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Zardari Feared Military Coup

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 Zardari Feared Military Coup Washington: Mike Mullen, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has confirmed the existence of a secret memo said to have been sent by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari about a feared military takeover.

Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz alleged in a column in the Financial Times last month that a senior Pakistani diplomat asked for assistance in getting a message from Zardari to Mullen.
Ijaz alleged that Zardari feared a military coup following the US commando raid that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May and brought unprecedented public scrutiny on Pakistani leaders.
The Cable feature of Foreign Policy magazine Thursday reported that Captain John Kirby, who was Mullen’s spokesman until the admiral stepped down earlier this year, told it that Mullen now acknowledges that the Ijaz memo does exist.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani has offered to resign after being linked to the secret memo, CNN reported Thursday. “I serve at the pleasure of the president of Pakistan and the prime minister,” Haqqani reportedly told CNN, adding, “I have communicated my willingness to resign or participate in any inquiry that brings an end to the vilification against the government of Pakistan currently undertaken by some elements in the country.”
Mullen said he did receive it but he never paid any attention to it and took no follow up action. “Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy’s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby was quoted as saying, adding, “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with (Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani and the Pakistani government. He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.”
In Islamabad, the secret memo reportedly came up for discussion at a meeting between the Pakistani president, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Gen Kayani, a media report said Thursday. The News International said the three met Wednesday at the presidency.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar’s two-line statement said Gilani called on Zardari. It added that Kayani was also present during the meeting, at which the current security situation in the country was discussed.
A day earlier, Kayani met Zardari and reportedly discussed the memo. Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has been summoned to Islamabad for a briefing on the issue, Gilani told the National Assembly. “Whether he is an ambassador or not, he (Haqqani) has to come and explain the issue to the leadership,” Gilani said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan has denied that there were differences between civil and military leaderships. “There is complete harmony, and civil and military leaderships are on the same page on all national issues,” the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Awan as saying.
-IANS

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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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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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Temple

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