Masroor Gilani

Masroor Gilani

    Pakistan's new prime minister was sworn in by President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday as two senior United States envoys arrived for talks aimed at shoring up Islamabad's role in the "war on terror".

    Pakistani authorities on Monday banned former premier Nawaz Sharif from standing in next month's general election, further damaging the credibility of a vote that the opposition may yet boycott. The ruling came as Sharif prepared to hold crunch talks with fellow opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

    Pakistani security forces fought fierce gun battles with students at a pro-Taliban mosque in Islamabad on Tuesday after a lengthy stand-off exploded into violence, leaving nine dead and 140 hurt. Clerics at the radical Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, threatened suicide attacks to avenge the "blood of martyrs" after the day-long clashes.

    For Pakistan's new class of affluent but bored young people, action sports like paragliding are providing a healthier outlet than fast cars and recreational substances. "It is better than drugs and drag racing on city roads," says local pioneer Sajjad Shah (43) as he unloads gliders from his green Toyota Prado in the scenic north-western village of Thipra.

    Hundreds of thousands of quake survivors in the mountains of northeast Pakistan were on Monday desperately waiting for help after spending a second night in freezing temperatures, as the confirmed death toll rose to nearly 20 000. In many villages and towns hardest hit by Saturday's quake, people dug through the night with their bare hands in an often futile attempt to reach friends and relatives trapped in the rubble.