- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

BANGLADESH

President names government head

DHAKA — Bangladesh’s president yesterday swore in a respected economist as head of the country’s new caretaker government, trying to defuse a bloody political crisis that has paralyzed the country ahead of general elections.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, the former head of Bangladesh’s central bank, took the oath of office from President Iajuddin Ahmed during a brief ceremony at the presidential palace.

The ceremony came one day after the president declared a state of emergency, postponed the Jan. 22 elections and stepped down as leader of the caretaker government amid often-violent protests.

AFGHANISTAN

Tajikistan expects jump in heroin smuggling

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Heroin smuggling through Central Asia is likely to jump this year after a record opium harvest in Afghanistan, the head of Tajikistan’s drug control agency and United Nations officials said yesterday.

Afghanistan is the source of 90 percent of the world’s opiates and about one-fifth of the illegal drugs are smuggled to Europe, Russia and the United States via the so-called “northern route” through Central Asia.

The illegal-drugs trade in Afghanistan has flourished in the chaos caused by more than a quarter-century of war and instability.

INDIA

Pole-dancing ‘Gandhi’ angers government

NEW DELHI — India yesterday ordered two television channels to apologize for showing footage of a man dressed as revered Indian freedom icon Mohandas K. Gandhi performing a pole dance and brandishing an AK-47 rifle.

Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said the two Hindi-language channels — IBN-7 and Sahara — tried “to denigrate Mahatma Gandhi” in a way that was tantamount to an “assault to the dignity of the Father of the Nation.”

IBN-7 officials defended the station’s decision to air the video, which they said was filmed in the United States and originally posted on the popular YouTube.com Web site.

Weekly Notes

At least 14 persons were killed and another 61,000 made homeless in south and central Sri Lanka yesterday in flash floods caused by heavy monsoon rains, relief officials said. … A northern Indian state yesterday jacked up cash rewards for people who agreed to marry spouses with serious medical disabilities. Officials in Shimla, capital of the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, said that in the case of people with 40 percent to 74 percent disability, the amount will now be $178, instead of the previous $111. Those who volunteer to take life partners with medical disabilities ranging beyond 75 percent will get more than $300. The couples should be of the legally marriageable age of 21 for males and 18 for females and residents of Himachal Pradesh to qualify.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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