PAKISTAN: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has called for General Pervez Musharraf to resign as president and says she will never serve as prime minister under him. Speaking by telephone from the city of Lahore, where she is under house arrest, Ms. Bhutto told reporters that the situation in Pakistan can only get worse if what she described as the "dictatorship" of President Musharraf is allowed to continue. Ms. Bhutto has previously called for General Musharraf to step down as head of the military and become a civilian president, but this is the first time she has demanded he resign altogether.
AFGHAN SECURITY: A newly released study has criticized private security contractors in Afghanistan for increasing public feelings of insecurity. The study, released Monday by the Swisspeace Institute, says many Afghans are unable to distinguish between the private security sector and Afghan and international forces. Swiss researcher Susan Schmeidl says that a main problem is that nobody, in her words, "guards the guardians." The report says that some of the security companies operating in Afghanistan employ militiamen with alleged criminal links.
AFGHAN - RIGHTS: An international human rights group is urging NATO to stop transferring detainees to Afghan security forces because of reports they torture their prisoners. Amnesty International says the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force could be exposing prisoners to mistreatment and abuse by placing them in the custody of the Afghan National Directorate of Security. The rights group wants ISAF to temporarily suspend all prisoner handovers to Afghan authorities until proper safeguards are in place.
JAPAN - AFGHAN MISSION: Japan's lower house of parliament has approved a bill to resume the country's support of a U.S.-led mission to Afghanistan, setting the stage for a political battle with the opposition-controlled upper house. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan has pledged to block the bill in the upper house and prospects for the mission to resume remain uncertain. The lower house's passage of the bill to let Japan's navy resume refueling U.S. and other ships patrolling the Indian Ocean for drug runners, gun smugglers and other suspected terrorists comes days ahead of a planned visit by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to Washington.
IRAQ: A key ally of radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for Iraq's parliament to be dissolved and new legislative elections held. The prominent lawmaker (Bahaa al-Araji) from al-Sadr's political bloc told reporters in Baghdad today (Tuesday) that the parliament has become a burden on the Iraqi people. He called for a revision to election law, saying he was expressing his personal views and not those of his bloc. In violence today (Tuesday), Iraqi authorities say a police captain was killed in a shooting in the north of the country.
KOREAS - PEACE TALKS: South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun is calling for an early summit to declare peace on the Korean peninsula and end the war that has divided North and South Korea for over 50 years. Speaking to a forum today in the southeastern city of Busan, Mr. Roh said the leaders of the two Koreas, China and the United States should hold a summit as soon as possible. He suggested that during the meeting, the four leaders could sign a peace pact and a declaration on scrapping North Korea's nuclear program. The United States has suggested that a peace agreement cannot be reached until North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons program.
BURMA: A United Nations human rights envoy is visiting Burma's remote capital today where he will meet with military leaders as part of his investigation into a crackdown on anti-government protesters. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro will meet with several Burmese Cabinet ministers during his trip to Naypyidaw. He began a five day visit to Burma on Sunday, his first trip to the country since 2003. On Monday, he visited a notorious Burmese prison for political detainees as part of his effort to uncover just how many people died during the government's bloody crackdown in September.
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