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Paes-Bhupathi Duo For London Olympics

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      Paes-Bhupathi Duo For London Olympics      Bangalore: Putting an end to a long-running and contentious issue, the five-member selection committee of the All India Tennis Association Friday named Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi to represent the country in the men’s doubles event of tennis competitions at the London Olympics.

AITA president Anil Khanna, speaking at a Media conference here, asserted that Paes and Bhupathi, who are said to be barely on talking terms, were India’s best bet for an Olympic medal.
Khanna disclosed that the selectors took the “unanimous” decision to field Paes and Bhupathi after a teleconference with the duo and Rohan Bopanna, the other doubles specialist who was in contention.
Stating that differences between the players were “part of professional sport”, Khanna said: “When playing for the country, we hope that all will rise above petty differences.”
Bhupathi had recently said that he preferred to partner Bopanna at the Olympics rather than Paes with whom he has not enjoyed any kind of relationship since parting ways in 2002.
“Players cannot be selectors,” said Khanna when told about Bhupathi’s preference and declined to comment on how the player would react to the decision to team him up with Paes at the Olympics.
“We will not speculate as to how the players will react. If for any reason (other than injury) they decline to play, then they will face disciplinary action,” said Khanna.
Bhupathi and Paes came together last year in a bid to win the Australian Open to complete a personal career Slam, but failed. Later, the duo reached the semi-finals at the year-end Masters.
When asked whether Bhupathi and Paes will pair up for the Wimbledon to prepare for the Olympics, Khanna said it was quite possible that they might do so.
Meanwhile, the AITA would be lobbying for a wild card for the country’s two top singles players Sania Mirza and Somdev Devvarman. “If Sania gets the wild card in singles, then she will be partnered by Rushmi Chakravarthy in the women’s doubles. We will know by June 21 which is the cut-off date. As for the mixed doubles, there is no urgency since the cut-off date is July 31 and also it depends on whether Sania will receive the wild card.”
Regarding Devvarman, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, Khanna said: “Devvarman hopes to play in the Wimbledon. He has been serving and he said he is fit.”
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, the interest centred around the men’s doubles combination since Bhupathi and Bopanna had reportedly written to AITA that they would like to pair for the Olympics.
Khanna dwelt at length on the rankings to justify the decision to have Paes (7) and Bhupathi (12) rather than Bhupathi and Bopanna (14). “We decided to take the combined ranking. Bhupathi might have said that he and Paes could not win a medal in the previous four Olympics, but at the moment, they are the best combination we have. Paes won the Australian Open this year with a new partner (Radek Stepanek) and Bhupathi won the mixed doubles at the French Open (with Sania). So, obviously, both are in good form and hence we decided to team them together. As for the mixed doubles, again Paes and Sania (12) have a better combined ranking than Sania and Bhupathi. However, we will wait until the Wimbledon and see how the players perform.”

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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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