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July 1 - 7, 2009
Around the globe
By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad and Dean Nelson in New Delhi
ASIF ZARDARI, the president of Pakistan, engaged in a power struggle with army chiefs over his plans to ease tensions with India, his country’s traditional enemy.
According to sources close to Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, the chief of army staff, senior officers were alarmed at the president’s plans to divert troops and aircraft defending Pakistan’s border with India and deploy them in a new offensive against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
Their rift emerged after Mr Zardari made speeches last week in which he said India no longer posed a threat and that the greatest danger came from Islamic guerrillas in tribal areas along Pakistan’s frontier with Afghanistan.
Militants have waged a campaign of bombings in Pakistan’s cities and control large swaths of its tribal areas.
The president’s comments raised hopes of a thaw in the relationship between India and Pakistan, but analysts accused Mr Zardari of yielding to British and American pressure. London and Washington escalated their lobbying of Pakistan to
address Indian concerns after the attack on Mumbai. More than 170 people were killed in the November attack, which was blamed on the Pakistanbased Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Evidence showing that the plot was hatched in Pakistan brought the countries close to war, and led to an intense diplomatic campaign to persuade New Delhi and Islamabad to step back from the brink.
According to senior military figures, one Anglo-American gambit was a guarantee that India would not be allowed to attack if Pakistan’s forces were redeployed to fight terrorists on its western border.
Analysts said they did not expect Mr Zardari to win his fight to redeploy the army.
Despite signals that India would welcome talks, New Delhi believes a willingness to deport terrorist suspects such as Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, would be a more meaningful statement.
Lt-Gen Talat Masood, a political analyst, said Pakistan’s military chiefs believed there must first be progress in finding a solution to their dispute over the Kashmir region before a better relationship could be considered worth having.
By Nick Squires in Rome
SILVIO BERLUSCONI’S party scored a resounding victory in provincial elections last week as Italian voters overlooked allegations of sleaze swirling around the prime minister. Mr Berlusconi also faced down accusations that he had slept with a prostitute at his mansion in Rome, one of the many embarrassing claims about his private life.
The scandal deepened after a transsexual television presenter claimed to have acted as a “talent scout” for young women who were invited to attend his parties. Mr Berlusconi hit back, telling Chi magazine: “I’ve never paid for a woman. I’ve
never understood what satisfaction there would be if there was not the pleasure of conquest.” He added: “I have nothing to apologise for. There’s nothing in my private life for which I need to ask forgiveness.”
In a test of whether Mr Berlusconi had been harmed politically by the claims, Italians voted in local elections and handed nine more provinces to his centreRight People of Freedom party.
For Mr Berlusconi, 72, it was a welcome respite. He has been on the defensive since his wife announced two months ago that she wanted a divorce, citing his selection of starlets and showgirls as candidates for the European Parliament.
Þ UNITED STATES ’CHARLIE’S ANGEL’ DIES AGED 62 FARRAH FAWCETT, who made her name in the television series Charlie’s Angels, died last week aged 62.
She had been suffering from cancer for three years. She died in Los Angeles surrounded by friends and family, including long-term companion Ryan O’Neal.
The actor, 68, said he had proposed to Fawcett in hospital, but the couple did not have the opportunity to get married before she died.
O’Neal said: “Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”
Jaclyn Smith, who starred alongside Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels, said: “Farrah
had courage, she had strength, and she had faith. And now she has peace as she rests with the real angels.”
Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and made her
breakthrough in 1976 when she won the role of Jill Munroe in the detective series. The part made her a pin-up, with a poster of her wearing a red swimsuit selling 12million copies.
Þ AMERICAS GOVERNOR SAYS SORRY FOR AFFAIR MARK SANFORD, the Governor of South Carolina who had been touted as a future presidential candidate, made a tearful apology after admitting to an affair.
Mr Sanford, who sparked wild speculation about his whereabouts when he went missing and failed to answer his phone, made a dramatic reappearance last week to reveal he had been in Argentina.
Choking back tears on the steps of the State House in Columbia, the twoterm Republican governor admitted to an affair with a “dear friend” in Argentina.
She was later identified by a local newspaper as “Maria”, who is separated from
her husband and has two children. He said they had known each other for eight years but had “developed a relationship”.
Mr Sanford, 49, apologised profusely to his family and staff and said he was stepping down as head of the Republican Governors’ Association.
He said: “I am committed to trying to get my heart right. The bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife. Let me apologise to my wife Jenny and my four boys for letting them down.”
