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Archive for Saturday, October 27, 2001

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October 27, 2001

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WASHINGTON: Bush puts Taliban on list as enemy of religious freedom

The Bush administration designated the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and six other governments the world's worst persecutors of religious believers Friday, but rejected calls to include other countries the White House views as key in the war on terrorism.

Human rights groups complained that Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan should have been added to the annual list released by the State Department. The groups charged that the nations were omitted because the Bush administration needs their help in combating the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

The State Department added just one government, North Korea, to its list of the most egregious offenders of religious liberty. The Taliban and the governments of China, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Sudan were also on the list last year.

Pakistan: Leading nuclear scientists questioned about Taliban ties

Two leading nuclear scientists are in custody for questioning about alleged pro-Taliban sympathies, the Pakistani government confirmed Friday.

Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi, a spokesman for President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said the two men were being questioned about alleged ties to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

The men have not been charged and will probably be released within days, he said. The questioning was part of a wider, more general investigation of organizations and people who have worked with or in Afghanistan, he said.

Sultan Bashiru-Din Mehmood is a pioneering member of Pakistan's nuclear program. Pakistan began efforts to obtain nuclear technology in the early 1970s.

The Interior Ministry identified the other detained scientist as Abdul Majid, who worked with Mehmood for years at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Intelligence agents took the men into custody Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore.

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