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APRIL 21, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 15 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Newsmakers

Passage
Assassinated: Waqar Hussain Naqvi, the prominent secretary general of Pakistan's Shia Muslim political party Tehrik-e-Jaffria, was gunned down with his son and driver on April 7 as they dropped off his daughter at school in Karachi. Four men on motorcycles blocked the car and indiscriminately opened fire. A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Jaffria, Hassan Turabi, blamed a rival Sunni group, the Sipah-e-Sahaba, for the murder. The attack was the first major incident of sectarian violence following the military takeover by Gen. Pervez Musharraf in October 1999.

Visa Granted: On April 11, the Dalai Lama was approved for a visa to enter Japan from April 13 to 18 to lecture at a Buddhist college. China warned the Japanese in February that relations would suffer if the exiled Tibetan leader were permitted to travel to the country.

Turned 80: Time hasn't slowed Ravi Shankar, who celebrated his 80th birthday on April 7 with a Hindu religious rite and an announcement that he is in the process of setting up the Ravi Shankar Institute for Music and Performing Arts. He also launched a worldwide music festival that will culminate in New Delhi in February 2001. The internationally famous sitarist was at home to receive calls from President K. R. Narayanan and PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as ex-Beatle George Harrison. As part of the 10-month music festival he will appear with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, accompanied by his 18-year-old daughter Anoushka.

Pakistan's A-List
The first day of his life as a convicted criminal, former PM Nawaz Sharif spent as he has most every other day since he was arrested on Oct. 12. While two attendants and a cook saw to his needs, Sharif "walked, had his meals and offered prayers," according to Nusrat Manghan, the superintendent of Karachi's Landhi prison. He explained that "A-Class" prisoners - those who have held public office or are otherwise well-placed - are usually accorded such privileges. Sharif will remain in Landhi while he appeals the April 6 double life sentences for terrorism and hijacking, stemming from his attempts to keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf - the man who deposed him - from landing at Karachi airport.It was that move that led to Sharif's ouster later the same day. Another group that still considers Sharif A-Number-One is the Pakistan Muslim League, which confirmed him as party leader on April 9 - even though, PML vice president Raja Zafar-ul Haq admits, there are members who want fresh party elections. Meanwhile, Musharraf left for Paris and then went on to the Group of 77 summit in Havana to shore up any support he can find among developing countries. The general - who has promised elections but refuses to set a date - needs allies. Pakistan is becoming a country where leaders are increasingly seen as a well-treated but expendable commodity.

Rushing To Rule
"I have no plan at all to dissolve the lower house," Mori Yoshiro, Japan's brand new prime minister, told Parliament on Apr. 11. Yeah, sure. Senior members of Mori's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have publicly identified every Sunday in June, from the 4th to the 25th, as possible polling dates. Elections do not have to be held until Oct. 19, so why the rush? The LDP wants to tap voters' sympathy for hospitalized former prime minister Obuchi Keizo, whose stroke led to Mori's elevation. And the opposition is clamoring for a public judgment on Mori's sudden rise to eminence. Though the PM himself may want to notch a few achievements first - hosting the G8 summit in July in Okinawa would burnish his image nicely - he has a more practical reason to call elections. His instantaneous accession to power forced him to adopt Obuchi's cabinet and policies lock, stock and barrel. It was so complete that members of his LDP faction complain that Mori went off to be a bride in the Obuchi family. With an electoral win, Mori would cement his position and be able to name his own cabinet.

Stepping Down, But Not Out
The rumors said she was getting married. The reality is that she is tired of battling Hong Kong's executive-led government. So the 44-year-old Christine Loh won't try to tack on another term to her nine-year stint as a member of the territory's Legislative Council. On April 11 she told a press conference that she is frustrated with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's reluctance to introduce more democracy into the SAR so she will turn her attention to issues like environmental protection - her main concern while in Legco. So she's outta there for good? Not completely: Loh says she will remain chairman of the Citizens Party which she founded in 1997. And about those marriage plans?A flat denial, tinged with a mind-your-own business attitude.





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