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Saturday, 7 November 2009

Zaid Hamid Warns India

Pakistan’s first Saab 2000 AEW aircraft enters final testing

Pakistan’s first of five Saab 2000-based airborne early warning and control aircraft has entered final system testing in Sweden, with the work having already demonstrated the capabilities of its integrated self-protection equipment.
Islamabad became the launch – and so far only – military customer for a Saab 2000 derivative when it signed a deal for the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar-equipped type in June 2006. Its first example made its flight debut from Saab’s Linköping site in mid-2008.
Saab in early October announced the start of final system tests for Pakistan, and says its first aircraft will be flown to the country later this year to expand the work. The latter process will assess the “aircraft, radar, command and control system, communications and live situation picture into the Pakistan air force’s command and control ground environment”, it says.

Recent tests conducted in Sweden have included the release of flares intended to protect the modified regional turboprop against missile attack. Saab has previously said that the AEW configuration developed for Pakistan includes five on-board operator stations, with the surveillance aircraft to have an operating ceiling of over 30,000ft (9,150m) and a mission endurance approaching 10h.
The Swedish manufacturer is promoting the AEW version of its Saab 2000 to other potential future customers, and is also offering to supply further variants of the type configured for tasks including maritime patrol and signals intelligence.

Altaf Hussain gives nation a pleasant surprise on NRO

The announcement that was made by Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) supremo Altaf Hussain on Monday afternoon just before the commencement of the 17th session of the National Assembly knocked down the castle of the notorious so-called National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) wherein several disreputable “notable” criminals had taken the refuge. The announcement also turned the political table on the government.
The whole scene got changed, which was witnessed on the both sides of the divide at the start of the NA session as the biggest opposition party PML-N was fuming and all the groups of the opposition had one voice to bury the NRO like a heap of filth. The occasion has brought Altaf Hussain and his MQM in the national limelight truly and gave pleasant surprise to the whole nation.
The last nail in the coffin of the NRO came during an interview of Altaf Hussain, conducted by Dr Shahid Masood of Geo News, in which he announced opposition to NRO and in the same programme Dr Shahid Masood broke the story that Altaf Hussain has conveyed message to Asif Zardari to step down as president. The story was spread all around like a wildfire. It was never denied by Altaf Hussain.
Incidentally Altaf Hussain was the first political leader who proposed Asif Zardari’s name for the exalted office last year. In his interview Altaf Hussain repeatedly asked Asif Zardari to offer supreme sacrifice for the sake of the country and democracy.
The parliamentary sources told The News that the PML-N was not in forefront against the NRO before the return of Nawaz Sharif from abroad, but it stepped up its opposition to the infamous ordinance when its leader came back. Nawaz used harsh words about the NRO after his parliamentary party’s meeting on Monday noon at the Punjab House.
The PML-N staged walkout form the National Assembly later in the day. The MQM parliamentarians did not take part in the walkout, but its leaders refused to back the government at that moment.
The interview of Altaf Hussain was in the mind of every parliamentarian present in the house and galleries were humming with speculations. Leader of the Muslim League Functional Pir Pagaro also came out with stern opposition to the NRO. Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi, parliamentary leader of the PML-Q, also announced opposition to the NRO before leaving home for the National Assembly session. Former president Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari despite his frail health came all the way to his house to express solidarity with the opposition against the villainous ordinance.
The observers have noticed with admiration that the Geo TV and its group’s publications have been warning the government about the NRO that it would cause embarrassment for it and it would not be possible for the government to get it through both the houses of the Parliament.
Altaf Hussain’s action has enhanced his stature and his party as a national distinctiveness. He stole the show and it had become difficult for his worst opponent to staying without praising his action. Jammat-e-Islami leadership also commended the decision of the MQM and Altaf Hussain.
The MQM has already been established in Azad Kashmir and it is part of the state legislature there. It is also contesting Gilgit-Baltistan upcoming elections and it has established its footprints in Punjab, besides having set-ups in NWFP and Balochistan.
The benefactors of the NRO belonging to the ruling party were propagating about the MQM workers that they were also beneficiaries of the NRO, but the pronouncement of the MQM leader cleared the air about them. The Monday announcement of Altaf Hussain would be remembered long that has changed the complexion of the MQM. Its leader has transformed the party into a robust national entity just with one remarkable stroke, the observers opined.

Why are Indian families shrinking?

