Amid preparations for US President Barack Obama’s visit, India and the US on Wednesday continued to spar over the issue of sharing specific intelligence relating to the designs of David Coleman Headley, Washington insisting it has been sharing with New Delhi intelligence on “a daily basis” before and after the 26/11 attacks.
Home Secretary GK Pillai said India was disappointed that the US did not share information on Headley, the Pakistani-American terror suspect who is now in US custody, for conspiracy in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
“They did not share Headley’s name. Had they done so, at least after the horrific Mumbai attacks, Headley could have been nabbed as he travelled to India in 2009 March,” Pillai said.
Asked about media reports that the US did not act even after one of Headley’s wives tipped off anti-terror officials about his militant links, Pillai said: “You could say we were disappointed that the name of David Headley was not shared, if not pre-26/11 at least post-26/11, so that at least when he came subsequently to India at that time we could have nabbed him here.”
Reacting to Pillai’s comments, US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer underlined that the US shared intelligence on a daily basis with India that saved lives of many people.
“The US shared intelligence on a regular and consistent basis with the government of India prior to the Mumbai attacks. We have also shared information with the government of India after the Mumbai attacks,” the envoy told reporters here when he was asked about Pillai’s remarks.
“Now, it’s historic and unprecedented in nature. It is saving lives on a daily basis,” he stressed.
Alluding to his experience as a 9/11 Commission member, Roemer said even the American Commission was not given access to Khalid Seikh Mohammed, a key accused and mastermind of terror attacks that killed over 3,000 people.
“When India asked America for access to Headley, we gave it because India is our strategic partner and our friend and somebody with whom we share intelligence on regular and consistent basis,” he said.
“So, India could sit down with Headley and ask him what happened prior to Mumbai. We are not afraid what he will say. In fact, we provided that opportunity to India to ask anything they want,” he said.
According to some media reports, Headley’s two wives had told FBI over a year before the Mumbai attacks about his association with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), suspected mastermind of the Mumbai carnage.
The reports suggested that the US did not pass on these specific inputs to India, which could have helped New Delhi in averting the 26/11 terror mayhem.
Ever since these disclosures, India has maintained that the US did not provide specific information and only gave “general information” prior to 26/11.
“Before 26/11, we did not have anything more than very general, non-specific information on these warnings and threats,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said recently.
US officials have sought to downplay the controversy and have stressed that expanding counter-terror cooperation will be among important issues that will be on the table when Obama holds talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
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.
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