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Indo-Pak trade talks on Aug 10
Islamabad, July 9
Pakistan has approved tariff concessions on the import of 1,194 items from the SAARC member states under the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) ahead of the next month’s talks with India on normalisation of trade ties.

Average Canadian’s will reflects in new govt
T
HIS huge country, second only to Russia, is slated to have a minority government when Prime Minister Paul Martin forms his next government on July 19. It will truly reflect the will of the average Canadian voter.

Defence ties with India will not create imbalance: Russia
Moscow, July 9
Russia today brushed aside Pakistan’s contention that its defence cooperation with India will create military imbalance in South Asia, saying that the relationship is based on the same principle as Islamabad has with other countries.





Spanish actor Antonio Banderas gestures during a Press conference in Malaga
Spanish actor Antonio Banderas gestures during a Press conference in Malaga, Spain, on Friday. Banderas received a gold medal from the Spanish Academy of Arts and Film Science as gratitude of his dissemination of Spanish culture along the world.
— Reuters

 
A runner tries to avoid a fighting bull during the third day of the running of the bulls at San Fermin festival in Pamplona on Friday.
A runner tries to avoid a fighting bull during the third day of the running of the bulls at San Fermin festival in Pamplona on Friday. A pack of six fighting bills and steers run through the centre of the town to the bullring every morning during the weeklong festival.
—Reuters

Defence budget hike sends Pak in tizzy
Islamabad, July 9
Pakistan yesterday termed as of “deep concern” India’s defence spending proposed in the Union Budget and indicated the action would accelerate an arms race in the region. “Pakistan and India have been pursuing twin tracks of confidence building and dialogue so that we can bring peace, security and prosperity to the region.

Indian woman doc resists deportation from Pak
Islamabad, July 9
An Indian woman doctor, married to a Pakistani, has temporarily averted deportation following the intervention of the high court in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).


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An aerial view of Israel's controversial security barrier which separates the West Bank from Israel, in east Jerusalem An aerial view of Israel's controversial security barrier which separates the West Bank from Israel, in east Jerusalem on Friday. The World Court will rule on Saturday that Israel's West Bank barrier, which has wrought hardship for thousands of Palestinians, violates international law and should be torn down.
— Reuters

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Indo-Pak trade talks on Aug 10
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, July 9
Pakistan has approved tariff concessions on the import of 1,194 items from the SAARC member states under the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) ahead of the next month’s talks with India on normalisation of trade ties.

While Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar announced that the Commerce Secretaries’ of India and Pakistan would meet here on August 10 and 11 to discuss normalisation of trade ties, the Pakistan’s Central Board of Revenue (CBR) approved the duty relief for 1,194 items from SAARC countries.

The list of items cleared by the CBR was published by Pakistani daily ‘The Business Recorder’ which said that “the reduction in duty on the goods imported from the SAARC states will be in conformity with the SAARC Rules of Origin issued by the Ministry of Commerce.”

The CBR has given three slabs of 0 per cent, 10 per cent and 20 per cent to be applicable on the import of items from SAARC states, it said. The CBR also cleared 16 items for trade concession from Iran and Turkey.

The discreet announcement of trade concession under SAPTA apparently highlights Pakistan’s preference to trade with India under the aegis of SAARC than directly under bilateral economic cooperation.

Akhtar, however, made no reference to CBR’s decision to grant duty concession to 1,194 items under the SAPTA to all SAARC countries, including India.

Akthar, who previously ruled out restoration of trade relations with India without resumption of dialogue on the Kashmir issue, however, avoided direct answer to whether Pakistan planned to give the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.

Pakistan hopes India would not press hard for a blanket decision on issues like MFN and instead take full advantage to improve trade under the aegis of the SAPTA and the SAFTA. — PTI

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Average Canadian’s will reflects in new govt
Gobind Thukral writes from Toronto

THIS huge country, second only to Russia, is slated to have a minority government when Prime Minister Paul Martin forms his next government on July 19. It will truly reflect the will of the average Canadian voter.

In the recent elections, the ruling Liberal Party, which has ruled for the last 11 years, managed to get only 135 seats in a House of 308, against 169 it held earlier.

This puts a firm check on the ruling party. The results signify a major setback for the Conservatives who hoped that under Mr Stephan Harper, they would push the Liberals out of power. The Conservatives could barely increase their tally from 73 to 99.

The Leftist National Democratic Party too gained marginally by increasing its strength from 14 to 19. However, it could play a significant role in deciding public policies. Equally crucial would be the role of this grouping in foreign policy matters, particularly in relation to its powerful neighbour, the USA.

The most happening place was the French-speaking province of Quebec, where the separatist Bloc Quebecois won most of the seats, snatching them from the ruling Liberal Party. It won 54 seats, against the 33 it held earlier. The party had won the same number of seats in 1995. It has been trying to play moderate tunes under its leader Gilles Duceppe, a former member of an underground Maoist militant organisation.

The Green Party that contested nearly all the seats to propagate its agenda of environment protection received 4.3 per cent votes without winning any seats. The voters chose not to hand over the balance of power either to the leftists or the separatists, although both increased their strength significantly.

Canadians are fortunate that despite several flaws in their electoral system, there have been no instances of horse-trading and use of money power. There is also no possibility of a coalition government as in India.

