Biden urges Senate to ratify CTBT
Pak won’t hand over Baradar to US
First tranche of US aid to Pak next week
Dalai Lama honoured with Democracy
Washington, February 19
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was honoured here with the prestigious Democracy Service Medal today in recognition of his commitment to advancing the principles of democracy and human dignity.
Biden urges Senate to ratify CTBT
Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday urged the US Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty saying he believed that all "reasonable concerns" raised by opponents of this treaty had been addressed. In 1998, the Senate voted by a wide margin against ratifying the CTBT and since then the treaty has not gained much support on Capitol Hill.
Sixty-seven votes are required in the 100-member Senate for the treaty to be ratified. In the unlikely event that the Senate acts on the Obama administration's wishes, India will come under pressure from the US to sign the CTBT. India's decision not to sign the CTBT stemmed in part from its national security concerns and because the treaty was not explicitly linked to the goal of nuclear disarmament.
President Obama has committed himself to working towards a nuclear weapons-free world and his administration is currently in the final stages of negotiating a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July to cut the number of nuclear warheads each country has in its arsenal to between 1,500 and 1,675. Biden, a former senator from Delaware, noted that a decade ago, “we led this effort to negotiate this treaty in order to keep emerging nuclear states from perfecting their arsenals and to prevent our rivals from pursuing ever more advanced weapons.”
He added, “We are confident that all reasonable concerns raised about the treaty back then-concerns about verification and the reliability of our own arsenal-have now been addressed. The test ban treaty is as important as ever.” The US has observed a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests since 1992 and became the first nation to sign the CTBT in 1996, but Biden said ratification of the CTBT would further US efforts to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In a speech at the National Defense University, in Washington, he described the spread of nuclear weapons as the greatest threat facing the US. In April, Obama will host a Nuclear Security Summit, which is aimed a “securing all vulnerable nuclear material withing four years,” Biden said. The PM Manmohan Singh is expected to attend the Washington summit.
“We cannot wait for an act of nuclear terrorism before coming together to share best practices and raise security standards, and we will seek firm commitments from our partners to do just that,” Biden said. In May, the US will take part in a Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference at which the vice president said, the US will rally support for “stronger measures to strengthen inspections and punish cheaters.”
He said the US agenda was based on a “clear-eyed assessment of our national interest.” Biden noted: “As the only nation to have used nuclear weapons, and as a strong proponent of nonproliferation, the United States has long embodied a stark but inevitable contradiction. The horror of nuclear conflict may make its occurrence unlikely, but the very existence of nuclear weapons leaves the human race ever at the brink of self-destruction, particularly if the weapons fall into the wrong hands.” The nonproliferation lobby was quick to applaud Biden's comments.
“There is now no technical or military reason to resume U.S. nuclear weapons testing and advances in test ban monitoring make the treaty effectively verifiable,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA). “At the same time, it is in US national security interests to prevent others from conducting nuclear tests, which could allow them to prove new and advanced nuclear warhead designs. It is past time that the United States ratifies the CTBT.” The CTBT has 182 signatories but has not entered into force because the United States and eight other nations have failed to ratify it.
Pak won’t hand over Baradar to US
Pakistan on Friday indicated it will not handover the Afghan Taliban’s No. 2 leader and two other high-value militants captured this month to the United States, but may deport them to Afghanistan.
Interior Minister Rahman Malik said Pakistani authorities were still questioning Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the most senior Taliban figure arrested since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, and two other senior militants arrested with US assistance in separate operations this month.
If it is determined that the militants have not committed any crime in Pakistan, they will not remain in the country, he said. “First we will see whether they have violated any law,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad. “If they have done it, then the law will take its own course against them.
“But at the most if they have not done anything, then they will go back to the country of origin, not to USA,” Malik said.
The Pakistani authorities working with the CIA arrested Baradar about two weeks ago in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistani and US officials have said. At about the same time, Pakistani security forces picked up Taliban “shadow governors” for two Afghan provinces, Afghan officials said.
A series of raids by Pakistani forces have followed, netting at least nine Al-Qaida-linked militants who were sheltering in Pakistan. Missiles fired from a US unmanned drone aircraft on Thursday killed the brother of Afghan Taliban commander Siraj Haqqani, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the US was pleased with the recent arrests. He declined to say whether they were the result of better intelligence or an increased willingness by Pakistan to go after suspected militants.
“What I will say to you, yet again, is that we are enormously heartened by the fact that the Pakistani government and their military intelligence services increasingly recognise the threat within their midst and are doing something about it,” Morrell said. Some of those caught in the recent operations are key figures in the Afghan insurgency, while others are members of militant groups that operate just across the border in Pakistan.
