Tuesday, June 30, 2009

China's communist party members near 76 mln, 80% of recruits under 35

BEIJING-- The Communist Party of China (CPC) has increased to nearly 76 million members over the past 60 years, according to official figures Tuesday. As of the end of last year, the number of China's ruling CPC members stood at 75.931 million, 17 times the 1949 figure when the People's Republic of China was founded, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee announced.Last year more than 2.8 million new members were recruited, up 25,000 from the previous year, it said. Of the new members, 2.268 million, or 80.8 percent, are under 35 years old, it added. "Recruits from students saw the biggest surge in 2008, up 71,000 from the previous year," it said.When asked at a separate press conference how to handle the problem of some college students joining the CPC to facilitate their job hunting, Li Zhongjie, an official studying the party's history, said most applicants' motivation was to play their roles in building the nation and the society."We have more than 10 million applicants every year, 19.5 million in 2007 for example," said Li, deputy director of the Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee. "With so many people, it's inevitable and understandable that some of them will have their own reasons for joining, including finding jobs."Overall, they're joining the party to serve the nation and people," he said, noting that the party will respect the members' reasonable private interests, and the members should also observe laws and party disciplines when using the power derived from being ruling party members.Li said over the past decades, the CPC has learned lessons and accumulated experience and now its governing capacity has won world recognition."I believe our party will have a long life cycle," he said.

Pakistan Militant Group Scraps Truce

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A powerful Taliban faction in a northwestern tribal region has said it is withdrawing from a peace deal with the government to protest continuing strikes by American drones, confronting the Pakistani military with a possible two-front campaign against militants, according to Pakistani news reports on Tuesday.

The Taliban faction, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, operates in the mountainous North Waziristan area along the border with Afghanistan.

It struck a peace deal with the authorities in February 2008, but Mr. Gul Bahadur said the truce was no longer operative. The development on Monday came as American reinforcements have been moving into Afghanistan. Taliban fighters there have traditionally relied on havens in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions.

On Sunday, a day before the Pakistani Taliban’s announcement that it was abandoning the truce, as many as 150 militants attacked a Pakistani military convoy about 22 miles west of Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan. At least 30 soldiers —the Taliban claimed 60 — were believed to have been killed in the ambush, which pointed to the army’s vulnerability in the area.

Separately, The Associated Press reported that four people were killed in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday when a car bomber attacked trucks taking supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The end of the peace deal came as the Pakistan military prepares for an offensive against another Taliban group, led by Baitullah Mehsud, in neighboring South Waziristan.

Mr. Mehsud is widely depicted as the main leader of the Taliban in Pakistan and has taken responsibility for a string of deadly bombings. The Pakistani authorities had been hoping to deny Mr. Mehsud support from North Waziristan, but Mr. Gul Bahadur’s decision has significantly expanded the theater of conflict.

Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a spokesperson of Mr. Gul Bahadur, was quoted by Pakistani news organizations as saying that guerrilla attacks would be made against the Pakistani military unless drone attacks are stopped and government troops are pulled out of North Waziristan.

“We will attack forces everywhere in Waziristan unless the government fulfills these two demands,” Mr. Ahmadi told Dawn, Pakistan’s most prestigious English-language daily newspaper. Mr. Ahmadi accused the government of allowing the United States to carry out drone attacks in the region.

Mr. Gul Bahadur says that more than 50 drone strikes since the peace deal have killed hundreds of people, including women and children.

After the attack on the military convoy on Sunday, military vehicles lay wrecked and destroyed around the bodies of soldiers. Under the 2008 peace agreement, militants agreed not to attack security forces or establish a parallel administration. But the peace was tenuous and strained by mutual distrust.

The truce came after the government offered major concessions, such as dismantling military checkpoints, releasing detained militants and compensating them and other tribesmen for their losses suffered during the military operation, Pakistani news organizations reported.

In return, elders of Utman Zai tribe, which inhabits the area, had assured the government that there would be no cross-border movement and that foreigners would not be allowed to take refuge.

Sarkozy Comments on Israeli Minister Make Waves

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel defended his ultranationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on Tuesday after reports emerged that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France had urged that he be replaced with the leader of the centrist opposition, Tzipi Livni.

