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Disappointed With Lack Of Backing, Sangma Quits NCP

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         Disappointed With Lack Of Backing, Sangma Quits NCP    New Delhi/Shillong: Former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A. Sangma Wednesday quit the NCP, saying he was disappointed by his party’s reluctance to back his presidential candidature.

“The disinclination of the NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country. I cannot ignore the feelings of the tribals that Raisina Hill should not continue to be a distant dream for them,” he said, referring to the area in the heart of the capital where the Rashtrapati Bhavan is located.
“I have resigned accordingly, without any intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership,” Sangma said.
The Garo tribal leader from Meghalaya said he had no option but to quit the NCP, which he founded in 1999 along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar after breaking away from the Congress.
The NCP said it would accept his resignation. “The resignation will be accepted,” party chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said without elaboration.
The first word of Sangma’s action came from Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, who announced that the NCP leader was set to leave his party.
Swamy, who described the former speaker as a close friend, said Sangma invited him to his house to say that he felt insulted after hearing various rumours about him. “He told me he is resigning (because) his self-respect has to be protected,” Swamy told the media.
Swamy quoted Sangma as saying there was pressure on the NCP since he was declared the presidential candidate of Chief Ministers J. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and Naveen Patnaik of Odisha.
The NCP has repeatedly said that Sangma would abide by its decision to back United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and quit the presidential race.
Swamy alleged that “leaks” from Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence insinuated that Sangma would be made India’s envoy to Mauritius if he withdrew from the presidential race. “He has resigned to protect his self respect, not because he anticipates he will be made the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) candidate,” the Janata Party leader said, adding, “There are attempts to humiliate him.”
Describing him as a nationalist from the northeast and a bright (Lok Sabha) speaker, Swamy said: “It is a matter of great regret that a person like him is sought to be insulted.”
Swamy declined to say if Sangma would be a candidate of the NDA, merely saying a meeting of the alliance was scheduled Wednesday evening at BJP leader L.K. Advani’s residence.
Purno Sangma also said, “I have received promises of support from senior leaders of non-Congress parties, including those in the NDA.”
He said he had been a founder member of the NCP. “I believe that I have also worked hard for building up the base of the party in several parts of India. “Indeed the national status of the party has been significant due to the mass support from among the tribals who constitute 100 million of our population and among whom I have ceaselessly worked. It is in gratitude for the support of the tribals that I have accepted the candidature proposed by the Tribal Forum of India.”
In Shillong, Sangma’s son Conrad Sangma, who is also from the NCP and heads the opposition in the Meghalaya assembly, said, “My father has resigned because he does not want conflict of interest in the party. My father does not want to put the party in an awkward position.”

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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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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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