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Development Is The Answer To Naxalism – Sonia

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New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi  said left-wing extremism can be defeated by better implementation of rural development programmes and called for harnessing mineral resources in tribal areas in a way that does not destroy the land or take away livelihoods.

Addressing a convention on “Empowerment of Tribal Women in India” organised by All India Mahila Congress here, Gandhi called upon the workers of the party’s women wing to agitate if flagship programmes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government are not being implemented in their states. 

Gandhi, who underwent surgery in the US in August, surprised the assembled gathering by joining the tribal women in their traditional dance. 

Special Protection Group personnel, who followed Gandhi, had a hard time as the seemingly excited women tried to shake hands with the Congress president. 

Gandhi happily accepted their greetings and gifts and joined them for a few dance steps. 

The Mahila Congress leaders on the stage watched smilingly as Gandhi’s presence among women delegates sent a wave of excitement at the gathering. Some of the workers even captured Gandhi’s impromptu jig on their mobile phones. 

In her speech, Gandhi said central and state governments should fulfill their responsibilities in tribal areas. 

”We all know there is left-wing extremism in a number of districts with sizeable tribal population. We can defeat it by better implementation of rural development programmes. It is primary duty of central and state governments that they fulfill their responsibilities in tribal areas. I feel that if we do that, then those who have adopted the path of violence today, we will be able to bring them to the national mainstream,” she said. 

Gandhi said that it is duty of the Mahila Congress and the party’s women workers in tribal areas to inform people at the grassroots about the programmes of the UPA government and guide them to take benefits.

”Wherever these programmes are not being implemented, they should agitate,” she said. 

She also said that minerals in tribal areas should be used with care. 

”Tribal areas are rich in minerals. But these resources should be used in a manner that does not destroy land belonging to tribals and does not snatch away their livelihood. Our central government is making such a law which will allow development of mineral resources and give its benefits to tribal communities and primacy to youth in employment,” Gandhi said. 

The Congress president said the question now was not of protecting and conserving the age-old tribal traditions that have enriched society but of giving these communities new avenues of growth and development. 

Noting the difficulties tribal women face in their daily lives, she said the Congress had been committed to development of tribals and recalled the initiatives taken by late prime minister Indira Gandhi for welfare of these communities. 

She said the vision of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi brought a “revolution of panchayti raj” in villages and many tribal women were raising their voice through these institutions.

Gandhi said the party had a long and strong bond with tribals. “It is duty of all of us to see that the bond is nurtured further in keeping with the wishes of younger generation.”

She said Forest Rights Act passed by the UPA government in 2006 has given legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities.

Several union ministers including Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told the gathering about the schemes of their ministries. 

Congress workers from various tribal areas of the country are attending the day-long convention which was also addressed by Mahila Congress chief Anita Verma and party MP Mohsina Kidwai.

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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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SOUTH ASIA

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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SOUTH ASIA

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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