Why is 'The Great Indian Family' shrinking? As one of four siblings, fashion designer Anjana Bhargav can't remember a time when her house wasn't "full of people". "My two sisters and brother were always fighting over who got to sit on the 'favourite dining table chair'," she recalls.
"There was always food being cooked for our family of six, and I, as the oldest, was frequently pulled away from my favourite hobby of reading fashion magazines to referee fights between the others." Her husband Atul Bhargav, president, New Delhi Trader's Association, who also has two sisters and a brother, had much the same kind of upbringing. But now that they are a couple, Anjana and Atul's decision to have just one child has ensured that their daughter Ankita will have a very different life. "She didn't have to fight for our attention, or share her room," says Anjana. And baby makes three
It's not just the Bhargavs, many other middle class and upper middle class urban couples across India, just like the rest of the world, are choosing to have just one child. "A shift in attitude is taking place and the number of people having one child is on the increase," says Shireen Jejeebhoy, senior associate, Population Council. Dr Kaushiki Dwivedee, senior consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, unit head, Max Hospital, Gurgaon, explains, "Forty-five per cent of the women who come to me, who are in their late 30s, have just one child. In fact, lots of younger women too have one child. But I am not counting them since they could still be making up their minds." The one-child family is fast moving toward becoming the norm in urban circles. Susan Newman, a social psychologist at Rutgers University, USA, and author of Parenting an Only Child, says, "I actually call the only child the new traditional family.
This generation is witnessing the drastic downsizing of the family structure." So, there may be a time very soon when the government's famous family planning slogan - Hum Do Hamare Do - could soon become Hum Do Hamara Ek. Consider these statistics: According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the percentage of ever married women who want 0, 1 or 2 children has increased from 40 per cent in 1992-93 to 65 per cent in 2005-06. Says Shireen Jejeebhoy, "That's a great leap. Also, if you examine the statistics of ever married women who want a single child, that number has increased from 3 per cent in 1992-93, to 5 per cent in 1998-99, to 7 per cent in 2005-6." She adds that the figure should be more because there are more women who do not want more than one child, but do not have access to or do not practice contraception. "This is termed 'unmet need'," says Jejeebhoy, adding that 10 per cent of women in urban areas have accidental and unplanned pregnancies. Under pressure
There are many reasons why couples are choosing to restrict the size of their families. Sometimes, the decision comes about because of a series of constraints. Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan (who has three siblings), and her diplomat husband Dr Herbert Traxl (who has two), chose to have just one child - 24-year-old Irwin Ishan - for "purely practical reasons". Says Narayan, " I was very busy with my career. And there were long stretches in our marriage when my husband and I were on separate continents. That isn't the best way to bring up children." Dr Traxl agrees: "Our lifestyle didn't allow us the choice to have more kids."
Dr Kiran Bedi, India's first and highest ranking woman officer in the Indian Police Service, also chose to have just one child, despite coming from a family of six, because she was a working mother with a high-pressure job who still wanted to do justice to her child. Her daughter Saina also has just one child. Still other couples make their decision since they feel they cannot afford to have more than one child. Says 32-year-old homemaker Swati Mahendra, "My husband is the only earning member of our family. We can manage quite well now that our daughter Aastha is just two years old. But we know that very soon, our expenses will only rise once she begins school." She adds, "We want to give her the best education and lifestyle, and we know we can only do that if we have one child. That's why we haven't considered having another baby." Work order
Many women are also aware that having kids involves a break or halt in their careers, and by having one child, seek to minimise this disruption. Explains Bedi, "These days, women have realised that since they are economically independent, they are part of the decision-making in the house. They have also realised that a career is a sure-shot way to maintain their self-respect and self-esteem. So they don't want to give-up their careers." This has two implications: women think twice before increasing their family size, and also feel that they won't be able to pay the required attention to their kids while they are working.Says Kiran Bedi, "Having a child is like living your life over with him/her. Earlier, women had the time to do it. My mother lived her life four times over with the four of us and then three times again with her grandchildren. How many of us can afford to do so while we are also working?" No help at hand
The fact that the joint family set-up has broken down doesn't help. Model Sonalika Sahay, whose daughter Zana is two years and two months old, says she doesn't think she will have another baby even though her banker husband Kamal Mehta may be open to the idea. "Being a parent is a full-time job," explains Sahay, adding, "My mother had five of us, but she is a homemaker and we lived in a joint family. I am a working mother who might have erratic hours. Also, Zana herself is quite a handful. I don't know how people manage two to three children and their careers." It is this dilemma of not having any backup or support that many women of this generation are confronted with.
Rashi Rohatgi Khan, director, W Five Communication, a public relations firm, who has a six-and-a-half year old daughter Ain, says, "Both my husband I do want another child. But I worry about how both of us will be able to manage our work and home pressures if that happens." That certain age. Age and biological complications also deter women from having more than one child. Says Dr Kaushiki Dwivedee, "Women are getting married later in life because of their careers and desire for personal independence. They have their first child in their late 20s or early thirties, so by the time they think of having a second, they feel it is too late.
It is also a fact that pregnancy is a physically harder proposition later in life, and that one's stamina to raise a child also dwindles with age." That was partly why Shovana Narayan did not plan another child. "I had Ishan in my early 30s. There were many fears in my mind about getting pregnant again at that age," she recalls. The resolve to just have one child is also strengthened if the first pregnancy has been a complicated one. According to experts, parents most often choose to be happy with their one child rather than risk the mother's health again. My one and only
