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Internet, SMS easy, quick services to send greetings

Wishing New Year was never as easy as it has become now due to the advent of technology where people just pressed a button in order to wish their loved ones the good luck to be followed on coming year.

The internet and mobile phones have fast replaced the tradition of sending post cards and greeting cards, which is why there were just a few shops that bothered to display the cards of Happy New Year.

SMS being the most popular and cheap way of communication was largely adopted by the people where the messages comprising New Year wishes, quotes and poetry was forwarded to the dear and near ones in a large number.

“Its something really convenient to send a good message by a single click rather than purchasing a post card and posting it while spending a good sum of money and time,” said Shams-ul-Hassan.

Hassan said that it was not only the matter of time, but one has to take hassle by purchasing card days before the event and then making it sure that it has been received by the concerned person on time. People started sending new year messages from early morning of December 31, but the process gained momentum after evening where most of the mobile networks got jammed around 12.

“I intended to send New Year wish to all my friend at sharp 12:00 midnight, but to my utter disappointment I could only manage to send it at 1:00 a.m., as I was getting the message of ‘message sending failed’ each time I tried to send it,” said Nooria Ahsan, a student of BBA.

Ms Ahsan said that SMS were the true substitute of post cards and greeting cards rather it was better as it was fast, cheap and reliable.

Besides that people also sent greetings through internet via email and face book. “It is the quickest way to wish besides that it costs nothing,” said Usman Murtaza.

Murtaza said that internet was a convenient way of wishing some occasion as one could easily browse the suitable messages through the various websites and send it to the relevant person. However there are number of people who do not consider the technology as a substitute of fast declining tradition of greeting cards. “The pleasure of receiving some greeting cards was unexplainable, which can’t be achieved by thousands of SMS and emails that we receive on the occasions like new year,” said Ghousia Bangash, a housewife.

She said that the real feel of celebration was only felt when they used to head towards market to buy the greeting cards for the loved ones and would post it and then would wait for the cards to be received by them. “The joy of opening, reading and then decorating these cards was unimaginable,” she argued.

The new year messages that started from December 31 continued till the evening of January 1, which not only included the prayers for the receiver, but also prayers for the stability and progress of Pakistan.

US closes its Yemen embassy after Al-Qaeda threats

SANAA — The American embassy in Yemen closed on Sunday after Al-Qaeda threats to attack US interests, as Britain and the United States vowed to support the impoverished country in its fight against Al-Qaeda.

The move came after US President Barack Obama blamed a Yemen-based Al-Qaeda affiliate for the foiled Christmas Day attack on a US airliner and a day after a visit by the American regional military commander, General David Petraeus.

Al-Qaeda's franchise in Yemen had called on Monday for embassies to be targeted as it claimed responsibility for the thwarted attack on the Detroit-bound Northwest airliner.

"The US Embassy in Sanaa is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen," said a statement posted on the embassy's website.

On Thursday the US mission sent a warden message to American citizens in the country reminding them of the "continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world."

AQAP on Monday urged further attacks on Westerners in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We call upon every Muslim who cares about his religion and doctrine to assist in expelling the apostasies from the Arabian Peninsula, by killing every crusader who works at their embassies or other places, declare it an all-out war against every crusader on Mohammad's peninsula on land, air and sea," an AQAP statement said.

Both London and Washington have agreed to fund Yemen's special Counter-Terrorism Unit after Obama on Saturday for the first time singled out the Al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen for the thwarted attack.

The special force had in the past received US training and assistance.

On September 17, 2008, the US embassy was the target of an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda in which 19 people were killed -- seven attackers and 12 others, including Yemeni guards and civilians, one of them an American woman.

Last month the defence ministry newspaper said that a raid north of the capital on December 17 killed four suspects and foiled a plot to bomb the British embassy in Sanaa.

Yemen on Sunday welcomed the British and US decision to fund the special force.

"Any assistance provided to Yemen's counter-terrorism force will be most welcome," a government official who requested anonymity told AFP.

The official also said that Sanaa would need help to modernise its coastguard "in light of the danger coming from Somalia."

Somalia's Shebab insurgents pledged on Friday to send militants across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen to help the Al-Qaeda affiliate behind the failed US airliner bombing.

Obama on Saturday blamed Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch for the attack on the US jet by 23-year-old Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

"We know that he travelled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies," Obama said in an address posted on the White House website.

"It appears that he joined an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, and that this group, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America."

General Petraeus on Saturday personally delivered a message from Obama to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on bilateral cooperation against terror groups.

Britain, meanwhile, has called an international meeting on combating extremism in Yemen for London on January 28, in parallel with a conference on Afghanistan drawing senior ministers or leaders from more than 40 nations.

Yemen is the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.LINK