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India Tells Sri Lanka To Release 53 Fishermen

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        India Tells Sri Lanka To Release 53 Fishermen


India Tells Sri Lanka To Release 53 Fishermen

New Delhi/Colombo: India Thursday told Sri Lanka to treat the 53 Indian fishermen arrested by its navy humanely and release them at the earliest.

The external affairs ministry said Sri Lankan authorities arrested 19 fishermen Wednesday and another 34 Thursday for allegedly fishing in Sri Lanka’s waters.

He said the first lot of 19 had been taken to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest and the Indian consul in Jaffna would be gaining access to them. “We are trying to meet the Sri Lankan authorities” regarding the other 34 too, he added.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshis told parliament that Sri Lanka’s deputy high commissioner was summoned Thursday and told to treat the arrested men in a humane manner.

He was also told that there should be no violence against them. India said it expected these fishermen to be swiftly sent back to India along with their fishing vessels.

The minister’s statement that the government was concerned about the plight of its fishermen getting caught by the Sri Lanka Navy drew praise from the AIADMK.

AIADMK’s V. Maitreyan said he was happy that the Sri Lankan diplomat had finally been summoned. Earlier, the Sri Lankan Navy said it had arrested 53 Indian fishermen who entered Sri Lankan waters illegally.

Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said 19 were caught off the northern seas of Mannar Wednesday evening and 34 off Delft islands, also in the north, Thursday. Warnakulasuriya told Xinhua that the boats used by the Indians were seized.

Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen often stray into each other’s territory as both countries are divided by a small strip of sea.

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to step up efforts to secure the release of the Indian fishermen.
“We are agitated by incidents of repeated capture of our fishermen while pursuing their livelihood. We expect the government of India to also respond and react pro-actively when incidents of this nature happen,” she said in a letter to the prime minister.

“Let Sri Lanka not be emboldened by your silence and construe it as a sign of weakness and indifference towards our fishermen,” she said.

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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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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