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Lok Sabha rejects Pak Parliament resolution on Afzal

NEW DELHI: Rejecting Pakistan Parliament’s resolution on execution of Afzal Guru, the Lok Sabha on Friday termed it as interference in India’s internal affairs and told it to desist from such acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements.

The Lok Sabha passed a resolution asserting that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, including the territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan, “is and shall always be an integral part of India”.

It said that any attempt from any quarter to interfere in India’s internal affairs will be met “resolutely and with complete unity” of the nation.

“This House totally rejects the resolution passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan on March 14, 2013,” said the Lok Sabha resolution read out by Speaker Meira Kumar after concern was raised over the development.

Pakistan’s National Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution condemning the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and demanded that his body be returned to his family.

“The House rejects interference in the internal affairs of India and calls upon the National Assembly of Pakistan to desist from such acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements,” the Lok Sabha resolution said.

Noting that Pakistan has committed that it would not allow its territory to be used for terrorism against India, the resolution said “only fulfilment of this commitment can be the basis for peaceful relations with Pakistan.”

Earlier, the issue was raised by senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha who urged that the Lok Sabha should unanimously give a befitting reply to the resolution passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan.

“I urge that this House (Lok Sabha) should pass a resolution to give a befitting reply to National Assembly of Pakistan’s resolution,” Sinha said.

He said an attempt has been made to provoke the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government was concerned about the Pakistan Assembly’s resolution and urged the Speaker to move the resolution, which was later adopted unanimously.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley asked the government to reconsider its engagements with Pakistan in light of yesterday’s resolution.

BJP and other Opposition parties demanded a resolution condemning Pakistan’s interference in India’s internal affairs and said there cannot be normalisation of ties with that country after its polity gave stamp of approval on the terror attack on Indian Parliament.

“Besides interfering in India’s internal affairs, the resolution is an official statement by the entire polity of Pakistan endorsing the terrorist attacks,” Jaitley said raising the issue when the House met for the day. — PTIBack







Govt calls off Indo-Pak hockey series amid political tensions 

NEW DELHI: The simmering political tensions between India and Pakistan has prompted the Indian government to call off the upcoming home-and-away bilateral hockey series between the two countries.

The Pakistan hockey team was scheduled to tour India in mid-April for five Test matches, followed by a return visit by India.

But the Ministry of External Affairs has refused to give the green signal to the planned series, a day after the Pakistan Parliament passed a resolution against Afzal Guru’s execution and the recent ‘fidayeen’ attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar that left 5 CRPF personnel dead.

Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra informed that the MEA had asked them to call-off the bilateral series in a communication last evening.

“The protocol demands permission from the Sports Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs for any bilateral series. We got the permissions from the Sports Ministry and the MHA but the MEA refused to give us permission.

“The MEA had sent a fax to us yesterday, asking us not to host Pakistan or travel to the country for the series for the time being. I fully support the government’s decision keeping in mind the developments of the last two days,” Batra told PTI.

“We would have loved the series to take place but not at the cost of the respect and dignity of our nation. I don’t blame the Pakistan Hockey Federation, it the political establishment of Pakistan which needs to understand,” he added.

During their visit to India, Pakistan was expected to play matches in the cities of Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar between April 5-15.

After Pakistan’s visit, the Indian team was scheduled to pay a return visit and play five matches in Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi and Sialkot from April 23.

Pakistan and India last played a bilateral hockey series in 2006 — three matches in each country. Pakistan won three and lost one while the remaining two were drawn.

When asked to comment on the cancellation of the India Pakistan hockey series, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “That is not my information. Nobody is going to ask me to cancel or not to cancel. But as far as I am concerned, I have no such information.”

He said “may be some elements of the tournament have been shifted. But not my information that anything has been cancelled,” Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament House.

Reacting to the development, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said “sports should be kept out of politics.”

It is not for the first time that the souring relations between the two countries have spilled over to the sporting arena.

In January this year, Hockey India was forced to send back all the nine Pakistani players taking part in its inaugural franchise-based league (HIL) following protests over the brutal killing of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control.

The cancellation of the hockey series came close on the heels of an abandoned bilateral snooker series between India and Pakistan earlier this month following Government’s objection. — PTI






Airports alerted to prevent Italian envoy from leaving country

NEW DELHI: Airports across the country have been alerted to prevent Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country.

The decision was taken by the Union home ministry a day after the Supreme Court restrained the Italian ambassador from leaving India without its permission, official sources said.

The apex court had taken exception to Italian government's refusal to send back two naval guards charged with the killing of two fishermen.

The two naval guards were allowed by the court to go to Italy to cast their vote in the elections there after the Italian ambassador had given an assurance to send them back.

Attorney general (AG) G E Vahanvati had brought the issue yesterday before the apex court, saying that "its a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land and the government is extremely concerned about it".

After hearing the AG's submission, the bench issued notices to the ambassador and the two naval guards and asked them to file their response by March 18.

The two naval guards were on board Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie', when they shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, last year. — PTI







Controversial UPSC notification put on hold

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday put on hold a controversial notification making proficiency in English a requirement for aspirants of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as most Lok Sabha members opposed it.

