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Has Separatist Syedah Asiya Andrabi got Islamic State links?

Pro-Pakistan Dukhtaran-e-Milat (DeM) leader Syedah Asiya Andrabi is under fire.Three Hyderabad youths, who were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) last week at the Nagpur airport, have told the Telangana police that they were on their way to Srinagar to meet Andrabi, who would have facilitated their onward journey to join the Islamic State (IS).The three cousins, Mohammad Abdullah Basit, Syed Omer Farooq Hussaini and Maaz Hasan Farooq, are in their 20s.They told the police that Andrabi was to have helped them cross over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for their onward journey to the Middle East.The Hyderabad police had said that the youths were motivated by IS propaganda online and were caught and counselled last year. The three were planning to join IS by crossing over to PoK en route to Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.The police have booked the trio under Sections 121 (waging or attempt to wage war against the state), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.The police said the three are related to former Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) president Syed Salahuddin, who was killed in a road accident in Hyderabad last year.Andrabi, however, denied any links with the trio, claiming an attempt is being made to tarnish her image and implicate her in fabricated cases. “My name is being dragged unnecessarily. I do not know any of the persons in Hyderabad. A concerted effort is being made to tarnish my image. I came to know about the arrest of the three youths through newspaper reports,” Andrabi told dna.Andrabi, however, admitted that she knew Syed Salahudin and had attended his programmes.She said if the state government orders a probe, her innocence would be proved. “Let them probe and it will prove that I stand nowhere in the picture,” she saidInspector general of police, Kashmir Zone, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gillani, said that they have officially got no intimation about the arrest of the threes youth and their revelations about Andrabi. “They (Hyderabad police) have not communicated to my office. I am not sure if they have communicated to the director general’s office,” he said.The arrest of the youths come in the backdrop of several incidents of IS flag-hoisting in Srinagar, particularly after Friday prayers in old city.The police had picked up several youths since the hoisting of flags last year, but investigations have not revealed any organisational structure of the outfit in the valley. A top army commander had last month said that the IS was a live threat.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Congress takes jibe at PM Modi over ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’

“It was nail-biting wait as the Prime Minister’s was on three-nation visit where he said he had breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in a third country. It was dream of former Prime Minster Manmohan Singh… he said the same, but the then opposition, the BJP, opposed the trip. We heard the speech of Prime Minister and it was interesting. But more interesting was his mention that India Afghanistan relationship will be build by a bridge in Pakistan. These are two sovereign nations. Do we need bridges built by Pakistan? We are independent nations and we are capable of dealing with each other without bridges from Pakistan,” he said, adding that incursions and cross-border terrorism still persist.

PTI
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PM Narendra Modi personally touched by Nawaz Sharif’s welcome

“Nawaz sahab’s birthday & granddaughter’s marriage made it a double celebration,” he added.

dna Correspondent

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Except Left, Opposition parties decry PM’s move BJP says it’s pleasant surprise

In Jammu and Kashmir, while both chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and former CM and opposition National Conference working president Omar Abdullah welcomed talks. But Omar called for sustainability in the talks, which should address skewed issues like Kashmir and other disputes once for all. In a statement here, Mufti who is recuperating after a health issue, , Mufti said he was delighted by Modi’s visit. “This is an evolutionary process and step in the right direction. It indicates Prime Minister’s resolve to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan,” he stated. His aides recall October 15, meeting with the PM, where Mufti had conveyed that a peace with Pakistan was linked to development and progress in his state. “This initiative, besides being a great step towards improvement of bilateral relations, will also give impetus to the concept of SAARC,” he added.Congress, however, attacked the PM, alleging his endavour was not for promoting India’s national interest or to take forward the roadmap to engage with it on tackling terror but to promote private business interests. In a hurriedly convened press conference, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma asked what assurances he got on bringing back or punishing perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, especially Zakiu Rehman Lakhvi, and on dismantling terror syndicates in Pakistan acting against India.”Questioning the intent behind his visit, Congress rejected claims of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that the Prime Minister’s move was ‘statesman-like’ and said it was “pre-arranged” by a businessman.”We are very clear that the Prime Minister is there to promote only private business interests and not India’s national interest which should be supreme.”Diplomacy is serious, it must have gravitas and predictability. It cannot be frivolous, otherwise it will implode on Shri Narendra Modi’s face,” he told reporters. “This unannounced visit cannot be termed ‘statesman-like. Diplomacy must have seriousness and gravitas,” he said.The Congress leader questioned how many Prime Ministers or heads of states make such detours to wish birthdays, asking if any Indian Prime Minister has landed in another country in this manner in the last 67 years. He also slammed Modi and BJP for adopting a “hawkish approach” during the UPA government and termed any meeting by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Pakistani counterpart as “anti-national”. The JD (U) leader K C Tiyagi said the “friendship and betrayal cannot go hand in hand” “I am stunned and shocked. At this moment, I can think of beheaded Hemraj,” said Tyagi.Describing it a “pleasant surprise”, BJP leader Tarun Vijay called it a best Christmas gift. “PM’s move will help isolate anti-India and anti-peace forces in Pakistan. It will work like a miracle. It has clearly shown, who wants peace in the region and has put onus on other side to reciprocate, ” he said. Another spokesperson Sidharath Nag Singh said the PM’s move was one of out of box diplomatic venture, as he had invited the leaders of South Asia nations to his oath taking ceremony.

dna Correspondent

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With Pak visit, Modi’s foreign policy circle is complete

Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he has been insisting on Foreign Policy and it has been on the top agenda. He has already visited almost 55 States but was criticised for not having visited Pakistan. In fact, in the earlier Indian government between 1998 to 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Pakistan twice in 1999 and 2002, once before and after the Kargil war. He was the one who constituted the process of peace building with Pakistan. So it was expected that Modi would carry forward the same legacy.So Modi’s visit to Pakistan was not spontaneous, it was a well decided and pre-determined sort of move, but was obviously kept out of media glare as there was tremendous public pressure and in a way India had to break the ice.Another important reason we have to look at is that Modi first visited Russia followed by Afghanistan and then Pakistan. In the last six months, India has been growing close to the United States of America (US) and Russia is getting closer to Pakistan so that made India look at relations with Russia from a whole new perspective. India has a very crucial role to play in Afghanistan, which is being opposed by Pakistan and to avoid this, India has to normalise it’s relations with Pakistan. This will be necessary to maintain balance on regional and international issues.In the last one year, Modi may have realised that cutting off the peace process and breaking ties with Pakistan did not yield any result. On the contrary, it ultimately increased the importance of the military in Pakistan and not of the political executive.India’s policy to keep its neighbours in confidence cannot be completed until and unless it normalises its relations with Pakistan. The ultimate reality is that there is no alternative solution for resolving Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues which have been pending for decades. Initiating the talks is the only solution to find the remedy for all pending issues with Pakistan.Since Russia and China are getting closer to Pakistan the triangle that is emerging from their relations, if developed, can be disastrous to India. So it is important for India to neutralise that aspect also. Hence Modi’s visit was well-planned in the order it took place, that is, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With this the foreign policy circle is completed, which had been left incomplete by the UPA government.One more important aspect to be considered in the Kashmir issue is that just talking to the political executive is not enough, but the army, that is, the top military generals have to be involved in it. India-Pakistan policy is not being decided and dictated by the political executive but by the army. Army plays a very crucial role in framing Indian, Pakistani, American and Israeli policy. So it is important to involve the army in talks and also to take it into confidence.The ice between the countries has been broken, a very positive development and the hope is that it will continue.-As told to dnaThe author is a foreign policy analyst<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Atal Bihari Vajpayee approach revisited, says moderate Hurriyat

“This is an evolutionary process and a step in the right direction. It indicates Prime Minister’s resolve to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan. Hope that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues,” Mufti, who is convalescing in a Delhi hospital, said in a statement.

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan
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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed

Sayeed was yesterday admitted to AIIMS here after he complained of uneasiness at his residence in Srinagar and was flown to Delhi in a state aircraft. The 79-year-old PDP leader was admitted in the private ward of the premier medical institute.

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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries.
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Keep it up: PM Narendra Modi tells ITBP squad at Kabul Embassy in Afghanistan

A Christmas Miracle: Twitter reacts to Narendra Modi’s ‘impromptu’ Pakistan visit!

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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Schools in India like factories churning out products: Madhavan Nair

He also advocated the need for exposing school students to the challenges of science and technology and fostering the scientific temper in them. “Though we have a large human resource base, we will cut a sorry figure in front of other nations if we don’t pay attention to these,” Nair said.

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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries.
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Keep it up: PM Narendra Modi tells ITBP squad at Kabul Embassy in Afghanistan

A Christmas Miracle: Twitter reacts to Narendra Modi’s ‘impromptu’ Pakistan visit!

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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PM Modi gives 500 scholarships for children of slain Afghan forces

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The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including the ongoing cooperation between the two countries and the Indian aid programme.

Narendra Modi

PTI
India will give 500 scholarships for children of martyrs of Afghan security forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today as he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other leaders and discussed a wide range of issues, including bilateral cooperation and security matters.Modi, who flew in here from Moscow in the wee hours, was received by Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and Deputy Foreign minister Hekmat Karzai.”From Russia to Afghanistan. A pre-dawn arrival in Kabul begins a day of engagements with another ‘dost’ (friend),” tweeted External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup. Modi was then accorded a ceremonial welcome after which he met Ghani who received him warmly at the Presidential palace.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: LIVE Updates: PM Modi addresses Afghan Parliament, announces 500 scholarships for children; promises everlasting friendship”A meeting between friends…President @ashrafghani warmly welcomes PM @narendramodi as they begin their meeting,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted. “The embrace of a friend, the strength of a true partner.Prez @ashrafghani welcomes PM @narendramodi in Kabul,” Swarup tweeted.The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including the ongoing cooperation between the two countries and the Indian aid programme. The two leaders also took stock of the security situation in Afghanistan where the signs of resurgence of Taliban are being witnessed.After the meeting, Modi inaugurated the new Afghan Parliament building which has been constructed by India and addressed the lawmakers of this country. “Today, I announce 500 scholarships for the children of the martyrs of Afghan security forces,” he said in his speech in Afghanistan’s Parliament.Modi said India’s scheme of 1,000 scholarships every year for Afghan students will continue. “We are pleased with the response to our special scholarship scheme in agriculture science,” he added.”Power and water will flow out of Salma Dam soon. The Stor Palace will again stand as a symbol of your priceless heritage,” he said. The Prime Minister also expressed gratitude to the Indian diplomats, officers, engineers and doctors, “who serve here with pride, to the families of our Indian martyrs”.Modi also met other Afghan leaders, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.

