M A I N   N E W S

Pak denies US pressure on gas pipeline project

Islamabad, March 12
Making it clear that there was no US pressure against moving ahead with the India-Iran gas pipeline project, Pakistan hoped the modalities for the project would be finalised by the end of this year.

Asked about reports that the USA has stepped up pressure on India and Pakistan not to go ahead with the pipeline project with Iran in view of Washington’s attempts to put a cap on the Iranian nuclear programme, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters here that there was no foreign pressure on Pakistan about the plan to get Iranian gas.

Mr Aziz said efforts were under way for both the Iran-India pipeline as also Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TAP) pipelines to finalise the modalities by the end of this year.

In this regard, he said, Pakistan awaited the visit of Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer to work out the modalities. — PTI



Plea to release fishermen from Indian, Pak jails

Islamabad, March 12
Over 100 civil society organisations and institutions from around the world have appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf to order immediate release of over 900 Indian and Pakistani fishermen languishing in jails of the two countries.

In a letter signed by the organisations and drafted by the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, they said: “At present, 153 Pakistani fishermen are languishing in different Indian jails, and their 25 boats have also been confiscated”.

“Similarly, the number of Indian fishermen in custody of Pakistani security forces is 802 and that of the detained boats is 170,” Pakistan’s local PPI news agency reported.

They regretted in the letter that there were a large number of fishermen who had already completed their jail terms but had not been released, and added that families of detained fishermen were living in terrible conditions, facing starvation and poor health.

“We appeal to both countries to order unconditional release of all jailed fishermen on humanitarian grounds. We also appeal that no fishermen be arrested for mistaken violation of the territorial waters, Sir Creek issue be settled to determine a permanent border having search lights and signals, and at least 25 nautical miles on both sides of the border be declared free zone,” the letter said.

The signatories of the letter included the World Forum of Fisher People, India; the Pakistan Fisher folk Forum, the Feres Des Hommes, France; Alternatives, Canada; and the International South Asia Forum, USA. — PTI



Forms for LoC bus from Monday

Islamabad, March 12
With less than a month left for the inaugural run of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus across the Line of Control, Pakistan today announced that passengers intending to travel by the bus could obtain the forms in Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK from Monday.

Application forms for the travellers on the bus service will be available with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Muzaffarabad, the Designated Authority, as well as other Deputy Commissioners in the districts of PoK from March, 14, an official announcement by the Pakistan Foreign Office here said.

The Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service, agreed upon between the two countries during the visit of the Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh to Pakistan, will commence from April 7.

The Regional Passport Office in Srinagar has been designated by India for issuing and processing applications of Indians to travel by the bus.

After collecting the forms, the two sides will submit them to each other for clearance and those cleared by the other side will be issued special permits.

The permit is restricted for travel in undivided Jammu and Kashmir state which included Gilgit and Baltistan under the control of Pakistan. — PTI


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