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‘Pakistan Must Not Allow Terrorists To Use Its Territory’

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US Defense Secretary Leon PanettaKabul: Visiting US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday observed that Afghanistan has made progress in security and governance transition, and added that it was extremely important Pakistan that take steps to prevent terrorists from using its territory. “The country (Afghanistan) has made significant progress in the transition to both Afghan security and governance,” Panetta told reporters at a joint press conference with Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak here.

However, with regard with the recent attacks, Panetta said the US was running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens of insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan. “Safe havens still exist on the other side of the border. Pakistan has to take action from allowing terrorists in their country to attack our forces on the other side of the border,” he said. “We are reaching the limits of our patience here,” he added.
While noting progress in transition in security and governance in Afghanistan, he said: “There will be more challenges and setbacks ahead, we have a tough fight ahead, but thanks for General John Allen (top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan) camping plans and bravery and sacrifice of foreign and Afghan forces along with the bravery and sacrifices of US forces we are on the right track.”
He also said that the US is not leaving Afghanistan alone and the time is not on the side of Taliban, reported Xinhua.
US President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders, during a NATO summit in Chicago May 21, agreed to hand over Afghanistan’s security charge to the Afghan security forces by mid-2013 and pull back their troops by the end of 2014.
Transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces to the Afghan Army and police began last July and lasts till 2014 when Afghanistan is due to take over its full security duties from US and NATO forces.
The Afghan Army and police have already taken full control of the eight out of the country’s 34 provinces, 11 provincial capitals and several districts where 50 percent of the population lives.
According to Obama’s withdrawal plan, 10,000 US troops were already pulled out from Afghanistan last year and another 23,000 will return home by September this year. “It’s an increasing concern that this safe haven exists, and that those like Haqqanis make use of that to attack our forces (in Afghanistan)… Safe havens still exist on the other side of the border. Pakistan has to take action from allowing terrorists in their country to attack our forces on the other side of the border,” he said, adding, “We are reaching the limits of our patience here. And for that reason, it is extremely important that Pakistan take actions to prevent this kind of safe havens from taking place and for allowing terrorist to use their country.”
The Afghan government has on several occasions blamed some people in Pakistan for supporting Taliban militants fighting in Afghanistan.
Officials in Kabul say that Taliban militants have been using Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas as their safe haven.
Panetta’s visit came a day after a twin suicide bombing killed 22 Afghan civilians and injured 50 in southern Kandahar province.

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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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