PM Modi wishes Atal Behari Vajpayee on birthday, to visit ailing ex-PM today

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Modi tweeted a poem written by Vajpayee in 1946 which was published in a daily owned by Madan Mohan Malviya.

PM Narendra Modi

AFP photo
PM Narendra Modi, who is currently on a visit to Afghanistan, wished former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday and said he would visit the ailing Vajpayee in the evening after returning from Kabul.
“Be it as a party leader, Parliamentarian, Minister, Prime Minister, Atal ji distinguished himself in every role. This is his speciality,” Modi said on Twitter.Modi tweeted a poem written by Vajpayee in 1946 which was published in a daily owned by Madan Mohan Malviya.Modi also wished Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.”I wish the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and pray that he remains in wonderful health.”Related Read: PM Modi arrives in Kabul, to inaugurate Afghanistan’s Parliament building built by India

Decoding the ISIS threat to India

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It is safe to say that the threat posed by ISIS today is real and requires due attention, as almost all nations in the world stand vulnerable to it.

ISIS militant
File Photo

During the annual meet of the Director General of Police and Inspectors General of Police in the arid yet spectacular Runn of Kutch in Gujarat, the Indian government has once again red flagged the growing global concerns on ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, Daesh etc).Home Minister Rajnath Singh highlighted the fact that influence of ISIS has witnessed an increase in India’s neighbourhood, particularly Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Prior to this, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that India would be willing to participate in anti-ISIS operations if the same were to be conducted under the flag of the United Nations. While India’s External Affairs ministry distanced this stance by Parrikar, saying the minister was only talking about a hypothetical situation, the fact that only a day later US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a gateway UN resolution on talks to end the Syrian crisis was perhaps not so hypothetical, but a months long process by Washington and Moscow that India must have keenly followed via diplomatic channels (a detailed look at India’s stance on Syrian crisis is readable here). <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is safe to say that the threat posed by ISIS today is real and requires due attention as almost all nations in the world stand vulnerable to it. The reasons behind the ‘new’ nature of how ISIS works are witnessed in the manner with which the terror organization functions. As ISIS declared large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria as part of its ‘Islamic State’ caliphate, the group has managed to create some of the most organized jihadist structures ever seen. How they have done this is a mixture of hierarchical discipline, experience of former Saddam regime Ba’athist generals in ISIS, organized economic traits such as black marketeering of oil, earning from local taxations, extortions from kidnappings and so on. The entire financial operation of ISIS today earns it an estimate $1.2 billion per year, providing teeth like no other terror organization has perhaps experienced before (UN is now moving to halt ISIS financial streams). Even though ISIS has managed to attract many foreign fighters, mainly from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Europe, there have not been too many known cases as of yet of Indian citizens travelling to fight in Iraq or Syria. While the case of the youths from Kalyan, which included Areeb Majeed who returned and surrendered, remains the most high profile and significant such case, it is also important to note here that very little data is available whether any Indians already residing in various countries in West Asia have joined ISIS. India’s measures to both understand and counter ISIS both in influence and practicality are still in the blueprint phase. This is not unexpected, as gauging and quantifying the ISIS threat is not easy and has many layers that require different counter-measures. For India, however, ISIS’s biggest threat comes through its effective and planned use of media propaganda through the Internet. For example, even though the case is still under investigation, the recent arrest of an Indian Oil employee in Jaipur for ‘Islamic State links’ claimed that the man was in possession ISIS’s glossy, well-produced propaganda magazine Dabiq. Prior to this, one of the most pro-ISIS Twitter accounts over the past few years, known as @ShamiWitness, was found to be run by Indian engineer named Mehdi Masoor Biswas in Bengaluru. Other cases where Indian citizens were stopped from travelling over their intentions to join ISIS had history of online communications with ISIS sympathisers and recruiters. This is where India needs to increase its vigilance urgently. The case of Biswas being behind the most popular pro-ISIS propaganda handle was not picked up by Indian intelligence agencies, but Channel 4 of Britain did the unmasking of the case. In another case that followed much later, one Salman Mohiuddin was arrested from Hyderabad over his plans to travel to Turkey and eventually make his way to fight for ISIS in Syria. The Americans were also observing for his online pro-ISIS activities, but Mohiuddin, a middle-class educated engineer seemed to have escaped the eyes of Indian intelligence. ISIS’s strategy of effectively using online propaganda is in today’s world as dangerous as traditional geographical conflict involving states and borders. In fact, the ability to rally support purely based on the idea of a caliphate (not necessarily so much so on sharia or jihad) around the world to some successful effect is worrisome. While India is, by all means, not at any significant direct threat from ISIS, its neighbourhood is providing two case studies of effects worth noting. Afghanistan: A country with vast pockets of governance vacuums with factionalism between tribes, the Taliban, the state, Kabul is facing the first signs of ISIS footprints. Pictures and videos of alleged ISIS training camps in Afghanistan have surfaced in the recent past, and recent reports also suggest pro-ISIS radio stations have come up in the country’s eastern Nangarhar province. The said station broadcasts in Pashto under the ‘Voice of the Caliphate’ badge. Kabul has said it is looking to trace the station’s roots and shut it down. The political state of Afghanistan is bound by a fragile government, built on a compromise and a military that is being kept afloat by the US in every sense of the word. Bangladesh: ISIS footprints in Bangladesh have surfaced in a completely different manner than seen in any other place. The targeting murders of secular bloggers in the country over the recent past have come with an accompanying ISIS badge. Blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in front of his wife in Dhaka earlier this year, was murdered allegedly by an Islamist group called Ansarullah Bangla Team to avenge America’s war on ISIS. Other cases like those of Roy have taken place in the country against secularists, and again often accompanied by ISIS justification. Whether this justification reflects directly to ISIS hierarchy in Iraq and Syria is still up for debate. Keeping the two above cases in mind, direct ISIS threat to India is an unlikely outcome from its borders with Pakistan, but slightly more likely from Bangladesh albeit in limited capacity. On Pakistan, the country’s own furnished terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network may not allow a rise of ISIS in the region. However, complacency here should also not be preempted. Jihadi fighters often work like any other careerists, they move from faction to faction looking for better positions in hierarchy, more money and more influence. In such moves often ideology is not fundamental, and examples of this can be seen in both ISIS held territories and in Afghanistan. For India, the immediate jihadi threat remains from its neighbourhood, specifically Pakistan and its state-sponsored terror groups. However, ISIS is a rising, untraditional Islamist force that has taken modern technological routes to propagate its influence much faster than states have been able to install counter-measures. For India at the moment, the real challenge remains in trying to be one step ahead in intelligence. Much of ISIS threat to India can be contained with a robust, effective chain of intelligence gathering and sharing where it does need to learn from other foreign agencies about prevailing threats posed by ISIS within its own borders.

What’s al Qaeda, ask kin of AQIS leaders

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The rebellion by Sanaul began in late teens when he became obsessed with the idea of studying in Medina university in Saudi Arabia.

Tucked away in the lanes and alleys of mohalla Deepa Sarai — one of the 32 puras and 52 sarais which make Sambhal constituency of Moradabad district in Uttar Pradesh — the Haque family has lived all their life devoid of any television, radio or newspaper in the ancestral house. News from current affairs, politics, entertainment or crime is hard to come by, unless it’s the neighbouing buffalo which goes missing or family feuds come to the fore.Naturally, when Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of core al Qaeda, last September announced the formation of a new division of the global terror franchise with focus on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar to be led by Maulana Asim Umar or when the Delhi Special cell claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough by busting the Indian module of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) the Haque family was alien to these news. This was until Wednesday when security agencies confirmed that Asim Umar was a native of Deepa Sarai and a member of the Haque family.”He left 20 years ago and until a couple of years ago when the police came to inquire about him, we had no idea about his whereabouts or what he does,” Irfan ul Haque, the 80-year-old father of elsuive head of AQIS Asim Umar alias Sanaul Haque said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The rebellion by Sanaul began in late teens when he became obsessed with the idea of studying in Medina university in Saudi Arabia. The family which has lived all its life in Sambhal and lived off the goodwill and farmland of their ancestors were not financially stable to send their son abroad. The two elder brothers were busy in completing studies to be an engineer and a teacher respectively, two more daughters were to be married. “There were so many responsibilities on our head. We told him we have no money but to wait till his sisters are married. He didn’t worry about any of this.”There were small clashes in the family as the older uncle and relatives stepped in to make Sanaul give up his plan and even slapped him. But no one knew he would leave the house. A devoted student of religious studies, Sanaul was a hafiz and knew Quran by heart. He is later understood to have moved to Deoband in west UP and later to a seminary in Karachi.It’s in Pakistan that Sanaul is believed to have come in touch with the jihadist network first with Harkat ul Mujaheedin and later with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an ally of al Qaeda. The rise of this UP native through the regimental hierarchy to the top echeleons of al Qaeda annointed by Zawahiri himself is hard to be believed by the residents of Sambhal.”Yeh kya cheez hai al Qaeda?,” asks the frail and old Ruqaiyya, Sanaul’s mother. Words like jihad and terrorism have no space in this house; the family spends its time in offering namaz five times, reciting the Quran and learning good deeds. But sitting somewhere in the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan region, as the head of AQIS, Sanaul, has demanded the Muslim youth in India to rise against their government and wage a jihad, he has chided them in a video asking, ‘Why there is no storm in your ocean,’ reference to the jihad fought from Afghanistan to Iraq but not in the subcontinent.Both Ruqaiyya and Irfan, while claiming they had village magistrates, freedom fighters in their family, are of their lineage. They say they have nothing to do with Sanaul or his activities. “We live here in Hindustan and we will die here. Agar usne Hindustan ke saath bagawat ki hai to use saja honi chahiye (if he has betrayed the country, he should be punished).”A few metres away in another lane, Afiya Faradh, wife of Mohammad Asif an alleged deputy of Asim Umar who was arrested by the Special Cell on Wednesday allegedly on the charges of heading and recruiting for the Indian wing of AQIS, can’t believe her husband can be a leader of terror group. “He had a kidney infection a few years back and can’t even lift heavy weights. How is it possible that he was given training by al Qaeda. He doesn’t even speak Arabic.”Officials from the special cell have claimed that Mohd Asif met Asim Umar alias Sanaul in Waziristan where he received intense Deeni training as he was to act as the principal ideologue of AQIS upon his return. Faradh says Asif had been to Saudi Arabia in June 2013 and returned back in October 2014 and the whole time her husband called back home to check on the family. Since Asif is back the family is in debt — of Rs 80,000 and even had to drop older son from english medium school as they can’t afford fees.Officials have also said that Asif came in touch with another Deepa Sarai native Assad alias Qasim a member of AQIS through social media. “We don’t have computer or internet. He has studied till class eight. How will he use then?,” asks Faradh. “We just wanted to earn enough money to complete the construction of our own house. He just wanted to set up a shop here selling old electronics and mobiles. The police caught him when he went to buy these in Delhi.”

