New Delhi: As cross-border trade continues to be hit following the arrest of a Pakistani truck driver for allegedly ferrying 100 kg of brown sugar to India, the Indian government Thursday rebuffed Pakistan’s demand for release of the driver and said he would have to face the “full force of Indian law”.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin also said at a briefing here that the foreign ministries of the two countries are in consultations over the situation.
Trade across the Line of Control (LoC) was disrupted on Jan 17 after the arrest of Pakistani truck driver Muhammad Shafi and seizure of the vehicle by India.
Pakistani authorities in retaliation detained 27 drivers and their vehicles from India who had gone to Chakote near Muzaffarabad with trade consignments.
Pakistan also refused entry to 48 of its own trucks, demanding the Indian authorities release the arrested driver and allow the return of all 49 trucks that had come to the Salamabad trade centre in Baramulla district on Jan 17.
It also indicated that it would not allow the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote bus services to run till the impounded Pakistani truck and detained driver were released
Akbaruddin, to a question on the driver’s detention, said: “I want to clarify that there is no modality that exempts a person alleged to be involved in a criminal activity from facing the full force of Indian law.”
On Wednesday, Pakistan had summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in Islamabad over the driver’s detention and demanded his immediate release.
Pakistan had said in a demarche to India “that the detention is in violation of the agreed modalities and the spirit of the Cross-LoC (Line of Control) trade”.
It demanded that the driver be “immediately released and the material evidence along with the investigation report be handed over for detailed probe and legal action” by the government of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
On Tuesday, India’s ministry of external affairs summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmad in New Delhi in connection with the stoppage of trans-LoC trade and bus services.
The spokesperson also dismissed claims by a Pakistani official that the driver had diplomatic immunity, saying “there is no immunity that exempts a person in that category who is alleged to be involved in criminal activity and he will face full force of Indian law”.
Akbaruddin said the spirit of the India-Pakistan confidence building measure on trans-LoC trade and travel is to bring humanitarian benefit to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is surprising that these (trade and bus service) have been frozen by Pakistan and held hostage for the sake of a person indulging in drug trafficking.”
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.