Srinagar, Dec – It is like the doomsday prophecy for the Kashmir Valley. Intense debate Saturday followed an American seismologist’s predictions of a magnitude-9 earthquake. Local newspapers carried front page stories about Roger Bilham of Colorado University predicting a major earthquake in Kashmir that could trigger landslides which would dam the Jhelum river and plunge the valley under water. The prediction also said that once released, the waters would cause major floods in Pakistan. ”The two nations should develop a cooperative plan to deal with the aftermath of a Kashmir mega quake,” Bilham’s study has advised. The US professor has said his new global positioning system (GPS) data readings reveal the gradual movement of rocks in the Zanskar mountains north of the valley, and that the earlier estimates of the maximum possible quake in the region were low. In its typical doomsday forecast, the study warns: “The zone would rupture when a quake eventually happens. The quake would be 200 kilometres wide as against 80 kilometres predicted earlier.” ”The zone would encompass the Kashmir Valley, including the Srinagar city with its 1.5 million strong population,” it said. ”If slippage occurs over a length of 300 kilometres, as is possible, a mega quake of magnitude-9 is likely to occur. Given building codes and population in the region, it could mean a death toll of 300,000 people,” the study added. Bilham has, however, put no timeframe for his predictions. M.I. Bhat, a senior local geologist, told IANS: “As Bilham has said, earlier we believed that the Kashmir Valley was vulnerable to destruction from quakes generated along the Pir Panchal mountain range. But with availability of the GPS data from the region, it is now evident that the northeastern side of the valley is more vulnerable to earthquake generation than the Pir Panchal range.” The average Kashmiri, unable to understand the scientific data, is highly perturbed by the reports. ”That would be the end of the world for us if what the US seismologist has said would actually happen,” said Bashir Ahmad War, a retired veterinarian here. Other locals are perhaps not as philosophical as War. The publication of the frightening forecast has rattled them. ”We can only wait for our destiny to happen as it is ordained. Kashmir has always been devastated by earthquakes in the past,” said Mehraj-ud-din, a fruit seller in the Residency Road area of Srinagar. Said Javaid Shah, a local newspaper editor: “How can anyone escape the disaster if it is actually going to occur.” Whether or not the doomsday forecast comes true, the US seismologist’s study has become a topic of hot discussion in Kashmir. Over 40,000 people were killed across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir and Pakistan-administered parts of Kashmir in an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale in 2005.
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.
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