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West worried by China-Pakistan atomic ties

News4u-News Desk-VIENNA: Western states pressured China at closed-door talks last week to address concerns about its plans to expand a nuclear power plant in Pakistan and provide more information, but were rebuffed, two diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.

Beijing’s atomic relations with Islamabad have caused unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals due to Pakistan’s history of spreading nuclear arms technology and fears about the integrity of international non proliferation rules.

“A number of countries asked questions and expressed concerns,” said one official, speaking about the annual plenary session of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), held on June 21-22 in the U.S. city of Seattle.

But China showed no sign of reconsidering its position on building two more reactors at the Chashma nuclear power complex in Pakistan’s Punjab region, the official and another source said, a stance Beijing also took when the issue was raised in last year’s NSG talks in the Dutch city of Noordwijk.

As its ties with the United States have suffered, Pakistan has been trying to move closer to Asian powerhouse China, which has welcomed Islamabad’s overtures.

The two-day meeting also debated the issue of India’s possible membership in the NSG, a consensus-based cartel that seeks to ensure nuclear exports are not used for military purposes by agreeing rules for such trade, the sources said.

In 2010, the United States announced backing for India’s membership - a step that would make it the only country outside the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the group - but Pakistan has warned against allowing its rival to join.

“If India were to apply now, there would be quite a detailed discussion on non proliferation-related issues before a decision is taken,” one of the sources said, suggesting there were differences of opinion within the NSG.

A statement by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration confirmed that the NSG’s relationship with India was discussed, but did not mention the China-Pakistan issue.

“Participating governments called on all states to exercise vigilance and make best efforts to ensure that none of their exports of goods or technologies contribute to nuclear weapons programmes,” it said on its website.

Close relations between China and Pakistan reflect a long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to counter U.S. influence across the region.

Analysts say China agreed to expand Chashma to match a 2008 nuclear energy deal between India and the United States.

NUCLEAR PRINCIPLE EROSION? 

Washington and other governments have said China should seek approval for the planned reactors from the NSG. But China argues that the construction of two additional units at Chashma was part of a bilateral deal sealed before it joined the NSG in 2004. China also supplied the facility’s first two reactors.

European Union members of the NSG delivered a joint statement about the issue in Seattle, the two sources said. The U.S. delegation also “posed a question,” one of them said.

“China basically reiterated that it comes under the grandfather clause,” one source said, referring to Beijing’s argument that the agreement was struck before it joined the nuclear suppliers’ forum.

To receive nuclear exports, nations that are not one of the five officially recognised atomic weapons states must usually place their nuclear activities under the safeguards of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, NSG rules say.

When the United States sealed a nuclear supply deal with India in 2008 that China and others found questionable because Delhi - like Islamabad - is outside the NPT, Washington won a waiver from that rule after contentious negotiations.

Pakistan wants a similar civilian nuclear agreement with the United States to help meet its growing energy needs.

But Washington is reluctant, largely because a Pakistani nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted in 2004 to transferring nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998, soon after India, and both nations refuse to join the NPT, which would oblige them to scrap nuclear weapons.

Nuclear analyst Mark Hibbs said there had been an erosion of the principle that recipients of nuclear exports must put all their atomic activities under IAEA safeguards.

“First by Russia a decade ago in its trade with India, then in the U.S.-sponsored India deal, and now by China’s trade with Pakistan,” Hibbs, of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank, said.

“Since the late 1990s we have seen a weakening of milestone non proliferation commitments by big powerful countries.”Reuters

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Court puts Pakistan president, PM on notice

News4u-News Desk - LAHORE: A Pakistani court on Wednesday directed President Asif Ali Zardari to act on its earlier order to dissociate himself from political activities and to stop using the presidency for political purposes, failing which contempt of court proceedings could be initiated against him.

A three-judge bench of the Lahore high court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial made the observation in response to two petitions filed against Zardari for not quitting the political office of head of the rulingPakistan People’s Party.

Chief justice Bandial remarked: “The court is issuing a short order directing the president to implement the Lahore high court’s order in this regard, otherwise contempt of court proceedings may be initiated against him.”

The bench noted that the HC had issued an order on May 12, 2011 that said it expected the president to disassociate himself from political activities as soon as possible.

It said adequate time would be given to the president to act on this order. The court questioned the petitioners on whether the president had any immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution.

A K Dogar, the counsel for one of the petitioners, claimed the president had no immunity in civil cases.