New beginning made by India and Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.To a question in Rajya Sabha on whether India has raised the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in international fora, Swaraj replied in affirmative and said government’s principled and consistent position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has been that the entire state is an integral part of India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A new beginning has been made in the form of the agreement of the two countries on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues between them through peaceful means,” she said.During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue.Replying to a query, she said the Permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN has recently written three letters to the President of the UN Security Council which referred to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and asked the top decision making body to take note of situation along the Line of Control.To a separate question, Swaraj, who is also Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, said it was aware of an Amnesty International report which said that 279 Indian migrant workers died in Qatar in 2014.”The report also states that these figures are of migrant workers deaths from all causes, including fatalities, not directly related to labour conditions,” she said.

India, Pakistan to engage in ‘comprehensive dialogue’: Sushma Swaraj

During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue.

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday. To a question in Rajya Sabha on whether India has raised the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in international fora, Swaraj replied in affirmative and said government’s principled and consistent position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has been that the entire state is an integral part of India. “A new beginning has been made in the form of the agreement of the two countries on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues between them through peaceful means,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue. Replying to a query, she said the Permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN has recently written three letters to the President of the UN Security Council which referred to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and asked the top decision-making body to take note of situation along the Line of Control.To a separate question, Swaraj, who is also Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, said it was aware of an Amnesty International report which said that 279 Indian migrant workers died in Qatar in 2014. “The report also states that these figures are of migrant workers deaths from all causes, including fatalities, not directly related to labour conditions,” she said.

No India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan: US

Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force.

US flag

The Obama Administration today ruled out any India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan as top American lawmakers expressed serious concerns over the growing Pakistani nuclear arsenal. “We are not negotiating a 123 agreement with Pakistan,” Richard G Olson, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We had a very candid discussion with Pak about some of the concerns that we have including about short range nuclear weapons. Pakistan is prepared to have discussions with us,” he said in response to a question.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force. “As with all nuclear-capable states, we have urged Pakistan to restrain its nuclear weapons and missile development and stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” he said. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in his remarks alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is on a track to be the third largest. “It’s addition of small tactical nuclear weapons in recent years is even more troubling. This is a country which spends a fifth of its budget on the military, from long-range missiles to F-16s, but under 2.5 per cent on education,” he said. “Through all of the double-dealing, US policy has essentially stood still. Security assistance, cash, and arms has continued to flow under the occasional temporary delays,” Royce said. “Indeed, despite some Department of Defence assistance for Pakistan being held because of inadequate efforts against the Haqqani network, the State Department is currently seeking more arms for Islamabad,” Royce said. “We have a very stringent end use monitoring requirements with security co-operation with high tech. The results have been satisfactory. The end use monitoring systems have been effective,” Olson said in response to a question.

Modi govt bereft of roadmap and strategy on how to deal with Pakistan: Congress

Anand Sharma

Congress on Monday sought to pick holes in the government’s Pakistan policy, wondering why the Narendra Modi dispensation was accommodating Islamabad so much and agreeing to move at a pace convenient to it.Reacting to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement in Parliament on her recent visit to Pakistan, senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma said it indicated that the Modi dispensation was “bereft of a roadmap and a strategy on how to deal with Pakistan”. “Why is India accommodating Pakistan so much? Why are we agreeing to move at a pace comfortable to them?” he asked while speaking to reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that it was a matter of concern that the government was dealing with Islamabad in “fits and starts”. Claiming that India seems to have accepted a position that it opposed in August, Sharma said there is a need to get some assurances from Islamabad. He faulted that there was no mention of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and the expeditious trial of the Mumbai terror attacks accused, and also took exception to the statement making no reference about either cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan or the three attacks on the Indian Mission there.While dealing with Pakistan, he said, India should also move at a pace comfortable to Afghanistan. “At the same time, Congress has always said that India and Pakistan must engage with each other. Dialogue is the only way forward,” he said. Rejecting any “flip flop”, Swaraj on Monday asserted that the decision to re-start talks with Pakistan was based on “trust” and said the intent would be to have an “uninterrupted” dialogue process despite provocations by the “saboteurs”, an apparent reference to terror groups.

Swaraj briefs Rajya Sabha on Pak visit amid ruckus; says Indo-Pak talks to mark beginning of peace, development

Indo-Pak talks to mark beginning of peace, development – Representational Image
File Photo

India on Monday expressed hope that re-engaging with Pakistan under a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ will mark beginning of peace and development as continued estrangement was a hurdle to peace and prosperity in the region.Making a suo motu statement in Rajya Sabha on her last week’s visit of Islamabad and recent developments relating to ties between the two neighbours, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the environment conference in Paris “again re-engaging with each other.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The underlying sentiment, on which I am confident that this House concurs fully, was that the continued estrangement of two neighbours was a hurdle to the realisation of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region,” she said. At the same time, there was also a “sharp awareness” that principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.She read out her statement as members of several opposition parties were in the Well vociferously raising slogans on several issues.Swaraj said following her visit to Islamabad a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ with Pakistan will begin with the objective of “removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern.” Also, it aims at “exploring and establishing cooperative ties,” she said, adding initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues would contribute to welfare of the entire region and promote better understanding and mutual trust.”The new Dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region,” she said.Following Modi-Sharif meeting on November 30, it was decided that the two sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. “The National Security Advisors of the two countries accordingly met on December 6” in Bangkok, Swaraj said. The two NSAs focussed on “peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control and Jammu and Kashmir – the state which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC,” she said, adding her visit to Islamabad came on the back of these “constructive talks”.Swaraj said in her talks with Sharif and Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad, which where held in the backdrop of this “positive development”, the “two sides condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace.””There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attacks trial. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion,” she said.Following this, it was decided to begin a dialogue with Pakistan under the new title ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ and foreign secretaries have been tasked to work out modalities and schedule of the meetings under the new dialogue, she said. “I would like to assure the House that this Government accords the highest priority to the country’s security. In order to meet any threats in this regard, the government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels,” she said.The Government, she said, was “committed to building an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia, initiated by the Government on the day of assuming office itself, are taken further forward.” Swaraj said the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 8-9 in Islamabad was devoted to the themes of security and connectivity. “The Conference provided to us an important opportunity on a vital regional platform for political consultations and regional cooperation to reiterate India’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development and our faith in its future,” she said.The process, she said, brought together friends of Afghanistan from its immediate and extended neighbourhood as well as supporting countries and international organisations to promote political consultations and regional cooperation for a united, democratic, independent, strong and prosperous Afghanistan. “My visit to Islamabad underlined India’s strong commitment to that cause,” she said, adding New Delhi at the conference sought full and direct transit for Afghanistan through Pakistan.”In the context of relations between India and Pakistan, I advocated working together for peace and development in South Asia, with self-confidence and maturity,” she said.Swaraj said the beginning of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue was announced in a joint statement following her meeting with Aziz in Islamabad on December 9. “This decision of the Government follows the recent developments and engagements between the two countries, especially the constructive discussions between their National Security Advisors in Bangkok on December 6, 2015.”The meeting of the NSAs resulted from discussion between our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Paris on November 30,” she said.The Minister said Prime Minister of Pakistan was invited in May 2014, among other SAARC leaders, by Modi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Government. “This was a demonstration of our commitment to good neighbourly ties with Pakistan, in line with our vision for peace and development in the region through deeper regional integration in South Asia,” she said.In their first meeting, India’s views on ties between the countries and its concerns on terrorism and violence were conveyed to the Pakistani authorities. The meetings as decided between the two sides in May 2014, however, did not take place, she said. The two leaders met in Ufa, Russia in July this year and agreed that the two countries had collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development, Swaraj said. “They condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menance from South Asia.”At the Ufa meeting, they decided on a meeting of the NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. They also stated that the two nations were prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. “During the Ufa meeting, PM was extended an invitation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Islambad for attending the SAARC Summit in 2016,” she said, without saying if Modi will visit Pakistan.Swaraj said the expected meetings of NSA and Directors General of Military Operations, as envisaged at Ufa, did not materialise “for the reaons that we all know.” Against this backdrop, when Modi and Sharif met during the COP-21 Summit in Paris on November 30, “there was a discussion on how the two countries could build an atmosphere conducive for again re-engaging with each other,” she said.

