London: From raising issues of child labour to pointing to the “agonisingly inefficient infrastructure”, the British media Thursday launched a scathing attack on the poor preparedness for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) that will begin in New Delhi Oct 3.
The upcoming Games was given prominent display in all the major newspapers here, with some using photographs to illustrate their point. The Telegraph’s story “Commonwealth Games 2010: England team’s trip on a knife edge” not only reflected the gripping tension on whether the England team could withdraw from the Games over the state of the athletes’ village and sporting arenas, it also criticised the use of child labour to finish the pending work at the venues. The daily’s website mischievously used an AP photograph that showed a group of poor labourers straining to pull a cart overloaded with bricks and sacks with “XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi” emblazoned in the background. It said safety fears intensified when a section of the ceiling on a weightlifting arena fell to the ground. On Tuesday, a pedestrian footbridge collapsed, injuring 27 workers. Child labourers were photographed putting up seats in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main Games venue. ”The use of child labour has been a steady concern throughout the project. Many work alongside their labourer parents who are paid as little as 3 pounds per day. The photographer who captured children at work had his accreditation rescinded yesterday (Wednesday) and a camera wiped by officials,” the report said. The Independent questioned “Why India is a bit player in the world of sport”. The report pointed out that the Delhi Commonwealth Games “have seen the deaths of numerous construction workers, a massive uprooting of the capital’s poor and, following allegations of corruption, the Indian Prime Minister stepping in to appoint officials to supervise the project”. It said that though $6 billion was being spent, delegates have condemned the athletes’ village as “filthy, unhygienic and unfit for human habitation”. The problems the Games have revealed are more than the usual Indian contradictions. “One of the favourite Indian expressions is ‘Juldi, juldi’ (hurry, hurry). The only problem is the stifling bureaucracy and the agonisingly inefficient infrastructure. The result is that cries of ‘Juldi, juldi’ rise like a cloud of vapour while the actual pace of the journey matches the legendary Indian bullock cart.” The Independent article ended by saying: “The most galling thing for the Indians is the contrast this provides with China, which used the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a giant coming-out party, proving that it could beat the West at its own sports. The tragedy for India is that, whatever happens in Delhi over the next few weeks, the world will conclude that this is another area where India cannot match its Asian rival.” The Daily Mail declared: “24 hours to save the Commonwealth Games: Clegg warns time is running out after Delhi stadium ceiling falls in”. It quoted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as saying: “Time is running short. It’s for athletes to decide themselves whether they want to attend or not, but I do hope we give the organisers the chance to sort themselves out so we give the games the chance to be the success they always wanted it to be.” A photograph accompanying the article showed a sound barrier being put up just outside the Commonwealth Games village. Its caption stated: “The methods used would probably not get past UK health and safety officers”. The Guardian reported that with the Games “at risk of descending into farce, thousands of athletes from the major competing nations remained in the dark about whether or not they would be boarding a plane to compete”. Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, India’s biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games it hosted in New Delhi. -IANS
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
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.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
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.
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.
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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