Þ AMERICAS STANFORD MAKES NOT GUILTY PLEA SIR ALLEN STANFORD, the Texan billionaire, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he orchestrated a $7billion (£4.3billion) fraud.
Sir Allen, best known for bankrolling the Stanford Twenty20 cricket series last year, was waiting for a magistrate to decide last week whether he would be released on bail from federal custody.
Having been taken to court in Houston, Texas, wearing an orange jumpsuit, with his wrists and ankles manacled, the man who was ranked the 605th richest in the world last year — with a fortune of $2.1billion (£1.3billion) — was supported by about 20 of his family and
friends. He answered only “not guilty, your honour” when the 21 counts of fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and obstruction charges were read out to him. He faces 250 years’ jail if convicted of all charges.
His lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said the flamboyant businessman had turned to alcohol as a result of the pressure he has been under.
The magistrate set a date of Aug 25 for the trial of Sir Allen and his four co-defendants — who all also pleaded not guilty — to begin. telegraph.co.uk/expat
Go home three times a week with our free email bulletin telegraph.co.uk/expatT
July 1 - 7, 2009
Þ EUROPE PASSENGERS ACT AS PLANE BALLAST AIR passengers were shaken when they were asked to act as ballast on a flight from Majorca to Newcastle.
On boarding, they were surprised to be told to sit at the back of the plane because of a problem in the hold.
More than 70 holidaymakers refused to fly on the Thomas Cook charter jet after being asked to help redistribute the weight.
A malfunction had caused a door in the hold to jam. Luggage could be stowed only in the front of the aircraft. To counteract the imbalance, passengers were told to give up their allocated seats and go to the rear of the cabin.
The tourists said their fears were heightened when
incoming passengers leaving the plane said it had been one of their worst flights.
Dave Charlton, his wife, Susan, and son, Adam, six, from Blyth, Northumberland, said they had been alarmed by the expressions of the tourists getting off the plane.
Mr Charlton, who paid £600 to get the family home on another flight, said: “People were kissing the ground and putting their hands together like they were praying.
“When people are getting off the plane saying ‘Don’t get on’, and we’d been told there was a fault with it, there was no way we would get on.”
Thomas Cook said that asking passengers to switch seats to help redistribute weight was standard procedure and posed no risk.
Þ RUSSIA REPORTER MURDER CASE’S NEW TRIAL THE KREMLIN was accused of seeking a scapegoat for the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the reporter, after Russia’s supreme court overturned the acquittal of three men linked to her death.
It ordered that the suspects face a new trial, five months after a jury cleared them of involvement in the assassination of Mrs Politkovskaya, a critic of Vladimir Putin’s human rights record.
Colleagues and relatives denounced the decision as a politically inspired ruse to give the impression that justice was being served while the real culprits remain free.
All three defendants are accused of playing minor roles in the murder. The
mastermind has never been identified and the suspected gunman has evaded capture.
“It’s completely obvious that today’s ruling was based on a political decision, not a procedural one,” said Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, where Mrs Politkovskaya worked. “For the authorities, the most important thing was just to make sure someone went to prison.”
The murder of Mrs Politkovskaya, who was shot in 2006, damaged the reputation of Mr Putin, then Russia’s president.
Þ CHINA MAN’S HEAD BOILED IN SOUP FOR ‘CURE’ A CHINESE woman boiled a man’s head in a soup because she believed it would cure her daughter’s psychiatric problems, a newspaper reported last week.
Lin Zongxiu, from the south-western province of Sichuan, heard in 2008 that soup made with a man’s head could help cure her daughter who had suffered from psychiatric problems for years, the Chengdu Commercial newspaper reported.
Lin and her husband decided to enlist the help of a man in December who
knocked unconscious a drunk 76-year-old passer-by before beheading him, the paper claimed.
The couple then gave their 25-year-old daughter soup made from the man’s head, and duck.
A court sentenced the murderer to death with a two-year reprieve and Lin was convicted of helping to destroy evidence that included the culprit’s bloody clothes and shoes.
The murderer’s reprieve means his sentence will likely be commuted to life in prison as long as he commits no further offences in the next two years.
Þ ZAMBIA MONKEY BUSINESS FOR PRESIDENT A MONKEY urinated on Rupiah Banda, the Zambian president, at a press conference. Mr Banda was addressing the meeting when he paused to look up and saw the animal overhead. A laughing Mr Banda told the monkey: “You have urinated on my jacket.”