Minister's hug: Senate body comes out in support
Apr 15, 2007 - 1:31:59 PM

Islamabad, April 15 - Pakistan Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar, in the eye of a storm for giving her French paragliding male coach a hug, has got support from a parliamentary committee which lauded her 'courage' in initiating fund-raising campaigns 'by risking her life in paragliding'.

The Senate Standing Committee for Tourism Saturday appreciated Bakhtiar and condemned the 'misinterpretation' of the minister's pictures, showing her hugging her coach, and assured her full support, the Daily Times reported Sunday.

Bakhtiar had para-jumped to raise funds for children hit by the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

She had hugged her male coach after the paragliding event in France. The Pakistani media carried pictures of the minister with the coach, prompting an Islamabad clergy to issue a fatwa or edict against her and demanding that President Pervez Musharraf dismiss her.

Bakhtiar has herself taken a bold stand refusing to be 'cowed down' by such threats and said that she would 'jump again' for a worthy cause.

At a meeting chaired by Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal, the standing committee also discussed the tourism ministry's performance and reviewed the 'Visit Pakistan Year 2007' activities.

Bakhtiar told them that tour operators from India, Turkey, Germany, France, Britain, US, Malaysia, Singapore and the Gulf were keen to bring tourists to Pakistan.

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