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Government shuts down spy unit

Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, quietly has shut down a unit that for decades spied on domestic politicians and exerted shadowy influence in affairs of state.

Analysts described the decision to deactivate the ISI’s “political wing” as the latest in a series of steps meant to separate the army and the security apparatus from domestic politics – and also to rehabilitate the spy agency’s battered public image.

The ISI, which nurtured the Taliban movement in the 1990s, has been dogged by allegations that elements within the agency are acting in concert with Islamic militant groups.

Word of the wing’s dissolution emerged in Pakistani news reports over the weekend, subsequently confirmed by government officials. Few details were disclosed, including when the action was taken and whether the decision originated with the civilian government or within the ISI itself.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

British pair spared time in jail

Having endured public shame and courtroom prying, a British pair convicted of having sex outside marriage on a Dubai beach had their three-month jail sentence suspended Tuesday.

An appeals court in the United Arab Emirates upheld the guilty verdict but spared Vince Acors, 34, and Michelle Palmer, 36, imprisonment. The defendants paid $272 each for charges involving alcohol consumption in the incident that unfolded July 5 when they left a Champagne brunch and were arrested hours later on Jumeirah Beach.

The couple, who admitted kissing but denied having sex, were expected to be deported to their native Britain. After the court’s ruling, Palmer was quoted by reporters as saying: “It just proves our innocence after all the bad stuff that was written. That’s it.”

Acors and Palmer were convicted in October and quickly became the grist of international headlines and a cautionary tale about Western permissiveness colliding with Islamic values. Dubai is the most liberal of the emirates, but recent pressure from Muslim conservatives has made police more vigilant in combating moral offenses.

From wire reports


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