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Pakistan, India Claim Ignorance On Vaidik-Saeed Meeting

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Pakistan, India  Claim Ignorance On Vaidik-Saeed Meeting

Pakistan, India Claim Ignorance On Vaidik-Saeed Meeting

New Delhi: Pakistan Friday distanced itself from the controversy over the meeting between Indian journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and 26/11 mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, saying it was “a meeting between two private citizens”.

“It was a meeting between two private citizens, it is not proper to comment,” Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said.

Answering a barrage of questions on the controversial meeting at an event at the Press Club of India, the Pakistani envoy also said that Islamabad was “not in the loop” about the meeting between Vaidik and Saeed.

“Our government was not aware and nor was the government of India… Let’s not comment,” he said.

Basit said that Vaidik “keeps visiting Pakistan” and was part of a delegation that was in Pakistan to attend a regional peace initiative.

“We were not aware that he met Saeed,” he said.

To a question on the $10 million bounty on Saeed and how he is allowed to move around freely, the Pakistani high commissioner said his government has found “no evidence on the basis of which to try him”.

He said Pakistan was ready to put Saeed on trial if anyone could bring forward evidence against the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder, but would not arrest him “just to please others”.

“He is a private citizen, we have no evidence against him” notwithstanding the US bounty on his head, said Basit.

To a question on how the JuD chief was allowed free run to spew venom against India, the high commissioner said that Saeed is not a government official and not a member of parliament but a private citizen.

He said both countries should not be deterred by such matters and move towards strengthening friendship.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has denied any knowledge of the 2 July meeting in Lahore between Vaidik, who is known to be close to yoga guru Ramdev, and Saeed.

In Islamabad, the JuD has termed as “highly objectionable” the criticism in India about the meeting.

JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid, who claimed to have been present at the interaction between 26/11 mastermind Saeed and Vaidik, said in a statement issued late Thursday that the meeting was sought by Vaidik.

Stating that the JuD chief meets everyone unmindful of his nationality or religion, the spokesperson said: “Saeed has been meeting representatives of domestic and international media to put across his point of view.”

Mujahid said during that meet, significant discussions were held on India-Pakistan relations and the Narendra Modi government.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Nawaz sharif

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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