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Iran nuclear talks constructive, says EU envoy

Sunday, April 15, 2012 0 comments

ISTANBUL: Iran and world powers agreed in nuclear talks Saturday to hold another, more in-depth meeting in Baghdad on May 23, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said after “constructive” discussions here. DawnNews

“We expect the subsequent meetings will lead to concrete steps towards a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme,” Ashton said.

“This is why we will meet again soon on the 23rd of May in Baghdad.”

Ashton said future talks will be guided by the ”principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.” That indicates the international community is ready to reward Iran if it reduces fears that it may use its atomic program to make weapons.

She also said that Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear program. At the same time, she says the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty must be the ”key basis” for future talks.

Iran’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator Saeed Jalili said that Iranian request for lifting of sanctions should be one of the issues included in cooperation.

He said next talks should be based on confidence building measures, which would build the confidence of Iranians.

DPC, PTI put their foot down over decision


PESHAWAR: The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) have rejected the decision regarding the resumption of Nato supplies through Pakistani routes and announced that a countrywide protest campaign will be initiated in Peshawar on April 20. Express
Talking to media in Peshawar where arrangements have been made for a large rally in an open ground, DPC leader said they would reject parliament’s decision with “full force on all fronts”.
They said that since the Pentagon had made it clear that drone attacks would not be suspended, there was no justification for the resumption of Nato supplies through the country.
“If the supply was restored then we will resist it peacefully by staging protests near its routes, as we fear that either Nato or America could send its armed forces to Pakistan on the pretext of securing the supply route,” said Maulana Samiul Haq, adding that the decision regarding the resumption of the supply line was taken by parliament overnight on the instructions of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Imran Khan’s stance
Meanwhile, in Lahore, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan said the restoration of the supply line was “the biggest collusion” between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the US.
He was addressing the 2012 Punjab PTI Women Convention. Imran also showed grave concern over the loss of 40,000 Pakistani soldiers in the US ‘war on terror’ and reiterated that Pakistan must stop fighting a foreign war. “We always knew that the Nato supply line would be restored since these rulers have no spine to show against the US,” said Imran.

India asked to honour 1989 accord on Siachen


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reminded India on Saturday of a 1989 agreement for resolving the Siachen dispute and asked New Delhi to honour it. DawnNews

“A 1989 agreement exists, which settled the principles for the resolution of Siachen conflict,” Zehra Akbari, Director General (South Asia) at the Foreign Office, said at a media briefing on rescue operations in avalanche-hit Gayari.

“Time has come for the implementation of that agreement. It has to be resolved to prevent such mishaps from happening again,” she said.

Last weekend’s massive avalanche in Gayari, which buried the army’s battalion headquarters in the region trapping 135 troops and civilians inside it, brought the conflict over Siachen into focus, with people on both sides of the border questioning the strategic value of the territory and calling for withdrawal of troops from the world’s highest battlefield where relentless sub-zero conditions have killed more people than the actual combat.

Ms Akbari said Pakistan had been persistently asking for resolution of the issue. She was referring to the Pakistan-India joint statement issued on June 17, 1989, after a meeting between the two defence secretaries.

The statement said: “There was agreement by both sides to work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces to reduce the chances of conflict, avoidance of the use of force and determination of future positions on the ground so as to conform with the Simla Agreement and to ensure durable peace in the Siachen area. The army authorities of both sides will determine these positions.”

The agreement was made possible because of back-channel contacts between then prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi.

The 1989 agreement, which was soon afterwards denied by India, was lacking in three aspects — which point the troops should pull back to, how to ascertain the existing ground position and monitoring of demilitarisation.

Pakistan has, during various sessions on Siachen, proposed that troops return to pre-1972 positions, as agreed in the Simla Agreement, but India has insisted on authenticating the actual ground position line both on maps as well as on the ground.

Indians believe that accepting Pakistani proposals will imply a surrender of the glacier that has been under Indian control since 1984.