Dogar is also the lawyer for Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.PTI

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Abu Jundal’s arrest: Pakistan slams India, says ‘we are proud of our ISI’

News4u-News Desk-ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interior ministry chiefRehman Malik today rejected home minister P Chidambaram’s assertion of “state support” to the terrorists behind 26/11 massacre, saying ISIwas a target of “propaganda campaign”.

“We are proud of our ISI, which is defending Pakistan,” Malik said adding the ISI’s role in the war on terror was “well recognised by everybody” but the spy agency was the target of a propaganda campaign.

He repeatedly dismissed assertions by Indian leaders, including Chidambaram, that Pakistani state and non-state actors were involved in the Mumbai attacks and stoutly defended the ISI as an “elite agency”.

Chidambaram today said there was clearly state support to the terrorists responsible for the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai.

“When I say, state actors, at the moment, I am not pointing my finger at any particular agency. But clearly there was state support or state actors’ support for the 26/11 massacre,” he said.

His comments came in the backdrop of the arrest and interrogation of LeT handler Abu Jundal, who was in the “control room” in Pakistan giving directions to the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008.

Malik also launched a bizarre tirade against India investigations into various terror attacks and also sought to stump the arrest of Jundal.

“Now things are getting clarified. Who knows that there was a sting operation by somebody from India?” Malik told a news conference at the Interior Ministry this afternoon. He however did not elaborate what he meant by “sting operation”.

Referring to Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, and two other Indian suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks? Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed? Malik said: “If the three people can come to Pakistan they can mix up with the people here. They can generate the resources and then they go back and the Mumbai (attacks) happen. So any reasonable investigator will be forced to think”.

Speaking against the backdrop of revelations by Jundal about the planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks, Malik called on Indian authorities to provide detailed information about the terror suspect so that Pakistan could take necessary action.

However, he contended that Indian authorities and Chidambaram would have to focus on the role of Indians like Jundal, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed in the Mumbai attacks.

“Zabiuddin is Indian, he was caught in India, he did everything in India. Why are you blaming Pakistan? He is your citizen. That means your agencies failed to control their citizen. Please have a look at your system as well”.

Malik claimed the involvement of Jundal in the Mumbai attacks meant “there is some mole, there is something wrong in your system too”, and that India should stop blaming the ISI for all terrorist incidents.

He said inquiries had revealed that Jundal had not entered Pakistan through “frequent routes” and could have illegally crossed the border.

He further contended that Pakistani-American terror suspect David Headley, currently in US custody, was “an agent who played in multiple ways”.

Malik, who was recently appointed the Senior Advisor on Interior Affairs after the Supreme Court suspended his membership of Parliament when he was unable to prove he had renounced his British citizenship, claimed he had great respect for Chidambaram and wanted an end to the “blame game” with India.

“I am not here to blame India, I am here to clear the situation,” he said.

At the same time, Malik contended that five terrorist attacks in India that were blamed on the ISI ? the 2006 and 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts, the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing, the 2007 Makka Masjid bomb attack and 2007 bomb attack at the Ajmer dargah ? were all the handiwork of Hindu extremists.

“We warned you (India) three years back that Hindu extremism is coming to your country. Your own Taliban are emerging there. So now we’ve seen the result and I wish best of luck to India that the law enforcement agencies must do something to stop it,” he said.

Malik further claimed he had repeatedly warned Chidambaram during their meetings about the emergence of Hindu extremists.

He claimed he had told Chidambaram: “I think Hindu extremism is spreading and increasing in your country. We failed to control our Taliban in Pakistan and we are suffering. Please do something”.

He said the relatives of Pakistani nationals killed in the Samjhauta Express bombing were demanding that Col S K Purohit, the Indian Army officer linked to the attack, should be handed over to Islamabad.

“Hindu extremism is visible in (terrorist) incidents, we stand cleared,” Malik remarked. “I hope the Indian authorities have a very close look and go into the system, as to what’s wrong in their system that this is happening”.

Malik said Pakistan was prepared to cooperate with India in any investigation and to share information to counter terrorism.

He further said Pakistani authorities had arrested seven suspects for the Mumbai attacks and their trial had been put on a “fast track”. Despite Malik’s contentions, there has been virtually no progress in the trial of the seven suspects for over a year.

Recently, there were no hearings in the case for three weeks as there was no judge to conduct the trial.PTI

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PPP asks workers to remain calm

News4u-News Desk- ISLAMABAD: The ruling PPP on Tuesday asked its workers to remain calm following PM Yousaf Raza Gilani’s disqualification by the supreme court as the party leadership decides its future course of action in consultation with its coalition partners.