Mr. Sarkozy made the statement in a private meeting last week at the Élysée Palace attended by Mr. Netanyahu and a number of aides to both men, comparing Mr. Lieberman to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right anti-immigrant French politician. Several participants at the meeting confirmed the reported statements.

Mr. Lieberman’s spokesman said that Mr. Sarkozy’s comment amounted to grave and insufferable meddling in the affairs of another democracy. Israeli radio broadcasts were filled with discussion of the episode, with right-wing members of Parliament assailing France and expressing indignation, while some on the left said that Mr. Sarkozy was correct.

Yossi Beilin, a former leftist member of Parliament and minister, said on Israel Radio that he had often heard from others what Mr. Sarkozy said: “I can tell you a secret. I meet world leaders. There is hardly a conversation in which the subject does not come up. Someone will say, ‘Tell me, what’s this delusional appointment?’ There’s hardly a world leader who does not say this.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying he had full confidence in his foreign minister, adding that Mr. Lieberman was “fully committed to peace and security” and was “an important member of the elected government of the democratic State of Israel.”

Mr. Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party and a West Bank settler, was elected on a platform that called for citizenship loyalty oaths at a time of growing discord between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority.

When Mr. Lieberman visited France recently, Mr. Sarkozy declined to meet with him, although he routinely received Ms. Livni, who was foreign minister in the last government.

According to the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Netanyahu that he should remake his government so that he, Ms. Livni and the defense minister, Ehud Barak, could produce historic breakthroughs for Middle East peace.

He was reported to have said, “I’ve always received Israeli foreign ministers. I met with Tzipi Livni in the Élysée Palace, but with that one I simply can’t meet. I’m telling you, you need to get rid of that man. Get him out of the government and bring in Livni. With her and with Barak you can make history.”

The paper said Mr. Netanyahu replied: “No need to exaggerate. Lieberman is a very nice person, and in private conversations he speaks differently.”

Mr. Sarkozy was reported to have replied, “In private conversations, Jean-Marie Le Pen is also a nice person.”

Mr. Sarkozy is said to have added of Mr. Lieberman, “Sometimes when I hear what he says I have the urge to pull out my hair.” He placed his hands on his head and grabbed his hair.

Return of IDPs to start soon, says Hoti

PESHAWAR : NWFP Chief Minister, Amir Haider Hoti Monday said that return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Malakand division will start very soon and repatriation will be in phased manner. Addressing a ceremony held here at Frontier House on Monday in connection with distribution of cheques of Rs. 30,000 each among 227 displaced journalists of Malakand division, the Chief Minister said government is concentrating on strengthening of infrastructure before return of IDPs. He said return and rehabilitation of displaced persons is much difficult challenge for government as compared to providing them relief. In order to revamp the damaged infrastructure of Malakand division, the government requires about two billion dollars, he added. He said government realizes that civil administration in Malakand division was weak as a result of which militants got space and organized in the region. However now, he continued, the government will make civil administration more strong and effective so that militants could not get any other chance of re-grouping in the area. In this connection, the Chief Minister said, government has decided to set up more police stations in Malakand besides recruiting ex-armymen as Special Security Force. He said government has broke the back bone of militants in Swat and other areas, but they are not eliminated completely. We have reports that militants have moved to remote areas and may try to re-group in future. But, he went on to say, we will not provide them any change to re-organize. We have taken a resolve of complete elimination of militants from society because they are the enemy of people and nation and have committed inhuman crime which is not tolerable in any society. The Chief Minister said government also needs people's support in complete eradication of militants and in this connection it has been decided to recruit 7000 people from communities under Community Policing Programme. Selection of these recruits will be made by people through jirgas and government will provide them weapons besides monthly salary of Rs. 10,000. About strengthening of judicial system in Malakand, the Chief Minister said government will ensure complete implementation of Nizam-e-Adl Regulations in letter and spirit. Government is firm on its commitment in connection with enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl Regulations because this is the demand of the people of the area and not of the militants. The Chief Minister said we understands that justice delayed is justice denied and in future such a juidical system would be formed in Malakand division under which people will receive speedy justice. The Chief Minister also appreciated the spirit of those people who accommodated IDPs at their homes. The Chief Minister said government did not have such a capacity to provide relief to such a huge number of people. It was made possible by those people who embraced their displaced borthers and accommodated them in there houses.