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Kashmir’ Famed Kangris Shield Locals Against Cold




Khrew (Jammu and Kashmir): For 40-year-old Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, it doesn’t matter whether the art of weaving the traditional Kashmiri firepot, the kangri, was introduced here during Mughal rule or earlier. For Bashir, it is the only livelihood he has.

”I learnt the art from my father and he perhaps from his father. All I know for sure is that making a couple of kangris daily earns me my daily bread,” he said.

Bashir lives in Shar (Khrew) village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, 15 km from summer capital Srinagar.

The severe winter cold under which the Valley is reeling at present has come in handy for this hardy soul.

”Making an ordinary kangri takes around three hours. I work for nearly eight hours these days which enables me to make two of them a day.

”Each kangri sells for around 150 rupees. Yes, the better ones cost much more. I buy the earthen firepots from the local potters and then weave the willow basket around them.

”The willow twigs are collected from the forest behind our village, but indiscriminate grazing by large flocks of goats and sheep is destroying the willow bushes nowadays,” Bashir told IANS as he carefully folded the willow twigs around the earthen firepot.

As the power supply remains erratic in the Valley, the kangri continues to be the best bet for the locals to brave the severe winter cold.

The kangri is filled with smouldering charcoal and worn under the traditional tweed overgarment, the Pheran.

”Life without the kangri and the Pheran is unimaginable in the Valley. I head a joint family of 10 and each one of us has a Kangri of our own,” said Master Habibullah, 64, who lives in north Kashmir’s Chanduna village.

”Using the kangri under the Pheran is something the Kashmiris have been learning for generations. I remember my father would use the kangri under the quilt during the winter nights and it would not overturn on the bedding even when my father was asleep,” he added.

Historical records are unclear about the origin of the kangri.

Some historians maintain that the Italians in the retinue of the Mughal emperors visiting the Valley taught Kashmiris the art of making kangris. Others argue the kangri had been in use in Kashmir much before Mughal emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir in the 16th century.

Sold in various colours and sizes, the kangris are marketed in all the Valley’s big and small towns.

”The best ones still come from central Kashmir’s Charar-e-Sharief town. In the past, the kangri would form an essential part of a bride’s dowry. Those kangris came from Charar-e-Sharief,” said Muhammad Sidiq, 48, who sells kangris in Srinagar.

Doctors have been warning the people against excessive use of the kangri, especially close to the bare skin.

”Excessive exposure of the skin to the heat of the kangri often results in serious burns. One has to be very careful and not use the firepot too close to the bare skin”, medical practitioner Kaisar Ahmad told IANS.

But, given the deteriorating electric supply scenario in the Valley, where curtailments are announced almost on a daily basis, the kangri and the Kashmiri continue to remain inseparable during the bone-chilling winter cold.

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



Nawaz sharif

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




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



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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