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21 - 27 Apr , 2012

Nato Routes May Be Opened But Not For Arms
The joint sitting of parliament unanimously adopted the revised recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) last week on new terms of engagement with the United States. The revised recommendations were presented to the joint session by Senator Raza Rabbani, who is also Nato Routes May Be Opened But Not For Armsthe Chairman of PCNS. The joint sitting accorded its unanimous approval to the revised recommendations which, in a nutshell, gave a go-ahead to the government to end the standoff with the United States and seek immediate cessation of drone attacks inside Pakistan's territory while categorically forbidding the passage of any Nato military equipment and ammunition through Pakistan. The committee's recommendations, however, left the matter of resumption or closure of Nato supply lines for non-lethal items with the government as it lacked any specific guidelines on this count. The committee also forbade the establishment of any foreign military bases inside Pakistan. It was made mandatory for the government that Pakistan's territory, including its airspace, shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan. The revised PCNS document was presented before the joint sitting with deletion of clauses that had earlier given an indirect cover for reopening of the Nato supply line with revised terms and conditions of the agreement, including regulation and control of movement of goods and personnel, which North Korean Rocket Launch Fails, Draws Condemnationshall be subject to strict monitoring within Pakistan, transit and exit points.

North Korean Rocket Launch Fails, Draws Condemnation
North Korea's heralded long-range rocket test ended in failure last week, disintegrating in mid-air soon after blast-off and plunging into the sea in a major embarrassment for the reclusive state. The defiant launch drew condemnation from world leaders who described it as a 'provocative' act that threatened regional security, despite Pyongyang insisting it was intended to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes. Some four hours after the rocket exploded over the Yellow Sea, North Korea admitted the satellite had failed to enter orbit, and that "scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure".

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Vow To Enhance
Strategic Ties

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have decided to enhance their bilateral ties in various spheres of life by strengthening their existing strategic relations. The two brotherly countries have thoroughly discussed their multifaceted relationship during the one day whirlwind visit of Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister, H.E. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah to Pakistan. Prince Abdul Aziz who enjoys the minister status with his incumbent assignment spent a very hectic day in the capital in his first visit as minister. He called on the president and prime minister separately while had detailed discussions with his counterpart. The Saudi minister had extensive meetings with the political leadership at the dinner hosted by his country's ambassador in Pakistan H.E. Dr Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al-Ghadeer at his residence Saudi House in the diplomatic enclave. The Saudi dignity had meeting with important personalities including PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Chairman Senate Nayyer Bukhari, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PPP-S chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Sabir Baloch, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani and some other leaders. The Saudi ambassador termed the visit as excellent and expressed hope that such visits on both sides would now take place frequently as Prince Abdul Aziz has discussed subjects concerning bilateral relations exclusively.

384 Prisoners Escape As Taliban Storm Bannu Jail
In what is being called the biggest jailbreak in Pakistan, the Taliban militants stormed the Central Prison, Bannu, with rockets and automatic weapons to enable over 384 prisoners to escape from different barracks last Sunday. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters that 20 high profile prisoners, including Adnan Rasheed who was involved in an attack on former President General Pervez Musharraf, were among the 384 prisoners who fled the Bannu prison after the attack. The minister said an inquiry would be conducted into the jailbreak and the late arrival of the police force to help the jail authorities in countering the attack. He termed it a well-coordinated attack and said the attackers had first secured all the roads in the area. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called media organisations in Peshawar, Kohat and elsewhere to claim responsibility for the attack that took place. Five women were also among the prisoners who escaped, taking advantage of the mayhem inside the jail. A total of 946 inmates were lodged in the jail at the time of the attack.

Govt Appoints Irfan Qadir As Attorney General, Yasin Abbasi As New Law Secretary
The government appointed Irfan Qadir as the Attorney General of Pakistan, a Prime Minister's House spokesman said last week, while Yasin Abbasi has been appointed as the Law Secretary.
Former AG Maulvi Anwarul Haq has been appointed as a consultant at the Presidency, the spokesman said. Maulvi Anwarul Haq is the fourth attorney general to have resigned during the tenure of the incumbent Pakistan People's Party government. Before Anwarul Haq, Justice (retd) Malik Mohammad Qayyum, Punjab Governor Latif Khosa and Anwar Mansoor Khan had also relinquished the charge after serving as attorney generals.

Five More Federal, Six Ministers Of State Sworn In
The size of the cabinet was substantially expanded after President Asif Ali Zardari administered oath to five new federal ministers and six Ministers of State. The event held at the President House was attended by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, cabinet members, parliamentarians and other senior officials. The newly sworn-in federal ministers included Qamar Zaman Kaira, Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Nazar Mohammad Gondal and Farzana Raja. The Ministers of State administered oaths included Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Raheela Baloch, Abbas Khan Afridi, Tasneem Qureshi, Malik Azmat Khan and Syed Sumsam Ali Shah Bukhari. The newly-inducted minister Qamar Zaman Kaira expressed the confidence that induction of new ministers in the federal cabinet would help improve working of different ministries, divisions and the government. He said this is the election year and it is always the desire of every government to improve its performance in the period leading to elections and expressed the hope that the new induction in the federal government will improve government's efficiency.

Tsunami Warnings Relaxed After Indonesia Quakes
A tsunami watch around the Indian Ocean was lifted hours after two massive earthquakes struck off Indonesia's Sumatra Island last week, sending terrified people fleeing from the coast. The 8.6-magnitude quake hit 431km off the city of Banda Aceh, and was followed by another undersea quake measured at 8.2, the US Geological Survey said. Panicky residents poured into the streets of Banda Aceh, which was near the epicentre of a 9.1-magnitude quake in 2004 that unleashed an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 220,000 people including 170,000 in Aceh province. Last week's quake was felt as far a field as Thailand, where skyscrapers in Bangkok swayed. India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Reunion Island, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar all issued alerts or evacuation orders which were later lifted. Waves of up to 31 inches hit Indonesia's Aceh province, but there were no reports of damage or casualties. US seismologists then cancelled the tsunami warning, saying the quakes had generated only small waves and were nowhere near the scale of the disasters that struck Asia in 2004 and Japan last year. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said the threat of a tsunami has "diminished or is over for most areas".

Pakistan Spending $2.5N On Nukes Annually: Report
Estimated to have more nuclear weapons than India, Pakistan is rapidly developing and expanding its atomic arsenal, spending about $2.5 billion a year to develop such weapons, an Indian newspaper Hindustan Times reported last week. 
"Pakistan has been rapidly developing and expanding its nuclear arsenal, increasing its capacity to produce plutonium, and testing and deploying a diverse array of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles," said the report 'Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Modernisation Around the World'.
"Pakistan is moving from an arsenal based wholly on HEU to greater reliance on lighter and more compact plutonium-based weapons, which is made possible by a rapid expansion in plutonium production capacity," said the 150-page report.
"Pakistan is also moving from aircraft-delivered nuclear bombs to nuclear-armed ballistic and cruise missiles and from liquid-fuelled to solid-fuelled medium-range missile. Pakistan also has a growing nuclear weapons research, development, and production infrastructure," it said.
According to the report Pakistan is estimated to have 90-110 nuclear weapons."A long-term concern now driving Pakistan's nuclear programme is the US policy of countering the rise of China by cultivating a stronger strategic relationship with India. This may tie the future of Pakistan and India's nuclear weapons to the emerging contest between the United States and China," said the report.

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