“We shall have a minority government where support would be determined by issues,” says Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, a former Premier of British Columbia who won a parliament seat from the platform of the Liberal Party this time. Mr Gurbax Malhi, a fourth term Liberal MP from Ontario state, nods in agreement. “No one can afford fresh elections. Who would match the Liberals? The Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois have reached their optimum strength,” he added.

Indeed a minority government, as Mr Dosanjh points out, could be more progressive and implement a social agenda that helps the common people.

But voters in Canada have chosen minority governments only eight times in the past, and few have lasted more than a year or two. While predictions about elections by the pollsters and political pundits from many a newspaper went haywire, again as in India, their fear of an early election may come true.

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Defence ties with India will not create imbalance: Russia
Vinay Shukla

Moscow, July 9
Russia today brushed aside Pakistan’s contention that its defence cooperation with India will create military imbalance in South Asia, saying that the relationship is based on the same principle as Islamabad has with other countries.

This was stated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in response to a statement by his visiting Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri that the sale of Russian high-performance aircraft to India will create military imbalance in South Asia.

“Our military-technical cooperation with India is based on the same principle as Pakistan has this type of cooperation with other countries,” he added. — PTI

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Defence budget hike sends Pak in tizzy

Islamabad, July 9
Pakistan yesterday termed as of “deep concern” India’s defence spending proposed in the Union Budget and indicated the action would accelerate an arms race in the region.

“Pakistan and India have been pursuing twin tracks of confidence building and dialogue so that we can bring peace, security and prosperity to the region. An upward spiral in defence spending accelerates arms race in the region, symmetrically or asymmetrically, voluntarily or involuntarily,” Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told PTI here.

“The unusual increase in India’s defence budget comes shortly after the commencement of the composite dialogue to resolve Kashmir and other contentious issues between the two countries,” he said.

In a little more assertive reaction, Pakistan’s Defence spokesman Maj Gen Shoukat Sultan said “the increase in India’s defence Budget is sharp, heavy and hefty and of deep concern to us as it came at a time when both the countries pursued a peace process by initiating a number of confidence building measures.”

Gen Sultan said his country would strive to maintain credible deterrence with India in both conventional and nuclear fields.

Pakistan this year has increased its defence budget by 21.7 per cent from $ 2.8 billion to $ 3.4 billion.

Khan said “after maintaining a freeze in our defence budget for years, we have increased it modestly this year. Our defence is strong and our capabilities competitive. But the existing asymmetry in the conventional field has to be addressed. We are, therefore, obliged to upgrade our capabilities, both quantitatively and qualitatively.”

Gen Sultan said Pakistan would not like the increase in the Indian defence expenditure to have an adverse impact on the peace process as the two countries were engaged in finding solution to Kashmir and other contentious issues. — PTI

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Indian woman doc resists deportation from Pak

Islamabad, July 9
An Indian woman doctor, married to a Pakistani, has temporarily averted deportation following the intervention of the high court in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The court in Peshawar stayed the deportation order on Dr Divya Dayanan, who hails from Kerala, for the time being and asked the government to submit the reasons for refusing her request for a Pakistani citizenship.

The court also ordered police not to arrest the doctor, who was pregnant, until further orders, media reports stated here today.

Dr Dayanan got married to Aman Khan in July, 2003, and settled down in Mardan town of Pakistan. She is currently working in one of the local hospitals. After marriage, she converted to Islam and changed her name to Hafsa.

She stayed in Pakistan under temporary visa and later faced deportation after Pakistan’s Interior Minister declined to grant her citizenship.

Her lawyer approached the high court with a plea that she was entitled to get Pakistan citizenship under the rule that she had married a Pakistani citizen, Daily Times reported.

She also submitted a affidavit surrendering her Indian citizenship. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Joyce’s letter sets record
LONDON:
A highly erotic letter by Irish author James Joyce to “wild-eyed whore” Nora Barnacle has sold for a record-breaking £ 240,800 (nearly 360,000 euros, $ 446,000) at auction in London. The long-lost letter was written in December 1909 after the great 20th century modernist writer’s return to Dublin without Barnacle for the first time since the couple’s elopement. — AFP

Doctorate for Rowling
EDINBURGH (UK):
Harry Potter author J K Rowling was praised for making reading “cool” as she received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University. She was handed the degree of doctor honoris causa, one of the university’s highest accolades, in recognition of her contribution to children’s literature. Professor Pamela Munn said the impact of the Harry Potter series of books on children around the world has been phenomenal. “Reading has become cool with even the most reluctant readers, in the shape of teenage boys being caught up in the world inhabited by Harry Potter,” Munn said at the ceremony. — AP

Mukherjee new envoy to Nepal
KATHMANDU:
Mr Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, presently High Commissioner of India to South Africa, has been appointed as the new Ambassador of India to Nepal, an Indian Embassy release said on Thursday. He will replace Mr Shyam Saran, who is now the Indian Foreign Secretary designate. — PTI

Milk to prevent colon cancer
LONDON:
A new study on more than half a million people suggests that drinking milk may protect against bowel cancer, New Scientists magazine reports. Colon cancer is now the third most common cancer in the world with nearly a million people being diagnosed with the disease each year. — PL

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