India ranks 6th in the list of countries suffering most terrorist attacks

Global Terrorism Index by Institute for Economics & Peace says the number of lives lost to terrorism increased by 80%

Amidst the golbal terrorism chaos, Institute for Economics & Peace has released it’s Global Terrorism Index. Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria are the worst hit countries by terrorism. In the year 2014, these countries suffered the largest number terrorist attacks.According to the index, in the year 2014, the number of lives lost to terrorism increased by 80% and these five countries were victims of total 78% of these attacks.India ranks sixth in the index of countries which faced most terrorist attacks with a score of 7.747.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2014 total 32,658 lives were lost to terrorism compared to 18,111 loves lost in 2013. According to the Golbal Terrorism Index, this represents the largest yearly increase deaths ever recoreded.(Source – Global Terrorism Index 2015, Institute for Economics & Peace)ISIL and Boko Haram are jointly responsible for 51% of terrorist attacks. Boko Haram though has surpassed ISIL as world’s deadliest terrorist group by causing 6644 deaths as compared to ISIL’s 6073.The economic cost of terrorism reached its highest ever level in 2014 at US$52.9 billion, an increase of 61% from the previous year’s total of US$32.9 billion, and a tenfold increase since 2000, reports prnweswire.com

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar given rare insight into US Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

The two leaders, accompanied by senior defence officials and diplomats from both sides, spent nearly four hours on the ship itself, wherein Parrikar was given a detailed first-hand experience of the top aircraft carrier which in recent years has played a key role in support of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reuters
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has been given a rare insight into USS Dwight D Eisenhower, one of America’s top nuclear powered aircraft carriers, signalling the emerging close Indo-US defence ties.The tour of the sophisticated aircraft carrier– a rare for a foreign leader — was given by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter himself.The two leaders, accompanied by senior defence officials and diplomats from both sides, spent nearly four hours on the ship itself, wherein Parrikar was given a detailed first-hand experience of the top aircraft carrier which in recent years has played a key role in support of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar described the experience as “fantastic”.”We could experience the technology and the speed at which things can be done,” said Parrikar after spending time with Carter on the deck watching the takeoff and landing of fighter jets.He also visited the other parts of the USS Eisenhower, including the control room on the top floor and hanger at the bottom of the ship.When Parrikar arrived at the Andrews Air Force base aboard Defence One the personal plane of the Defence Secretary — yesterday, Carter gave a big hug to his guest.
(Defense Manohar Parrikar (L) and US Defense Secretary Ash Carter (C) inspect a jet engine in the hanger deck of the USS Eisenhower off the coast of Virginia, in the Atlantic Ocean.)Before seeing him off, the two leaders had spent nearly nine hours together yesterday.At a time, when Pentagon is experiencing hectic activities in view of the crisis in the Middle East, a senior defence official described Carter spending so much time with Parrikar as “very significant” and reflective of how much importance US attaches to its defence relationship with India.In an interaction with a group of Indian media later, Parrikar refrained from giving an insight into what the two leaders talked throughout the day.”I will put it in one line, when you gel well, you do not remember what you discussed,” the Minister said as he dismissed the question.”The most important is trust building, which I think is happening for the first time after Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi had good discussions with the (US) President (Barack Obama),” he said.

Sushma Swaraj to explain government turn around on Pakistan in Parliament

Officials here have refused to disclose the specifics of what was discussed in either Bangkok or at Islamabad – and also why the Modi government retracted from a hard posture. Their single reply is that Swaraj will explain everything in Parliament.

Parliamentarians and diplomats are awaiting external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to explain, the rationale behind the sudden turn of government stand vis-a-vis resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. Though, she has returned to Delhi, she will be making a statement in the Lok Sabha on Friday. Officials here have refused to disclose the specifics of what was discussed in either Bangkok or at Islamabad – and also why the Modi government retracted from a hard posture. Their single reply is that Swaraj will explain everything in Parliament. Amidst rucks created by Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha, she was seen confabulating with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, possibly briefing him about her visit. Sources here said, Swaraj has expressed willingness to take queries in the House after her statement, though that is not the practice in the Lok Sabha.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after telling Lok Sabha, that government was invoking the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to punish Pakistan for war crimes, the latest overtures and secret meeting between the two National Security Advisors (NSAs) in Bangkok has left many puzzled. India also for the first time dropped even oblique references to Pakistan-sourced terrorism in Afghanistan in a speech by Swaraj at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. Earlier since 2011, Indian delegates representing the conference, had been consistently blaming Pakistan for the instability and violence in Afghanistan .Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar believes that the outcome underscores that Pakistan has got exactly what it wanted, but many experts point out, India has achieved a milestone, by dropping word “composite” from the dialogue process. What India has agreed is a “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” that does not link progress of issues with each other. Prof. Sajad Padder, scholar at the Heidelberg on South Asian and Comparative Politics, recalls that the roots of India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue Process dated back to May 1997, when at Male, the capital of Maldives, the then Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and his Pakistani counter part Nawaz Sharif mooted the idea of a structured dialogue or the Composite Dialogue Process. Based on a compromise approach, the peace process enabled the two countries to discuss all issues including Jammu and Kashmir, simultaneously. “It was a compromise in the sense that while India agreed to include Kashmir in the agenda for talks, Pakistan relented to include terrorism, the two major irritants in bilateral relations,” he said. The stage for both the NSA and the foreign minister’s meetings was set, when the Prime Ministers of the two nations had met on November 30 in Paris. Further, Pakistan appointing a recently retired military man Lieutenant General Naseer Khan Janjua, as national security advisor replacing Sartaj Aziz did also address to India’s long standing issue of not having any credible interlocutor in Islamabad who can exercise effective control. Senior Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) Sushant Sareen, who has been batting for opening a channel with Pakistan Army like Americans and other Western nations, rather depending on civilian government or civil society, says the latest arrangement could help to convey concerns directly to those who matter in Islamabad power structure

US wants India, Pakistan discussions to continue

“It is for India and Pakistan to bilaterally work out the issues between them and to continue to have a dialogue and to discuss and to reach diplomatic solutions to some of the thorny problems which the two countries still face,” Kirby said in response to a question.

Reuters
The US has said it was “encouraged” to see India and Pakistan revive the stalled dialogue process and wants the two countries to continue the discussions.”We want to see the discussions continue, so we’re encouraged by the recent dialogue between India and Pakistan.It’s exactly what we’ve been strongly trying to encourage,” John Kirby, State Department Spokesman said yesterday.He, however, said it was for the two neighbouring countries to decide on the pace and scope for such talks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is for India and Pakistan to bilaterally work out the issues between them and to continue to have a dialogue and to discuss and to reach diplomatic solutions to some of the thorny problems which the two countries still face,” Kirby said in response to a question.”We would leave it to those countries to determine who’s going to have what meeting and who’s going to sit in on what discussion,” he said.When asked about the recent visit of the Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to the US, Kirby said there was nothing new in it.”They’ve been coming to visit counterparts here in the United States for quite some time, as do our military leaders go to Islamabad. Our bilateral relations with Pakistan are important,” Kirby said.”I know they’re going to continue to be important, not just with the military but with the elected officials as well,” he said.External Affairs Minister Swaraj arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Tuesday to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan.Swaraj’s visit here came days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.A joint statement issued after the meeting of NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris.

India, Pakistan to resume dialogue; Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen among issues to be discussed

Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue. Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial, something that India has been pressing for long.

Reuters
Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue. Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial, something that India has been pressing for long.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries. The joint statement came after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Sharif and later his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here on the concluding day of her two-day visit for attending a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.In another significant step towards betterment of ties, Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit likely to be held in September. The “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” will also include Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Baragge/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People-to-People exchanges and religious tourism.The joint statement condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. Swaraj and Aziz noted the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. At a joint press conference with Aziz, Swaraj said that she had a “very good meeting” with both Aziz and Sharif. She said we have decided to start afresh the dialogue, which was going on under the composite dialogue earlier and then in the name of resumed dialogue, and call it Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD).”The CBD will have all the pillars of Composite Dialogue and some additional components. How this dialogue process should be taken forward will be decided in a meeting between our Foreign Secretaries, who will work on scheduling and modalities of the process.”Scheduling means which all pillars, when, what modalities and who all Secretaries will hold it,” Swaraj said adding “It will have additional components apart from those in the composite dialogue.”Earlier, speaking at the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan, Swaraj extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries displayed “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.”Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.”For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements,” she said.Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan and envoy to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, said terrorism in that country has grown in both intensity and scope in the last few months and that India was ready to work with the Afghan government to strengthen its defensive capability.Swaraj will make a detail statement on her Pakistan visit in Parliament tomorrow. Asked what was the “big change” for India to commence a comprehensive bilateral dialogue, sources said the NSA-level meeting to address terror-related issues went off constructively and that was a big change.They said Pakistani side showed that they understand India’s concerns over the Mumbai attacks trial on which the Pakistani side assured India of the steps to expedite the judicial process. On the Swaraj-Aziz meeting, the sources said some amount of time was spent on the Mumbai trial case.On renaming the dialogue process, they said, “the sense was that we could re-engage but there are other issues like fishermen and religious tourism which needed to be discussed…” The sources said the dialogue process is not disowning the past but taking forward the broad-based dialogue. “We wanted more than the existing subset in the composite dialogue that is why it was renamed,” the sources said.They said the Bangkok meeting was a good meeting and the issues were complex but were not dealt in an accusatory manner but in a constructive way. Swaraj’s meeting with Sharif was multi-lingual where Urdu, Hindustani and Punjabi were used for the conversation.She also met Sharif’s family which included four generations of his family — his mother, wife, daughter and granddaughter. The effort was to unblock ties and move forward, the sources said.In her meeting with Aziz, Swaraj discussed a number of issues with the Pakistani side showing an understanding to India’s concerns over terror. Asked about the progress in ties, the sources said this goes back to Paris where the two Prime Ministers desired to find a way to go forward and India saw the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference as a good opportunity and to convince Pakistan to have NSAs meeting before the External Affairs Minister comes here.

