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Delhi Set For Fresh Elections

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Najeeb Jung

Najeeb Jung

New Delhi: Delhi was set for a fresh electoral battle after leaders of the BJP, the Congress and the AAP Monday told Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung that they wanted elections to end months of political uncertainty.

Leaders of the three political parties told Jung that fresh balloting was needed as no party was in a position to form the government in the hung 70-member assembly.

A Raj Bhavan statement said Jung would be writing to President Pranab Mukherjee giving his recommendations. He is most likely to suggest fresh election — the second since December last year.

That election threw up a fractured mandate, with the Bharatiya Janata Party refusing to form the government despite winning 31 seats.

The Aam Aadmi Party came a close second with 28 seats, an electoral performance that stunned the nation, and formed a minority government with Congress backing.

But the government collapsed after 49 days as chief minister and AAP founder leader Arvind Kejriwal resigned after failing to pass a Jan Lokpal Bill.

Kejriwal, who later lost the Lok Sabha election in Varanasi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said later that he erred by quitting.

A BJP delegation led by its Delhi president Satish Upadhyay was the first to meet the Lt. Governor Monday.

The BJP made no public statement after the meeting. But BJP sources said the party said it wanted a fresh election in Delhi, which has been under President’s rule since February.

The sources said they expect the election by February next year.

Congress legislator Haroon Yusuf also told Jung that his party wanted the Delhi assembly dissolved, followed by fresh elections.

“We will contest the election under the guidance of (party president) Sonia Gandhi and (vice president) Rahul Gandhi, and development will be our main agenda,” he said.

The AAP, which has repeatedly accused the BJP of trying to poach its legislators to form the government in Delhi, reiterated that it wanted a new election.

AAP leader Manish Sisodia said after meeting Jung along with Kejriwal: “Our stand is what it was eight months ago. We want the Delhi assembly to be dissolved.”

Sisodia also took a dig at the BJP.

“If they wanted fresh elections, why did they create all this suspense for all these months?” he asked.

The December 2013 election for the first time led to a three-way battle in Delhi, with the Congress — which had ruled the capital for 15 long years — mauled and left with just eight of the 70 seats.

The BJP won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in May this year but the AAP overcame great odds to finish second everywhere, relegating the Congress to the third spot in six places and to the fourth in one constituency.

The Lok Sabha election, however, brought down the BJP’s strength in the assembly from 31 to 28 as three legislators were elected to parliament. The AAP now has 27 legislators after one revolted early on.

Some BJP leaders said in recent months that they were capable of forming a new government with the backing of what they said were disgruntled AAP legislators.

But that never happened, and Kejriwal repeatedly accused the BJP of trying to win over AAP legislators with bribery — a charge the BJP denied.

SOUTH ASIA

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

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Nawaz sharif

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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SOUTH ASIA

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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Temple

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