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Lashkar Behind 2000 Kashmir Sikh Massacre: Headley

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Pakistani-American Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley has reportedly told US and Indian investigators that the March 2000 Chittisinghpora village massacre, which took place three days before then US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India, had been carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT).

Lashkar Behind 2000 Kashmir Sikh Massacre: HeadleyIndia’s security establishment had always blamed the LeT and the Hizbul Mujahideen for the massacre in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

But many others — including the US administration — doubted the claim. President Clinton condemned the massacre, but was cautious to blame “unknown groups”. Years later, writing the introduction to his then secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s subsequent book Madam Secretary: A Memoir, he is said to have blamed ‘Hindu militants’ for the attack. The reference was however, edited out by the publishers.

Strobe Talbott, then deputy secretary of state, later confirmed Clinton was never convinced the Lashkar was behind the violence.

A number of facts about the killings led to these doubts. Most important was the fact that most of those killed were Sikhs. Sikhs had never before been targeted by Kashmiri militants.

An army encounter five days later in Pathribal village, which was later found to have been staged, indicated there was more behind the Chhittisinghpur killings than met the eye.

Before the visit of President Barack Obama to India — he is expected on November 6 — the National Investigation Agency has revealed Headley had said an LeT operative called Muzzammil — aide of Lashkar’s chief military commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi — had spoken to him of his involvement in the Chittisinghpora massacre.

“I recollect that once Muzzammil had told me how he had gone and killed civilians in a village in south Kashmir before the visit of the then US President Bill Clinton to India. After coming to Muzaffarabad, he was initially given the charge of operations,” Headley told NIA sleuths in the presence of FBI agents.

Headley also credited Muzzammil, 34, with planning and conducting the Akshardham Temple attack in Gujarat, according to his 109-page interrogation report apart from helping with the 26/11 attacks.

The confirmation of the Lashkar role is significant in the backdrop of noises from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Syed Salahuddin, who heads the United Jihad Council — the amalgam of militant outfits active in Kashmir — has “cautioned” that Indian security agencies could carry out another massacre such as the one in Chattisinghpora and blame it on terrorists.

Indian agencies maintain Salahuddin’s statement could be an effort to draw suspicion away from the jehadis, who may well be planning a major attack.

-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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