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Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan join India in boycotting Saarc Summit 2016 in Islamabad

The US has also said that it was pressurising Pakistan to act against terror safe havens within its borders

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September 28,2016:  Following the diplomatic blitzkrieg launched by New Delhi,Pakistan is virtually getting isolated in the region with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan joining India in boycotting the annual Saarc Summit scheduled to be hosted by Islamabad in November.

“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the summit,” sources quoted Kabul as saying in a message to Saarc chair Nepal on Tuesday.

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In a similar message to Nepal, Bangladesh on Tuesday said: “The growing interference in the internal affairs ofBangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th Saarc (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”

“Bangladesh, as the initiator of the Saarc process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity, and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere,” the message said.

“In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.”

In its message to Nepal, Bhutan, while reaffirming its strong commitment to the Saarc process and strengthening of regional cooperation, noted that “the concern of the Royal Government of Bhutan on the recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016”, it is learned.

“Further, the Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of Saarc on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the Saarc Summit, under the current circumstances,” the message from Thimpu on Tuesday said.

Sri Lanka, it is learned, has said that the event would not be possible without India’s participation.

India on Tuesday announced that it was pulling out of the Islamabad summit after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 18 soldiers.

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The attack came amid large-scale violence in Kashmir Valley that left around 90 people dead in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.

In a statement on Tuesday, India said increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Saarc member-states “by one country” have created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th Saarc summit.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India has conveyed to currentSaarc chair Nepal its decision not to attend the summit, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to go.

“India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity, and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.

“In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad,” he said in the statement.

Pakistan has termed the boycott decision as “unfortunate”.

The US has also said that it was pressurising Pakistan to act against terror safe havens within its borders.

“Well, I mean, clearly we’ve talked about that before is, while we’ve seen Pakistan make progress on some of the terrorist groups operating within its own borders and carrying out attacks within Pakistan’s borders, that we continue to put pressure on Pakistan to respond to those groups who are, quote/unquote, ‘seeking safe haven on Pakistan’s borders’, that – who are intent on carrying out attacks elsewhere in the region,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in the daily press briefing in Washington on Tuesday.

The US is one of the nine observer members of Saarc, the others being Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar and South Korea.

New Delhi has blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit for the Uri as well as January 2 Pathankot air base attack.

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On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and made a demarche that proved Islamabad’s links to the attack.

Prime Minister Modi has said that India would revisit the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty that calls for sharing of the waters of the six rivers of the Indus basin with Pakistan while indicating that the most favoured nation (MFN) trade status granted to the neighbor in 1996 might be revoked. (IANS)

 

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)