India, Pakistan to resume dialogue; Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen among issues to be discussed

The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries

Reuters
Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue. Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial, something that India has been pressing for long.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries. The joint statement came after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Sharif and later his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here on the concluding day of her two-day visit for attending a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.In another significant step towards betterment of ties, Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit likely to be held in September. The “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” will also include Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Baragge/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People-to-People exchanges and religious tourism.The joint statement condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. Swaraj and Aziz noted the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. At a joint press conference with Aziz, Swaraj said that she had a “very good meeting” with both Aziz and Sharif. She said we have decided to start afresh the dialogue, which was going on under the composite dialogue earlier and then in the name of resumed dialogue, and call it Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD).”The CBD will have all the pillars of Composite Dialogue and some additional components. How this dialogue process should be taken forward will be decided in a meeting between our Foreign Secretaries, who will work on scheduling and modalities of the process.”Scheduling means which all pillars, when, what modalities and who all Secretaries will hold it,” Swaraj said adding “It will have additional components apart from those in the composite dialogue.”Earlier, speaking at the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan, Swaraj extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries displayed “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.”Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.”For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements,” she said.Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan and envoy to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, said terrorism in that country has grown in both intensity and scope in the last few months and that India was ready to work with the Afghan government to strengthen its defensive capability.Swaraj will make a detail statement on her Pakistan visit in Parliament tomorrow. Asked what was the “big change” for India to commence a comprehensive bilateral dialogue, sources said the NSA-level meeting to address terror-related issues went off constructively and that was a big change.They said Pakistani side showed that they understand India’s concerns over the Mumbai attacks trial on which the Pakistani side assured India of the steps to expedite the judicial process. On the Swaraj-Aziz meeting, the sources said some amount of time was spent on the Mumbai trial case.On renaming the dialogue process, they said, “the sense was that we could re-engage but there are other issues like fishermen and religious tourism which needed to be discussed…” The sources said the dialogue process is not disowning the past but taking forward the broad-based dialogue. “We wanted more than the existing subset in the composite dialogue that is why it was renamed,” the sources said.They said the Bangkok meeting was a good meeting and the issues were complex but were not dealt in an accusatory manner but in a constructive way. Swaraj’s meeting with Sharif was multi-lingual where Urdu, Hindustani and Punjabi were used for the conversation.She also met Sharif’s family which included four generations of his family — his mother, wife, daughter and granddaughter. The effort was to unblock ties and move forward, the sources said.In her meeting with Aziz, Swaraj discussed a number of issues with the Pakistani side showing an understanding to India’s concerns over terror. Asked about the progress in ties, the sources said this goes back to Paris where the two Prime Ministers desired to find a way to go forward and India saw the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference as a good opportunity and to convince Pakistan to have NSAs meeting before the External Affairs Minister comes here.

Watch: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Swaraj also called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here and discussed connectivity, terror threats to the war-torn country and the peace and reconciliation process there.

Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and India’s envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan, also met Ghani

Photo courtesy: MEA Twitter handle
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. Swaraj also called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here and discussed connectivity, terror threats to the war-torn country and the peace and reconciliation process there.Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and India’s envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan, met Ghani for nearly 30 minutes on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference, during which they also talked about India’s willingness to join Afghanistan-Pakistan trade and transit agreement. The two sides also noted the forward movement on long-pending TAPI gas pipeline, ground-breaking ceremony of which will take place in Turkmenistan next week which will be attended by Ghani and India will be represented by Vice President Hamid Ansari. “A Strong Bond of Friendship. EAM Sushma Swaraj calls on President Ashraf Ghani for a bilateral on sidelines of HoA,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders. “They reviewed bilateral ties including transit.Discussed terror threat in Afghanistan and status of peace and reconciliation process,” he said. The two leaders also discussed developmental projects assisted by India in Afghanistan. Earlier, while speaking at the Heart of Asia Conference, Swaraj expressed India’s willingness to help Afghanistan in shoring up its defence capability. She also said India’s vision of the Istanbul process is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub.Swaraj also held bilateral meetings with Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif, whom she personally thanked for the release of Indian crew members of a ship. “Strengthening a Continuing Development Partnership: EAM Sushma Swaraj meets with Kyrgyzstan FM Erlan Abdyldaev,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two ministers at the meeting.Swaraj and Abdyldaev discussed key bilateral issues and ways to enhance cooperation. The Kyrgystan minister asserted that “India’s presence in Central Asia is much needed and appreciated,” Swarup said. During her meeting with Zarif, Swaraj thanked him for the release of Indians, to which the Iranian minister also hoped that India will reciprocate by releasing Iranian sailors lodged in Indian jails. Swaraj assured Zarif that Indian officials will examine and expedite the process. According to reports, there are about 11 Iranians lodged in the jails in the country. The two sides also discussed operationalisation of the MoU signed for the Chabahar port which was inked earlier between the two countries. Zarif also talked about the joint action plan after the announcement of lifting of sanctions by some countries against Iran.

Govt under pressure to have ‘pointless’ talks with Pakistan: Shiv Sena

“Terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are waging a war on India, is the government blind to that?” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.

Maintaining their stand against Pakistan, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said that it was pointless to have talks with the hostile neighbour and alleged that the government was under duress to hold dialogues. “Have been saying from the start that it’s pointless to have talks with Pakistan is pointless. It seems as if the government is under pressure and is being forced to talk to them. Terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are waging a war on India, is the government blind to that?” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. The Shiv Sena had earlier condemned the India-Pakistan National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks happened in Bangkok, saying that having talks with the hostile neighbour was futile as their main goal was to destroy India by sponsoring terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is in Islamabad attending the Heart of Asia Summit, called for a mature relationship between India and Pakistan in their trade relation and said that the world is rooting for change between the relations of the two hostile neighbours.Post the opening address at the Summit, Swaraj met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and is slated to hold bilateral talks with him and his adviser Sartaj Aziz later in the day.

Heart of Asia conference: Sushma Swaraj ‘extends a hand to Pakistan’, says we must display maturity in doing business

India on Wednesday extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries display “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.

India on Wednesday extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries display “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.Speaking at ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference, that began with an aim to intensify efforts for regional linkages and to promote peace and stability in war-torn Afghanistan, Swaraj said, “India’s vision for Afghanistan is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes with the country as an important hub.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She further added, “Nothing can benefit Afghanistan more than full and direct overland access to India’s markets. India is willing to receive Afghan trucks at Attari. We are willing to join Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade & Transit Agreement.”Further stating that let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well, she added, “It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.””For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements,” she said.Swaraj also said that it is our collective duty to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation.Earlier, Sharif, in his inaugural address, said, “Afghanistan is the heart of Asia and if there is trouble in the heart, the entire region will be turbulent.”He said peace was vital for development and extended full support for the elected government of Afghanistan, saying it was the “only representative of the Afghan people”.Sharif also called for a collective approach to combat the menace of extremism and terrorism.”Working for the achievement of a peaceful neighbourhood is a cardinal principal of Pakistan’s foreign policy. We firmly believe that peace is vital for development, and development is vital for durable peace.” he said.The Pakistan Prime Minister welcomed the delegates and promised full support to all efforts for increasing peace in the region with the emphasis on stabilising Afghanistan.

‘I have come with a message to move forward’, says EAM Sushma Swaraj in Islamabad

“I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” said Swaraj.

Image Courtesy: MEA

Setting the tone for their talks on Wednesday, foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on Tuesday expressed optimism and desire to improve ties which have witnessed strain in the past few months, maintaining the effort will be to carry forward the engagement.After arriving on a two-day visit, primarily to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” said Swaraj.Swaraj will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz and call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the conference on Wednesday.Aziz said he was expecting a “good and positive” outcome from the meeting and both sides should take forward the engagement to improve ties.Swaraj’s visit comes after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok on Sunday, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.Later in the night Sushma Swaraj met her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz during a banquet hosted by him for the heads of delegates participating in a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.Aziz greeted Swaraj warmly and both engaged in a brief conversation. Aziz later sat next to Swaraj.The fifth ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, an annual gathering of Asian and other countries, is aimed at enhancing cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the region.The high-ranking delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations are participating in the two-day conference.

India to host next ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in 2016

External Affairs Minister is currently in Islamabad attending the Heart of Asia 2015.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

AFP photo
India will host the next multilateral meeting on Afghanistan in the last quarter of 2016.Talking to reporters after the meeting of the senior officials of the participating nations at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, Indian delegates said that the gathering was working on a declaration which will call for denial of sanctuaries and safe havens to terrorists in the region.The senior officials’ meeting was part of the ‘Istanbul Process’ aimed at enhancing cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The significant development is that India is going to host the next Heart of Asia conference in the last quarter of 2016,” officials said.Giving details of the ongoing deliberations, the officials said the aim is coordinate the efforts of the countries in the region to support Afghanistan in achieving peace and stability.

Indo-Pak Talks: Top Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir’s account hacked, makes bizarre comments about Sushma

He wrote on Twitter: “I have been receiving a lot of twitter password reset requests recently. Someone trying to hack me.I have changed my twitter email and recovered the password. Thank God.”

