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Pakistan PM Seeks Blessings At Ajmer Shrine





New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is to under take a private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Saturday (March 9). He will not visit New Delhi, an official said Thursday.

He will be hosted for lunch by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid at the Hotel Rambag Palace in Ajmer on that day. “No substantive talks are scheduled” between the two sides, the external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said at a news briefing.

The external affairs ministry is facilitating the day-long private visit of the Pakistan prime minister, he said.

Ashraf will be accompanied by members of his family and will arrive at Jaipur on March 9 morning and depart for Ajmer.

After completing his prayers, he will depart for Jaipur and take a special flight back to Islamabad that evening, the spokesperson said.

“He expressed a wish to visit Ajmer and we have abided by that desire. He will be extended due courtesies in accordance with diplomatic norms. All requirements that meet his needs are being met,” he added.

The visit comes around two months after ceasefire violations on the Line of Control that led to heightened tensions between the two neighbours.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had visited the 13th century shrine on April 8 last year.

Zardari had landed in Delhi and driven straight for a luncheon meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several other leaders. He had then flown to Jaipur and taken a chopper to Ajmer, where he spent around 20 minutes and offered flowers and chadar at the shrine.

He had been accompanied by his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and had also donated $1 million to the shrine.

Before his pilgrimage, he will have lunch with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Jaipur.

The government said the lunch is part of diplomatic courtesy being extended to the visiting dignitary and there will not be any substantive dialogue. “I will be having lunch and only lunch no talks,” said Khurshid.

“Pakistan prime minister is coming for religious and spiritual visit. we will say hello and obviously, when we say hello we just don’t only say hello. But there is no agenda for formal talks,” he said. Khurshid will host a lunch for him (Ashraf) at a local hotel (Rambagh Palace) in Jaipur following which Pakistan Prime Minister will depart for Ajmer. Upon completion of prayers at Ajmer, the visiting Prime Minister will return to Jaipur the same evening and take a special flight back to Islamabad. On why Indian government was going out of way to interact with Pakistani leader when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made it clear that it cannot be “business as usual” after the beheading of an Indian soldier near LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said, “There will not be any substantive discussions and that said, he is Prime Minister and Head of State with which we have diplomatic relations. It is an important country. And in accordance with normal diplomatic protocol we are extending him due courtesies.”


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



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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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told




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



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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