Earlier, pregnancy was a very natural sequel to marriage. But, today, bringing up a child involves conscious strategising, and is rarely a decision that is taken casually. "The stakes involved in bringing up a child are higher," explains Dr Kaushiki Dwivedee, adding, "A child today has to be sent to the best schools. They need to attend hobby classes, like riding, piano or ballet. Sending children abroad for education, even without scholarships, has also become a norm. All this has made bringing up a child an expensive proposition." TV actress Swati Chitnis and her husband Commander Amol Chitnis chose to have one child for similar reasons. Chitnis explains, "After Neel was born, we decided to stop trying for another because we felt that we would be able to bring up one child better. We wanted to give our son (now 25, a commercial pilot) all our resources and time."
Couples are now so focused on parenting that they are willing to tailor their lives around their child. Bedi gives the example of her daughter Saina, who shifted base from Delhi to Pune because that city has the right climate for the child. "That is the kind of concentration people have regarding their children nowadays," explains Bedi. Couples also hold on to their decision even though they may want a larger family. According to Sonalika Sahay, "It is a fact that a woman's responsibilities increase more than the man's when you have kids. A lot of people tell me that if I have another child, both will grow up together. But that's not true - every child needs special attention. It's not possible to give time to your kids and manage the demands of work. I have seen that most friends with two or more kids eventually resign from their jobs." Doubts and fears
It's undeniable that bringing up an only child is a simpler proposition. "You spend less energy than if you have two or more kids. You are able to devote finances properly to them. Your responsibility with regard to getting them married also ends quickly," says homemaker Ritu Madaam. But there are also doubts and fears for some couples. Explains Madaam, "When my only daughter moved to another city to study, my husband and I felt lonely. That's the day I wished I had another child." Parents also wish for another when they see their child feel lonely.
Cricketer Kapil Dev and wife Romi have one daughter, Amiya. Romi feels that the older one gets, the more dependant one becomes on siblings. "I was an only child for a long time and I did experience loneliness. I know Amiya does too. Especially, when she was younger, and we would go out for a party, she would ask, 'who will I stay with?' If we could, Kapil and I would have wanted more kids." Swati Chitnis agrees. "There will be a time when parents won't be around. The thought that Neel will be on his own scares me. He is very close to his cousins and has lots of good friends. But they are not close family." She adds, "When my mother fell ill, there were three of us, our spouses and kids with her. In our case, it will be only him." Shovana Narayan also confesses to a similar fear, and admits that that is when she worries about not having more kids. "It wasn't meant to be," says Narayan, adding, "But I'm happy that Ishan doesn't think about it."
Anjana Bhargav, in contrast, is not as anxious. "Ankita will be solely responsible for me and my husband when we are old. But I assure myself that she will definitely have friends to help her out. I too am there with my friends when their parents fall ill. So I'm sure she will also be able to handle all the responsibilities alone. It's not the end of the world," she says. End of the great indian family? It's no accident that most Indians, irrespective of community, have different names for different members of their family - mother's elder sister, father's younger brother, etc. But as more and more people have just one child, the extended family is in danger of disappearing altogether. And that, say experts, leaves us a in a grey area, with no sign of what will come to replace the close familial bonds we take so much for granted.
After all, who will hide a groom's shoes at weddings if there are no cousins? And who will tie rakhis if boys do not have any sisters? How will people have large convivial family get-togethers if there are no large families left? Says Dr Nikhil Raheja, psychologist, National Institute of Psychiatry, "All this might conceivably happen in the near future. There might be a total disintegration of the family legacy." Some experts say that people will develop closer ties with friends to bridge gaps in their family circle. But not everyone is certain of that. Says 55-year-old businesswoman Reshma Mehndirata, who has four siblings, "It's not that friends won't stand by you in times of trouble. But more often than not, you tend to lose touch with friends. With siblings, even if you haven't met or spoken for months, your bond will be intact. That's because your parents are the common link between you." Dr Raheja agrees, "Friends are under no compulsion to help you. In contrast, siblings might be estranged for years, but will come together
eventually." However, it's too early to write off the idea that other support systems will eventually replace the Indian family. Fashion designer Anjana Bhargav witnessed something early on that convinced her that familial bonds are not the only ones people can rely on. "When I got married, we had an old couple as neighbours," recalls Bhargav. "Both their sons lived abroad and there was nobody to take care of them, except for a girl living nearby who literally adopted them." All my children Delhi resident Lalita Sharma, now 76, recalls the experience of bringing up five children (four daughters and one son) I had my first child at 18. From the beginning, my life revolved around the children. Raising them was my job, something I did 24/7, with no breaks, no hobbies, no 'me' time or 'couple time'.
I would get up at dawn to prepare breakfast and tiffins for the kids and my husband. After they left the house, I would go to the market to buy vegetables for lunch, and if I had a few minutes, I'd chat with women in the neighbourhood. The children were back for lunch, and after that, while they took a nap, I would make snacks for tea. I would then start preparations for dinner, and, if I had the strength, help them lay out their uniforms. I never had time to check their homework. When my eldest daughter started college, she began helping me in the kitchen and taking care of the kids. I would often be very tired. My husband would come home late at night, so his involvement with the kids was limited.
There was no discipline problem, since parents were figures of authority then. Also, children weren't exposed to too many things, so even though we couldn't monitor them at all times, they turned out well. Money was always short, though my husband earned a decent salary. The kids did wear hand-me-downs often, but we also made sure we got them new clothes on special occasions, such as festivals. We would only go out once a month for a movie, and for holidays we would go to my mother or my in-laws' house once a year.

