March 15, 2021 3:20:08 am
Libya reversed its decision to grant asylum to three Pakistani hijackers and 54 freed political prisoners, imperiling a swap operation designed to release more than 100 hostages held aboard a commandeered jetliner at Damascus airport. A Syrian Airlines jet with the dissidents on board was only half an hour’s from taking off when Tripoli announced its volte face. A Pakistani official spokesman said that the Syrian President Hafez Al Assad has told Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq that his country is ready to take the three hijackers and the 54 political prisoners. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has urged Syria to use its good offices for a speedy resolution to the crisis.
One person was killed and two others were injured in police firing when a rioting mob attacked a police patrol and indulged in arson in the walled city of Ahmedabad. Curfew was clamped in the entire area under the Astodia police station when the police were stoned by anti-reservationists. There were also reports of stone throwing in several areas of Surat with students demanding the postponement of exams as the courses had not been completed due to the agitation.
The US administration is pleased with Pakistan’s willingness to help defend Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and may well offer arms supplies to “poorly equipped Pakistani forces”, US officials say. But they say it would be an exaggeration to suggest that they see Pakistan president Zia-ul-Haq as a successor to the role of Gulf policeman which the late Shah of Iran once aspired to.
The Indian and Eastern Newspaper Society has urged the Union Finance Minister R Venkataraman to withdraw the 15 per cent customs duty on imported newsprint.
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