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A New Indo-Pak War Heats Up… In The Kitchen!

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New Delhi: The fervour and frenzy of an India-Pakistan contest has gone beyond the realms of cricket and entered the reality television pitch, with shows like “Foodistan” and “Sur-kshetra”. Simmering on the small screen is rivalry and bonding over food and music.

”Foodistan”, which went on air on NDTV Good Times Monday, brings together 16 professional chefs – eight each from India and Pakistan – on a common platform to battle it out for culinary supremacy.

Sahara One’s “Sur-kshetra”, a yet-to-be-launched music-based reality show, will have singers from both the nations competing with each other.

But the idea is not to rub in the rivalry and cash in on it for entertainment purposes, says Smeeta Chakrabarti, CEO, NDTV Lifestyle. It will also be about bonding.

”It’s all a mix of rivalry and bonding. I don’t think we have abused the rivalry at all. It is pretty healthy. Sometimes all the stress is not between the two nation teams…it is within the team itself because there’s so much national pride at stake that they are really tough on each other. There was a lot of bonding and brotherhood during the show and, of course, cultural exchange,” Chakrabarti told IANS.

Karachi-based chef Khursheed Amina Agha, popularly called Poppy, came down to India for “Foodistan” and says “it’s a home away from home”. She not only loved the experience but also took home some recipes that would have otherwise remained out of reach.

”The show didn’t really feel like a face-off. And even if it was, it was against the judges. I think such efforts are great for cultural exchange because I’ve found new ways of looking at a particular dish….like I learnt the use of breadcrumbs, which we don’t really use in our cooking. But I’ve taken that learning with me,” Poppy told IANS.

She is totally sold out on south Indian cuisine.

”South Indian cuisine is not there in our country. It was not available in that part of north India before partition. So I’ve learnt rasam, dosa…a lot of Mangalorean and Chettinad cuisine that I might never have learnt otherwise,” said the star cook, who wants to redevelop subcontinental cooking and modernise it for Pakistani food enthusiasts.

In the meantime, preparations are on for “Sur-kshetra”.

While the team of “Foodistan” managed to arrange visas for eight chefs from Pakistan, the “Sur-kshetra” team has had to shift shooting base to Dubai.

Producer Gajendra Singh, who has attempted to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan through shows like “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstars” and “Chhote Ustaad” in the past, believes his new show will also act as a catalyst between the two nations.

”I don’t believe there’s a better tool than songs to bring India and Pakistan together,” Singh has been quoted as saying.

”Sur-kshetra” already has Pakistani singer Atif Aslam associated with it as the captain of his country’s team and efforts are on to get more big names on board.

Over the years, several Pakistani singers have found a foothold in the Indian entertainment industry. Be it Aslam, Adnan Sami, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Zafar, Sonya Jehan, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen or controversy queen Veena Malik, these talents from across the border have garnered popularity in India — and the trend will hopefully continue thanks to such reality shows.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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