Sunday, July 01, 2007


Pak troops ready to storm mosque

Islamabad, June 30: Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf told reporters on Friday night that the security forces are ready to raid Lal Masjid in Islamabad to end its Talibanisation campaign. “The bombers are holed up in Lal Masjid and extremists are posing the gravest threat to the country. Security forces are ready to raid Lal Masjid to end its Talibanisation campaign,” Gen. Musharraf said.

Gen. Musharraf said the government knows that the female students of the adjoining Jamia Hafsa madrasa “are ready to carry out suicide attacks to defend the complex”. He said members of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed were also in the mosque. “They are suicide bombers. They have explosives. I am not a coward, but there is a problem... there is a very serious problem that there are committed people (sic),” the Pakistan President said.

He said talks at all levels were held with the Lal Masjid administration and even the Imam-e-Kaaba was invited, but they did not agree to anything. He claimed that the mosque administration was maintaining contact with insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Gen. Musharraf said extremism was the gravest threat to Pakistan and that he would address the nation next week on measures to combat it. But, he said, foreign militants were planning attacks abroad from Pakistani soil. “We know that there are foreigners in the mountains near the border,” Gen. Musharraf said. “We have evidence that the foreigners are there and they are also planning attacks outside. If it happens, let me tell you, there will be incalculable consequences for Pakistan. We have to stop it,” he said.

He said foreign terrorists were killed in large numbers in the Waziristan operation. They included 12 Arabs, two Uzbeks and two Turks, but the media telecast only the news about children. “I assure you they were receiving training in terror-related activities. We have evidence with us. The media gave a constitutional and legal matter an ethnic colour on May 12,” he said, adding, “They should not have done so.”

The Lal Masjid administration, meanwhile, has warned that its last option would be suicide attacks if the government launched an operation against Jamia Hafsa students and the mosque. “We will offer strong resistance in case of a government operation,” threatened Maulana Abdul Aziz, in charge of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

Talking to reporters on Saturday, he said, “We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the enforcement of Islamic law in the country. We will continue the jihad against vulgarity and non-Islamic culture. We warn the government to remove its forces from near the mosque, otherwise the situation will worsen.”

Maulana Aziz said the seminary students themselves wanted the security forces to launch an operation against them as it would provide them with a chance to sacrifice their lives for Islam. “It is a duty of the state to ensure Islamic laws in the country, but they are inclined towards Western culture,” Maulana Aziz said. “The government says that by abducting Chinese, we have committed a sin. In fact, they (those abducted) were promoting sex in the federal capital. We have done a great job for the residents of the capital by putting an end to one of many brothels operating here,” the cleric said.
He said a special centre had been established in Jamia Hafsa to keep an eye on massage centres and brothels in the country.

He said anti-Islam forces and NGOs were against Jamia Hafsa. “Vicious propaganda has been unleashed against us through various means,” Maulana Aziz said. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that President Musharraf has been warned that without “swift and decisive action”, the Taliban would soon spread all across Pakistan.

New protein fights wrinkles

Hyderabad, June 30: City scientists have developed a group of chemical peptides that will help in treating vitiligo, the white patch disease, and also control wrinkles.
The molecules were developed using DNA recombinant technology. They have the ability to remove the disfiguring white patches even while controlling formation of wrinkles. They also have essential “anti-wrinkle” properties and hide the age of those who use it.

Vitiligo is caused when melanocytes, the cells that give colour or pigmentation to skin, are lost. This leads to white patches on mainly the exposed parts of the body. Vitiligo often causes hypo or hyper thyroidism, diabetes and anaemia, not only disfiguring the body but also affecting its physiological functions. Currently, vitiligo is treated temporarily with make-up. Medication has thus far proved futile with no satisfactory results.

The pioneering work on developing the molecules was jointly carried out by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Celestial Laboratories. A drug is being prepared based on the research work. The peptides were chemically synthesised and tested for their efficacy in cell cultures. Four of these peptides showed profound effect as mitogens (chemicals that encourage cell to commence cell division) of melanocytes. (Through a process called melanogenesis, these cells produce melanin, a pigment in the skin, eyes, and hair.)

A group of researchers led by Dr Ch Mohan Rao of the CCMB has synthesised oligonucleotides (short sequences of structural units of RNA and DNA) following the amino acid sequence of the effective mutein peptides. They are later cloned for strong promotion and expression.

“A few of the melanotropic peptides have been identified from human placental preparations that are known to have melanogenic potential or ability to give skin its colour,” says A.N. Singh of Celestial Labs. Vitiligo is a major concern in developing countries especially in India where in the western zone the prevalence is as high as eight per cent. World surveys show a similar prevalence in Mexico and Japan. The global prevalence is observed to be around three per cent.

Saheb Singh Verma dies in road accident

Jaipur: Former Union minister and senior BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma died on Saturday in a road accident on the Haryana-Rajasthan border in Alwar district. The accident claimed two more lives, while another seriously injured person has been referred to a Jaipur hospital.

BJP leaders have expressed shock over the incident. Additional superintendent of police (rural) P.C. Nyola said the mishap took place at around 2.30 pm when the car in which Verma was travelling collided with a mini-truck near Khandura crossing. Verma (64), along with three others, was immediately rushed to the Shahjahanpur Government Hospital where the former Delhi CM, his driver and another person travelling in the same car were declared brought dead, the additional SP said.

According to police sources, Verma died on the spot. Eyewitnesses said the speeding truck collided head on with the car in which Verma was travelling. The driver of the truck lost control of the vehicle and crashed through the road divider on to the opposite side of the road and hit the car. The driver of the truck absconded after the mishap. Verma was returning to New Delhi from Neem ka Thana in Sikar district after participating in a function. Verma is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.

“He was with us in the morning and was going back to Delhi,” Sikar BJP MP Subhash Mehria said. “He met everyone warmly at the function and bade us goodbye, no one could have thought in their wildest dreams that it was his last goodbye to us,” Mr Mehria said. It was his second visit to Rajasthan in the last one week. This is the second incident when a senior leader has lost his life in a road accident. In 2000, Congress leader Rajesh Pilot died in a road accident in Dausa district.


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