DOWN: The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad after the Sept. 21 bombing. The hotel was used by international cricket teams.
Top Indian cricket players, including captain M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, are unwilling to tour Pakistan in January because they fear for their security.
Sources tell that senior players have expressed their concern to the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The team is scheduled to play three Tests and five ODIs from January 4 to February 19 tour in Pakistan.
Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh too have expressed their unwillingness to tour Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has assured foolproof security but the Indians believe the threat during the tour would be severe.
PCB chief Ejaz Butt is scheduled to visit India soon to try and convince the BCCI but that plea is now likely to fall on deaf ears.
It is known that the Ministry of External Affairs is unlikely to permit the Indian team to tour Pakistan.
Early November, the government refused to permit the Indian junior hockey team to tour Pakistan due to security concerns.
The Associated Press reports the International Cricket Council deferred the Champions Trophy in September after five of the eight participating teams refused to compete at the biennial tournament that is considered the second most prestigious one-day event after the World Cup.
The PCB has said it would consider playing India at a neutral venue or possibly switch series as alternatives. Pakistan is due to tour India in 2010.
TERM OVER: Bush at a graduation ceremony for FBI Agents in Quantico, Va.
Even before one vote was counted, this result was clear: The US presidential race was a verdict on George W Bush.
Both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain positioned themselves as agents of change—that is, change from Bush.
The US President’s approval ratings have hovered near historically low levels—it was just 26 percent in an AP-GfK poll conducted a couple of weeks before Election Day—and he was a factor in voters’ decision-making no matter how much he tried to keep out of the race.
Obama seized on Bush’s standing to make him a political liability for McCain, who in turn separated himself aggressively from the face of his own party as the campaign closed.
The President’s face has been such a fixture in anti-McCain ads that it was up to Laura Bush to add a touch of lightness to her husband’s woes.
“I’m really looking forward to Election Day,” she said at a Republican campaign event in Kentucky on Monday, “partly because it seems like George has been on the ticket this entire year.”
The quietest place in Washington on Tuesday may have been the White House itself.
The President voted absentee several days ago, so there was no video of him at his precinct, no statements to reporters, no public appearance whatsoever.
Bush planned to spend his evening in the White House residence, watching TV coverage of election results and hosting a small dinner with his wife, Laura.
There was sure to be at least some celebrating—Tuesday is the first lady’s birthday. Otherwise, it was a day when the White House purposely went dark.
“He realises this election is not about him,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said heading into voting day.
Tuesday marked the first time in 14 years—a period when Bush twice won the Texas governorship and the presidency—that he was not on the ballot.
Many pundits had no doubt about Tuesday’s outcome. Among them: Karl Rove, once of Bush’s closest aides and the architect of his two successful presidential runs. On election eve, Rove distributed his last analysis of the electoral map. It predicted Obama winning easily, with 338 electoral votes. It takes 270 to win.
The title of Rove’s e-mail: “The End.” He was referring to the election, but there was also a feeling of finality at the White House.
Outside, the post-Bush transition was starting. Construction workers churned away on Inauguration Day grandstands along Pennsylvania Avenue.
“LTTE and Sri Lankan Tamils could not be separated. Though we are against any violence, we should differentiate between violence and right”, he said.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had assured me no military aid would be supplied to Sri Lanka, had gone back on his word,” he alleged.
Vaiko said, “if the need arises, I will be the first man to take up arms in support of Sri Lankan Tamils. I will gather youths all over the country for this purpose”.The MDMK presidium chairman, M Kannappan, had told the meeting that time would come to demand for a separate Tamil Nadu. In that meeting, a two-hour film on Sri Lankan army’s alleged atrocities against Tamils was screened.
In a statement on Wednesday, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa had demanded that all LTTE supporters be booked.
Tamil Nadu government’s decision to arrest Vaiko was to make it clear that ruling DMK’s support was only for the suffering Sri Lankan Tamils and not for LTTE.
Vaiko, now an ally of Jayalalithaa, was detained under POTA by her Government in 2004 on his arrival from the United States after he had made a pro-LTTE speech at a public meeting in Tirumangalam in Madurai.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi had condemned Vaiko’s arrest at that time.
This is the second time that Vaiko has been arrested for supporting the banned group, the earlier occasion being during the previous AIADMK government when he was held under POTA.
Vaiko was arrested under the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act, police said.
He was remanded to 14 days judicial custody.
Vaiko said soon after his arrest that his party was for India’s sovereignty. At the same time, it could not allow the Centre to provide arms and ammunition and logistics support to Sri Lankan government ‘to perpetuate war against Tamils’.
The poll says that a growing number of voters said that they were comfortable with the Democrat’s values, background and ability to serve as commander-in-chief.
It’s the largest lead in the Journal/NBC poll so far, and represents a steady climb for Senator Obama since early September, when the political conventions concluded with the candidates in a statistical tie.
“Voters have reached a comfort level with Barack Obama,” said Peter D Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the poll with Republican Neil Newhouse.Though most voters polled said that McCain is better prepared for the White House than the first-term Obama, there are increasing concerns about the readiness of McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the poll showed.
The race, the Journal said, has rested largely on the question of whether voters could get comfortable with Obama, the first African-American to run on a major party ticket, and one who has been on the national political scene for just a few years.
McCain has worked to stoke concerns about Obama’s past and his qualifications, raising questions about his rival’s character and his association with 1960s-era radical William Ayers. The new poll suggests that these attacks haven’t worked. The poll found that Obama now holds a 12-percentage-point advantage with independents, a group both sides have fiercely sought. Two weeks ago, Obama led this group by just four percentage points. In mid-September, independents favoured McCain by 13 points.
Obama leads suburban voters by 12 percentage points, up from two points two weeks ago. He leads among older voters, those over 65-years-old, by nine points, erasing a one-point McCain advantage from the last poll. And in the Midwest, home
to a swath of battleground states, he is now favoured by 25 points, up from a one-point advantage.
Some daily tracking polls, the journal said, have found a tighter race between McCain and Obama in recent days.
Real Clear Politics, a Web site that averages major polls, shows Obama up by 7.2 percentage points.
Others have found a larger spread, such as one released Tuesday by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan research group. That poll found a 14-point advantage for Obama among registered voters.
Many polls also show McCain lagging in key battleground states, which hold the electoral votes that could decide the race.
Obama, the paper said, has also eaten into traditional Republican advantages, notably on taxes, despite McCain’s attempts to make the issue a central economic theme of the campaign’s closing days.
In the mid-September Journal poll, McCain was favoured 41 per cent to 37 per cent when voters were asked which candidate would be “better on taxes.” This week’s poll found Obama leading on the issue by 48 per cent to 34 per cent.
That, the Journal says, may be partly due to Obama’s argument that McCain would raise taxes on health-insurance benefits. While McCain’s health plan does raise some taxes, the plan overall represents a net tax cut, the paper said, citing independent estimates.
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