PressTV – 2011-01-03 23:09:25
Massive Anti-US Rally Held in Karachi
Pakistani protesters have once again taken to the streets, calling for the release of Aafia Siddiqui — a female Pakistani scientist sentenced to 86 years in prison in the US.
Tens of thousands of people chanted anti-US slogans and burnt several effigies of US President Barack Obama in the southern port city of Karachi.
Aafia’s son Ahmed marked 2011 as the year for the freedom for his mother by lighting Asia’s largest torch, a Press TV correspondent reported on Monday.
There have been numerous rallies in the country over Siddiqui’s case and her release has become a major national issue in Pakistan with protesters saying that the scientist trial in the US was a complete mockery of the legal process.
Siddiqui is being held at a prison in Carswell, Texas, described by her family members as one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
The Pakistani woman vanished in Karachi on March 30, 2003. It was reported in local newspapers the next day that she had been taken into custody on terrorism charges.
US officials claim Siddiqui was seized on July 17, 2008 by Afghan security forces in Ghazni Province and claim that documents, including formulas for explosives and chemical weapons, were found in her handbag.
The officials also accuse her of grabbing a US warrant officer’s M4 rifle and firing two shots at FBI agents and military personnel during interrogation. She, however, has allegedly missed. The warrant officer then fired back, hitting her in the torso.
Human rights organizations, however, have cast doubt on the accuracy of the US account of the event.
Many political activists believe that Siddiqui was Prisoner 650 of the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, where they say she was tortured for five years. US authorities announced later on that they had found her in Afghanistan.
The demonstrators also demanded the Islamabad government to follow cases of those who went missing for pursuing the US-led war on terror in the country.
The human rights organizations have frequently slammed the US and the UK for helping Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in abducting more than 500 terror suspects in Pakistan and keeping them in secret prisons during the presidency of General Pervez Musharraf.
A UK lawyer claimed earlier in 2007 that Musharraf had allowed a large number of his compatriots to be held at the Guantanamo prison.
“Musharraf sold innocent people of his country as prisoners to the US Guantanamo Bay detention center in exchange for millions of dollars,” British lawyer Zachary Katznelson said.
The protesters also called for an immediate end to the ongoing non-UN-sanctioned drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan, asking the Islamabad government to quit its alliance with the US in the so-called war on terror.
The airstrikes in Pakistan have increased since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
Pakistan has suffered an intense wave of violence and thousands have been killed or displaced, since former military ruler Musharraf joined the so-called US war on terror following the 9/11 attacks.
Kabul Opposes US Permanent Bases
KABUL (January 3, 2011) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government has strongly rejected the notion of establishing permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.
Chief presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said during a press conference in Kabul on Monday that the issue has never been discussed in meetings between officials of the two countries.
“We have announced earlier that we are in touch with United States on the issue of long-term strategic partnership but not on the possible establishment of a permanent US base in Afghanistan,” he said.
The remarks come after a senior congressman called for permanent US military bases in the war-ravaged country.
Senator Lindsay Graham said on Sunday that American air bases in the war-torn country would benefit the US and its Western allies, if maintained by the US military.
“We have had air bases all over the world and a couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity,â€ Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
â€œIt would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back. In Afghanistan they could change their behavior. It would be a signal to the whole region that Afghanistan is going to be a different place.â€
About 150,000 NATO troops are currently fighting in Afghanistan with plans to stay in the country beyond 2014.
This is while US President Barack Obama had pledged a major drawdown from Afghanistan by July 2011. Experts have described the new transition dates as a devastating truth for Americans.
Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus has recently hinted that the Western military alliance will increase its operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
“We want to do more hammer and anvil operations,” Petraeus said in late December.
Analysts say the US is looking for an excuse to expand its military operations in the troubled South and central Asian regions to secure bases near Russia and China.
Unauthorized US Drone Attack Kills 15
ISLAMABAD (January 1, 2011) — At least 15 people have been killed in the latest spate of non-UN-sanctioned US drone attacks in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region along the Afghan border.
US unmanned drones fired missiles at two vehicles and a house in Mandi Khel and the Spin Wam area of North Waziristan Agency on Saturday morning, killing 15 people and injuring several others, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Earlier on Friday, the illegal US-led drone attacks claimed the lives of at least eight people and wounded several others in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt.
Over 65 people have lost their lives and many more have been injured in North Waziristan region in at least 11 aerial strikes carried out over the past ten days.
According to the latest tallies, 1,400 to 2,000 people have lost their lives during the unauthorized US drone attacks since 2004, many of which were carried out in North Waziristan Agency.
The unsanctioned US airstrikes in Pakistan have increased since US President Barack Obama assumed power in 2009.
In 2004, only one strike was carried out, two strikes were also reported in 2005 and 2006, and four occurred in 2007.
The number of illegal aerial strikes has seen a dramatic increase over the past two years, with 34 incidents reported in 2008, killing at least 263 people.
In 2009, 53 attacks were reported that left at least 413 people dead.
Washington claims its air raids target militants who cross the Pakistani border into neighboring Afghanistan to help the Taliban fight US-led foreign forces.
The ongoing non-UN-sanctioned US drone attacks in the northwestern Pakistan are mostly carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated remotely from a military base located in the western US state of Nevada.
In late October, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston said in a biting report that the US government has not made clear what legal basis it has for carrying out the strikes or what rules, if any, are in place to govern these CIA operations.
“Unless the US government moves to answer these questions, it will increasingly be perceived as carrying out indiscriminate killings in violation of international law,” he asserted.
In a previous report in June, Alston’s team harshly criticized the United States for being, “the most prolific user of targeted killings” in the world.
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