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Pratibha Patil Flags-in Indian Army’s Everest Team

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            Pratibha Patil Flags-in Indian Army's Everest Team            New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil Tuesday flagged in a mixed Indian Army team that scaled Mount Everest, creating history by putting 17 climbers on the world’s highest peak on May 25 and 26.

One of the summiters, Subedar Rajendra Singh Jalal, became the first Indian Army soldier to have climbed Everest without oxygen.
It took one full year of training and two-phase selection – one at Siachen Base Camp and the other at Manali – to identify and prepare the final team of seven women and 10 men climbers along with the support staff for the expedition.
Patil welcomed the team and congratulated them at an event held at the Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment. “Indian Army has added another feather on its cap by fielding a women’s team for undertaking such an extreme adventure with full success,” she said, adding her “special compliments” to Jalal, and applauding his effort in fighting altitude sickness and disorientation while climbing the peak, to achieve his mission.
Jalal, a veteran mountaineer from Uttarakhand, has already scaled five 8,000-metre peaks including the Everest in 2003. But by thew latest summiting, he became the first Indian Army personnel to do so without supplementary oxygen supply.
Led by Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, an experienced mountaineer, the expedition had been flagged off by army’s deputy chief, Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halagali on March 12.
The team set off for Kathmandu on March 22 from Delhi and from there, reached the Everest Base Camp on April 14 after a strenuous trek of 18 days. Thereafter, the mettle of each member was tested in a climb which took 45 days to achieve the mission. “The conditions at Everest are unusually difficult this year. More than 200 mountaineers aborted their mission and went back to their countries because of these adversities,” Kothiyal said.
The army team attempted to reach the summit on May 19, but was forced to come back to base camp due to hostile weather. The team started again from the base camp on May 23 to make its second attempt and succeeded this time.
Major N. Linyu and Captain L. Smitha became the first women from Nagaland and Karnataka respectively to have climbed Everest.
The other officers of the team included Major R.S. Jamwal, the deputy leader from Jammu and Kashmir, Captain Nitin Balram Ahuja, the medical officer cum base camp manager from Maharastra, Major Neha Bhatnagar (Rajasthan), Captain Namrata Rathore (Uttarakhand), Captain Poonam Sangwan (Haryana), Captain Prachi R. Gole (Maharastra), and Captain Deepika Rathore (Rajasthan).
Nepal Army chief Gen. Chhatraman Singh Gurung had visited the team at the base camp prior to the summit attempt.

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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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