Washington: The United States Wednesday imposed financial sanctions on two founding members of the Pakistan based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) held responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks after naming them as terrorists.
However, it still held back from sanctioning the Pakistani state and its intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) despite assertions from official American circles that outfits such as the LeT and Haqqani group are the “virtual arm” of ISI.
Designating Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, US Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen described them as two of the “most significant leaders” of LeT that has been on the US terrorist list since 2001. “Over the past 20 years, Iqbal and Bhuttavi have been responsible for fundraising, recruitment, and indoctrination of operatives,” he said. “By targeting the core of LeT’s leadership, today’s action aims to degrade its ability to facilitate its terrorist activities.”
The sanctions bar US citizens from doing business with the two men and freeze any assets that they may hold under US jurisdiction.
According to the Treasury, Iqbal co-founded LeT in the late 1980s with its current head, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
In 1989 or 1990, the department said, the two men traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to seek financial support from Osama bin Laden, then head of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the Sep 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
As of late 2010, Iqbal was in charge of the finance department of LeT, also known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the department said.
Bhuttava was identified as a founding member of LeT and a deputy to Saeed. The Treasury said Bhuttava served as acting emir of LeT “on at least two occasions, including when Saeed was detained in the days after the November 2008 Mumbai attack and held until June 2009.”
Bhuttavi also helped prepare the operatives for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom, and is responsible for LeT’s madrassa network, the department said.
The US commission that investigated the Sep 11, 2001, attacks warned in its final report that some madrassas have become “incubators for violent extremism.”
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.