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Lawyer Takes Up Cause Of Tortured Kargil Hero

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Palampur (Himachal Pradesh): Twelve years after the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan, a new ‘battle’ is on – to get justice for an Indian Army officer who was tortured by Pakistani troops for days before his mutilated body was handed back.

British lawyer of Indian origin Jas Uppal has launched an international campaign to highlight the plight of Captain Saurabh Kalia, who was killed, along with five other soldiers, in the 1999 conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

She is demanding the blacklisting of Pakistan for the purpose of giving international aid.

”I am campaigning to discover the plight of the Indian prisoners of war captured and detained by Pakistan during the Indo-Pak war in the 1970s. Yet again (in Saurabh’s case) the government of India failed to seek justice (at the international level),” Uppal told IANS in an interview via e-mail.

Saurabh, of the 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani Army on Indian soil. He and five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh – were on a patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by Pakistani troops May 15, 1999.

They were tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities June 9, 1999.

Saurabh’s father N.K. Kalia and his wife Vijaya, settled in this tea garden town, have been raising their voice against violations of human rights and brutalities and asking India to take up the issue of war crimes at the international level.

Uppal told IANS in an interview: “Now that India is a superpower it should be taking the lead in relation to human rights. It should value its security forces and its people.”

She said she had reported Kalia’s case to international human rights organisations like the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch and raised the issue in Britain.

In a missive to M. Fabricant, a member of the British House of Commons, last month, Uppal said: “I am appalled to learn that the former president of Pakistan (Pervez) Musharraf, who was president of the country at the time of the Kargil incident, is a guest of this country and has been living here for some time.

”I would be grateful if you could raise the matter with our prime minister and the foreign office. Further, I hope that our government will take this case seriously and the ongoing breaches of human rights into consideration when they make aid donations to Pakistan. Any financial aid should be subject of the country’s observations and record in relation to human rights,” she wrote.

In a reply to Uppal’s letter, Fabricant said Nov 15: “I have, therefore, raised the issue of human rights and aid to Pakistan with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Alistair Burt.”

”The West has no idea about these atrocities. If they are made aware they will never support giving aid to Pakistan,” said Uppal, who launched a campaign to secure the release of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying and bombings.

Satisfied with the initiatives of Uppal, the parents of Saurabh have been pinning their hope on getting justice.

”Our only grudge with the Indian government is why is it shirking to call the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army as war crimes and why it fails to take up the scourge at the international level,” said N.K. Kalia, 63, who retired as a senior scientist from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

He said the external affairs ministry informed them under the right to information act that “the government of India had conveyed the anguish and anger of the Indian people to the foreign minister of Pakistan during his visit to Delhi June 12, 1999. An aide-memoire was also handed to Pakistan June 15, 1999. However, Pakistan denied our claims.”

Saurabh, who was posted in Kargil soon after passing out of the Indian Military Academy, did not live long enough to even receive his first pay packet as an officer.

Asked by IANS if she had raised the issue of the five other Indian soldiers who were captured and killed along with Captain Kalia, Uppal said she had “mentioned ALL the soldiers”.

”I only know the name of Captain Saurabh Kalia. I do not know the names of the other soldiers;so I cannot refer to them by name as I would like to do. I do not have contact with families of the other soldiers.”

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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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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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