Islamabad: Amid the tense standoff between the military and the government, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has described President Asif Ali Zardari as the “pace attack bowler” of his political team which is under attack from “left, right and centre”.
Gilani said this while interacting with sportspersons at the launch of state-run broadcaster PTV’s new sports channel on the same day when the country’s powerful military issued a terse statement criticising him for his remarks on Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
Asked by Pakistani women cricket team captain Sana Mir who was his “pace attack bowler” in politics, Gilani replied: “Asif Ali Zardari”.
Former Test cricketer Rameez Raja, one of the hosts for the event, asked the premier if his government, which has faced “many bouncers and yorkers”, would be able to hit a six off the last ball of the innings like batsman Javed Miandad.
Gilani replied: “For the last four years, our situation was worse than that of Javed Miandad. There were attacks from left, right and centre and we have been facing them”.
In response to another question about his favourite sportsman, Gilani said: “I like Imran Khan as a sportsman”.
Asked if this liking extended to Khan’s new role as a politician, he quipped, “We will find out when the time comes”.
Gilani fondly recalled his visit to Mohali at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to watch the semi-final of last year’s cricket World Cup between India and Pakistan. The match was won by India.
“Though we lost, the enthusiasm, the people’s contacts… and the public opinion was extremely favourable. When I was leaving the stadium, people (greeted) me all along the route,” he said.
Gilani said he was not affected by the Pakistani side’s loss as he took “sports as sports”.
Gilani described politics as a game in which all players should show magnanimity.
“Whether you are winning or losing, we should not make it personal,” he said.
Sports, he said, could help tackle the problem of terrorism and extremism that Pakistan is facing.
“There is terrorism and extremism because there is no entertainment. If the youth are diverted to sports and education, this basic issue will be overcome,” he said.
Gilani also recalled his school days and said he was an all-round student who took interest in cricket, rugby, football, swimming, and extra-curricular activities like painting, drama and elocution.
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.