehangir chowk faced inconvenience due to frequent traffic jams triggered by the heavy flow of traffic.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed in Miasuma locality of the uptown where a complete shutdown was observed to protest the unprovoked firing on a group of youth by a cop on Monday. Five youth, including Yasir Rafiq, nephew of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik was wounded when a cop allegedly opened fire upon the youth while they were playing carom board game in a lane. The condition of the youth remains critical.
All shops, government offices, schools, coaching centers, banks in the area remained closed as youth staged peaceful demonstrations against the police action. Fearing widespread protests and clashes, forces were withdrawn from the area.
Uneasy calm also prevailed in curfew bound Islamabad district of South Kashmir where as many as seventeen policemen were injured when protesters attacked their van in Nai Basti area last night.
Reports and eyewitnesses said that thousands of well equipped Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and policemen were heavily deployed in Lal Chowk, Reshi Bazar, SK Colony, KP Road, bus stand, Janglat Mandi, Lal Chowk, Cheeni chowk and others areas to enforce curfew for the fourth running day today.
CRPF and police had also erected barricades and laid spools of barbed wire at many places to prevent people from taking out protest marches in the district against the killing of teenager by forces on Monday evening.

14

Srinagar: The state government Wednesday again declined shifting of incarcerated Kashmir High Court Bar Association President, advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom to Kashmir valley while as the lawyer’s body announced to file contempt proceedings against Home Commissioner.
Vice president of KHBA, Advocate Aijaz Baidar, told  that government in its report today informed the High Court about the refusal to shift Mian Qayoom here. The government has cited that the jail buildings in Kupwara were under construction and that shifting Mian Qayoom to the place was a “security risk,” Baider said. 
It was on August 17 last when the government declined for the first time to shift advocate Mian Qayoom from Hirannagar jail to central jail here. Soon after the rejection in August, the Bar association filed a contempt proceeding against the government following which the court directed for the status of the jails in the Valley. The state administration after informed to again reconsider the Mian Qayoom shifting to least occupied Kupwara jail.
Meanwhile, after the development, the Bar Association announced to take recourse of legal measures and have decided to file contempt proceeding against Home Commissioner, advocate Baider said.
With regard to the main case of Mian Qayoom, senior bar member, Zaffar A Shah further argued the matter. The court has now listed the case for further arguments on coming Friday. 
The Home Commissioner is also learnt to have rejected the representation over the arrest of advocate Mian Qayoom on “mala fide considerations”. 
Counsel for petitioner, Advocate Manzoor Ahmad Dar, had filed a representation with the Home Commissioner, stating therein that advocate Mian Qayoom was booked under PSA on malafide consideration for raising human rights violations, providing legal aid to the detainees and also on statement against present SSP Srinagar. 
Regarding the habeas-corpus petitions pertaining to bar general secretary, Ghulam Nabi shaheen, the court also listed the cases on the same day

10

Palestinian gunmen opened fire Tuesday on an Israeli car in the West Bank and killed four passengers on the eve of a new round of Mideast peace talks in Washington.
The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.
Assailants firing from a passing car riddled the vehicle with bullets as it travelled near Hebron, a volatile city that has been a flash point of violence in the past.
Some 500 ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers live in heavily fortified enclaves in the city amid more than 100-thousand Palestinians.
One of the victims was pregnant, said Israeli Defence Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovich.
Israel’s national rescue service said the victims were two men and two women, and Israeli media said everyone in the car was killed.
Video broadcast live on Israeli TV late on Tuesday showed a white Subaru station wagon standing at an angle at the side of a road, its windows shot out and its doors dotted with bullet holes.
The car was flanked by army and police vehicles and dozens of soldiers.
The attackers fled and Israeli forces set up roadblocks and carried out searches to try to catch them.
Meanwhile about 3-thousand people joined a rally in Gaza to celebrate the attack.
The attack occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was en route to  the US for a White House summit to launch peace talks on Wednesday.
Upon arriving in Washington, Netanyahu condemned the attack.
Later, his spokesman Mark Regev told media in Washington that such attacks would not be tolerated.
“We want a peace agreement, but a peace agreement that must protect the safety of Israeli civilians,” he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was already in the US capital meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
President Barack Obama hopes to forge a peace agreement within one year.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak promised a tough response to an attack he said was aimed at sabotaging the talks.
“Israel will not allow terrorists to raise their heads and will exact a price from the murderers and those who send them,” he said in a statement.
There is widespread opposition to the resumption of the peace talks among Palestinians.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, opposes any contact with Israel and has harshly criticised Abbas for agreeing to resume the negotiations.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza praised Tuesday’s attack.
“This operation … confirms the success of the resistance, despite the conspiracies to make it fail through the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Zionist enemy.”
Hamas is the main rival of Abbas and his Fatah movement.
Hamas expelled Fatah forces from Gaza in its takeover in 2007.
The US State Department said on Tuesday that it was aware that militants in the Middle East might try to sabotage peace talks.
Assistant US Secretary of State Philip Crowley told reporters that the State Department understood that, “not everyone sees this in the same way and there are those who will do whatever they can to disrupt or derail the process.”

