Dec 042017
 
Cricketers continue to flounder in New Delhi?s hazardous smog

Dinesh Chandimal was tended to by the physio on account of breathing issues/BCCINEW DELHI: Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers battled through hazardous smog levels in a Test match Monday as New Delhi authorities faced scathing criticism over their lack of action to combat pollution.A day after protests by Sri Lankan players temporarily halted the third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, the third day´s play went ahead in even worse smog.The concentration of the smallest and most harmful airborne pollutants hit 448, about 18 times the World Health Organization´s safe level, just before the players took lunch. On Sunday it was 15 times over the WHO limit, according to the US embassy website.Sri Lankan fielders wore masks and their coach Nic Pothas said some vomited in the dressing room Sunday. But Indian players were not masked when it was their turn to field on Monday.An environmental court, the National Green Tribunal, lambasted the Indian capital´s government for letting the game go ahead and for its lack of action over the smog.The court´s lead judge Justice Swatanter Kumar also ordered the city to file a proposed plan of action against pollution within 48 hours. The city had pleaded for more time. “Every newspaper has been carrying headlines that the air pollution was going to be higher this week. Still you took no action,” Kumar was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.“You should have not held the match if the air quality was so bad,” he [Read More…]

Jul 112017
 

An Indian man tried to open an emergency exit door on a packed AirAsia flight in midair, injuring fellow passengers and crew members who rushed to restrain him as the plane prepared to land, the airline said. Following the incident Aftab Ahmed, 32, was detained and handed over to airport security in eastern Ranchi city late Monday. “AirAsia would like to confirm that the airline encountered an unruly passenger onboard (a) flight… from New Delhi to Ranchi on July 10,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “Upon landing at Ranchi, the unruly passenger was handed over to the CISF (Central Indian Security Force) for further investigation,” it added. However officials did not comment on the status of the detained passenger, the exact sequence of events or his possible motives. Woman slapped 8-month house arrest for groping female passenger on plane A Press Trust of India report said that Ahmed is a resident of Ranchi, the capital of India’s Jharkhand state. “A man tried to open the emergency door… minutes before landing,” the report said. “He also allegedly injured a few passengers and crew members when they attempted to stop him.” Monday’s incident came two months after India announced plans to create a national no-fly list of unruly passengers, following cases of controversial politicians abusing flight staff. The civil aviation ministry proposed banning passengers based on three categories of unruly behaviour — ranging from lewd comments and sexual harassment to damaging aircraft and murderous assault. Air India stops serving meat [Read More…]

Jun 202017
 
India and Afghanistan Open Air Freight Corridor to Bypass Pakistan

NEW DELHI � Although Afghan businesses have long wanted to exploit the potential of India’s huge market, trade between the two countries has been hampered due to their tense relations with Pakistan.But a plane loaded in Kabul with 60 tons of medicinal plants landed in New Delhi this week, raising hopes of giving a major boost to commerce between landlocked Afghanistan and India.The flight flagged off the establishment of a new air cargo corridor between the two countries. Along with another, more long-term initiative to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar, India hopes to ease access to conflict-ridden Afghanistan and eventually to Central Asian countries.Pakistan is a barrierPakistan allows Afghanistan to send a limited amount of perishable goods over its territory to India, through which the shortest and most cost effective land routes lie. However, India is not allowed to send any imports through Pakistani territory.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani decided to establish the air corridor last September after Pakistan rejected fresh calls by the Afghan leader to allow his country to engage in direct trade with India over its territory.Although India is the second largest destination for exports from Afghanistan, this lack of easy access has been a dampener.Air corridor tradeIn New Delhi, officials hope the new corridor will boost annual trade between the two countries from $700 million to $1 billion in three years and give a lift to exports of Afghanistan’s agricultural and carpet industries.A second flight is scheduled to land in [Read More…]

