- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

India's Vajpayee brands Pakistan 'terrorist state'

NEW DELHI India's prime minister called nuclear-armed rival Pakistan a terrorist state yesterday and vowed to destroy the demon of terrorism.

"Our neighbor is assuming the role of a terrorist state," Atal Behari Vajpayee told a ruling party rally a day after India began stepping back from a 10-month military standoff with Pakistan.

"It makes a show of fighting terrorism around the world. But it does not hesitate to send fidayeen [suicide squads] into our country across the border to kill innocent women and children," he told supporters at the rally marking his coalition government's third year in power.

India began pulling back troops from its border with Pakistan after the standoff, which was triggered by an attack on India's Parliament last December that India blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants fighting its rule in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.

Mongolian reporters complain of harassment

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia A human-rights watchdog and dozens of journalists have urged the government to protect press freedoms and stop what they call a crackdown on the media.

The Liberty Center, a Mongolian rights group, objected this week to laws it says let the government hassle journalists with unwarranted court cases. Media freedom has been at the center of protests this year against the ex-communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, which ruled for decades with Soviet backing and swept back to power in elections in 2000.

T. Oyuungerel, director of the Liberty Center, said she knew of 17 ongoing criminal investigations of journalists, most of whom had reported on top politicians. "But we believe our records represent only a fraction of all cases."

Mongolian police, intelligence services or courts can open criminal probes against reporters for libel, defamation or disclosing "state secrets," and cases can drag on for years without a decision, the Liberty Center said.

Weekly notes

The International Labor Organization liaison officer in Rangoon, Burma, announced Thursday the ILO is in talks with Burma's military junta on sending a high-level mission to the country to implement programs aimed at eliminating forced labor. A 1998 ILO inquiry found the practice was "widespread and systematic" and victimized ethnic minorities living in border regions. Amnesty International has urged Bangladesh to investigate the deaths of six persons in military custody during the government's massive anti-crime crackdown and to release political opponents who have been detained. Most of Dhaka, the capital, was shut down Thursday morning in a half-day strike called by the opposition Awami League, which said its members have been targeted in the six-day operation backed by the army.

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