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India, Pakistan To Reach Visa Accord Soon




            India, Pakistan To Reach Visa Accord Soon    Beijing: Pakistan Wednesday affirmed that the liberalized visa treaty with India will be signed soon as the foreign secretaries of the two countries prepare to meet in New Delhi June 29, setting the stage for the visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Islamabad mid-July. “I will be coming to New Delhi for the foreign secretary-level talks June 29,” Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said.
Ahead of the foreign secretary-level talks, India and Pakistan will hold talks on the disputed Siachen glacier June 11-12 and the Sir Creek waterbody in the Rann of Kutch marshlands June 17-18, which will complete the revived dialogue process that started last year.
Jilani, however, treaded cautiously when asked about speculation about an imminent accord to resolve the Siachen dispute. “The Siachen issue should be discussed. Resolving it is in the best interests of the two countries,” he said.
Jilani will hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai in New Delhi on a wide range of issues, including terrorism, the 26/11 Mumbai attack and Kashmir.
Krishna is expected to go to Islamabad mid-July and hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar to review the dialogue process and map out the trajectory of the bilateral relationship which is prone to prickly posturing.
Striking an upbeat note on the future of the revived dialogue process, Jilani downplayed the failure in signing the liberalized visa agreement last month, saying that the text has been initialled and is only waiting for signatures at the political level. “There are no issues with the visa agreement. It’s just that we thought it should be signed at the political level,” Jilani replied when asked whether there were any issues holding up the much-awaited visa accord that is expected to be a major step in boosting travel and people-to-people contacts between India and Pakistan.
The signing of the agreement, according to informed sources, now can happen during External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Islamabad in July. It can happen earlier also if Home Minister P. Chidambaram decides to visit Islamabad.
The visa accord was widely expected to be signed during the talks between home secretaries in Islamabad last month, but then it was pushed to a side. Islamabad decided that it should be signed at the political level. India has aired its disappointment over the postponement in signing the visa agreement.
The proposed visa regime is likely to include, among other things, tourist visas to each other’s citizens and the issue of visa on arrival at the Wagah-Attari border for senior citizens and young children. Jilani is here as part of the Pakistani delegation which is accompanying President Asif Ali Zardari to Beijing for the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.


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



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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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.

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



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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