Nepal Maoists admit to links with Indian Naxals

Just a day after the Nepalese media revealed about the close nexus and recent secret meetings between the two Red brothers (Maoists) from Nepal and India in an undisclosed location in India, a senior leader of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) has openly admitted that his party has extended full cooperation and support with Indian Maoists.
Speaking at press meeting, a Maoists-affiliated journalists association in Bara district of central Terai, on Sunday, party secretary CP Gajurel said, “We have extended our total support to the Indian Maoists Party, which has been enlisted as terrorist outfit by the Indian government, for their ongoing armed movement.”
According to a report carried out by the Rajdhani Daily, a Nepali national daily in Nepal, Gajurel, however, did not elaborate on whether their support was just a moral one or with arms as speculated by the Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, recently.
The former chief of former rebels’ foreign relation bureau Gajurel who had spent three years jail term in Chenai a few years ago, is the first Maoists leader who applauded the Indian Maoists’ armed insurgency publicly.
Two days ago, the Rajdhani Daily had revealed about the secrete meeting held between the UCPN-M team led by central committee member Indra Mohal Sigdel alias Basanta and Indian Maoists leader Kishanji in an undisclosed place in India while Sigdel was in four-day India tour from October 8 to 11.
Meanwhile, the Maoists leaders and cadres launched their scheduled protest program of picketing the offices of local bodies - village development committee and municipalities - across the country on Monday.
Though the Maoists protests was largely peaceful it affected the normal life as it paralyzed the daily services that have to be delivered by the concerned offices.
In another political development, Maoists chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, held meeting with Nepali Congress President and former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Monday afternoon at the latter's residence.
According to a source close to Koirala, Koirala urged the Maoists supremo to call off the protest programme and sit for a dialogue. He also urged Prachanda to let the Parliament session that has been obstructed by them for the last three months and allow the government to endorse its fiscal budget.
In response, Prachanda said the ruling coalition partners should allow the Maoists to take up the most controversial resolution regarding the “so-called” unconstitutional move carried out by the President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on May 3 by retaining the sacked chief of army staff Rookmangud Katawal.
Meanwhile, Nepalese Finance Minister Surendra Panday has said the government was not in condition to provide monthly salary and perks to government officials and parliamentarians, including the prisoners from mid-November. 

Malkanagiri (Orissa), November 2
A hardcore Maoist, allegedly involved in many crimes, including looting of EVMs in the last general elections, was arrested in Orissa’s Malkangiri district.

Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi said Balabhadra Madhi (30) was picked up during a combing operation by the CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) in Salimarikuanda forest in the Kalimela area while moving in a suspicious manner yesterday. During interrogation it was found out that Madhi is an area commander of the Maoists.
He was involved in EVM looting, vehicle burning and booth capturing and other Maoist activities during the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections held in April this year, Bhoi said.
Meanwhile, the Balimela-Chitrakonda road, which connects Andhra Pradesh with Orissa had been blocked by the Maoists putting boulders and felling trees near Chidrakonda Ghat in protest against the planned anti-Maoist operation of the government.
As a result, Chitrakonda remained cut off from the district headquarters town since yesterday, the police said.
The Maoists also demanded withdrawal of the CRPF from the district and asked the people to make their proposed Orissa bandh successful on November 4 and 5

Time for payback to Indians is NOW!!!

Pakistan has found concrete evidence of India’s involvement in militancy in South Waziristan and decided to take up the matter with New Delhi.
This was disclosed by Information Minster Qamar Zaman Kaira and military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas at a press briefing on the progress of operation Rah-i-Nijat here on Monday. It was the first time in recent times that Pakistan had pointed fingers at India from a forum having representation of political and military leadership.
Mr Kaira said although it had been decided to raise the issue with India, Pakistan would not deviate from the peace process.
Gen Abbas said a huge quantity of Indian arms and ammunition, literature, medical equipment and medicines had been recovered from Sherawangi area, near Kaniguram. He said the Foreign Office had been informed and the matter would be taken up with the Indian authorities through diplomatic channels.
Sources in the Foreign Office said a dossier containing proofs of India’s involvement in South Waziristan would soon be handed over to officials in New Delhi.
KANIGURAM TAKEN: Gen Abbas said security forces had secured control of Kaniguram, a redoubt of Uzbek fighters.
He said there were fortified positions and bunkers in the area which were being used by militants in possession of modern weaponry. The entire area had been cleared of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Five truckloads of arms and ammunition were recovered from the area on Monday, he added.
The ISPR chief said the Karama village, to the east of Kanigurma, was also under control of security forces now. He said the village used to be a stronghold of Uzbek militants. Some other strategically important points around Kaniguram had also been secured, he said.
In reply to a question about winding up of some checkposts by the Nato forces on Pakistan’s border in Afghanistan, he said: “We have been told that it was a readjustment.”
He said Pakistan had sought information on the ‘readjustment’ because closure of posts in sensitive areas would affect the military operation.
He rejected a perception that prior announcement about the operation in South Waziristan gave time to militants to get ready, saying that security forces kept on making preparations when aerial strikes were being conducted to decimate the militants.
The army spokesman said the operation was progressing as per plans. He said militants had been surprised and defeated on all fronts. It was not clear whether top leadership of the Taliban had escaped to North Waziristan or was still in the area.
He said many militants were withdrawing from the fight and moving closer to the heart of the region. They were bound to be trapped there, he added.
The aim of the operation was not just to eliminate militants but also to dislodge them from their fortifications, sanctuaries and hideouts. 'If they are dislodged, we will be moving very close to victory,' he remarked.
Gen Abbas said troops were extending their 'perimeter of security' on the Jandola-Sararogha axis and closing in on Sararogha. Expansion of positions held on the ridges from different directions towards Sararogha was in progress. Sporadic mortar and small arms fire was being received by security forces from different areas of the town, he added.
He said security forces were consolidating their positions on the ridges along the Razmak-Makeen road, on the Razmak-Makeen axis. The important village of China, just adjacent to Makeen, had been secured and a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered from huts, caves and compounds.
Security forces had neutralised 20 IEDs in the village, secured Kam Narakai and recovered huge ammunition, Gen Abbas added.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira rejected reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan and Balochistan. In reply to a question, he said the Inter-Services Intelligence chief’s visit to Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with the country’s political scene.