Apr 302017
 
India Alleges 2 Soldiers Killed, Mutilated by Pakistani Forces in Kashmir

NEW DELHI � The Indian army has accused Pakistani forces of killing two of its soldiers and mutilating their bodies along the border in the disputed Kashmir region.India has vowed retribution for the incident that will deepen tensions between the South Asian rivals, whose relations have hit a low point in recent months.The army said the soldiers were killed on patrol when Pakistani forces fired rockets and mortars at two Indian posts in the Krishna Ghati sector Monday.“In an unsoldierly act” the bodies of two soldiers were mutilated, an army statement said. The army said that “such despicable act of Pakistan Army will be appropriately responded.”The Pakistani army dismissed the Indian army’s accusations of mutilating the soldiers’ bodies, calling them “false” and said it did not commit any cease-fire violation.This is not the first time that the Indian army has accused Pakistani soldiers of mutilating the body of a soldier; it leveled a similar charge last November.Cross-border gunfire leading to the deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides has intensified along the Kashmir border since last September, when relations plummeted following an attack on an Indian army camp that killed 17 soldiers. Both sides blame each other for the firing.It is not just the heavily militarized border dividing Kashmir between the two countries that is volatile. Violence has also spiked in Indian Kashmir, where New Delhi is grappling with escalating street protests against Indian rule and militant attacks.On Monday, authorities in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, said five policemen and [Read More…]

Mar 122017
 
Modi promises 'New India' by 2022 as BJP guns for two more states

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party expects national elections in 2019 to deliver a bigger mandate than it did in 2014, its leaders said on Sunday, buoyed by a thumping victory in the country's most politically important state. As well as winning Uttar Pradesh with the biggest majority for any party since 1977, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is moving closer to forming governments in at least two more of the five states that went to polls recently. BJP President Amit Shah said, "In coming days, BJP's winning ways will be seen in other states too. We will get a much bigger mandate in 2019 under Modi." The state victories are being seen as an endorsement of Modi's high-risk decision last November to scrap high-value banknotes, an anti-corruption measure that was unpopular which which many economists said would hamper growth. The wins vindicated his decision to turn the campaign into a referendum on his own performance since coming to power more than two-and-a-half years ago. With expectations rising high, his biggest challenge now will be to create millions of jobs for the country's surging population. "We may get things wrong, but we won't do anything with wrong intentions," Modi said in a speech at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, broadcast live on Sunday evening. Modi said 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence, would be marked by a "New India". "We have got five years … for 1.25 billion of my countrymen to take India forward," he said, urging Indians [Read More…]

Jan 252017
 
Ababeel

This refers to the news report, ‘Pakistan test fires 2,200 km-range Ababeel missile’ (Jan 25). Pakistan has successfully carried out the first test flight of Ababeel – surface-to-surface ballistic missile. The range of the missile is 2200 km – over three times the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad – and it can carry nuclear warheads. This supersonic ballistic missile can defeat enemy’s radar. Such news always boosts up the national morale and adds further glory to the nation’s pride. This also testifies that the country’s defence is in good hands. The civil and the military leadership deserve to be appreciated for such devoted work and for making the people proud. Maria Rashid Lahore Click for detailed story

Oct 202016
 
Younis wants India, Pakistan to resume Tests

ABU DHABI: Senior batsman Younis Khan wants India and Pakistan to set aside their strained relations and resume five-day matches as both are giants of the game. “It’s my wish to play a Test in Pakistan again, play against India and against all top teams,” Younis told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. “India and Pakistan are two giants of cricket — one number one and the other number two — so whatever the situation between the two nations it must be forgotten and cricket should be played, people want to watch them play.” There has been no Test cricket between the two nations since 2007. Bilateral cricket ties were severed in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi blamed on militants based in Pakistan. Pakistan did tour India in December 2012-January 2013 for a short limited over series but that failed to revive full ties, including Tests. The two countries have come close to war since last month´s attacks on a military base in Indian-administered Kashmir, again blamed on militants from Pakistan. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) repeatedly snubbed Pakistan´s calls for resumption of ties in the current scenario. The Pakistan Cricket Board wants BCCI to honour its commitment of six series between 2015-2023 under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2014, but linked to Indian government´s clearance. Under the MoU Pakistan were due to host a series last year and were due in India next year but considering the strained relations [Read More…]

