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Modi-Sharif meeting augurs well for foreign secretary level talks

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New Delhi: The Modi-Sharif meeting definitely augurs well for the foreign secretaries’ level talks scheduled in January in Islamabad.

The meeting between the two prime ministers was welcomed by politicians in both India and Pakistan, while the UN, the US, China and other countries have termed it a positive development which would have a far-reaching impact on the regional peace, The Nation reported.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said: “Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia.”

He said the improvement in relations between the two countries was significant to regional peace, stability and development.

The US State Department said Modi’s overture towards Pakistan would “benefit the entire region”.

“We welcome the December 25 talks between PM Modi and PM Sharif in Lahore. As we have long said, improved relations among neighbours will benefit the entire region,” spokesperson John Kirby said on Saturday.

Foreign affairs adviser to Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz said that Modi’s brief stopover in Lahore was unplanned.

Aziz, special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi and National Security Adviser Lieutenant General Nasir Khan Janjua could not join Sharif in the meeting at his Jati Umra residence.

However, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif attended the meeting, Aziz said.

The news of the stopover was announced by Modi on Twitter: “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”

Within minutes, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “That’s like a statesman. Padosi se aise hi rishte hone chahiyen (One should have such relations with neighbours).”

Pakistan’s other political parties such as Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party welcomed the move and hoped it would go well in normalising the relations between the two countries.

After seeing off Modi at the Lahore airport, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said Nawaz and Modi met in a cordial atmosphere, and it was agreed upon in the meeting that people-to-people contact should be enhanced and other confidence-building measures should be taken to improve the relations between the two sides.

This was the second meeting between the two prime ministers in less than a month, after their interaction on the sidelines of the climate change talks in Paris on November 30.(IANS) 

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar
Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Modi pens foreword for Hema Malini’s biography

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Hema Malini

New Delhi, Oct 13 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has penned a “short, crisp and sweet” foreword for “Beyond The Dreamgirl”, an authorised biography of actress and BJP MP Hema Malini.

The book, by former editor of Stardust and producer Ram Kamal Mukherjee, will be launched on October 16, when the “evergreen beauty” turns 69. Its launch also marks the celebration of Hema Malini’s glorious run of 50 years in Indian showbiz.

“Our PM has written very briefly in the book about his feelings for Hemaji. It’s short, crisp and sweet, not rubble and bubble. It’s an honour for me as an author and for Hemaji also that it is perhaps the first time that an active Prime Minister has written a foreword for a book on a Bollywood actor,” Mukherjee told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.

Having started her film career in 1968 with Raj Kapoor-starrer “Sapno Ka Saudagar”, she regaled movie buffs with roles in films like “Seeta Aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Dream Girl” and “Satte Pe Satta”. An accomplished classical dancer, Hema Malini earned the epithet of ‘Dreamgirl’ for her flawless beauty, and became a pioneering female superstar in an otherwise male-oriented film industry.

In 1999, Hema Malini campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in Gurdaspur, Punjab. She is now a BJP MP from Mathura constituency.

“I guess it’s all because of Hemaji’s credentials and contribution to art and cinema that Mr Modi agreed to pen the foreword. When I was interacting with his office, they were very happy that Hemaji did not just limit her talk in the book to Bollywood,” said Mukherjee, who had in 2005 released a coffee table book called “Hema Malini Diva Unveiled”.

“Beyond The Dreamgirl”, published by HarperCollins India, will give readers an in-depth look into her life.

“It is divided into 23 chapters, covering her childhood, teens, Bollywood, rise as an actor, romance, colleagues, marriage, her second innings, launching Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dil Aashna Hai’ — which she directed — her ballet, her political journey and spiritual journey. There are two chapters dedicated to her daughters Esha and Ahana.

“She has also spoken about her Agra accident and her singing career. We have summed it all up with a chapter called ‘Bliss’. This book will also have Hemaji’s family tree, which has not been published earlier, and there will be a lot of exclusive unseen photographs from her personal, professional and political spheres,” Mukherjee said.

The ageless talent has shared an insight into her life with Dharmendra as well as spoken on political figures like Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

How did Mukherjee get Modi to pen the foreword?

“It was not something thought of when I started writing the book two years ago. I started my research and wanted somebody else to do the foreword,” he said, without naming the film industry person whom he had approached.

“It was almost like a miracle to have Mr Modi write for us. When I discussed it with Hemaji, her first expression was, ‘I hope you know what you’re saying. I know you’re under pressure, but I think you’re losing your mind’.

“When I said there’s no harm in trying, she said, ‘You try and do whatever you want to do’. Then it was a process.”

The writer feels it’s the actress’ constant effort in promoting Indian classical music and dance through her ballets on Hindu mythological characters like Durga and Meera, which Modi appreciates.

“I think Mr Modi liked her inclination towards classical dance and music and how she promotes it at international platforms. I think this is a USP of Hema Maliniji, apart from she being Hema Malini. And I guess that’s also what justifies the title of the book.”(IANS)

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Actor “Prabhas” extends support to Modi’s Clean India campaign

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Prabhas extends support to Modi's Clean India campaign
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Chennai, Sep 29 : “Baahubali” fame Prabhas on Friday said he extends his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachhata Hi Seva” movement, adding that he sees the Clean India campaign not as a duty but as a habit.

“As we approach this significant day, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji, who always strived for cleanliness, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the great work happening on making India clean and green with the Swachh Bharat Initiative,” Prabhas posted on his Facebook page.

Swachh Bharat: 10 easy steps that will make “clean india campaign” successful

He added that Clean India is something he personally believes in.

“Keeping my country clean and healthy is not just my duty as a citizen but also a habit. To all those who feel the same, let’s continue doing our best for a cleaner India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Modi had written personal letters to celebrities, industrialists and noted personalities to enlist their support for the initiative.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said Swachhata is for each of us to practice.

He also said the days leading up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 should be about “encouraging widespread participation in cleanliness initiatives across the country.”

Superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker S.S Rajamouli have already expressed their support.(ians)