- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003


Hindu group rejects mosque for Ayodhya

NEW DELHI — A hard-line Hindu group said Thursday that it would never allow a mosque to be built near a disputed site in north India where it wants to construct a Hindu temple.

“As long as we are alive, no mosque will be allowed … anywhere near the site,” said Acharya Giriraj Kishore, leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council).

The VHP, considered an ideological ally of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ruling BJP party, was at the forefront of a campaign that led Hindu zealots to demolish an ancient mosque at Ayodhya in December 1992, provoking riots.

The VHP believes the mosque was built by Moghul emperor Babru after he demolished a temple marking the birthplace of their god Ram. Since the demolition, the VHP and other Hindu groups have been campaigning to rebuild the temple.

The courts have ordered archaeologists to dig at the site to determine whether a temple ever existed beneath the mosque.


Karzai rides horse to deliver a message

GHAZNI — President Hamid Karzai visited this volatile town southwest of the capital Thursday, galloping in on a white horse through thousands of well-wishers and telling his countrymen it is time to face the future and “stand on our own feet.”

It was a meaningful show by the populist president in a province that has been a hotbed of Taliban activity.

But American attack helicopters circled overhead and omnipresent U.S. bodyguards watched from rooftops — a sign of the security challenges Mr. Karzai and his nation face.

The volatility of postwar Afghanistan was evident on Thursday.

In Kabul, one German peacekeeper was killed and a second wounded when their vehicle struck a mine 10 miles southeast of the capital.

Further south in Spinboldak on the Pakistan border, Afghan security forces arrested two Taliban fighters during a routine security check of vehicles entering the town.

Weekly notes …

Pakistan and Senegal have officially endorsed Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s candidate for the top job in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Foreign Secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told reporters in Dhaka. He said the “initial reaction” of Saudi Arabia, an influential member of the OIC, was also “very good.” A ruling-party member of parliament and senior politician, Mr. Quader Chowdhury is parliament affairs adviser to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. … Burma has continued to arrest and torture political dissidents despite the release of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in May last year, Amnesty International said this week. “Reports of torture of political prisoners during initial interrogation by the Military Intelligence continued to be received,” Amnesty said, adding that three political prisoners had died in custody during the year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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