- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2003


Rocks rain down on Himalayan town

DEHRADUN — Three hundred more people were evacuated two days ago from Uttar Kashi, a northern tourist spot where mountain boulders have been tumbling down on the town since early last week.

Officials said more than 4,000 families have already been taken elsewhere to escape the collapsing Varunavat mountain, which has so far wiped out 150 residential buildings and four hotels, officials said.

Officials warn that the topography of Uttar Kashi, 3,821 feet above sea level, could be permanently altered if the landslide does not stop.


Farmers challenge army land holdings

OKARA — A two-year battle between poor farmers and the country’s powerful army over ownership of 70,000 acres of fertile state-owned lands marks the first time peasants have stood up to Pakistan’s notorious feudalism, rights activists say.

In dispute are the Okara military farms, about 240 miles south of Islamabad in the center of the Punjab, Pakistan’s breadbasket province. A million farmers whose forefathers have been tilling the army-controlled lands since 1913 are demanding ownership and want their army landlords banished, according to Anjuman Mazareen Pakistan.


Freedom party vows to join ‘04 elections

TASHKENT — At its first news conference in more than a decade, Uzbekistan’s heavily suppressed Freedom party pledged this week to find a way to take part in elections scheduled next year in the ex-Soviet republic.

The government of President Islam Karimov “continues its repression of party members, but at a reduced level, and the Freedom party is ready to participate in rescuing the country from its current crisis,” said party General Secretary Atanazar Aripov.

Weekly notes …

Sri Lanka’s top three lenders are calling for progress toward a political settlement of the island’s three-decade separatist conflict as a precondition for new aid. The Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation said in a joint statement they want the stalled Norwegian-brokered peace effort to be revived. “There will be no change in assistance to ongoing projects, but we will not consider any new projects unless there is progress in the peace process,” World Bank’s country director, Peter Harrold, told reporters after a two-day aid meeting. … Nepal’s Maoist rebels began a nine-day truce Thursday called as a goodwill gesture during the country’s biggest Hindu festival. Maoist leader Prachanda last week announced the Oct. 2-10 cease-fire during the Dasain festival, when thousands of people flock from the cities for family gatherings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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