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US Aid To Fight Militants Diverted To Fund Pakistan Govt: Wikileaks

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Leaked US diplomatic cables revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars in American military aid to Pakistan earmarked for fighting Islamist militants was not used for the desired purpose, but diverted to the government’s coffers.

US Aid To Fight Militants Diverted To Fund Pakistan Govt: WikileaksAccording to a report, Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said the money, including USD 26 million for barbed wire and USD 70 million to defend against non-existent Taliban warplanes, had been diverted into the Islamabad government’s coffers.

“The relationship is one of co-dependency we grudgingly admit,” the embassy noted in February 2009.

“Pakistan knows the US cannot afford to walk away; the US knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support.”

The British daily, which was based on US embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks, said that dozens of cables from the Islamabad embassy portray US officials dangling billions in aid, offering sophisticated weapons and pushing to provide counter-insurgency training for Pakistan’s “1940s” army.

General Kayani reportedly worried that his army was seen as a force “for hire”, and chafed at demands for greater transparency and punishes American diplomats for allegedly siding with arch-rival India.

US payments for the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal belt have reportedly exceeded USD 7.5 billion since 2002.

In December 2007 US diplomats reported multiple instances where “funds have been diverted and reimbursed claims figures have been seriously inflated”.

When the payments slowed in January 2009 Kayani spoke candidly about the matter with General David Petraeus, a cable reported.

Most of the military funds had been diverted to the federal government, he said.

The newspaper reported that angry about the US favouring India and worried Washington wanted to increase the power of Pakistan’s civilian leaders, the “military and intelligence establishment” was quietly punishing the Islamabad embassy, one frank dispatch in February 2010 noted.

The military had delayed visas for diplomats, blocked import permits for armoured vehicles, “sabotaged” a security contract and was “stopping and detaining embassy vehicles”.

“Engagement with the Pakistani military has been frustrating,” one dispatch said.

“Transparency is often nonexistent. Offers of assistance go unanswered or are overruled at headquarters, even as Pakistan’s maintenance and training are inadequate.” US Vice-President Joe Biden described relations with Pakistan as “transactional” and “based on mutual distrust”.

“While the army remains fixated on India as Pakistan’s mortal enemy, the common man is just as likely to point to America,” one of the cables said.

-HT

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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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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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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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Temple

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