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Sonia Pulls Up Congress, To Pick Presidential Nominee




            Sonia Pulls Up Congress, To Pick Presidential Nominee New Delhi: On a day she was authorised to select the presidential candidate, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked party colleagues to shun infighting if they needed to win the 2014 general elections.

Addressing the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Gandhi also defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from attacks by the opposition and the civil society over corruption charges.
Manmohan Singh also hit out at his critics, accusing them of spreading “canards and falsehoods” against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Both Gandhi and the prime minister sounded combative at the meeting also attended by senior leaders including Rahul Gandhi, party chief ministers as well as special invitees at the Parliament House Annexe.
Even as she targeted the opposition and vocal critics such as Team Anna, Gandhi focussed on the faction fighting within the Congress that has been blamed for its poor showing in recent state elections.
Speaking in Hindi, Gandhi asked party members to shun factions and start preparing for the Lok Sabha ballot only two years away besides elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh this year. “If we utilise half the energy we spend on infighting, we would be able to double our strength,” she said, in one of her harshest critical remarks on her own colleagues. “We need to get ready for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.”
She cautioned colleagues that voters will treat them guided by the image they form of the party. “It will be a big mistake to miss this fact.”
She defended Manmohan Singh and attacked the opposition and the civil society for hurling “baseless” charges on the Congress and the government. “The manner in which the opposition and some anti-Congress elements are single mindedly levelling unfounded allegations against the PM and the UPA government is really unfortunate,” she said.
At the end of the conference that lasted several hours barring a 30-minute lunch break, the CWC authorized Gandhi to pick the presidential and vice presidential candidates for next month’s elections.
According to Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, a resolution to this effect was moved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who himself is stated to be in the running for the top post along with Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Gandhi’s comments come in the backdrop of escalating allegations of corruption in the allocation of coal blocks during 2006-09 when the prime minister headed the coal ministry. The Congress and the government have denied any wrongdoing.
In a bid to rebut criticism related to economic slowdown, the prime minister warned that India’s economy was passing through “difficult times due to influences beyond (our) control”.
“These are difficult times for our country and the economy caused to a large extent by circumstances over which we have little or no control,” he said.
“It is very important for all the leaders and workers of the Congress to educate the public about the canards and falsehoods being spread by those who are opposed to us,” said Singh.
Mukherjee denied that the Indian economic situation today was comparable to 1991 when a crippling foreign exchange crisis forced New Delhi to embrace sweeping economic reforms.
“There is no reason to believe that we are going back to the situation of 1991,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee, one of the most senior leaders of the Congress, however admitted that these were “difficult times” for the ruling party.

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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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