It is said that the Indian army has been at the forefront in preventing a resolution of the issue. At the back of Indians’ mind, an Indian source said, was a fear that China would benefit from any settlement because of its strong ties with Pakistan.

American diplomatic cables, revealed by WikiLeaks, had also pointed out to the Indian army’s resistance to a resolution of the dispute.

The cables cited the China factor, India’s distrust of Pakistan, Indian army’s internal corruption and its desire to retain the strategically advantageous territory as the factors stopping Delhi from agreeing to a settlement.

The cables said every time India and Pakistan came “very close” to an agreement on the Siachen issue, the prime minister of the day would be forced to back out by the Indian defence establishment, Congress Party hardliners and opposition leaders.

RESCUE EFFORTS: The Director General of Military Operations, Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, said rescue efforts in Siachen were at “full-scale” and rescuers had been able to reach the ground level at two points, but did not find anyone.

Digging at other points, he added, was continuing. He admitted that chances of finding any survivors were slim, advising “prayers for a miracle”. He expressed the hope that rescue efforts would pick up pace in coming days after an expected improvement in weather.

Maj-Gen Nadeem said a new battalion headquarters had been raised at Goma to replace the one buried under the avalanche. The new headquarters has been properly staffed and equipped. It is fully operative now.

‘Sterling’ bounty offered for Obama, Bush


HARIPUR: In an expression of solidarity with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, British parliamentarian of Kashmiri origin Lord Nazir Ahmed has announced a reward for the captor of US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W Bush. Express
He made the announcement at a reception arranged in his honour by the business community of Haripur on Friday. Former foreign minister Goher Ayub Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) central leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed and provincial Minister for Education Qazi Muhammad Asad were also present on the occasion.
Lord Nazir said that the bounty placed on Saeed was an insult to all Muslims and by doing so President Obama has challenged the dignity of the Muslim Ummah.
“If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of 10 million pounds on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush,” Lord Nazir said, adding that he would arrange the bounty at any cost even if he was left with the option of selling all his personal assets, including his house.
Criticising the bureaucracy in Pakistan for its alleged corruption, he said a number of British investors had been mulling investment in Pakistan but the deep-seated culture of corruption had turned them off.

Chief Justice terms terrorism as a global threat


ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry said on Sunday that terrorism is a global threat and that international laws should be kept in view while tackling the issue, DawnNews reported.

While addressing the final session of the International Judicial Conference the Chief Justice said that Pakistan has suffered heavy loss of lives and property while facing terrorism for many years.

He added that effective legislations are needed to deal with the issue and the rule of law must be maintained at all times.

