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Narendra Modi to reach out to Muslim “brothers”

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Narendra Modi on Tuesday said he would reach out to Muslim “brothers” like any other citizen of the country and made it clear that the contentious issues of Ram temple and Uniform Civil Code would be addressed within the Constitutional framework.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate underlined that he sees all Indians as one and it is his “responsibility” to reach out to all sections of the society, which includes Muslims.

“As chief minister of Gujarat, I have tried to connect to six crore people of the state as much as possible. Now I have been entrusted with the national responsibility. I will use all efforts at my command to reach out to 125 crore people. This is part of my responsibility and I must do it.

“It may mean walking 100 steps. I may walk three steps, five steps or seven steps, that is a different matter. But it is my responsibility that I must make demonstrative efforts to reach out to every citizen of the country,” he said.

He was responding on ABP News channel’s ‘Ghoshnapatra’ programme when pointed out that he appeared to have started establishing contact with Muslim community.

Asked specifically whether his effort to reach out to every citizen included Muslims, Modi replied, “I will never go by this terminology of yours. Even if you drag me, I will not. I will meet my countrymen. I understand only one language that they are my countrymen, they are my brothers. You may see with whatever colour you want, Modi will not go into that colour.”

He went on to add, “even if I lose elections, let it be so, I have no problem. But the country has been destroyed by this language, the mindset of you people and I will never own that mindset. And you please stop such attacks on my freedom.”

Modi was referred to the issues of Ram temple and Union Civil Code, which have been a major point of contention between BJP and Muslims, and asked whether he would implement these unfulfilled subjects of BJP agenda considering his ‘tez tarrar’ (fiesty) image.

“The country does not run by ‘tez tarrari’ (fiestyness) but by the Constitution. Fiestyness is for elections but not for running the country,” the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee said, making clear that he would abide by the Constitution on these issues.

He was also asked whether his work as Prime Minister would have “RSS imprint” since he has been groomed by it.

“Let me tell you, I have to run the government. A government runs according to the Constitution. I believe that a government has only one religion — India first. A government has only one holy book — our Constitution. A government has only one kind of devotion — towards nation. A government has only one style of functioning — ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ (cooperation of all, development of all).

When referred to 2002 riots, the Gujarat chief minister said he has “stood the test” and was “ready for any test” but would “never surrender before lies and political motives.”

He said, “…Till 2007, I have spoken a lot on this issue. Whether you like it or not, I will not succumb to you (on the issue).”

Attacking the UPA government, he said it “dragged” him to the Supreme Court on the issue and “now I should not speak as SC should be influenced.”

He, however, referred to the questioning he faced on the matter from the investigators.

“Till now, no CM has been grilled by policemen for nine hours. It was done on the orders of Supreme Court. SC has seen the video of that recording. I have stood that test and even in future, I am ready for any test,” he added.

Asked about the statement by BJP leader Giriraj Singh that those opposing Modi should go to Pakistan, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said “nobody can agree with that (statement).”

To buttress his point that he would not be vindictive, Modi said, “After election victory of 2002, I went to thank the electorate of Maninanagar (in Gujarat). There, I said ‘this government is of those who have elected it, this government is also of those who voted against and this government is also of those who did not go to vote’.”

Asked about different voices in BJP over whether action should be taken against Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in connection with alleged inappropriate land deals, Modi made it clear that he would focus on development rather than such issues which will be dealt with by the law as deemed fit.

“We get elected for five years and for five years should we roam around with this mess or do some good work? My personal belief is that my energy should not go into this, that my energy be utilised for positive and good work. Otherwise, five years is very less time. If we get entangled in this, what good work can we do,” he said.

Citing his “track record” as chief minister of 14 years, he said it “shows that I have never opened any file against anybody. I believe that one gets entangled in such things and cannot do good work. I have only focussed on positive initiative. I do not even keep information about old cases. It is for government, let them do.”

At the same time, he said, “Nobody is above the law. Imagine if there allegations against Modi and he is the Prime Minister. Should the case not be pursued just because he has become the PM. It should not be so that it should be stopped. I am not above the law. I am not answering the question you asked. So do not mix up.”

On the controversy over the ‘marriage’ section of his affidavit and whether he expected it, he said, “I do not get surprised by anything. There is nothing in my life. They (rivals) have no issue so they will continue to do it.”

The question related to his mentioning for the first time that he has a wife, over which he is facing attack from Congress.

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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