- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

PAKISTAN

Punjab lifts ban on kite flying

LAHORE — Authorities in Punjab province lifted a ban on kite flying this week, nearly a year after it was imposed following a series of deaths caused by reinforced kite strings, an official said.

The ban was lifted about a month before Basant, an annual festival that heralds spring and is marked by flying colorful kites in the eastern province of Punjab and its capital, Lahore.

This year’s festival will be celebrated on Feb. 25.

During Basant last year, seven persons were fatally slashed by glass-coated or metal-reinforced kite strings, prompting authorities to ban kite flying. They arrested hundreds who defied the regulation. Among last year’s fatalities was a 4-year-old boy whose throat was slit by a string coated with glass as he rode on a motorcycle with his father.

BANGLADESH

Former ruler ordered to surrender

DHAKA — Bangladesh’s former army ruler Hossain Mohammad Ershad, banned from contesting elections on corruption charges, has been ordered to surrender to a Dhaka court by Jan. 17, legal officials said yesterday.

The deadline was set Thursday by the Dhaka District and Session Judge’s Court, just days after Mr. Ershad’s Jatiya Party announced a boycott of Jan. 22 elections.

Former Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed’s multiparty alliance and the Liberal Democratic Party of former President A.Q.M. Badruddoza Chowdhury have pulled out of the ballot, adding to the uncertainty, which has already brought weeks of political violence and crippling strikes.

Party officials said an interim government in charge of steering the country through elections had failed to act neutrally or implement electoral reforms to make the vote free and fair.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai says mining won’t stop terrorism

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai said this week that Pakistan’s proposal to selectively mine and fence parts of the border between the two countries will not stop the terrorism that plagues Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai also acknowledged during a press conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz that the relations between the two neighbors have hit a low point, saying the two countries will try to improve them in coming months.

Mr. Aziz said the plan, first announced last month, is still being considered as part of his country’s drive to stop militants from crossing over and launching attacks against Afghan and foreign troops.

INDIA

15 killed in attacks in northeast state

GUWAHATI — At least 15 persons were killed and seven hurt in a series of attacks yesterday in India’s troubled northeastern state of Assam, officials said.

Three attacks occurred in eastern Tinsukia district and three more in adjoining Dibrugarh district, police said. Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom separatist group, which has been campaigning for a homeland in the tea- and timber-rich state for decades.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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