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ISI’s Pasha To Revive US Military Aid

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ISI's Pasha To Revive US Military AidISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha on Wednesday left for the US in a bid to revive security ties affected by recent events, including suspension of $800 million of military aid to Pakistan. “Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, has proceeded to USA for a day-long visit to coordinate intelligence matters,” said a brief statement from the military.

Pasha embarked on the visit a day after the US Army’s Central Command Chief, Gen James Mattis, arrived in Pakistan in an apparent move to defuse tensions between the two countries over a series of incidents, including the suspension of military aid. The US made the decision after Pakistan expelled over 100 American military trainers. The move is also aimed at pressuring Pakistan to take more steps against militants.

Senior American officials announced on Sunday that the US administration had suspended the payment of military aid as certain steps taken by Pakistan, such as the expulsion of military trainers, justified cancellation of the assistance. The military aid that has been held up includes $300 million to be paid as reimbursement to Pakistan for expenses incurred in the war on terror.

The US media said Pakistan has refused visas to US military officers, which annoyed the Obama administration. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar on Tuesday warned that his government might withdraw troops from the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan as a response to the suspension of US military aid. Mukhtar warned that the US move could harm Pakistan’s campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban. Following a meeting of the Pakistan Army’s Corps Commanders chaired on Tuesday by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the military announced that it would fight terrorism “in our own national interest using our own resources.”

US Central Command chief Gen Mattis met Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne and discussed the regional security situation with emphasis on the war on terror, an army statement said. Though the statement did not give details it is believed that tensions over the suspension of US aid prominently figured in the talks. Mattis is the first top US commander to visit Pakistan after the suspension of military aid, which analysts believe may harm ties between the allies in the war against terror.

Relations between the US and Pakistan deteriorated after CIA contractor Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore in January for shooting and killing two armed Pakistani men. Though the two sides hammered out a deal to release Davis, military and intelligence cooperation came to a standstill after the concealed US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad on May 2.

The Pakistani military was also angered by a series of leaks to the American media by US officials about its alleged closeness to certain militant groups like the Haqqani network. Recently, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said he believed the Pakistani government had “sanctioned” the recent killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad. The ISI has denied allegations that it was involved in the abduction and murder of Shahzad.

-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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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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