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India Backs Democratic Transition In Syria

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New York: India has voted for an Arab and Western-backed UN resolution denouncing the violent crackdown in Syria and calling for a democratic transition, but Russia and China vetoed it, saying it amounted to advocating a regime change.
India and 12 other members of the Security Council, including the US, Britain and Pakistan, voted in favour of the resolution condemning Syria’s suppression of dragging protests against the Bashar Assad regime.
In a change from its earlier stand, India came out in support of the resolution which calls for a “transition to a democratic, plural political system”, withdrawal of Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and release of those “detained arbitrarily”.
India explained why it was for the UN move. “Our support for the resolution is in accordance with our support for the efforts by the Arab League for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process,” India’s Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri told the Council in New York Saturday.
India, Puri added, felt that the right of the Syrian people to peacefully protest should be respected. “India has conveyed this message to the Syrian leadership, both bilaterally as well as along with its IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) partners. We have impressed upon the Syrian side to abjure violence and pay heed to the aspirations of the people.”
Puri asserted that “the leadership of Syria is a matter for the Syrian people to decide. “It would be necessary for all opposition forces in Syria to peacefully engage in constructive dialogue with the authorities. We hope that this will create a new environment for peace and facilitate a political process. This political dialogue should build upon the political reforms announced by the Syrian leadership with necessary changes so that they find acceptance among all sections of Syrian society.”
Puri added: “India is concerned with the present situation in Syria that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and security personnel over the last 10 months.”
The resolution said the Security Council would review the implementation of the resolution within three ways “and, in the event of non-compliance, consider further measures”.
China and Russia vetoed the resolution on grounds that it may be used to justify outside intervention in that country. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said the draft lacked balance. “Some influential members of the international community unfortunately … have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement, calling for a regime change, pushing the opposition to power,” he said.
Beijing’s UN ambassador Li Baodong said putting pressure on the Syrian government or “imposing a solution” would not help to resolve the issue of anti-Assad protests that have left thousands dead.
American ambassador Susan Rice said the US was “disgusted” over the veto by Russia and China. Interestingly, the vetoed resolution expressed “its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria”, also condemned “all violence” and called for “an inclusive Syrian-led political process”. 
Ahead of the vote, US President Barack Obama said Assad had lost all legitimacy and that the international community “must work to protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality.”
The UN estimates that at least 5,400 people have died in the Syrian crackdown in the past one year.
India’s vote was hailed by Human Rights Watch, which Sunday said New Delhi had “seen through Assad’s lies”.
”By supporting the UN resolution, India has rightly supported the Syrian people,” a spokeswoman for the US-based rights body said, adding, “India has seen through (Bashar) Assad’s lies, and shown itself to be an independent world leader.”

-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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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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