Maiden Shar, AFGHANISTAN: More than 500 men marched through the capital of Afghanistan’s restive Wardak province, in an outburst of anger against US special forces accused of overseeing torture and killings in the area. They called for the immediate withdrawal of US soldiers and threatened to join the Taliban if their demand was not met. Protesters and officials alleged that Afghan men working with a small unit of US special forces had illegally detained, tortured and killed suspected insurgents. A US defence official in Washington said a review in recent months of cooperation with Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry and National Directorate of Security found no involvement of Western forces. The peaceful two-hour protest culminated outside the Wardak provincial council. “If the situation remains like this, the province will collapse very soon,” said protester Haji Abdul Qadim.
UN takes Bin Laden off sanctions list
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has taken Osama bin Laden off its sanctions list — almost two years after the death of the Al Qaeda mastermind. But the council will maintain a freeze on his assets to stop them being used for militant activities. The council’s Al Qaeda sanctions committee said Bin Laden’s name had been deleted from its list for a travel ban and arms embargo but UN members would have to request the panel before any assets are released. The country would have to “provide assurances to the committee that the assets will not be transferred, directly or indirectly, to a listed individual, group, undertaking or entity, or otherwise used for terrorist purposes.”
Journalist shot dead in tribal region
MIRANSHAH: Gunmen shot dead a senior local journalist in Pakistan’s lawless northwestern tribal region yesterday, witnesses said. Malik Mumtaz, who worked for the Geo TV channel and English and Urdu newspapers from the same group, was shot in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district. “Gunmen opened fire on his vehicle when he was driving back home and he died on the spot,” a local intelligence official said. The Pakistani Taliban condemned the killing and denied any involvement by the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction. “He was a good reporter and serving tribal people, we salute his services,” they said.
National drive against 300,000 tax evaders
KARACHI: Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will launch a countrywide tax recovery drive against 300,000 rich people from March 1, an official said yesterday. The FBR is facing shortfall in revenue collection target for the current fiscal year, which has been raised to Rs2,190bn from Rs2,381bn. FBR had been considering an amnesty scheme, which according to it, would help achieve the target through collection of an additional Rs250bn. But the government decided to shelve the scheme. Sources said FBR had selected 300,000 super rich people of the identified 3.6 million. FBR does not have the capability to take action against the taxpayers in one go, they said.
Moderate quake hits Pakistan cities
Islamabad: A moderate earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale jolted several cities in southwest Pakistan early yesterday. The tremor hits parts of Quetta, Sibi and Bolan districts of Baluchistan province. No casualties were reported. Agencies