Oslo attack: Breivik deemed sane in new finding

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 0 comments

OSLO: Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik was sane when he killed 77 people last summer in attacks he saw as punishing pro-immigration “traitors”, a psychiatric team said on Tuesday, contradicting a prior report that found him psychotic. Reuters/AFP/Express
Breivik has insisted he is mentally stable and demanded that his attacks – the most violent in Norway since World War Two – be judged as political rather than the work of a deranged mind.
His trial on terror and murder charges is scheduled to start in Oslo next week and last 10 weeks. The new report could give judges grounds to sentence Breivik to prison.
Breivik, 33, has admitted detonating a bomb that killed eight people at government headquarters in Oslo on July 22, then massacring 69 people with gunfire at a Labour Party summer camp. Most of the summer camp victims were teenagers.
“We’re talking about psychosis, and we have found no evidence of it,” psychiatrist Asgar Aspaas told reporters after submitting the 310-page report based on weeks of round-the-clock observation.
Aspaas was one of two experts appointed to provide a second opinion after a previous team using different methods found Breivik to be a psychotic who also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The initial finding caused a public uproar.
“It’s a completely open question now,” said Jo Martin Stigen, a University of Oslo law professor.
“I don’t think we can rule out that he will be considered legally sane in the end.”
The dueling psychiatric teams are expected to defend their diagnoses in court, an unusual event in Norway. The final ruling will be made by a five-judge panel as part of its verdict at the end of the trial.
Breivik’s attorney, Geir Lippestad, has said he would call political experts and historians to testify that Breivik’s world view is shared by others. He would also call a radical Islamist cleric who holds a similar view that European and Islamic culture are irreconcilable.
If he is found guilty and the judges side with the latest psychiatric report, Breivik could face 21 years in prison with the potential for unlimited extensions to prevent him from repeating his crimes.
If Breivik is ruled psychotic he could face an indefinite period of psychiatric care in a locked facility.
District Judge Ina Stroemstad, who is not on the case, said the trial judges would now have to sort a tangle of evidence about Brevik’s mental state, including his behaviour in court.
“There is a broad picture now, with elements that do not go in the same direction, and that might make their conclusion more difficult,” Stroemstad said.
At a preliminary hearing Breivik denied criminal guilt and suggested his actions were part of a war to save European culture.
“I am a military commander in the Norwegian resistance movement and Knights Templar Norway,” Breivik said, echoing a written manifesto in which he called himself “a hero of Europe, a saviour of our people and of European Christendom.”
The new psychiatric report was not made public except for its main conclusions, while key parts of the prior evaluation made their way onto media websites.
“The background for the killings are his paranoid psychotic delusions that he is a participant in a civil war where he is responsible for deciding who lives and dies,” the first report said.
“His mission is to save the entire western world’s culture and genes.”In a letter last week to news media, Breivik called the initial finding of psychosis a “humiliation” and said the experts seemed too traumatised by the killings to be objective.
Breivik to tell trial he regrets ‘not going further’: Lawyer
Breivik plans to tell the court he regrets “not going further”, his lawyer said Tuesday.
“This will be extremely difficult, an enormous challenge to listen to his explanations,” Geir Lippestad told reporters. “He will not only defend (his actions) but will also lament, I think, not going further.”
The 33-year-old right-wing extremist also said he was “pleased” with the results of a new psychiatric probe that found him sane and criminally responsible, contrary to a first official exam that concluded late last year that he was suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” and therefore criminally insane.
“His first reaction was that he was pleased with the conclusion” of the new expert report, Lippestad told reporters after discussing the new findings with his client.
“He also said he was not surprised, that he had been expecting this conclusion,” the lawyer added.
Breivik, who has said being sent to a psychiatric ward would be “worse than death”, wants to be declared sane, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political message presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the twin July attacks.

Fitness the top criteria in new PCB contracts


The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has made fitness tests mandatory for its centrally-contracted players, before they are considered for a contract renewal. Dawn

Current players are required to undergo the fitness test on Monday and Tuesday with the exception of Umar Akmal, Muhammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal, whose test dates are postponed.

Newly contracted players can also expect an increase in pay scales after three-and-a-half years of no increment.

While the PCB previously issued six-month contracts to 29 players, spread over four categories, the new committee, headed by Iqbal Qasim now aims for a year-long contract for each player.

Although no decision has been made after the meeting last week, there are speculations of Shahid Afridi’s comeback. The former captain had automatically lost his contract in May 2011 when he announced his retirement from international cricket in protest against the board’s decision to replace him as captain of the One Day International (ODI) team.

In the past the board has handed out central contracts to the players based on their performance and fitness, however, the new requirement would make fitness a priority.

