- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2007

PAKISTAN

Musharraf concedes border lapses

RAWALPINDI — President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged yesterday that outgunned Pakistani border guards have allowed insurgents to cross into Afghanistan, but denied the army or intelligence service were actively helping the Taliban.

Gen. Musharraf said the army would soon fence parts of the porous border to stop militant infiltration, despite Afghan opposition.

Speaking in his army office in Rawalpindi, he said Pakistan was being made a scapegoat for the bloodiest surge in violence in Afghanistan since the fundamentalist Taliban regime was ousted five years ago for hosting al Qaeda.

His defense of Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism — and his admission of lapses — follow criticism from U.S. military officials who say cross-border attacks into Afghanistan have risen threefold since Pakistan signed a September peace deal with pro-Taliban militants in its North Waziristan region.

INDIA

Chopper crashes ahead of air show

NEW DELHI — An Indian helicopter practicing aerobatics for an upcoming air show crashed yesterday, dimming New Delhi’s hopes of finding overseas buyers for the Indian-built model, officials said.

The advanced light helicopter, Dhruv, crashed on the tarmac of a military air base in southern Bangalore city, killing its co-pilot. As many as 50 countries, including Britain, Germany, France, Israel and the United States, will participate in the Bangalore air show next week.

The 5.5-ton Dhruv, developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., was briefly withdrawn last year due to faults in its tail rotor. India says countries such as Chile, Malaysia and Turkey have shown interest in buying the helicopter.

NEPAL

18 ill from water at leader’s home

KATMANDU — Six Nepalese ministers and 12 staff members are suffering from jaundice believed to have been contracted from contaminated water at the prime minister’s residence, Health Minister Amik Sherchan said yesterday.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, 85, was already in fragile health but had not caught jaundice, he said. One of the sick ministers, Hridayesh Tripathi, resigned on Monday over the government’s handling of recent unrest in the southeast of the country.

Water samples have been taken for testing from the prime minister’s house and also from the office that provides food and water to meetings in the residence.

Weekly notes …

Two million Muslims were expected to congregate yesterday near the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, for a three-day gathering billed as the second-largest annual Islamic event after the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The World Muslim Congregation — at which Muslims pray and listen to Islamic scholars — has taken place each year since the mid-1960s on the banks of the River Turag in Tongi. … A 30-year-old woman in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh confessed to killing her three children, ages between 5 and 10, because they informed her husband whenever her lovers came by, a local news agency reported.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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