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Afghan Girls Dare Taliban, Play Soccer

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 Afghan Girls Dare Taliban, Play Soccer  New Delhi: Afghan girls have left behind years of strife and torment under the Taliban rule. They feel liberated to even play football out in the open unmindful of the repercussions.

The Under-17 girls of Kabul’s Rabia Balkhi High School came to Delhi to play in the Subroto Cup football tournament, breaking all barriers, risking parental disapproval and ostracisation.

The girls are aware of the volatile ground realities back home, but they are not scared of dealing with the situation.

Zrafchan Nimiy, a ninth class student, who also doubles as the team’s spokesperson, said that she and her team mates are not scared of the Taliban.

“When I was a kid I used to be very scared to even step out of my house. But now we have democracy and there is police. The players in this team are not scared any more. We believe in our police; they have assured us that they wouldn’t let anything happen to us,” Nimiy said.

“Football for us is a way to forget the nightmarish happenings not long ago and also what is still happening around us. For me personally, I just love the sport.”

Asked how their parents look at their pursuit of playing football, she said:” First it was a straight no, but thankfully the coach came and spoke to them and they agreed. People who earlier used to shun any activity of this nature are today wishing us well.”

However, the Taliban is not the only problem for these girls. The lack of infrastructure, gear and basic facilities like grounds have not helped their cause. There are three cities in the country where girls play sports — Herath, Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. With no proper facilities for the girls they have to make do with what they have.

It all started in a small way when the girls found a ground where NATO forces were stationed to play and, that too, in a corner. There was no one to encourage the girls. In fact, they were told that football was not for women.

The women got the NATO field to practise only after President Hamid Karzai got it for them after he was impressed by their spirited showing against Pakistan in a friendly game. Now, of course, the national team has started going overseas to train and compete. Things are happening, even if in a slow motion.

“It is very difficult to play. We don’t have proper football field or equipment to play in Kabul. We have to play on concrete and that area is also very small,” said Masoumeh, midfielder of the team.

“There are three schools in Kabul that have U-17 women football teams, but the boys always get precedence. We are not allowed to play in parks and can’t even step out of the house after eight.”

The girls though feel a little help from the government back home would go a long way in improving their football standards.

“We have to buy everything ourselves. We know there are more pressing matters for our government but it should pay a little attention to sports as well. They should provide us with equipment and maybe help us get a sponsor,” said an emotional Masoumeh.

Football is not the only thing these girls are interested in. Zrafchan, who is visiting India for the second time, loves Bollywood and has picked up the Hindi language by watching movies.

She says the next time she is in India, she would like to go and see all the super stars in the Mumbai film world.

“Next time I visit India I want to go to the place where all the superstars stay.”

“I am a huge fan of Salman Khan. I have seen ‘Tere Naam’ 10 times. I just love Bollywood.”

Things are changing for the better for the Afghan women. Whether these girls would go on to make it big in the sport is a different matter. But they have certainly opened the door for the future generation of sports women.

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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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