State of denial over Peshawar market attack culprits

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN -- When terrorists last week blew up the Mina Bazaar, a market for women and children, they detonated a car bomb so powerful it left more than 100 people dead and 15 missing in a nightmarish scene of scattered limbs, charred corpses and victims trapped alive under mounds of debris.
The bombing crossed a new line of callousness, uniting Peshawar in grief and fear and unleashing a tide of anger. But most of the outrage expressed by survivors, witnesses, religious leaders and other residents this week was not directed at Islamist extremist groups, whom the government has blamed for the attack, but at the countries many Pakistanis see as their true enemies: India, Israel and the United States.
In part, this reaction stems from a deep popular conviction that no Muslim could perpetrate such atrocities against other Muslims. The more egregious the attack, the stronger seems the tendency to deny a domestic cause and blame other, more remote culprits. Some religious and political groups are encouraging such responses, eager to whip up xenophobic sentiment for their own ends.
This week, the influential Jamaat-e-Islami religious party organized a "peace march" in central Peshawar from the Khyber Bazaar, where a car bomb killed more than 30 people Oct. 9, to the Mina Bazaar. The marchers held up banners and shouted slogans denouncing the CIA, the Pentagon, the security company formerly known as Blackwater, U.S. drone attacks and American aid. There was no mention of the Taliban or al-Qaeda.
"Muslims! Muslims! We are here to protest against those wrongdoers who work for India, Israel and the United States," a well-dressed, middle-aged rally organizer shouted through a bullhorn. "We protest against American interference and against our government, which is handing over Pakistan to the foreigners and the unbelievers."
Spokesmen for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda denied responsibility for the Mina Bazaar blast, saying they condemned the killing of innocents. But Pakistani and U.S. officials say the recent wave of bombings has been in direct retaliation for an ongoing army operation against Taliban tribal sanctuaries in the northwest border region of South Waziristan that began about one month ago.
Militants have also gone after a range of targets in other Pakistani cities, striking at an Islamic university and a U.N. compound in Islamabad, army facilities in Rawalpindi and police academies in Lahore. The widening terrorist scourge has increased public antipathy for the militants, solidified support for the military crackdown and turned the capital into a virtual garrison city, with riot police and traffic checks every few blocks.
Opinion polls have shown that most Pakistanis regard al-Qaeda and the Taliban as a threat. Yet Pakistanis, always sensitive to foreign intrusion, are volubly unhappy about the air strikes by U.S. unmanned planes that have been targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, sometimes killing civilians. When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Pakistan recently, audiences grilled her about the drone attacks, the ongoing U.S. Embassy expansion and persistent rumors that private U.S. security contractors are prowling Pakistan in search of its nuclear arsenal.
A city under siege

In Peshawar, which borders the tribal belt, the spillover from the South Waziristan conflict has been especially grim. Since the army operation began, more than 250 people have been killed here in half a dozen bombings at restaurants, mosques, army facilities and busy markets.
The attacks have changed the way of life in this ancient, unhurried city near the Afghan border. For generations, it has been a world of plodding donkeys, creaking horse carts, shaded religious shrines and twisting alleys of tiny shops, where bargaining is often a leisurely ritual over bowls of green tea.
Now, no one lingers. A wave of bombings in the past month, culminating in the deadliest blast yet at the bustling market Oct. 28, has sent a jolt of panic through the city of 2 million. Police search cars and then hustle drivers on their way. Shoppers grab their purchases and go. Mosques empty quickly after prayers, and tea stalls have few customers.
"Our life will never be the same," said Bahkt Lal, 26, whose family has owned a restaurant near the Mina Bazaar since 1920. He was cooking lunch when the bomb exploded and the building he was in collapsed. His brother was crushed to death, and Lal was hit on the head. "At night I still think the walls are falling on me," he said. "No one knows when the next attack will come. I am afraid to sit inside or go out."
Unswayed by evidence

Yet as workers continued sifting through the rubble of the Mina Bazaar this week, spewing clouds of plaster dust, shopkeepers and survivors alike insisted that foreign hands were behind the attack.
Shah Zamin, 35, who sells bales of raw cotton, said the stall ignited when the bomb exploded, engulfing his brother in flames. "I tried to save him, but his body was too hot to touch. He fell and died in front of me," Zamin said, grimacing at the memory. "I am certain that the Taliban would never do this terrible thing. It must be the foreigners, who want to give a bad name to Islam."
There was ample evidence, however, that the attackers had an Islamic fundamentalist agenda of keeping women in seclusion. Merchants sweeping out broken glass from women's clothing and sundry shops said unsigned posters had appeared in the bazaar shortly before the bombing, warning them not to sell cosmetics or display female mannequins.
Several miles away, in a rustic cemetery surrounding the historical Rahman Baba shrine, the bodies of a dozen women and children from the blast lay buried under new mounds of earth, some decorated with tinsel hearts or tiny plants. Gravediggers said they had never had to perform such grisly duty.
"They brought us bags with arms and legs, bodies burned so badly no one could identify them," said Fauji, 45, a graveyard tender. The message asked mourners not to weep but to recite from the Koran. "This is the worst thing I have ever seen," Fauji said. "It must have been the work of foreign hands."