8

KARACHI: A senior official of International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption and security unit has reached Pakistan in connection with the ongoing investigations into allegations of ‘spot-fixing’ against three members of Pakistan team in England, reports said.
Television channels reported that Reza Hasan, who is on the ICC ACSU, was in Pakistan to meet Federal Investigation Agency officials and also gather information from Veena Malik, the former girlfriend of Mohammad Asif, one of the tainted players.
” Reza Hasan will also interview film actress and model, Veena Malik a former girlfriend of pace bowler Mohammad Asif,” one channel said.
Veena Malik in a television interview had claimed that she had evidence of links between Asif and an Indian bookmaker and that the Sydney Test between Pakistan and Australia was fixed.
She has alleged that Asif had personally told her about this and she had also met the Indian bookmaker.
Sources said that Reza Hasan was also in town to inquire into the location and activities of some bookmakers whose names had cropped up during the questioning of Mazhar Majeed who received 150,000 pounds from the undercover reporters of British tabloid ‘News of the World’ to do ‘spot-fixing’ during the fourth Test at Lord’s against England.
“The interesting thing is that since this new scandal came up Pakistani bookies and punters have gone underground and suspended their business and their work dens anticipating a crackdown on them,” one well-informed source said.
“These bookmaker mostly do their business through Lahore and some Indian cities and are under the supervision of an Indian bookie, Lal Chand who visited Lahore few months back when Shoaib Malik got married to Sania Mirza,” he said.
Bookmakers and punters take small and big bets on cricket matches involving all countries but those involving Pakistan draw big bucks, the source said.
The source said that Lal Chand visited Karachi or Lahore after few months to meet the big bookmakers and guide them on ‘business’ rules and regulations and to clear up old debts.

11

Srinagar: Authorities lifted curfew from the entire Valley barring south Kashmir’s Islamabad district on Wednesday, as Hurriyat Conference (G) spearheading the ongoing “Quit Kashmir Movement” gave one day relaxation in the ongoing strike.
Apprehending law and order problem in Islamabad where a youth was killed in police firing on August 30, curfew remained in force in the town, official sources said.
Elsewhere in the Valley, shops and other commercial establishments opened early in the morning after remaining closed for the past four days.
Schools and other educational institutions also opened while all modes of public transport could be seen plying on the roads.
The markets were agog with activity with locals stocking up essentials. Serpentine queues were seen outside banks and ATMs.
However, there were protests in Srinagar’s Maisuma locality, where a youth was shot at and critically injured by a policeman on August 30.
The Valley has been rocked by violence following the death of a teenager on June 11 after he was hit by a tear smoke shell near Rajouri Kadal area of the old city.
Street protests broke out in the Valley which has claimed 65 lives so far.

8

Srinagar: President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday arrived in the flood-hit Leh town to review and assess the rescue and relief operations there.
Pratibha, who was received at the Leh airport by Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, was briefed by the Indian Army and Air Force officers on the operations under way, an official source said.
The President told the locals that the whole nation was with them.
The president is expected to visit the relief camps run by the Indian Army and the NGOs, the official source said.
Pratibha’s visit comes at a time when people of Leh town have started reconstructing their homes with help from the Central and state governments.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a grant of Rs 125 crore during his visit to Leh on August 17. He had also announced Rs 100,000 ex-gratia relief for the next of kin of those who died in the calamity and Rs 50,000 each to those injured.
On August 6, flash floods triggered by a cloud burst devastated large parts of
Ladakh’s biggest town Leh. At least 183 people, including 35 armymen, were killed and 200 people are still missing.

21

People’s Political Party (PPP), Chairman, Hilal Ahmad War today led a peaceful demonstration in historical Maisuma which is the heart of the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir to register protest against unprovoked firing by J K Police on 5 teenagers of Maisuma who were playing carom board on Monday. Scores of people participated in the peaceful protest, sit-in Dharna and also offered afternoon prayers in the same historical Maisuma Chowk. Mr. War while addressing the people asked international community in general and United Nations in particular to intervene in Kashmir in order to save whole world from the likelihood of war because lingering Kashmir Dispute is a threat to International Peace and Security.  He further said that India should understand and acknowledge the sentiment of   masses of Kashmir who are out on the streets of Kashmir from past 3 months under the banner of Quit Kashmir Movement and resolve Kashmir problem at the earliest. He stated that if India will not take the sentiment of masses of Kashmir the violence will flare up in the length and breadth of Indian Soil.

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