File Photo

On Tuesday, Hamid Mir, one of the top Pakistan’s journalist’s Twitter account seemed to have been hacked as whoever was handling his account made some rather mischievous comments. Mir wrote on Twitter that he had been receiving lots of password resets.He wrote on Twitter: “I have been receiving a lot of twitter password reset requests recently. Someone trying to hack me.I have changed my twitter email and recovered the password. Thank God.”The account before it was allegedly recovered made a host of bizarre comments including one which suggested India’s External Affair Minister was having an affair with PM Nawaz Sharif. His tweet read: “According to my sources, sushma swaraj is having secret relationship with PM Nawaz Sharif and she is here to have some fun :).”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
There were other bizarre tweets as well, along with various emails from Hamid Mir’s personal account.This comes at a time when Sushma Swaraj is leading a delegation to improve bilateral ties with the country. She was quoted saying: “I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” said Swaraj, who is in Islamabad to lead the Indian delegation at the ‘Heart of Asia’ 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan on Wednesday.She refused to share what she would be discussing with Pakistani leaders, but said, “What will happen during the talks will be known after meeting.””Heart of Asia conference is very important for India because it is associated with Afghanistan. That is why I have come here to participate. Since it is happening in Pakistan it is necessary and appropriate for me to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with my counterpart Sartaz Aziz to talk about improving the bilateral ties and take them forward,” Swaraj said.

External Affiars Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan today; to meet Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz

Swaraj will visit the Pakistan capital to attend the ministerial segment on Afghanistan during the annual Heart of Asia conference on December 9

Sushma Swaraj
File Photo
ANI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will leave for a two-day visit to Pakistan on Tuesday, where she is expected to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad this week.Swaraj will visit the Pakistan capital to attend the ministerial segment on Afghanistan during the annual Heart of Asia conference on December 9. Upon her return from Islamabad on December 10, Swaraj will be making a statement on the latest developments that have taken place in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy also confirmed Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad and said that she would brief both the houses of Parliament in detail on the present status of Indo-Pak relations once she returns. “Sushma Swaraj will be visiting Pakistan tomorrow and once she returns, she will give a detailed statement about the discussions with Pakistan over issues including Terrorism. The government is fully prepared to give an updated status of Indo-Pak talks and this has been communicated to both the houses,” Rudy told the media outside the Parliament.Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties had eased to some extent and he is looking forward towards the bilateral talks with Sushma Swaraj which would focus on the resumption of composite dialogue process. In a surprising move, India-Pakistan had NSA-level talks in Bangkok on Sunday on a wide range of issues including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and border issues.Post the meeting, both the nations released a joint statement saying that the discussions were held in a “candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere”.According to reports, the meeting was agreed upon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif when they met in Paris last week on the sidelines of COP-21. A joint statement issued later said that the discussions “covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, other issues, including tranquility over the Line of Control”.

EAM Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan for multilateral conference tomorrow, to hold talks with Sartaj Aziz

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Islamabad on Tuesday on a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

AFP
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Islamabad on Tuesday on a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.”External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to lead Indian delegation for ‘Heart of Asia’ 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan on December 9 in Islamabad,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweetedSwaraj’s visit comes two days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan on Sunday in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The External Affairs Minister will call on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and meet his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Aziz on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ regional conference on Afghanistan on Wednesday.Her visit comes three years after former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.During her visit, Swaraj will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the four-hour-long meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Janjua in the Thai capital.The joint statement after the meeting of NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris, rejecting the version given by the Indian side then that it was a mere “exchange of courtesies” although Sharif had told Pakistani media that he had a “good meeting” and “doors of dialogue should open”.Before Paris, Modi and Sharif had held bilateral meeting in Russian city of Ufa where they decided that their NSAs would meet to discuss all “terror-related” issues.However, Pakistan had called-off Aziz’ visit after New Delhi had made it clear that he would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital.

Manohar Parrikar to raise issue of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan with US counterpart Ashton Carter

India’s concern about the US policy in Middle-East relates to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) which recently carried out terror strikes in Paris killing more than 120 people.

Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to do some ‘plain talking’ on cross border terrorism by Pakistan and articulate India’s stand on the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East during a crucial meeting with his American counterpart Ashton Carter this week.Top Defence sources said Parrikar, at the meeting on December 9 and 10, will “plainly” tell the US that its policy of engaging Pakistan was not working.Parrikar will also be telling Carter that the American military and foreign policy in the Middle-East and Afghanistan “are not very sound” and not working properly, sources said. Parrikar, who is already in the US on his maiden visit as Defence Minister, will also express his concern over Islamabad’s “threat” to use tactical nuclear weapons against India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar’s visit comes against the backdrop of reported US plans to sell eight F-16 fighters and 15 Bell AH 1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. He is also likely to articulate India’s stand on this.India’s concern about the US policy in Middle-East relates to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) which recently carried out terror strikes in Paris killing more than 120 people. Besides Pakistan and the security situation, Parrikar will also take forward the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) as both countries work towards greater collaboration in joint development and manufacture of next-gen military technology, sources said.Both Parrikar and Carter will review the functioning of the joint working group on aircraft carrier and identify technologies India could acquire in future. The two are also expected to discuss possible programmes that could be taken up under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.US’ Lockheed Martin has already offered to manufacture its planes here in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ push. Indicating its growing interest in the Indian market, Lockheed recently entered into a joint venture with the Tatas to manufacture parts of C-130J aircraft at a newly built facility in Hyderabad.A forward movement is also expected in India’s decision to acquire 145 pieces of M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers from the US under a government-to-government deal that would see its manufacturer BAE Systems invest over US $200 million in India as offset.Parrikar is also scheduled to visit the powerful Hawaii-based US Pacific Command, the first by an Indian Defence Minister. Its area of responsibility includes China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and Vietnam.

Pakistan ready to hold talks with India without pre-conditions: Nawaz Sharif

Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated that Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India without pre-conditions for sustainable peace, according to Pakistani TV channel Geo News. Sharif is said to have given this indication during a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) here yesterday. The channel reported that Sharif said Pakistan intends to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours including India and Afghanistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between National Security Advisors of the two countries were cancelled in August because of a dispute over the agenda. India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir. The Pakistani Prime Minister told Cameron that Pakistan was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and that his country, itself being victim of terrorism, could feel the pain of French people.The two leaders expressed long term commitment to work together for greater security and prosperity of their countries. Both prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work in partnership for countering the shared threats of terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration, the report said.It said Sharif and Cameron agreed to continue close collaboration in diverse fields particularly trade, investment and security and the British Prime Minister lauded Pakistan s efforts in eradication of militancy and extremism.

Human error led to deadly U.S. strike on Afghan hospital – military | Reuters

WASHINGTON A U.S. investigation found that the deadly Oct. 3 air strike in Afghanistan that destroyed a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres was a tragic and avoidable accident caused primarily by human error, a top U.S. military commander said on Wednesday.

Some U.S. personnel were suspended and could face disciplinary action after failing to follow U.S. rules of engagement in a war zone, said U.S. Army General John Campbell, who leads international forces in Afghanistan.

It remained unclear whether the U.S. military, even as it expressed remorse and wholly accepted blame, would be able to quickly mend its image in Afghanistan and elsewhere after the attack, which killed 30 people.

MSF’s general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement on Wednesday that the investigation illustrated “gross negligence” by U.S. forces.

“This was a tragic mistake. U.S. forces would never intentionally strike a hospital or other protected facilities,” Campbell said at a Pentagon news conference, releasing the results of the U.S. investigation.

MSF, known as Doctors Without Borders in English, has in the past publicly cast doubt on the idea that the strike could have been a mistake.

Detailing its own investigation on Nov. 5, MSF said the site’s location had been clearly communicated to both Afghan forces and the Taliban.

“The frightening catalogue of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of U.S. forces and violations of the rules of war,” Stokes said in his statement. “MSF reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation into the attack on our hospital in Kunduz.”

Campbell acknowledged the hospital was on a no-strike list and that MSF had called during the attack to alert the U.S.-led forces. He described a series of mistakes that allowed the American forces to destroy the hospital, despite the call.

According to the U.S. investigation, U.S. forces had meant to target a different building in the city and were led off-track by a technical error in their aircraft’s mapping system that initially directed them to an empty field.

The U.S. forces then looked for a target that was visually similar to the one they had originally sought – the former National Directorate of Security headquarters in Kunduz, which they believed was occupied by insurgents.

“Tragically, this misidentification continued throughout the remainder of the operation even though there were contradictory indicators,” Campbell said.

The grid location of the AC-130 aircraft that attacked the hospital eventually identified the correct target building. In addition, there was no hostile enemy activity at the MSF building, Campbell said, but the U.S. attack continued.

“These are examples of human and procedural errors,” he said.

The timeline detailed by the U.S. military indicated that the 29-minute-long strike began at 2:08 a.m. By 2:20 a.m. a caller from MSF reported the attack to Bagram air base.

It took U.S. forces until 2:37 a.m. to realise the mistake, by which time the AC-130 gunship had already stopped firing.

“It is shocking that an attack can be carried out when U.S. forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a no-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications systems,” MSF’s Stokes said.

Campbell said the investigation found that the strike killed 30 staff, patients and assistants and injured 37. He gave his condolences and said the U.S. military would offer to help rebuild the hospital.

“Chaos does not justify this tragedy,” Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, a spokesman, said at the briefing.

“We are absolutely heartbroken over what has occurred here and we will do absolutely everything in our power to make sure that it does not happen again.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Bill Trott and Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India, Malaysia to deepen cooperation in security, defence: PM Modi

India and Malaysia will deepen cooperation in security and defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as he emphasised that the recent attacks globally and the “ceaseless” terror attempts against India and Afghanistan were a reminder of the global nature of terrorism.

