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US Knew Pakistan Was No Ally Against Terror

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US Knew Pakistan Was No Ally Against TerrorThe US had known for over a decade that Pakistan wouldn’t cooperate to hunt down Osama bin Laden, show declassified state department cables, made public Thursday. This might explain the sage-like response of the US government to finding bin Laden just a short distance from Islamabad. And not enraged as the lawmakers and common Americans without access to this privileged wisdom. “After having spoken to numerous Pakistani interlocutors, our impression is that the GOP (government of Pakistan) is not disposed to be especially helpful on the matter of terrorist Osama bin Ladin,” said a US embassy cable from Islamabad.

This cable was written and sent by the mission in December 1998, just a few months after Al Qaeda bombed US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing hundreds of people. Bin Laden was now Enemy No 1. Then US president Bill Clinton had ordered cruise missile attacks on an Al Qaeda camp in Khost, Afghanistan, but failed to get bin Laden, who had apparently slipped away on a tip from friends in Pakistan.

To put the above cable, and the others released, in context, Pakistan didn’t have bin Laden then like now. The terrorist mastermind was based in Afghanistan, sheltered by the Taliban as an honoured guest and financier. Pakistan was one of the three nations that recognized the Taliban government, and had considerable influence over it. The US was putting pressure on Pakistan to use its influence to get bin Laden expelled. The declassified cables show the US was bringing pressure on the Pakistanis from all sides, but without much success. “All (Pak interlocutors) took the line that issue of bin Ladin is a problem that the US has with the Taliban, not with Pakistan.”

That cable went on to quote from an article written by a Pakistani journalist described as close to the foreign ministry and the intelligence service ISI that the US was pretty much on its own on bin Laden. The Taliban would not give up bin Laden, and that the only way to spring him from Afghanistan was through military or clandestine measures and, the article said, Pakistan had made it clear it wanted no part in it.

Bin Laden was found and killed in exactly this kind of operation last Sunday. No wonder then that the US neither asked Pakistan for help nor informed it of it. Pakistan couldn’t be trusted, said CIA chief Leon Panetta. The cables showed Pakistan had decided to listen to the US but do nothing about it. “(Foreign minister Sartaj) Aziz listened carefully, but his response contained little that was new,” complained an Islamabad embassy cable from January 1999.

In October 2000, al Qaeda rammed a boat laden with bombs into a US Navy ship – USS Cole – near Yemen killing 17 soldiers. Washington now tried even harder to get Pakistan’s help on capturing bin Laden, with frustratingly unchanging results. “U/S (Thomas) Pickering opened the meeting (in New York) by expressing disappointment that Pakistan, whom he called a good friend, was not taking steps to help with bin Laden,” said a state department cable of November 20, 2000.

Less than a year later, al Qaeda operatives working on the orders of bin Laden crashed two US airliners into the World Trade Center in the same city, and one into the Pentagon in Washington DC, killing in all nearly 3,000 people.

-HT

 

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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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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SOUTH ASIA

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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