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Sharif Declines Musharraf Plea

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Sharif Declines Musharraf Plea

Sharif Declines Musharraf Plea

Former Dictator escapes assassination attempt hours after being turned down

 

Islamabad: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped Thursday when a blast hit a bridge in Islamabad after his convoy had barely crossed it, police said.
The blast at Faizabad bridge occurred early Thursday when Musharraf was en-route to his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi, Dawn online reported.
Almost four to six kg of explosive material was planted in a pipeline near a footpath and the blast was so powerful that it caused a foot-deep hole in the ground.
Police said that the blast targetted the former president.
Musharraf has safely reached his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad where the Pakistan government has enhanced security. Musharraf has been targeted earlier too though some, according to his critics, were likely ‘inside’ jobs by his erstwhile friends within the establishment.

The latest round of publicity will not hurt his campaign to get out of the country, that would provide an escape for him from the serious treason charges that he faces in Pakistan.

This week, Musharraf got some really bad news as Pakistan government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rejected his application to travel abroad even though the powerful army chief Gen. Reheel Sharif himself advocated for Musharraf.
The interior ministry while notifying the decision said Musharraf ‘s application cannot be accepted in public interest as a number of cases were pending against him in various courts.

Musharraf is facing five counts of high treason that potentially carry death penalty or life imprisonment. Since his return to Pakistan in March last year, Musharraf has faced prosecution in four major cases, including for his alleged involvement in the murder of former PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in 2006.

Musharraf will now approach the judiciary seeking removal of his name from the ECL, sources said.

In the meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seems to be asserting his authority, having had the courage to say no to the Army Chief.

Musharraf is finding that there are less and less people willing to believe him as recent reports have indicated that he knew about slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his place of hiding. An eminent British journalist who reported for years from Afghanistan and Pakistan for the New York Times, Carlotta Gall in her book ‘The Wrong Enemy’, attributes the information as coming from retired Pakistani general Talat Masood.

“If allowed to proceed, the court cases may unravel some of the remaining mysteries of the Musharraf era,” Gall writes in her book.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the book is scheduled to go on sale in April 8.

“One day as he sat at home in Islamabad, the retired general Talat Masood was watching an interview with Musharraf on television, Masood was struck by something the general said. Musharraf was talking about (Osama) bin Laden and as was often the case, he was talking too much,” she writes.

“It dawned on Masood that the former army chief had known about bin Laden and where he was hiding. It was a statement he made in the interview,” he told me.

“I got a feeling that he knew,” Gall said in her book that makes startling revelation and runs into over 300 pages.

Masood is the same general who after 9/11 urged Musharraf, the then president of Pakistan, to abandon his policy of supporting terrorism.

But Musharraf, according to the book, argued that he would “compartmentalise” the support between al-Qaida and Kashmiri terrorists.

“Masood, the senior in age, says he warned Musharraf that, from experience, it would not be possible to close one operation down and not the other. Still, Musharraf insisted he could do it,” Gall writes.

According to Gall, after 9/11, when Musharraf assured the West, in particular the United States that he would cut off support for the Taliban, he in fact planned to keep the thousands of fighters who returned from Afghanistan in reserve, hidden somewhere.

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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