India and Malaysia will deepen cooperation in security and defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as he emphasised that the recent attacks globally and the “ceaseless” terror attempts against India and Afghanistan were a reminder of the global nature of terrorism.Modi also complimented his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak for providing leadership in combating extremism and radicalisation, rejecting any link between terrorism and religion and in highlighting the “real values of Islam”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am particularly grateful to you for our security cooperation. It underlines our shared commitment to deal with our security challenges. We will continue to deepen our cooperation in this area,” he said in a joint press briefing after his talks with Najib at Putrajaya, the sprawling administrative capital on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.Modi, who was here to attend the ASEAN and the East Asia Summits, said recent spate of attacks in different countries, “not to mention the ceaseless terrorist attempts against India and Afghanistan are a reminder of the global nature of this threat.”Appreciating Najib’s leadership in combating extremism and radicalisation, Modi said this is a great contribution an important aspect of global efforts against this challenge.Warning that terrorism is the “biggest threat” to the world, Modi had on Sunday, said it should be delinked from religion.Talking about security and defence cooperation, Modi said both countries will make it stronger, including for advancing maritime security and strengthening disaster response in the region.”I am pleased that we have agreed to upgrade our joint exercises and set up the SU-30 Forum,” he said, adding that both sides will do more in terms of level and complexity of exercises and collaboration in training and defence equipment.”Our agreement to cooperate in cyber security is very important. As our lives get more networked, this is emerging as one of the most serious concerns of our age,” Modi said.The Prime Minister said he shares Najib’s belief that bilateral trade and investment relations can be scaled up significantly.”We intend to exploit the full potential of our bilateral agreements and the India-ASEAN Agreements. We look forward to an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said.Modi expressed confidence of taking the bilateral strategic partnership to a new level.India and Malaysia also signed MoUs on cyber security, culture and public administration. Speaking at the joint press briefing, Prime Minister Najib said a New convention Centre will be built in New Delhi under government to government contract.Modi said, “We have built a vibrant economic partnership. We are located on the same maritime route.” Noting that Malaysian competence in infrastructure is well known and that Malaysia has completed several important projects, including in the road sector, in India, Modi said he wanted to see enhanced Malaysian participation in areas such as expansion and upgrading of infrastructure, Make in India, and Smart Cities projects.”Indian companies have a strong presence in Malaysia. IRCON is contributing to development of rail infrastructure here. We want to raise the level of Indian presence in the Malaysian economy,” he said.Modi said he and his Malaysian counterpart are determined to explore steps to show concrete and early results.”I am happy that we are strengthening our excellent cooperation in Public Administration and Governance. I have personally interacted with PEMANDU, and am pleased that our Niti Ayog will work with them,” he said.The Prime Minister said both countries will place special emphasis on cultural and people-to-people ties.Modi invited Malaysian students to study in India and urged early conclusion of an agreement on Mutual Recognition of Degrees.”I am very pleased with our excellent and growing cooperation in Traditional Medicine, including Ayurveda and Siddha,” he said.Talking about the inauguration of the Torana Gate at the entrance of Little India in Bricksfield, Modi said, “This is a gift of India, but a labour of love for Prime Minister Najib. And, it will be a symbol of our timeless ties and the friendship between our people”.Noting that the two back-to-back airline tragedies could sap the morale of any nation, Modi said he commends Prime Minister Najib’s leadership and the resolve and resilience of the Malaysian people.Modi said both countries are closely aligned intheir vision and approach to the region and work closely in regional forums.”So, with a relationship as rich as this, I am pleased that we have agreed to make our Summits, ministerial dialogues and official meetings more regular. I assure you that we will work with renewed vigour to raise the level to momentum of our partnership,” he said.Najib, in his statement, said the two sides wanted to cooperate in the defence field and were considering joint production in this sector.Both countries shared a common position on counter terrorism efforts, he noted.

Election Commission likely to ink voters in polling booths with marker pens

New Delhi: Trendy marker pens could soon replace bottle and brush at polling booths for marking index fingers of voters with indelible ink as a proof that they have voted.

The Election Commission has started “testing” the marker pens, provided by Mysore Paints, as replacement for bottles of indelible ink and brushes. Indelible ink has been an integral part of Indian elections since 1962.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The move to go for marker pens was initiated following feedback the EC received from voters, especially the youth, that marking done by brushes is not neat. The other major reason is that pens will be easier to store and transport than bottle along with a brush.

The marker pens provided by Mysore Paints were used in the recently-held elections in Afghanistan.

“We are currently testing the marker pens. No final decision has been taken yet on their large-scale use. Much will depend on the results,” said an EC official.

Officials, however, did not specify whether it was used in the just-concluded Bihar assembly elections.

Indelible ink is used to mark voters’ fingers during polling to avoid fraudulent, multiple voting and malpractices. Once it is applied on finger, it remains for a few months, the company has claimed, although there have been reports of some people managing to erase it.

A bottle of indelible ink contains 10 cubic centimetres (cc) whereas a pen will have much lesser capacity of 3 cc. As per modern measurement methods, one cubic centimetre is equivalent to one millilitre.

A Karnataka government undertaking, Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited provides the famous indelible ink to all states in India and even some foreign countries.

In 1962, the Election Commission, in collaboration with Law Ministry, National Physical Laboratory and National Research Development Corporation, made an agreement with Mysore Paints for supply of indelible ink for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Since then, it has been supplying the ink for elections in India.

Following complaints that indelible ink or voter’s ink is not being applied properly by poll officials, the Election Commission had issued orders saying the ink should be applied using a brush specifically provided for the purpose.

The March 2015 order makes it clear that the ink “will be applied on voter’s finger with the help of brush from top of the nail to the bottom of the first joint of the left forefinger”. Use of brush will ensure that besides being bigger, the ink mark will also be bolder and more prominent.

There have been complaints that poll officials use match sticks, instead of a brush, to apply ink. In such cases, the ink is barely visible and often leads to allegations that people have tried to remove it in a bid to cast vote again.

PTI

al-Qaeda militant killed in Pakistan hails from Kashmir: Family

In perhaps first such instance, Nazir Ahmad Dar claimed that his brother, Mohammad Ashraf Dar, was among the six al-Qaeda militants killed in the drone strike

Picture for Representational Purpose

A family in Anantnag district in South Kashmir has claimed that their son, who features in an al-Qaeda propaganda video, was killed in a US drone strike in Waziristan area of Pakistan in January this year.In perhaps first such instance, Nazir Ahmad Dar claimed that his brother, Mohammad Ashraf Dar, was among the six al-Qaeda militants killed in the drone strike. Ashraf alias Umar Kashmiri, who was reported missing by his family in 2001, featured in a video released this week on ‘jihadi’ networks by As-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda in Indian subcontinent (AQIS) as part of its series ‘Jihadi Memories’, eulogising its martyrs.”The man shown in the video is my brother Mohammad Ashraf,” Dar told reporters at Nagam village in Kokernag area of Anantnag district.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three-and-a-half-minute video claimed Ashraf to be a resident of “Islamabad area of Kashmir”, referring to Anantnag district. Ashraf, son of Ghulam Ahmad Dar, went missing on August 13, 2001, when he was a 15-year-old. The family claimed that they were informed by a local Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Noor-ul-Haq, that Ashraf had crossed the LoC for arms training — a fact confirmed by the militant through a telephone call to his family three years later.The family also claimed that Ashraf stayed in constant touch with it over phone till December last year and he did mention ‘jihad’ and Afghanistan in his conversations. Dar said the family made a lot of efforts to persuade Ashraf to return home but he remained defiant. In the video, which is not available on the web now, Ashraf is seen sitting alongside his associates, talking about parents and family. He is also seen leading the prayers.AQIS said Ashraf alongside Qari Imran, outfit in-charge of Afghan affairs, was killed in a US drone attack on January 5.While intelligence officials confirmed that Ashraf had been reported missing for the past 14 years and had crossed over to Pakistan for arms training, police officials did not comment on the claims of the family. “We are not sure whether Ashraf has been killed but he was reported to have crossed the border for arms training,” an official of an intelligence agency said.

India undecided on whether Sushma Swaraj will attend Pakistan conference

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed that a formal invitation has been received for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Afghanistan that will take place in Islamabad on December 7 and 8.

Sushma Swaraj

Getty Images
India is undecided on whether External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will participate at the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference for which host Pakistan has invited her, it was officially said in New Delhi on Thursday. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed that a formal invitation has been received for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Afghanistan that will take place in Islamabad on December 7 and 8. But added that “We are yet to decide on the level of our participation.” The pros and cons of Pakistan’s invitation are being weighed with one view being that Swaraj should attend the conference given India’s strategic interest in Afghanistan and any low-level participation to the ministerial meet may not be good.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, a counter view to this was that Swaraj’s travel may undermine India’s concerns over terror emanating from Pakistan and she may have to hold a bilateral meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz which is not how India wants to sequence its interactions with that country. Swarup also made it clear that India was “more than willing” to start the process that was agreed in Ufa between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Under the Ufa understanding, the next meeting should be between the National Security Advisors of the two countries on all issues pertaining to terror.Asked about Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s remarks on Wednesday that unilateralism and preconditions were a recipe for gridlock in relations and his assertion that “aspirations of Kashmiris can neither be ignored nor suppressed”, Swarup said there was nothing new in the comments.

Azam Khan rakes up controversy, says Paris attacks a reaction to US actions in Syria, Iraq

Khan also added that Western powers have already destroyed countries like Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and to some extent, Iran, as they want to acquire oil reserves in these countries.

