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Congress Eyes Consensus On Promotion Quota Bill

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            Congress Eyes Consensus On Promotion Quota Bill New Delhi: Finding itself in a “complex” situation, with both the SP and BSP sticking to their positions on the bill on reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in job promotions, the Congress said Tuesday it has started discussing the issue with other parties to pass the legislation in parliament. “We are trying for a consensus among all parties so the bill can be passed in parliament,” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, adding, “The government and the party are committed to the bill.”

Government sources said informal consultations have started with other parties to build consensus on the issue. “It (resolving the deadlock) is a complex issue, but we are committed to the cause of social justice,” Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko said.
Both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which “helped” the government win the FDI in retail vote in parliament last week, have diametrically opposite stands on the bill.
The bill is possibly the next acid test for the government with the SP opposed to it and the BSP for it.
Since it is a constitution amendment bill, it would require a two-thirds majority – which the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance does not have either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. It would thus need all the support it can muster. “Once again our floor management skills would be put to test,” said a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named.
Government sources said they were talking to the SP to convince it but the party was adamant on its stand. “The two parties offer us issue-based support..we hope to resolve the issue,” said a Congress MP in the upper house while expressing the hope that the party would be able to bring the SP on board. He said the two parties may have different views on the bill but that does not mean a solution cannot be found.
The SP is, however, determined to continue with its protest on the bill and not to let it get passed. “We will oppose it and ask the government to remove disputed issues from the list of business to let the house function. This is dividing society. The general, the backwards, all other classes will be affected with this reservation, SP leader Naresh Agarwal said, asking, “How can you benefit one by taking away rights of others.”
The Rajya Sabha has seen several adjournments this session over differences on the bill.
BSP chief Mayawati has accused the BJP of stalling the Rajya Sabha because it did not want the bill to be passed. “This bill was to come on Monday. But it’s sad that to stop this bill, the BJP and company raised the FDI lobbying issue,” she said.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party was all for social justice but within constitutional parameters. “All classes of society, whether it is SC, backward classes, or minorities, should come into the mainstream,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
The bill was listed in the Rajya Sabha and was to be taken up Monday. Now, it will have to be rescheduled.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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