Siachen day 4: Search operation continues despite weather conditions


Search and rescue operations in Giari continue on the fourth day despite unfavourable weather conditions that have prevented the American, German and Swedish rescue teams from leaving for Skardu, Express News reported.
According to ISPR, a total of 452 persons including 69 civilians are employed for relief efforts.
Two bulldozers, two earth movers, three excavators and two dumpers are working day and night on the site.
Five points have been identified on the site where rescue work is in progress. Two points are being dug with equipment while three points are being dug manually.
American, German and Swedish rescue teams have arrived in Rawalpindi and are waiting for weather clearance to proceed to Giari. A seven-member SPD team is using a life detection kit and thermal imaging cameras for the rescue operation.
HRCP expresses sorrow
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed sorrow over the Siachen tragedy in a statement released here on Tuesday.
Stressing the need to prevent such incidents in future, the statement said that the current situation demands an inquiry into the “conditions in which the soldiers were stationed at the glacier.”
The HRCP also said that there was a need to reflect on the safety measures taken to protect the soldiers posted in Siachen, keeping in “mind the harsh climate and fickle nature of the terrain.”
Sharing grief with the families of 136 avalanche victims, the HRCP said it was unfortunate that both India and Pakistan continue to confront each other at Siachen, despite suffering great losses.
Appreciating the parliamentarians’ stance to resolve the Siachen issue through negotiations, the HRCP said it was important for both the countries to set their priorities right. Urging the governments of India and Pakistan to work towards peace, the statement issued by the HRCP said both the countries should spend their resources on the welfare of their people and not “military upkeep.”

HSBC in talks to sell Pakistan operations


LONDON/HONG KONG: Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC, is in talks to sell up in Pakistan and offload retail banking in Korea, part of its withdrawal from countries where it lacks scale or struggles to make a profit. Reuters/Dawn

HSBC is in talks with several unnamed companies to sell its Pakistan business, it said in a statement.

HSBC said it was also discussing the sale of its Korean retail and wealth management business to Korea Development Bank (KDB), but would keep its investment banking and corporate banking businesses in the country.

HSBC did not give a price for either deal, but both are modest in size. It has 11 branches in Korea and assets of about 30,000 billion Korean won ($26.4 billion), and 10 branches in Pakistan.

If completed, the deals would take the number carried out by HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver since taking over early last year to 25, as he tries to revive his bank by cutting costs and boosting profitability. Deals already struck will cut $50 billion in risk-weighted assets from its balance sheet since early 2011.

The London-based bank operates in 85 countries and Gulliver is trying to sharpen its focus on fast-growing Asian markets, while businesses that lack scale in Asia could also be on the block.

It made a $22 billion profit last year, the largest by a western bank, but costs continue to rise and its return on equity was 10.9 per cent, short of its 12-15 per cent target.

HSBC has this year sold its general insurance businesses for $914 million, sold operations in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras for around $800 million, and said it would quit Slovakia. It is also considering selling some Mauritius units.

HSBC shares dipped 1.2 per cent to 548 pence by 0920 GMT, holding firmer than a 2 per cent fall by Europe’s bank sector.

31 Sunnis released by abductors after a week


GILGIT: After successful negotiations, authorities in Gilgit managed to secure the release of 31 Sunnis held hostage in Nagar Valley for a week, sources said on Tuesday. Express
The release came after successful negotiations between the clerics and the government, independent sources confirmed to The Express Tribune.
The hostages included Rasheed – a district health officer from Astore, a civil judge and 29 labourers mostly from outside Gilgit-Baltistan.
No government official was available to provide an official statement on the release.
Armed men had abducted the civil judge and health officer while they were travelling in Nagar Valley along with regional Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhtar on April 3, the same day sectarian violence broke out after a protest rally by Sunnis in Gilgit was attacked with hand grenades. The attack on protest left six dead and over 50 injured.
In retaliation, few passenger buses in Sunni-dominated Chilas town were attacked and then put on fire. At least 10 Shia people were killed in these retaliatory attacks.
As a result, Sunni labourers from the Nagar Valley were abducted and shifted to unknown location until their negotiated release today.
“The men have been released and will be brought to Gilgit by night,”said a source.
According to another source, the Shia clerics, Agha Rahat and Sheikh Mirza Ali, played a key role in the release of these men as the Nagar community had authorised them to decide the fate of the abducted men.
Earlier, the government had formed a delegation comprising of regional Law Minister Wazir Shakil and Amjad Hussain for the release of the hostages but it failed to do so.

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