Jul 242016
 
Rio-bound Indian wrestler fails doping test

New Delhi: Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav has failed a drugs test, the country´s anti-doping agency said Sunday, raising doubts about his inclusion in the Olympic squad less than two weeks before the Rio Games begin. Yadav, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, qualified for next month´s Olympics in the 74-kilogram freestyle category, but tested positive for a banned steroid during routine testing. A subsequent sample known as a B sample was also found to be positive. “Narsingh was personally present when his B sample was opened,” National Anti-Doping Agency director general Navin Agarwal told the Press Trust of India news agency. “He appeared before a disciplinary panel yesterday (Saturday). The panel sought more reports regarding the matter,” Agarwal said. Agarwal said a decision had not yet been made on removing the 26-year-old from the Rio-bound squad, adding it was “too early to comment”. “We will try to complete the whole thing quickly.” Further hearings would be held into the case, the government said in a statement, confirming the positive test but not naming Yadav. There was no immediate comment from Yadav, the son of a milk vendor, who won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 but came home-empty handed from the London Olympics two years later. The news could open the door for champion wrestler Sushil Kumar, India´s most successful individual Olympian. Kumar failed to qualify for Rio despite winning bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games and silver in London, both in the 66-kilogram freestyle category. Kumar launched a legal [Read More…]

Dec 232014
 
Kashmiris demand right to self-determination

MIRPUR (AJK) Rejecting the process of India’s elections drama and its results in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Jammu Kashmir National Front has said that the Kashmiris are fighting for their right to self-determination and urged New Delhi to grant the right to the people at the earliest. JKNF’s Central Senior Vice Chairman Altaf Hussain Wani reiterated that their struggle … Click for detailed story

Mar 142014
 
Non-discriminatory market access: Pakistan, India all but sign trade normalisation deal


ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and India are very close to clinching a deal on complete trade normalisation after New Delhi accepted Islamabad’s demand to remove textile products from its prohibitive list, an aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told The Express Tribune on Friday.

Both sides have reached a broader understanding on how to move forward on the issue of liberalising bilateral trade and overcome associated obstacles, said Miftah Ismail, special assistant to the prime minister and chairman of the Board of Investment.

Ismail is the first senior government official to speak at length about Pakistan-India trade talks, which have so far been held behind closed doors. He said both sides would simultaneously announce Non-Discriminatory Market Access on Reciprocal Basis (NDMARB) status for each other.

NDMARB was coined after the term Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) became controversial. The new term will grant India the same benefits as envisaged under MFN.

A special government panel chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has already decided to ask the federal cabinet to approve a fresh roadmap for granting NDMARB to India. A summary will be moved to the cabinet shortly and it is expected that both sides will notify changes by March 31, according to finance ministry officials.

According to Ismail, Pakistan will abolish the Negative List of 1,209 items which cannot be imported from India under the NDMARB agreement. Pakistan, in 2012, took a giant step by replacing the Positive List of 1,946 items, which could be imported from India, with the Negative List.

On the other hand, Ismail said that despite India’s claims that it had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, New Delhi has so far not allowed Pakistan free market access. “There are restrictions on investment from and in Pakistan, for instance,” he said. “Until these restrictions are there, India cannot claim it has given Pakistan MFN status.”

Some of the items currently protected under the Negative List would subsequently be protected under the Sensitive List maintained under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), Ismail said. According to him, automobiles and pharmaceuticals are two sectors which will be protected under the SAFTA Sensitive List, neutralising two lobbies against NDMARB status for India.

“As a nation we have sacrificed a lot while setting up the auto industry and we will protect it,” he said.

Meanwhile, India has accepted Pakistan’s demand to exclude 160 items – mainly textile products – from its Pakistan-specific Sensitive List, Ismail told The Express Tribune. India, he said, will also bring down the list from 614 items to 100 items.

As a first step towards NDMARB, Pakistan will allow India to import all goods through the Wagah-Attari border, Ismail said. The border would also remain open 24 hours a day, he added. According to him, the containerised movement of goods across the border will replace current labour-intensive practices.

Ismail said Pakistan has not compromised on anything while deciding to liberalise the trade regime with India. He said if India tried to create obstacles in the way of Pakistani goods, Islamabad would respond with the same intensity.

“Trade normalisation will triple the volume of Pakistani exports to India immediately,” Ismail said. He added that imports from India will substitute expensive machinery imports from Europe and West.

“In the end, it will be the consumers who will benefit from trade normalisation.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2014.

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