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Naval Officers Face Court Martial Over Attack: Pakistan

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Naval Officers Face Court Martial Over Attack: PakistanThree Pakistani naval officers are to face an unprecedented court martial for charges of negligence over a Taliban attack on an air base that took 17 hours to repel and left 10 military personnel dead. The group of heavily armed militants besieged the naval air base in the country’s biggest city of Karachi on May 23-24, destroying two US-made P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft.

It was the deadliest assault on a base since army headquarters was attacked in October 2009 and deeply embarrassed the armed forces, three weeks after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden under their noses in a military town. “Three senior navy officials are to face trial before a court martial,” a senior navy official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Thursday because he was not authorised to release the information to media.

Although Pakistani military installations frequently come under attack from Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, this would mark the first time senior officers face court martial for negligence in connection to the raids. The navy official told AFP that the accused are Commodore Raja Tahir, who was base commander at the time of the attack but was replaced two days later, and two of his subordinates — a captain and a commander. “They face charges of negligence during the attack on PNS Mehran in May,” the official added, giving no date for the start of the court martial.

The attack deep inside Karachi, the country’s economic hub and largest city with a population of around 18 million, underlined the military’s vulnerability despite perceptions at home of its immense power. At the time, interior minister Rehman Malik refused to acknowledge any security lapse, saying a “rapid” response had prevented bigger losses.

Navy spokesman Commodore Irfan-ul-Haq confirmed only that “departmental action” was being taken on the recommendations of a board of inquiry which was set up to investigate the attack. Another security official told AFP: “These officials are being tried because they were responsible for the security.”

Pakistani agents had arrested a former navy commando and his brother a week after the attack, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

In October 2009, Taliban militants besieged army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi for two days, killing 22 people and raising serious questions as to why it took the military so long to put down the assault. The attack on the base in Karachi was the fourth on the navy in the city in a month after three bombings in late April killed nine people.

-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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