Monday, March 9, 2009

Pakistan seeks quick answers from India

Pakistan seeks quick answers from India

ISLAMABAD, Mar 8 (APP): Pakistan on Sunday sought the quick Indian response over its questions forwarded to New Delhi regarding progress in ongoing investigation of the Mumbai terror attacks. “Indian authorities should share the information details asked by Pakistan regarding progress in probe,” Advisor to Prime Minister on Interior Affairs, Rehman Malik said in a press conference.
He was flanked by Interpol Chief Ronald Noble, who is here on visit of Pakistan.
He said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested the Indian authorities to reply 30 questions based on investigations but it was yet to receive Indian response.
“India should provide evidence and investigation details as soon as possible to ensure successful prosecution and bring culprits to justice,” Malik said.
The Ministry of Interior had already passed on the information to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on January 16 and its team submitted the full report on February 3.
Senator Malik said DNA test information was very much important and necessary for conducting the investigation of terror attacks. And now only 13 days have been left in remand of the terror culprits.
Briefing about the progress made by Pakistan, he said the case has already been registered and eight people booked, while four including Hammad Amin, Zaki Rehman Naqvi, Zarar Shah and Al Quoma were being interrogated in police custody following their remand.
Pakistan has continuously being assuring India of full cooperation from the very first day of the Mumbai attacks. Besides, it would also further approach Interpol for information about the terrorists, Malik added

Pakistan President Zardari and Prime minister Gilani express sympathy with Sri Lankan leadership

Zardari, Gilani express sympathy with Sri Lankan leadership


President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani have expressed sympathy with their Sri Lankan counterparts over the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. In his message to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, President Asif Ali Zardari said, "I am deeply saddened on the terrorist attack that took place in Lahore in which some members of the Sri Lankan cricket team suffered injuries and a number of security officials lost their lives."

He said Pakistan unreservedly condemns this depraved and cowardly act of terrorism.
Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are victims of terrorism and today's attack is one of its worst manifestations, he said adding the government of Pakistan reaffirms its resolve to bring the perpetrators of this despicable act to justice.
"I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration," Zardari said.
In his message to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said, "I was greatly shocked and saddened to learn about the terrorist attack in which some members of the Sri Lankan cricket team suffered injuries and several security personnel lost their lives."
The government and people of Pakistan strongly condemn this heinous act of terrorism, he added.
The Prime Minister said, "the government has redoubled its resolve to combat the menace of terrorism and we will spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"I would like to convey my sincere sympathies to the families of the injured players and pray for their early recovery. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration."

Some clues found; No allegations without proof: Governor

LAHORE, March 3, (APP): Governor Punjab Salman Taseer has said that some clues into attack on Sri Lankan team here this morning have been found but no allegations would be levelled against anybody without solid proofs. Addressing a press conference here Tuesday night, he said, “Progress has been made into the gruesome incident and preliminary investigation would be completed within 48 hours and if any security lapse is found, strict action would be taken against those to be found responsible.” He said thorough investigation would be conducted with cool mind in professional and methodologically way by taking all concerned agencies on board instead of making accusations without solid evidence. Commenting on the remarks of Indian Home Minister that the incident was result of major security lapse, he said,”Our police officials reacted immediately and saved lives of Sri Lankan players by laying down their lives and we are proud of them while in case of Mumbai attacks Indian commandos had reached seven hours after terrorists struck .” He said, “We don’t compare efficiency of personnel of our law enforcing agencies with that of India but Indian leaders must avoid giving suck remarks. Unlike India, we do not want to level allegations without solid proofs. “ Lamenting statements by PML‑N Leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif about the incident, he said, politicising such a sensitive issue involving national security and prestige is regrettable and condemnable. He said a number of terrorist incidents occurred during Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s tenure as Chief Minster, “But we never politicised the same.” Underling the need for national unity to face the monster of terrorism, he said,”It is huge challenge and we have to face it by forging national unity.However, regrettable,some opportunist politicians give such statements,just for their petty political gains, which amount to playing in the hands of anti‑state elements.” Express Dismay over the statement of Nawaz Sharif that the incident occurred because governor was busy in horse trading, he said, he (Nawaz Sharif) had been Prime Minster twice and it did not behove of him. He said though some high level transfers and postings had been made in the province following disqualification of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif by the court but home secretary was not changed to ensure continuity of the security system. Expressing sympathy with Sri Lankan players, people of Sri Lanka and their Cricket Board on behalf of government and people of the Punjab, he said “We are greatly shocked and grieved over the incident.” He thanked the government of Sri Lanka for sending its team for playing here when no other country was ready to send its team to Pakistan. He recalled that after World Cup 96, when West Indies and Australia had refused to visit Sri Lanka due to blasts there, Pakistan and Indian Cricket Teams had visited to play matches there. He said immediately after the incident, he visited the Sri Lankan team “they were in shock but save. They are going back to their country tonight. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has asked me to see them off and I would go to the airport to bid them farewell.” To a question, he said, attackers were highly trained and equipped with sophisticated weapons but valiant police officials by laying down their lives foiled their bid to inflict heavy losses on visiting team.