"The said notification will be in abeyance. We will call a meeting of
UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) officials to resolve the issue, keeping in mind the views expressed by the members," minister of state for personnel and training V Narayanasamy told the Lok Sabha.

The House had to be adjourned earlier as several members raised the issue asking for revocation of the March 5 notification by the UPSC, which conducts the examination for all-India services.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad moved the motion in the house which was supported by members of most parties.

Besides opposition parties like the Communist Party of India, Janata Dal-United, Biju Janata Dal, Akali Dal, and the Trinamool Congress, government allies like the DMK and Nationalist Congress Party also opposed the move to impose English on candidates, and said this would not provide students a level playing field.

The members wanted the candidates to be allowed to write their exams in regional languages. — PTI







Australia fritter away good start as spinners hit back

MOHALI: India regained much of the ground by claiming four wickets in the final session as Australia failed to capitalise on a century partnership for the opening wicket in the third and penultimate cricket Test here today.

At stumps on the second day, Australia were 273 for seven with comeback man, Steven Smith and Mitchell Starc, batting on 58 and 20 respectively.

While Ravindra Jadeja proved to be the surprise package for India with three wickets, including two in two deliveries, it was Ishant Sharma’s late burst that pushed Australia on the backfoot after Ed Cowan and David Warner were back on track with a 139—run partnership for the first wicket after Michael Clarke opted to bat.

His flagging career on the line after a string of failures, Cowan silenced the doubting Thomases with a dogged knock of 86, which consumed 238 balls. His partner, Warner made a fluent 71 off 147 balls with help of nine fours. Cowan found the fence eight times, but will be disappointed at not being able to convert his efforts into a century, despite getting two lives.

The duo’s efforts, though, were a bit undone with the loss of seven wickets in the final two sessions of play.

Ishant had Brad Haddin and Moises Henriques bowled to reduce Australia to 244 for six late into the final session of play at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, where the first day was washed out due to a heavy downpour.

Jadeja returned and immediately had Peter Siddle trapped in front of the wicket.

Making a comeback after more than two years in the wilderness, Smith stood firm and showed the right mix of aggression and resolve against the Indian spinners.

After Cowan departed, caught by Virat Kohli off Ravichandran Ashwin at first slip, it was left to Smith to ensure that Australia carry on the fight in this must—win game.

Smith, the 23—year—old from New South Wales, did his job admirably, adding crucial runs with Brad Haddin for the fifth wicket, which frustrated the Indians for a while before Sharma opened the floodgates.

In the second session, Jadeja got the wickets of Warner and Clarke for nought while Pragyan Ojha accounted for Phillip Hughes, as Australia reached 180 for three at tea.

Cowan was batting on 76, while Steven Smith was unbeaten on 19, helping Australia add 71 runs in the second session as they went into tea.

The Cowan—Warner stand, incidentally, is also Australia’s best partnership for the opening wicket on this ground, eclipsing the 87—run stand set by Shane Watson and Simon Katich back in 2010.

After having Warner caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who ran forward after the ball looped off the batsman’s bat—pad, Jadeja bagged the most important wicket of skipper Clarke, who was stumped by Dhoni off the first ball the batsman faced.

The ball turned away sharply on landing, and an over—confident Clarke made the mistake by stepping out straightaway.

Twelve overs later, Ojha had Hughes caught down the leg—side by Dhoni, ending the out—of—form batsman’s yet another miserable stay at the crease.

Hughes, in the series, has scored no more than a mere two runs off 70 balls against the spinners while getting out five times.

India could have added one more to the wickets tally, but Virat Kohli at first slip dropped an edge that Ojha induced off Cowan.

Warner struck nine fours while facing 147 balls. What was also important was that the opener spent 206 minutes in the middle after a run of poor scores.

It turned out to be good session for Jadeja, who delivered after the specialist bowlers failed to give the hosts a breakthrough.

That India struggled prior to that was only due to Warner and Ed Cowan, who produced Australia’s best opening partnership of the series as the visitors went to lunch at an impressive 109 for no loss.

Warner led Australia’s promising start with a flurry of boundaries, including a few delectable drives through the off—side. At the lunch break, Cowan was giving him company on 43 after 36 overs had been bowled.

There was a chance for Ojha to dismiss Warner right after he completed his fifty, but Kohli, positioned at first slip, could not get to the ball.

Opting to bat after Clarke won the toss for the third time in the series, Australia were served well by the two openers, even as the Indian bowlers looked for wickets on a surface that is likely to assist the spinners over the next few days.

It was a departure from the norm as far as the wicket was concerned— the PCA is known for assisting the quicker bowlers.

Seeking to make a fightback after two reverses in the first two Tests in Chennai and Hyderabad respectively, wickets off successive deliveries put the brakes on the Aussies.

After a four—over first spell, Ishant, playing his 50thTest, was replaced by Ashwin in the ninth over, and the off—spinner straightway extracted turn and bounce.

Bringing Ishant back, instead of Ojha, for another six—over spell, however, seemed a bit surprising. When Ojha was finally introduced in the 25thover, in place of Ishant, the left—arm spinner was greeted with two boundaries —one through the covers off a short ball and the next one nudged down the leg—side. — PTI




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