Among those arrested were Ameer Muawiya, a bin Laden associate who was in charge of foreign Al-Qaida militants in Pakistan’s border areas, and Akhunzada Popalzai, also known as Mohammad Younis, a one-time Taliban shadow governor in Zabul province and former police chief in Kabul, according to Mullah Mamamood, a tribal leader in Ghazni province.
First tranche of US aid to Pak next week
The United States will begin disbursement of deferred Coalition Support Fund (CSF) payments to Pakistan next week, releasing $349 million in the first phase.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke told journalists here on Thursday that the CSF money, unfortunately held back because of accounting reasons, would be partially released next week. “This is the money we owed to Pakistan,” he said. He said the remaining amount would be paid once the tedious accounting issues were resolved.
The CSF reimburses expenditures incurred by 27 coalition partners, including Pakistan, in direct support of US military operations.
Stringent verification of Pakistani claims after introduction of new guidelines by US authorities contributed to an increase in the amount of claims, which were not accepted and deferred. The outstanding payments stand at $2 billion.
Pakistan has been pleading with Washington to release the payments to ease pressure on its budget and enable it to continue its Public Sector Development Programme. Holbrooke said US Congressional assent was required for the release of the first tranche of $349 million next week.
During his meetings with Pakistani leaders, Holbrooke insisted that the reintegration plan announced by President Hamid Karzai and endorsed by the international community at the London Conference would be an Afghan-led process.
He said the Afghan government was preparing a policy in this regard which would be shared with Pakistan.
The special envoy discussed the broad contours of the policy and said it would employ influential Afghan figures as negotiators with low-and mid-ranking Taliban willing to reintegrate into the society.
He said countries like Pakistan, which were considered to have influence over Taliban, could contribute to the process at the negotiations stage.
Talking to President Asif Ali Zardari, Holbrooke said: “The US values Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in the region.”
Holbrooke told journalists that the US was not into direct negotiations with the Taliban, and certainly not with the top leaders of their former regime.
On talks with India, Holbrooke said the US supported renewed contacts between Pakistan and India and wanted the process to continue. He advised Pakistani leaders against burdening the nascent process with insistence on core issues, specifically Kashmir.
Washington, February 19 Receiving the award at the Library of Congress on the Capitol Hill, the exiled Buddhist leader praised India’s democracy. Citing examples of his interaction with Indian leaders, the Dalai Lama said, in India there was space for everyone to express their political views unlike China. The award instituted by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was conferred on the Tibetan spiritual leader during his visit to the United States that has sparked a political row between Beijing and In his acceptance speech, the Dalai Lama reiterated his personal commitment towards promotion of human values and democratic rights of the people world over. “Change must come through people. Protection of individual human rights is very important for the development of the society,” he observed. Referring to democracy in India, the Tibetan leader said, “There was a big difference between Nehru and Acharya Kriplanai on the Tibetan issue.” Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was against raising the Tibetan issue at United Nations, he said. “I found big difference between Indian and Chinese parliament. In Chinese parliament there is too much silence and in Indian Parliament there is too much noise,” he said. — PTI
Receiving the award at the Library of Congress on the Capitol Hill, the exiled Buddhist leader praised India’s democracy.
Citing examples of his interaction with Indian leaders, the Dalai Lama said, in India there was space for everyone to express their political views unlike China.
The award instituted by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was conferred on the Tibetan spiritual leader during his visit to the United States that has sparked a political row between Beijing and
In his acceptance speech, the Dalai Lama reiterated his personal commitment towards promotion of human values and democratic rights of the people world over.
“Change must come through people. Protection of individual human rights is very important for the development of the society,” he observed.
Referring to democracy in India, the Tibetan leader said, “There was a big difference between Nehru and Acharya Kriplanai on the Tibetan issue.” Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was against raising the Tibetan issue at United Nations, he said.
“I found big difference between Indian and Chinese parliament. In Chinese parliament there is too much silence and in Indian Parliament there is too much noise,” he said. — PTI
‘Perfect man’ is a geek with facial stubble!
According to the study, which is based on a survey of 2,500 British females, a man with facial stubble and a geeky personality are women's biggest secret turn-ons.
Despite complaining that it looks unkempt and feels rough to touch, the unshaven look on a man is actually a turn-on for 41 per cent of women. — PTI
1 killed in Russia blasts
The local police commander of the region’s largest city,
Nazran, was amongst the injured, the Interfax reported, quoting local security sources.