- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2010

PAKISTAN

Spy chief spared U.S. court appearance

ISLAMABAD | Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday the head of the country’s premier intelligence agency would not be forced to appear in a U.S. court in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr. Gilani was responding in parliament to allegations by opposition parties that the government was considering sending Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to testify in the U.S.

“ISI is the most sensitive organization of the country, and we are also sensitive about this issue,” Mr. Gilani told the lawmakers. “Nobody can force them to appear in court without their will.”

According to media reports, a New York court has asked Gen. Pasha and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, boss of the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, to appear next month in connection with 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian financial capital, Mumbai.

The court orders came in the wake of lawsuits filed in the U.S. by a wounded American and the heirs of four others who were killed in the massacre. They name Gen. Pasha and claim the ISI is complicit because it nurtured the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group blamed for the attacks.

MEXICO

Migrants’ kidnappers make ransom call

MEXICO CITY | The supposed kidnappers of 50 Central American migrants who disappeared in southern Mexico last week called a family in the United States demanding a ransom, a Roman Catholic priest who first reported the abductions said Thursday.

But they contacted relatives of a migrant who had escaped after the Dec. 16 assault, said the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, who runs a migrant shelter in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The abductors probably thought he was still in the group, Father Solalinde told the Associated Press in a telephone interview, adding that he reported the call to Central American and Mexican authorities.

CHINA

U.N. concerned about China’s food safety

BEIJING | China has made “remarkable progress” in growing sufficient food to feed its people, but its official efforts to silence people who alert the public to food safety problems are worrisome, a U.N. official said Thursday.

China shifted from a food aid recipient to an international food donor in 2005, a sign of its “significant success” in coordinating and helping small-scale farmers boost productivity, said Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s independent specialist on the right to food.

China says basic self-sufficiency in staple grains for its 1.3 billion people is a strategic priority, but its growing population, urbanization and pressures on arable land are making that goal harder.

The government announced Wednesday that grain production in 2010 was expected to hit 1.2 trillion pounds, up 34.32 billion pounds from 2009 and marking the seventh consecutive year of grain increases.

IVORY COAST

Group: Gbagbo’s forces making rivals disappear

DAKAR | Troops loyal to Ivory Coast’s defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo are making supporters of internationally recognized rival Alassane Ouattara “disappear,” Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

Citing several witnesses, the New York-based rights watchdog said: “Security forces associated with Laurent Gbagbo are abducting and disappearing his rival’s supporters.”

“Many of the abducted remain missing, and the security forces are refusing to reveal their whereabouts. Several witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch had come across bodies with bullet wounds of those arrested or abducted, leading to strong fears of extrajudicial executions,” a statement said.

Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara have been locked in a standoff since last month’s presidential election, which both men claimed to have won, leading to deadly post-election violence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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