The dramatic killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011 stunned the world, more so since it took place in Pakistan that maintained it knew nothing about the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Pakistan, a country that has been savaged by relentless terror attacks in recent years, was left red-faced by Osama being gunned down in Abbottabad town. The killing sparked intense speculation and left behind a host of unanswered questions.
More than a year later, Imtiaz Gul, a Pakistani defence and security analyst, has attempted to answer the dark questions that the world has wanted to know. He has taken a step forward and even tried to look at post-Osama Pakistan.
The well-researched book reiterates that it was a phone call in August 2010 between Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, a key courier for Osama, and an old friend that led US intelligence officials to the high-walled hideout, some 125 km north of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
The author says the Americans at large have scoffed at the possibility of the involvement of some top Pakistani civilian and military officials in the operations. For them the thought of prior information to any Pakistani sounded preposterous.
He, however, adds that the mistrust of Pakistanis runs so deep within the American public that “it was hard to inform them even of a commonsensical argument like Why would (US President Barack) Obama risk the lives of 79 SEALs before ensuring their safety on ground?”
While the author’s argument does carry Islamabad’s viewpoint, it fails to categorically put an end to the question whether the Pakistanis actually knew about it or were completely in the dark as the US says.
Gul points out that like other Islamists who took part in the Afghan war, Osama’s armed resistance sought to install an Islamic superpower by replacing the dominant players in the international political order.
Regardless of who turned Bin Laden into a hero, he certainly created and propagated a different, radical worldview that continues to influence people all over - from the Arabian peninsula to Europe to the Americas - evident from the arrests of excessively brainwashed followers of Bin Laden.
Looking ahead, the book says that just as the search for Osama has been a preoccupation for the past decade, the whereabouts of his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri are now likely to engage the US and Pakistani intelligence. But where could al-Zawahiri be hiding today?
“The city that would most suit him and provide him the peace he needs to strategize his takeover is Islamabad,” says the author, who adds that it will be no surprise if American or Pakistani intelligence were to scoop him from Rawalpindi or Islamabad one day.
The book dwells on the rocky Pakistan-US ties and says that different geo-strategic objectives and mutual mistrust continue to cloud the relationship. Divergent views on the endgame in Afghanistan have also kept rocking the CIA-ISI relationship and resulted in turf wars between the two agencies.
On the way ahead for its ties with the US, Gul notes that Pakistan’s relationship is likely to remain bumpy and fraught with possibilities of occasional altercations that at times spark fears of an armed conflagration as well.
The author frankly says that rather than emulating a ten-time bigger India, Pakistan needs to drastically improve government and management of utilities. National strength rests in internal political and economic stability and not in borrowed nuclear technology or money.
Post-Osama, Pakistan faces a double whammy — on the one hand, the US-led world looks at it with suspicion and, on the other, the country has lost over 40,000 of its citizens and security personnel in terror strikes.
Calling for an urgent civilian-military consensus, the author fears that in the absence of a clearly defined foreign policy, and a drastic review of its main contours, Pakistan’s frictions and fracas with the US, India and Afghanistan will keep causing upsets. (IANS)
Games : NiGHTS Into Dreams HD
As part of its one-two punch to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network this week, Sega has brought back Sonic Team's innovative NiGHTS Into Dreams, retouching it with a high-definition transfer and adding some bonus goodies for good measure. And the fact they're releasing it for ten bucks (800 Microsoft points) is a welcome relief, especially to those who don't feel like hunting down an original copy of the game – along with a Sega Saturn to play it on – on eBay. While the game isn't exactly perfect, it does present itself well enough to a new generation of gamers and old-schoolers alike.
The game puts you in control of a dream warrior named NiGHTS who works with two kids trying to fight through an imaginary world loaded with enemies. To eliminate them, NiGHTS must form circles around them to make them disappear or, with some bigger boss enemies, grasp onto a weak point and let loose with a powerful throw or push. It's a non-violent approach to defeating enemies (compared to, say, a missile launcher), and for the most part it works.
Each level is also loaded with other objectives, such as flying through hoops and putting together links to get a better score on each part of the stage, as well as collecting gems. You'll need to do this and hit certain points on the map within a time limit, or the dream is over.
Playing as NiGHTS is a fantastic experience, as the dream warrior controls with very little problem, and the gameplay quirks can be picked up on in a matter of seconds. However, when you're stuck playing as one of the kids, you have to slug around on the ground, avoiding an alarm clock and working all the way back to NiGHTS' awaiting station. It's tiresome, so your best bet is to just keep alive as the main hero.
Along with the main game, which will take you some time to get through when it comes achieving A grades, you've also got a bunch of bonuses to unlock, as well as online leaderboards, supported by Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, so you can compete for the best times. That's great, but the real treasure in this package is Christmas NiGHTS. This spin-off, originally shipped as a bonus goodie for the Official Sega Magazine years ago, is wonderful, with not only new levels to complete, but presents to open. Some are better than others, but the fact the game is thrown in at all – without the extra cost for DLC – is a superb move on Sega's part.
The presentation is fantastic. Like Sonic Adventure 2, NiGHTS Into Dreams has undergone a cool HD transfer. Some of the level designs are a little weak compared to others, but the visuals have been prettied up enough that you probably won't care. The boss battles are real standouts, as the camera zooms out wide enough that you can see everything that's happening. For purists, you can also play the original Saturn version, though that oval-shaped Saturn controller isn't thrown in. Ah, well.
As for the music, it's traditional Sonic Team stuff, fun little melodies that'll keep you hooked. There could've been more sound effects, but overall it's acceptable.
Its approach to dispatching enemies and flying through levels may not be for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to play through this dreamy world at least once. And who knows. Like me, you just might be hooked.
Game Rating: 8.0
Beauty Tips : Tips for chapped lips
1. Apply an unflavoured lip balm with sunscreen wherever you go. Petroleum jelly, Vitamin E oil, aloe vera gel, or even a skin moisturizer will work to keep your lips greasy and properly moisturized, and prevent them from drying out. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
2. If you wear lipstick, make sure it's glossy; matte lipstick tends to dry out your lips. Before applying your lipstick, dab on a very small amount of lip balm or petroleum jelly.
3. If your lips are badly chapped, remove the dead skin by rubbing a wet, warm washcloth over your lips to gently loosen the flakes. You may need to do this more than once as your lips heal.
4. Avoid flavoured lip balms. Choose one with all natural ingredients; pure vegetable oils and butters with beeswax provide a safe barrier. Coconut oil is mild and soothing, and coconut butter is rich and creamy; both are perfect for the lips.