Following the complete breakdown of negotiations on the lokpal bill, Anna Hazare announced on Thursday that he would resume his indefinite fast from August 16 and he was prepared to die for the cause. Although Hazare said the government had gone back on its promise, three ministers of the joint drafting panel made it clear that creation of a structure “parallel to the government” could not be allowed.
Both sides used strong language, but none were willing to call off the final meeting scheduled for June 20. Law minister M Veerappa Moily, however, said there was no question of sending two drafts of the bill to the cabinet. If the panel members fail to iron out differences in the June 20 meeting, their respective views would be sent to the cabinet, he said.
Home minister P Chidambaram said the government would finalise the draft by June 30 “with or without the civil society members”. He also hinted that the Prime Minister’s post might be brought under the lokpal ambit with clearly carved out exceptions. But no decision had yet been taken on this. In a dig at Hazare, Chidambaram said, “I don’t think fasting is the way to draft a bill anywhere in the world.”
Shortly before the group of ministers on media addressed a press conference, Hazare launched a strong attack on the government. “Since the government has no intention of bringing an effective lokpal bill and it backtracked yesterday on the promise to consider our suggestions, I have decided to resume my fast from August 16.” He said, referring to the police action on Baba Ramdev at Ramlila ground on June 6: “It can happen with us also, but I do not care since I am prepared for lathis, bullets and jail.”
The no-holds-barred fight touched a new low on Thursday, with both sides presenting different versions of what transpired in the joint meetings.
Hazare’s team member Arvind Kejriwal said the government representatives merely announced their decisions on the civil society activists’ arguments.
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal strongly countered, giving several examples of having elaborate discussions on major issues of divergence. “You cannot threaten and negotiate at the same time. This is not the way forward. The government is not going to get diverted by abuses and slander,” Sibal said.
Kejriwal said, “We will go on Monday (June 20) and present our final draft of the bill to the government. In case the ministers are willing, we would be ready to discuss the issues on which we disagree.” From the government side, minorities affairs minister Salman Khursheed said the ministers in the joint panel had shown utmost restraint despite the “wrong statements” from the other side. “We have continued and will continue our work despite provocations and diversions.”
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
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.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
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.
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.
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.