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India Asks Pakistan To Declare Its Nuclear Doctrine

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New Delhi: With Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal a matter of growing global concern, India has pressed Pakistan to enunciate its nuclear doctrine and asked it to join global efforts for concluding the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

At the expert-level talks in Islamabad earlier this week on nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), New Delhi politely spurned Pakistan’s proposal for bilateral cooperation on nuclear safety and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, saying it will have to wait till there is adequate trust and confidence between the two countries.

The Indian side was led at the talks on nuclear CBMs by Venkatesh Varma, joint secretary (Disarmament) in the external affairs ministry, and the Pakistani delegation was headed by Munawar Saeed Bhatti, Additional Secretary in the Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

Reliable sources said India pointed out at the meeting that it was cooperating in the area of nuclear safety at the multilateral level at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global atomic watchdog, and suggested that New Delhi could cooperate with Islamabad also within the IAEA framework.

Voicing concern over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, New Delhi pressed Islamabad to enunciate its nuclear doctrine, including the command and control structure of its nuclear assets, and said the declaration of the doctrine could be a major CBM.

Against the backdrop of widespread global concern about Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, Indian officials conveyed to their Pakistani counterparts that it was a matter of concern not only for India but for the entire international community that Pakistan was yet to publicly state its nuclear policy. 

India, on the contrary, has articulated its nuclear doctrine which includes, among other key principles, credible minimum deterrence and no-first use of nuclear weapons.

India also asked Pakistan to join global efforts to conclude the FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament and underlined that it could be an important step in building trust between the two countries. 

Pakistan has consistently refused to participate in the FMCT negotiations. India has backed an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable FMCT.

In an important move, the two sides have agreed to recommend to their foreign secretaries to extend the validity of the agreement on reducing the risk from accidents relating to nuclear weapons for another five years.

The talks on conventional CBMs was led from the Indian side by Y. K. Sinha, joint secretary (Pakistan) in the external affairs ministry. Sources said the talks, held after a gap of four years, were conducted in an extremely cordial and constructive atmosphere with both sides candidly exchanging views on additional CBMs.

At the talks, the Pakistan side proposed relocation of heavy artillery along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), but the idea did not find favour with India.

New Delhi made it clear that the proposal could be considered only if peace and tranquility was maintained along the border and ceasefire violations and infiltration stopped completely.

Sources said that there has been progress during the second round of the resumed dialogue process with Pakistan. 

The home secretaries, water resources secretaries, defence secretaries and other senior officials of the two countries dealing with contentious subjects like Sir Creek and Siachen would be meeting in the coming days before the talks between the foreign secretaries, who will review the issues relating to peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir. 

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is expected to visit Islamabad around the middle of the next year to review the progress achieved in the second round of the revived dialogue process.

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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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