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Pakistan Shamed, Angered Over bin Laden Raid

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Pakistan Shamed, Angered Over bin Laden RaidA sense of shame swelled in Pakistan on Thursday over the unearthing of Osama bin Laden so close to Islamabad, along with anger at the ease with which US forces picked off the al Qaeda leader on its soil. The country has been left wondering how US Navy SEALs managed to chopper into bin Laden’s compound undetected, kill him and fly off with his body near an academy training the military, Pakistan’s most respected institution.

But there is also lingering disbelief that the al Qaeda mastermind was actually shot dead in early Monday’s operation, following US President Barack Obama’s announcement that no photograph would be released of his body. “Pakistan and its security apparatus have become something of a laughing stock, with the media around the world highlighting the discovery of the world’s most wanted man at walking distance from a leading military academy,” right wing English language daily The News said in an editorial. “The embarrassment which hangs all around cannot be disguised… These questions include how secure Pakistan — and its nuclear weapons — really are, given that helicopters were able to fly undetected deep into our territory.”

In the violent southern metropolis of Karachi, mistrust of the US version of events was running rampant, particularly in light of Obama’s declaration that the photo evidence would be kept secret on national security grounds. “It has always lied and ditched its allies, so why trust its leadership when they say they have killed Osama. They don’t release the picture because it could expose their lies,” said Mehmood Azeem, 55, a medical practitioner.

A senior government official in Sindh’s provincial administration voiced suspicion that the national establishment were part of a large cover-up over the commando raid in Abbottabad, 50 km from the capital. “We don’t know exactly what happened that night. What’s more embarrassing is that our civilian and military leadership are hand-in-glove in the hush,” said the official, Ahmed, who would give only his first name.

Jang, the biggest selling Urdu language daily, headlined its editorial, “Don’t keep the nation in the dark: Bring the facts to the fore.” Khabrain, another Urdu newspaper, gave voice to one popular conspiracy theory. “Some experts think that the al Qaeda chief was in confinement for a long time and America staged a scene according to its own timing and interests,” it said.

But even among hardline religious groups, there was mostly acceptance that bin Laden was indeed dead. Banned islamist charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa held prayers on Tuesday to honour the “martyr”. The country’s main religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), has called for protests on Friday against the covert raid, blaming the government and intelligence agencies for a “criminal failure” in letting it happen. “It has become clear that Pakistan is a slave of America as the government did not do anything to stop US intrusion into its territory,” provincial JI chief Mohammad Ibrahim told reporters.

In Peshawar, the gateway city in the northwest bordering the country’s Taliban infested tribal areas, 42 year old Haleem Said pointed out that violation of Pakistan’s territory was nothing new. A covert US drone campaign targeting militants holed up along the lawless border with Afghanistan has claimed more than 1,500 lives in nearly three years and generates popular hatred of the superpower ally. “We are not a sovereign nation because every day the drone attacks challenge our sovereignty,”President of the Peshawar Traders’ Association said, adding, “We are sovereign only in our statements by government and officials, no more.”

Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, who has railed against the US-Pakistan alliance for inflaming militancy in the border regions, said the US operation was a “total disaster for Pakistan”. “Why was the announcement not made by the Pakistan government? Why did the rulers keep silent? There is a total confusion over the situation. People want to hear the truth,” he said.

-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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