Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will brief the Qatar leadership about Pakistan’s talks with Afghanistan during a three-day official visit to Qatar, a country where the Taliban is to open a political office. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said the prime minister will apprise the Qatari officials on Pakistan’s discussions with Afghan officials, reported Xinhua. The visit is aimed at strengthening ties with the Gulf state in multiple areas including import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet the country’s energy demands, reported Associated Press of Pakistan from Doha. Dawn had earlier reported that with Doha getting ready to host a political office of the Taliban, Afghan reconciliation will be a major theme during Gilani’s visit to Qatar. Qataris appear to be willing hosts for the proposed Taliban liaison office, which is expected to serve as a base for any talks between Kabul, militants and other stakeholders, the media report said. ”Afghanistan could be discussed, and certainly we too would be interested in being updated by the Qatari leaders on the contacts made so far and the progress towards setting up of the Taliban liaison office,” a senior diplomat was quoted as saying. Gilani Monday left for Qatar on a three-day official visit, the Prime Minister office said. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain, Minister for Technical and Vocational Education Riaz Hussain Pirzada and lawmaker Muneer Aurakzai. This is the first visit to Qatar by a Pakistani prime minister after nine years. Gilani said he will talk to the Qatar leadership to explore opportunities in the field of energy especially import of LNG. He added that cooperation in other sectors like infrastructure, construction, hydrocarbon and exploring job opportunities for skilled labour will also be discussed. On the regional security situation, the prime minister reiterated the stance of his government to support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned initiatives for a stable Afghanistan. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said the prime minister will also apprise the Qatari officials on Pakistan’s talks with Afghan officials. Pakistan is interested in importing 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar that produces 77 million tonnes per annum of LNG. The imported LNG will be initially provided to the power houses in the country to generate 2,500 megawatt electricity. During Gilani’s visit, the two governments are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority and Qatar’s Ministry of Energy. The official said Gilani will take up the matter of absorbing Pakistani skilled labour in Qatar. The demand of two million work force is anticipated for Qatar’s various infrastructure projects for holding FIFA 2022 World Cup in Doha, he said. About 87,000 Pakistanis comprise 33 percent of the Qatar’s population. Pakistan’s exports to Qatar mainly comprise food and agriculture products dominated by rice and meat, while the imports are petrochemicals. The remittances from Qatar increased by $354 million in 2010 as compared to $339.51 million in 2009. -IANS
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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