Pakistani Tribals To Take On al-Qaeda: N Waziristan
The Pakistani army plans to enlist pro-government tribesmen in a fresh campaign to flush out “hard-core” al-Qaeda elements and their affiliates from North Waziristan tribal region, but the Haqqani militant network would be spared “for the time being.” The move is aimed at deflecting growing US pressure for a full-scale offensive against the Haqqani network – the deadliest of all Afghan Taliban factions – that is believed to be based in the lawless tribal region, a media report said Monday.
Under the plan, tribesmen have been urged to form ‘laskhars’ or militias to take out “hard-core al-Qaeda elements and their affiliates” who have challenged the writ of the state by mounting terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying. The idea was discussed in the June 9 meeting of the army’s Corps Commanders and taken up during army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s talks with CIA chief Leon Panetta the following day, an unnamed military official said. “This strategy has achieved significant results in South Waziristan agency and now it’s time to apply it in the North,” said the official, adding, “We are encouraging pro-Pakistan tribesmen to take on al-Qaeda operatives. Tajik, Uzbek and Chechen fighters have found sanctuaries in North Waziristan. We will facilitate them (tribesmen) to form tribal lashkars to achieve that goal.”
The official confirmed that the Haqqani network would be spared, “at least for the time being”. He said, “Our objective and priority at this point in time is to eliminate anti-Pakistan groups from the area.” This implied that the influential Haqqani network does not pose a direct threat to Pakistan’s interests, the report said.
During the Corps Commanders’ conference on June 9, Kayani had called on the people of North Waziristan to “evict all foreigners from their soil and take charge of their land and destiny once again”. He said “it was wrong, in principle, to allow others to use our land for fighting their battles. This must not be allowed. Troops in North Waziristan are committed to supporting the people…in this effort.”
Another unnamed official said, “We want to follow traditions of the area…we want peaceful local tribesmen to take the lead in clearing the region of terrorists. Once the tribesmen are on board, it will be easier for the military to drive out the militants from North Waziristan.”
The military is trying to convince the US to embrace this new strategy as an alternative to a full-scale operation in the region. The policy of raising anti-Taliban militias was successful in parts of Upper Dir district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and Mohmand and Bajaur tribal regions, where the lashkars successfully confronted militants. However, militants struck back by targeting Lashkars, killing and injuring hundreds of volunteers and tribal elders, especially in Salarzai sub-division of Bajaur tribal agency, Adezai area near Peshawar and in Lakki Marwat district. The army has ruled out any immediate move to open a new front in North Waziristan, despite repeated US demands for a decisive push against the Haqqani network and other militant elements. Kayani said during the Corps Commanders’ conference that the army is following a “well thought out campaign plan and is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time” in North Waziristan.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
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.
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.
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.
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.