- - Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Pakistan to boost trade ties with India

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s government announced Wednesday it would normalize trade with its giant rival and neighbor India, a sign of better ties between two nuclear-armed nations whose tense relations have long poisoned South Asia.

The decision to grant India “Most Favored Nation” status would enable Pakistanis to export more goods to booming India at a time when Pakistan’s own economy is in the doldrums.

Some Pakistani business quarters welcomed the decision, but others expressed concerns about cheaper Indian goods flooding the market.

The World Bank estimates that annual trade between India and Pakistan is around $1 billion and could grow to as much as $9 billion if barriers are lifted.

Much of the current trade is illicit - products go through Dubai, where they are repackaged and are smuggled into both countries, meaning higher prices and less tax revenue.


Delegates in Istanbul seek peace for Afghanistan

ISTANBUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai pressed Pakistan on Wednesday to help his country negotiate with the Taliban, despite a series of high-profile assassinations and attacks that have diminished peace prospects and intensified suspicions that Islamabad supports and shelters the militants.

Mr. Karzai’s appeal came in Istanbul during a one-day conference on Afghanistan that drew regional players as well as Western powers.

While a successful show of solidarity, the gathering also underscored how much is left to do in Afghanistan as international combat forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014.

Mr. Karzai said a peace process cannot succeed without the participation of the top leadership of the Taliban, which he alleged was based in Pakistan.

Pakistan denies that the Afghan Taliban’s top leaders are based on its territory.


Report: Water pollution, drought threaten poor

COPENHAGEN — Prosperous countries have not lived up to their promises to help the poor, the U.N. declared Wednesday, saying poor people often go hungry because of polluted water, drought and other environmental factors that are increasing poverty.

In its annual report on the quality of life worldwide, the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) said more should be done to address international environmental concerns and that sustainability must become a way of life as the world population grows above 7 billion.

“Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said in the report’s introduction.

“It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the seven billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow.”

The report noted that although aid to poorer countries grew 23 percent from 2005 to 2009, it was not enough.

“Rich countries have consistently failed to meet their stated pledges,” including promises made by the Group of Eight, the European Union and the U.N. to give $100 billion a year by 2020 to fight the impact of climate change in developing countries.


Generals pardon 334 convicted in military trials

CAIRO — Egypt’s ruling generals on Wednesday announced the pardon of 334 Egyptian civilians sentenced in military tribunals since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said the move was to support “the continued communication with the great Egyptian people and the youth of the revolution.”

It did not say what those pardoned were sentenced for or when they would be released. It said the names would be released later.

Human rights groups and Egyptian activists have harshly criticized the military trials.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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