President Rajapaksa’s Visit sees the Signature of Two Landmark Agreements between Nepal and Sri Lanka

President Rajapaksa’s Visit sees the Signature of Two Landmark Agreements between Nepal and Sri Lanka

President Mahinda Rajapaksa undertook a State Visit to Nepal from 2-4 March 2009 at the invitation of the President of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav. This visit was hailed as landmark in Nepal as it was the first by a Head of State or Government to Nepal since Nepal’s political transformation as a Republic. The visit was also undertaken in President Rajapaksa’s capacity as current Chairperson of SAARC.

President Rajapaksa was accorded full state honours on arrival in Kathmandu on 2 March by at an official welcome ceremony held at Rastrapati Bhawan. Following the official welcome ceremony, President Rajapaksa and President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav exchanged compliments and discussed the current political developments in Sri Lanka and Nepal including matters pertaining to strengthening cooperation between the two countries. Later in the day President Rajapaksa and delegation were hosted to a State Banquet by President Yadav.

Official bilateral talks were held between President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on 3 March. The talks covered a range of issues including a proposed Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, promotion of tourism, investment, trade in services, information technology, cultural relations and education.

Two important bilateral agreements on Air Services and the establishment of a Joint Commission between Sri Lanka and Nepal were signed during the visit by the Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Nepalese Cultural Minister Hisila Yammi. The two Agreements signed hold the potential to enhance cooperation between the two countries including increasing trade. The Ministerial level Joint Commission that will soon meet upon the signature of the Agreement will explore ways for the enhancement of economic, trade and cultural relations. The Bilateral Air Service Agreement will improve connectivity between the peoples of the two countries at all levels and also increase tourism. During the discussions between President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Dahal, special reference was made to steps being taken by Sri Lanka towards the development of Lumbini and measures being taken to develop the monastery and pilgrims rest in Lumbini.

President Rajapaksa also held discussions with Vice President Parmananda Jha and the leader of the main opposition Party Girija Prasad Koirala.

President Rajapaksa also visited the historic Ananda Kuti Vihara in Kathmandu and attended a religious ceremony organized by the chief incumbent priest of the temple.

As Chairperson of SAARC, President Rajapaksa visited the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 3 March and met with Secretary General Dr Sheel Kant Sharma and the staff of the Secretariat. He also planted a sapling symbolizing his first visit to Nepal and to the SAARC Secretariat.

President Rajapaksa was accompanied on the State Visit by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, External Trade Minister G.L.Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Additional Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry.

SAARC Film Festival in Abu Dhabi UAE

SAARC Film Festival in Abu Dhabi UAE
The Association of Ambassadors of SAARC countries based in Abu Dhabi, UAE will be organizing a film festival at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre from 7th to 11th March 2009. The two movies from Sri Lanka will be screened on 11th March. “Samanala Thatu” produced by Mrs. Renuka Balasuriya and “Nostalgia” produced by Mrs. Neeta Fernando wil be screened during this festival. Mr. Jayantha Dharmadasa who is the Chairman of the National Film Festival will attend as the Chief Guest on the Sri Lankan day of the festival.
The Association of Ambassadors of SAARC countries based in Abu Dhabi established recently to promote culture and tourism in UAE.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
Abu Dhabi

South Asia can weather economic crisis- ADB

South Asia can weather economic crisis- ADB

MANILA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- South Asian countries can weather the global financial crisis by taking both short- and long-term measures to stimulate their economies, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a study released on Monday.
The study, titled The Impact of the Global Economic Slowdown on South Asia, said that the sub region has been hit by capital outflows and weaker commodity prices, and faces a sharp slowdown in exports and remittances as the global troubles worsen.
A number of short-term measures have been taken to cushion the impact of the crisis, including monetary easing and fiscal stimulus packages, said the report, adding that there is further room for interest rate reductions, particularly in India and Sri Lanka