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Indian Missions On High Alert After Osama’s Death

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Indian Missions On High Alert After Osama's DeathIndia has issued a high security alert for its missions and other interests in Afghanistan in the wake of the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Though the Indian embassy in Kabul and its consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat are always facing serious threat, Osama’s killing in Abbottabad on Monday has increased the level of danger Indian establishments and its people face, sources said. Security has been tightened in view of a heightened threat from Taliban and other terror groups which may carry out a wave of attacks following the killing of Osama.

Sources said intelligence inputs suggested that apart from its missions, other reconstruction projects being carried out by Indians could be targeted by Haqqani faction of Taliban or terrorist groups based in Pakistan like Lashkhar-e-Taiba, which has been expanding its base in Afghanistan. The terrorists could launch a wave of attacks, involving explosion of car-bombs followed by assault by gunmen, the sources said, quoting intelligence inputs. There are nearly 4,000 Indians deployed in various projects such as medical facilities, railway and road construction.

Nearly 200 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, who are guarding the embassy, that has already been targeted twice since 2008, and Indian nationals working on developmental projects, have been alerted of the possibility of the attacks. The government has ordered maximum security for all of them, the sources said. New Delhi has also requested Kabul to deploy adequate Afghan security personnel in the Indian missions as well as other assets. The staff of the embassy and Indians working on developmental projects have been advised to exercise caution, restrict their movements to the minimum and maintain secrecy.

On February 26, 2010, two hotels in Kabul where Indians engaged in developmental and reconstruction works in that country were targeted by terrorists.

The terror attack was on the pattern of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, with six to eight terrorists targeting the hotels and hunting for victims during the strike in which two major-rank officers of the army were among the six Indians killed and 10 others, including five army officers, injured.

The attack was the fourth on Indian interests in Afghanistan since July 2008 when a car laden with about 100 kg of explosives was blown up at the gate of Indian Embassy, killing 60 people, including four Indians — a Brigadier-rank officer, a senior IFS officer and two ITBP personnel. In October 2009, terrorists struck again at the embassy, carrying out a car bomb explosion near its outer wall and killing 17 people. Subsequently, in December 2009, a hotel housing staff of an Indian IT company was targeted. Eight people were killed and two IT executives, an Indian cook and a cleaner were among those injured.

-HT

 

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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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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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