- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PAKISTAN

Parliament votes to revise rape law

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s lower house of parliament voted yesterday to put the crime of rape under the civil penal code, curtailing the scope of Islamic laws that rights groups have long criticized as unfair to women.

The Women’s Protection Bill was seen as a barometer of President Pervez Musharraf’s commitment to his vision of “enlightened moderation” and a major battle in a struggle between progressive forces and Islamic conservatives over the Muslim nation’s course.

The Islamic laws, known as the Hudood Ordinances, were introduced by a military ruler, President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, in 1979. They made a rape victim liable to prosecution for adultery if she could not produce four male witnesses to the assault.

CANADA

Rules to be relaxed for foreign workers

OTTAWA — Canada will make it easier for employers in the booming western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia to hire temporary foreign workers in 170 fields, Ottawa announced yesterday.

The government said it would ease the rules on giving jobs to employees from overseas because firms in the two provinces were “truly having a hard time finding enough workers.”

Last year, Canada admitted slightly more than 99,000 foreign workers on temporary permits to fill jobs because there were no Canadians or permanent residents avail-able. Most were skilled pro-fessionals.

KENYA

U.S. defends stance on emissions levels

NAIROBI — Washington rejected pleas by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and dismissed his charge that there was a “frightening lack of leadership” in combating global warming.

“We think that the United States has been leading in terms of its groundbreaking initiatives,” Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky told reporters.

Mr. Annan had urged rich countries at the 189-nation U.N. climate talks in Nairobi to be more “courageous” in cutting greenhouse gases and urged Washington to reconsider opposition to the Kyoto Protocol that binds 35 nations to cut emissions by 2012.

Mrs. Dobriansky said the United States was sticking to policies focused on braking — rather than cutting — the rise of emissions while investing heavily in green technologies such as hydrogen or new technologies for cleaner burning of coal.

INDONESIA

Militant apologizes for killing Christians

JAKARTA — An Islamic militant told judges yesterday that he took part in the beheadings of three Christian girls on an Indonesian island racked by religious violence to avenge the deaths of Muslims, but apologized to their families.

Prosecutors say Hasanuddin, 34, and two other defendants ordered the Oct. 29, 2005, killings of the girls as they walked to school on Sulawesi. The defendants, who face the death penalty if convicted, said they were angry about a 2000 attack on an Islamic boarding school in the coastal town of Poso that left at least 70 persons dead. Three Christian men were executed in September for those slayings.

BANGLADESH

Opposition alliance suspends strike

DHAKA — An opposition alliance said yesterday that it would suspend a strike that paralyzed Bangladesh for four days but promised to return to the streets Monday if their demand for election reforms goes unmet.

Fourteen parties began the strike Sunday, calling out tens of thousands of demonstrators to block roads, rail lines and seaports to force the removal of four election officials who they accuse of favoring former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s coalition. The officials deny the claims and refused to resign.

The alliance, led by the Awami League, said the caretaker government has failed to take steps to ensure that the January elections will be free and fair.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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