- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

INDIA

Singh proposes friendship treaty

AMRITSAR — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Pakistan yesterday to join his country in a “treaty of peace, security and friendship” to end nearly six decades of tension between the nuclear-armed nations.

Mr. Singh, speaking at a ceremony starting a new bus service between India and Pakistan, appeared to be proposing an umbrella accord touching on many issues, including the dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the overture but stressed the need for taking “bold and sincere steps” to resolve Kashmir, which is divided between the two neighbors.

KYRGYZSTAN

Former gangster may enter politics

BISHKEK — Ryspek Akmatbayev recently set a tone that many worry is the color of politics in Kyrgyzstan a year after it became the third ex-Soviet republic since 2003 to experience a street revolution.

At a press conference responding to Prime Minister Felix Kulov’s accusation that he’s a criminal, Mr. Akmatbayev sat surrounded by leather-jacketed bodyguards and declared: “If he is a man, let him meet me. I’ll beat him up.”

Mr. Akmatbayev, 45, served two prison terms for founding a criminal gang and possessing illegal weapons. He has just been tried for three murders and acquitted and is now an up-and-coming politician making a run for parliament in this poor Central Asian nation. His story is making headlines and heightening fears.

NEPAL

Police arrest head of opposition party

KATMANDU — Nepalese police arrested Madhav Kumar Nepal, head of the opposition Marxist-Leninist Party, at his residence on Thursday and charged him with spreading false rumors about the government, his aide Yadav Sharma said.

Nepalese press reported that he was being kept at a police barracks in Kakani, about 18 miles west of Katmandu. Police raided Mr. Nepal’s home on Wednesday and confiscated communication equipment, including a computer, a fax machine and telephones, his party said.

The party leader had been under house arrest since Jan. 19 for reputedly planning a protest in the capital opposing King Gyanendra’s rule.

Weekly notes …

The Asian Human Rights Commission said this week it is “gravely concerned” at public criticism of Sri Lanka’s audit chief, who has exposed government corruption. The Hong Kong-based rights group said it has asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to prevent attempts to undermine Auditor General Sarath Mayadunne, who has exposed wasteful spending at state institutions and the mishandling of millions of dollars in foreign aid for tsunami victims. … Suspected Islamic militants opened fire on a car carrying an Islamic cleric near a tribal town in northwestern Pakistan, killing him and abducting his three bodyguards, an intelligence official said Thursday. Maulvi Sibghatullah’s killing appeared to be a result of internal differences among Islamic militants because he was thought to be trying to set up a breakaway faction, the official said on the condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of his job.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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