The PPP’s central executive committee has reservations about the apex court’s judgement and the party’s leadership will consult legal experts and political partners to decide on a “final outcome” , party spokesman, Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

“The CEC and the cochairman (President Asif Ali Zardari) have specially directed party workers to remain calm and not to organize protests ,” said Kaira.

Kaira said Punjab was witnessed widespread protests against power outages that were being “sponsored” by provincial government of the opposition PML-N .

PPP sources said the party had called a meeting of leaders on Tuesday night and a meet of PPP parliamentary party on Wednesday to choose a replacement for Gilani.PTI

Yousaf Raza Gilani

Yousaf Raza Gilani

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Pashto singer Ghazala Javed and her father shot dead in Pak

News4u-News Desk- Well-known Pashto singer Ghazala Javed and her father were shot and killed by a group of unidentified men inPeshawar city of northwestPakistan on Monday night.

The men fired indiscriminately at Javed and her father Mohammad Javed while she was leaving a beauty parlour at the busy Mohallah Nau in Dabgari Bazar on Monday night.

The singer’s younger sister, Farhat Bibi, escaped unhurt. The attackers, who were riding motorcycles, escaped after the shooting.

They police officials said that the singer’s relatives had not asked them to file charges against anyone as yet.

In recent years, several singers and musicians in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have been gunned down by the local Taliban, who have declared music “un-Islamic”.

Several musicians have fled the northwest after receiving threats from the militants.

There is a possibility that Javed’s death was linked to differences with her husband. Javed married Jehangir Khan, a native of Peshawar, some two years ago.

Last year, differences emerged between the couple and she left her husband’s home and began living with her father.

Javed, who belonged to the erstwhile Taliban stronghold ofSwat Valley, had filed a suit for the dissolution of her marriage.

The singer rose to prominence after performing on state- run PTV and her audio and video albums were popular both in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and among Pashto people living in theMiddle East.

Following her marriage, Ghazala Javed had stopped singing in public but she recently resumed performing at private functions.

 

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Attack on bus carrying Shia students kills 4 in Quetta

News4u-News Desk- A bus carrying Shia students was targeted with a powerful bomb, killing four persons and injuring 50 others, in Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city on Monday.

The bomb, hidden underneath a car parked by the roadside, was triggered by remote control when the bus reached the campus of the Balochistan University of Information Technology at Samungli Road this morning.

All the dead were students, officials told TV news channels. Four female students and four policemen were among the injured.

The policemen were in a van that was passing the area when the blast occurred. The injured were taken to the Combined Military Hospital, the Bolan Medical Complex and the Civil Hospital.

At least 12 students, who were in a critical condition, were taken to the military hospital, officials said.

The bomb contained about 40 kg of explosives, officials of bomb disposal squad said.

The blast created a three-foot-deep crater on the road. Police officials said the bus was the target of the attack.

A rickshaw was destroyed by the blast, which damaged several nearby buildings.

Security forces cordoned off the site of the blast, located in a residential area of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, and launched a search operation.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

This was the latest in a string of attacks in Balochistan targeting the minority Shia community.

Dozens of Hazara Shias have been killed, mainly in drive-by shootings, this year.

The violence has been blamed on the banned Lashkar-e- Jhangvi, a notorious anti-Shia group.

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Earthquake rocks Pakistan

News4u - News Desk : ISLAMABAD: An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale on Monday jolted Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The earthquake tremors were felt at about 10.20 am in the provincial capital of Peshawar and its adjoining areas, including Mardan, Charsadda and Nowshera, reported Xinhua citing the meteorological department.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located at 214 km northwest of the country’s capital Islamabad in the Hindu Kush mountainous range along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

The earthquake created panic among the people, but no loss of life was reported, according to the initial reports.

Northern and northwestern Pakistan is located in one of the most earthquake prone areas.

Geographically, Pakistan lies in the collision zone of the India tectonic plate to the south and the Eurasian plate to the north.IANS


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Kayani refuses to meet US defence official

News4u-News Desk- ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s office turned down a request for a meeting by visiting US deputy assistant secretary of defense Peter Lavoy, reflecting the strains that have hit ties between the two countries since last year.

A meeting was requested by the Americans but the General Headquarters declined it, unnamed Pakistani officials were quoted as saying by The News daily on Monday.

The officials said they were not aware if Lavoy was given any reasons for the decision.

US officials in Washington too confirmed the development, the daily reported.

