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26/11 Attack Intended To Provoke India-Pakistan War: US Expert

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26/11 Attack Intended To Provoke India-Pakistan War: US Expert

26/11 Attack Intended To Provoke India-Pakistan War: US Expert

Washington:  The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was intended to change dramatically the future of South Asia, perhaps even by provoking a war between rising nuclear powers India and Pakistan, according to a top counter-terrorism expert.

Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, who has advised four US presidents on South Asian issues, says he had pointed this out to then President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team at the time in several briefings. Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taeba group (LeT) had carefully chosen the targets and meticulously researched them over several years, he wrote in The Daily Beast, an American news reporting and opinion website

“They received considerable assistance in doing so from two sources-the Pakistani intelligence service, called the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI, and Al Qaeda.”

“Each had its own agenda for the operation. But the targets were the same – Indians, Americans, and Jews – the targets of the global jihad started by Al Qaeda in the late 1990s,” Riedel wrote.

Describing the November 2008 attack as “the most important terror attack since 9/11” he pointed out that the “10 terrorists’ tactics have been copied by others since – for example, just weeks ago in Nairobi.”

But “perhaps the most shocking element of the Mumbai attack was the role played by David Coleman Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, in the intelligence collection that preceded the attack,” Riedel wrote.

Born Daood Sayed Gilani in Washington, DC, in 1960, Headley changed his name at the behest of LeT to hide his Pakistani identity when travelling abroad. In his guilty confession, Headley, Riedel noted, acknowledged “the raid also was planned with active ISI involvement at every stage. At each of his meetings in Pakistan, he said he met with ISI officers as well as the LeT terror leaders.”

“Sometimes the ISI gave him particular assignments separate from what the LeT asked; for example, tasking him with taking photos of an Indian nuclear facility near Mumbai,” Riedel said.

Yet “the Pakistani mastermind of the Mumbai plot, LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, remains free in Pakistan, where he continues to be a darling of the ISI and regularly calls for more attacks on India and America,” Riedel wrote noting “Five years after Mumbai, justice has yet to be served.”

 

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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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SOUTH ASIA

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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