One unnamed Pakistani official indicated the request was turned down because of allegations by US officials that Pakistan was not doing enough to rein in militants operating along the border with Afghanistan.

“There are several reasons for turning down (a meeting with) Lavoy. It is to tell the Americans that you cannot be bad-mouthing us day in and day out and then expect a meeting with Pakistan’s most powerful personality,” the official said.

“You cannot trash our sovereignty, threaten us, announce intensified drone attacks, kill our soldiers, refuse to apologise when you do the same in Kabul, hold back our money (from the Coalition Support Fund), threaten to cut off all aid and then pretend that it is business as usual,” the official added.

Pakistan has been angered by remarks made by US defense secretary Leon Panetta during a recent visit to India and Afghanistan.

Panetta said the US had no plans to stop drone strikes despite protests from Pakistan.

Panetta further said the US was running out of patience with Pakistan for failing to act against militant safe havens in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Officials involved in working out a “package deal” with the US told The News that there were clear instructions from the Pakistan government that a US apology for a deadly NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year was more important than the fees to be paid for NATO containers going to Afghanistan.

“We would be willing to forgo charges in return for assurances on our sovereignty and offer of an apology. It means more than the money, we are more concerned about our dignity and honour.

“If we get assurances that our sovereignty will not be violated and our dignity will be respected, we will not bother about the money part. Price of containers is not an important issue,” an official was quoted as saying.

The official said Lavoy had been told that, without an apology, it would not be possible to move forward on reopening the NATO supply lines to Afghanistan.

“One cannot predict the outcome of our discussions. The process remains unpredictable. The apology remains the key to preserve our dignity. In the absence of the same, it has been difficult to move forward,” the official said.

Pakistan closed the supply lines after the NATO air strike in November.

Since then, Islamabad and Washington have been engaged in negotiations to settle their differences.

Pakistani leaders, including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, have said that an apology for the NATO air strike is a pre-requisite for reopening the supply lines.

Efforts are now underway to ensure that an “acceptable apology is delivered one way or the other to Pakistan”, The News reported.

“There appears to be a slim chance that an acceptable apology will surface. Neither side is ready to accept the language the interlocutors are working on, and time is running out.

“General Headquarters has to understand that a ready apology was pushed aside and now too many issues have overtaken the apology,” an unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying.

The powerful security establishment has sent a message to Lavoy that a “package deal” would not be possible without an apology.PTI

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Indo- Pak talks on Siachen today

News4u-News Desk- Indian Defence Secy Shashikant Sharma will hold crucial talks on Monday on the military standoff on the Siachen glacier against the backdrop of calls to demilitarise the world’s highest battlefield following an avalanche that killed 139 people.

The two-day talks on the Siachen issue, part of the resumed dialogue process between India and Pakistan, will begin at the Defence Ministry in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Monday.

The Pakistani side will be led by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, a close confidant of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Officials said Sharma will also hold talks with Pakistan’s Defence Minister Naveed Qamar, who recently took over the portfolio as part of a minor reshuffle.

Despite Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayanis call for the resolution of issues like Siachen after an avalanche buried 139 people at a high-altitude army camp on 7th April, analysts believe the two sides are unlikely to make progress in the talks on ending the standoff that began in 1984.

Ahead of the talks, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony cautioned against expecting any breakthrough at the meeting of the Defence Secretaries.

“Do not expect any dramatic announcement or decision on an issue which is very important for us, especially in the context of national security….You cannot expect a dramatic announcement from one discussion,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

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19 killed in Pak blast

News4u-News Desk- At least 19 people, including women, were killed and over 40 others injured on Friday when a bus packed with government employees was targeted with a powerful bomb in northwest Pakistan. 

The bomb was triggered by remote control when the bus carrying Civil Secretariat employees was passing through Charsadda Road in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said 19 bodies had been received at Lady Reading Hospital and Charsadda Hospital following the blast.

Six women and a young girl were among the dead, he said. At least five injured persons were in a critical condition, officials said.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast though such attacks are usually blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.

Security forces cordoned off the site after the blast while members of the local bomb disposal squad collected evidence.

Information Minister Hussain said the rear of the bus was affected the most by the explosion, and it was possible that the bomb might have been planted in the vehicle.

He condemned the attack, saying “Spreading fear and indulging in terrorism is the only reason for such an act. We are in favour of talks but if they (militants) refuse, we will be forced to take action against them.”

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack. “Such cowardly terrorist acts cannot weaken the resolve of the government to fight against extremism and terrorism,” he said. 

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