File photo

In a controversial statement, senior Samajwadi Party leader and UP minister Azam Khan has said the European cities cannot be lit up with the ill-gotten wealth from oil reserves of the Middle East and that global superpowers must realise the terror attack was a reaction to their actions in Syria and Iraq.According to an English daily, Khan said, “Do you want to light up cities like Paris, known for their wine and party culture, with the money earned through illegally occupying oil reserves in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran? The bombardments in Iraq and Syria on suspected IS strongholds apart from killing innocent civilians are also rendering thousands homeless. What justification do they have for this?” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khan also added that Western powers have already destroyed countries like Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and to some extent, Iran, as they want to acquire oil reserves in these countries.Also read: Paris attacks: Fugitive slipped through police dragnet; now global manhunt underwayMeanwhile, condemning Azam Khan’s remarks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav should take action against Khan. “Azam Khan’s reaction is most unwanted and condemnable because it puts India in a bad light. It puts India’s fight against terror in a bad light and therefore, it weakens India’s resolve against terrorism,” BJP spokesperson Siddharthnath Singh said. “Akhilesh Yadav should put a check on Azam Khan and also come up with a statement condemning what Azam Khan has said,” said Singh.State president of BJP, Laxmikant Bajpayi, also criticised Khan and said the government should tell the people whether they agree with Khan’s statement or not. “Azam Khan’s statement on Paris attack is not appropriate and highly condemnable. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav should tell the people whether they agree with Azam Khan’s statement or not. If no answer comes, it means that they are in agreement with his statement,” Bajpayi told ANI. He added that if the SP takes action against Khan, it will prove that the UP Government is committed to fight against terrorism.With Agency InputsAlso read: France launches major airstrike on ISIS in Syria, drops 20 bombs

Modi-Obama bonhomie sees 30% jump in Indian students going to US

Prime minister Narendra Modi and US president Barack Obama’s warm personal ties have helped America’s higher education sector growing at extraordinary rate in last one year. Number of Indian students going to the United States has gone up by a whopping 29.4 per cent within a year, compared to 6% previous year following three years of consistent decline, reveals the latest ‘Open Doors Report’ which is being released in the US Monday.Nearly 1.33 lakh students are studying in various US universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at present compared to only 1.02 lakh students a year ago. However, only 4,588 US students came to India in 2013-14 (4.7% rise over the previous year), and that too for short-term and semester-long courses, says the report. Last time the US witnessed a comparable growth rate of Indian students (29%) was in 2000-01 when the number of Indian students exceeded 50,000 for the first time. That time too the BJP government was in power in India with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the prime minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “While China remains the top country of origin of international students in the US, increasing by 11 per cent to 3,04,040, India’s growth outpaced China’s this year, with students from India increasing by 29.4 perc ent to a record high of 1,32,888. This is the highest rate of growth for Indian students in the history of the Open Doors project, which spans back to 1954/55,” reads the report. Overall, US saw a rise of 10% in international students in 2014-15 with 9.74 lakh students from various countries studying in its univarsities.International expert on politics give credit of this steep rise to improvement in diplomatic relations between India and US recently due to personal cordial relations between the two state heads. Modi’s visit to the US in September 2014 generated enough euphoria in India and this was followed up by Obama, who became the first American president to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in January 2015. In a joint presser in Delhi, Modi’s address to Obama as “Barack” led to interesting discussion. “India and US have had conflicting views in issues related trade, climate change and foreign policy for years. Now on a range of issues, such as the rise of China, the future of Afghanistan and international terrorism, New Delhi and Washington are increasingly on the same page,” said a professor of Pune University. Besides, a strong Indian rupee, reviving global economy and increased efforts of US varsities in wooing Indian students are also major factors behind this jump, say experts.”The apprehensions and negative sentiments are changing now. Moreover, US varsities have gained on a declining interest of Indians for UK universities in last three years mainly due to introduction of stricter visa norms by the UK government,” says an overseas education expert. Some academicians, however, blamed the slow pace of the Modi government in the most crucial sector behind this “exodus” of youngsters towards US. “Students are unable to see ‘Ache din’ in the higher education sector which suffers from rot since years. Expansion of quality university education is the need of the hour or else we would continue losing out higher number of bright brains to the West along with foreign reserve,” said a professor of Mumbai University.An MHRD official defends, “We are working on a new education policy which aims to address the brain drain as well.” Box 1Head: Figure it outYearNumber of Indian students in US% change from the previous year2014-151,32,88829.4%2013-141,02,673+ 6.1%2012-1396,754-3.5%2011-121,00,270-3.5%2010-111,03,895-1%(Source: Open Doors report 2014-15) Box 2Head: Top US varsitiesNew York University, University of Southern California, University of Illinois and Columbia University are the top choice of international students. Each hosted more than 10,000 international students.Box 3International students contribute $30 billion to the US economy in a year.International students contributed more than $30 billion and supported more than 373,000 jobs to the US economy in 2014. Chinese students constitute 31% of the international students’ population in the US followed by Indian students who constitute 13.6% at present.

I am no ‘badass’, says Canada’s Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan

Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service.

Harjit Sajjan

Canada’s newly-appointed Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said he is not a “badass” and is quite a softie despite his military background.45-year-old Sajjan, who immigrated to Canada from India when he was a young boy, said the country must contribute to the defeat of the Islamic State but rejected the idea that Canadians should be afraid of the jihadist organisation.”ISIS is a threat, no doubt about that. Should we fear it? No. The Canadian population should have full confidence in all the security services to keep us safe,” he told CBC News.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service. Sajjan leapfrogged his former mentor, retired general Andrew Leslie, to get the nod as Defence Minister in Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. And his appointment to the Cabinet went viral on social media with a picture from his days in Afghanistan tweeted with the line “Canada’s new minister of defence is ‘badass.'”Asked what he thinks of being dubbed as a “badass”, Sajjan said, “I actually chuckled. I was really shocked at the interest in me, because when I got the job I was like, ‘(This is) a big responsibility, I can’t mess this up.'”As Canada’s first Sikh in the role, he said “if my position here gives anybody hope of where you might be, and your potential, I’m happy that it does that.””But in terms of ‘badass?’ Uh, no. I have done a lot of interesting things in the Vancouver police and in the military, where I would say that I worked with some very professional soldiers, police officers. But my kids, my little daughter, can say something to me and almost put me to tears,” he said.Sajjan has also allegedly faced racist remarks by a soldier on social media, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to launch a probe. The offensive post, which was written in French, was quickly removed.On the fight against ISIS, Sajjan said the government is in discussions over what role Canada will take in the fight against the terror group but that there was no date yet for withdrawing Canada’s fighter jets from the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq.Asked whether the Canadian flights might continue to the end of the current commitment in March 2016, Sajjan said Canada is in discussions with its allies. Sajjan said that in confronting ISIS, there is more that can be done.”We need to get better as an international coalition… better at looking at the threats early on, to making sure that we identify them early so they don’t balloon into these big threats,” he said.

End sale of defence equipment to Pakistan: Think-tank to United States

In parallel, the Task Force asked the US to demand that Pakistan tackle terrorism and prepare to cease US funding for defence sales and coalition support funds should Pakistan prove unwilling, said Richard N Hass, CFR president.

The new fighter planes will add to Pakistan’s sizeable force of fighter jets which include more than 70 F-16s and dozens of French and Chinese attack aircraft (Representational Image)

AFP
Ahead of the visit of Pakistan army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, a top US think-tank on Friday asked the Obama Administration to end sale of any defence equipment to the country if it is not willing to “rein in terror”. “The US should demand that Pakistan meet its obligations as a state to tackle terrorism emanating from its territory, in both India and Afghanistan,” the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank, said in a report. “If Pakistan is not willing to rein in terror, Washington should be prepared, at minimum, to end US taxpayer funding for defence equipment sales and reimbursement of coalition support funds,” CFR said in the report prepared by top American thinkers drawn from various sectors including Alyssa Ayres, Ajay Banga, Nicholas Burns, Ashley Tellis, Charles R Kaye, among others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recognising the challenge to US-India relations posed by US policy toward Pakistan, as well as the drag on India’s rise presented by the risk of conflict with Pakistan, the Task Force report recommends that India for the sake of its own future pursue an improved relationship with Pakistan. In parallel, the Task Force asked the US to demand that Pakistan tackle terrorism and prepare to cease US funding for defence sales and coalition support funds should Pakistan prove unwilling, said Richard N Hass, CFR president. The US is planning to sell eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The new fighter planes will add to Pakistan’s sizeable force of fighter jets which include more than 70 F-16s and dozens of French and Chinese attack aircraft.In its more than 90-page report, the Task Force found that US policy towards Pakistan is one of the main challenges to India-US relationship. Indian officials remain skeptical that the US can ever fully be trusted as a security partner when they see Washington appear to acquiesce to Islamabad’s continued inaction on terror groups that have targeted India and the US, the report said.The CFR report comes days before Gen Sharif’s visit to the US during which he is likely to meet top American defence, military and political leadership.

Canada’s India-born Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan faces racist remarks

Canada’s newly-appointed Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has allegedly faced racist remarks by a soldier on social media, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to launch a probe.

Canada’s newly-appointed Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has allegedly faced racist remarks by a soldier on social media, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to launch a probe.The military declined to identify the soldier or precisely what was written, but a source said the non- commissioned member from Quebec, made an “inappropriate statement” on Facebook about India-born Sajjan’s “ethnic background”, The Globe and Mail reported.Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India when he was a young boy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The offensive post, which was written in French, was quickly removed.A Forces spokesman said the army’s chain of command is probing the matter.Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service.The incident of disrespect to the minister prompted Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West to send an e-mail to soldiers warning against such conduct, the newspaper said.He lamented the fact a high-ranking member of the Forces made “negative” comments about the minister and warned them against disrespectful behaviour, adding that to say he is angry would be an understatement.The Forces issued a strong statement Wednesday condemning the behaviour.”We are very much aware of an incident in which a Canadian Armed Forces member wrote inappropriate comments on social media about the new Minister of National Defence,” Forces spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.”Racist attitudes are not compatible with military ethos and with effective military service. Any conduct that reflects such attitudes will not be tolerated,” he said.”The institution is entirely committed to the principle of equality of all people and the dignity and worth of every human being,” the Forces spokesman said.”As previously stated by Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance, bullies have no place in the organisation.”

Home-grown militants pose a greater threat in the Valley

The militants ensure that they attract the young crowd with their education qualifications

Burhan Wani, the 21-year-old commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group

In the last week of October, intelligence agencies were alarmed when people from three villages of south Kashmir almost had a confrontation while attempting to lay claim to the body of Abu Qasim, the Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and mastermind of the Udhampur attack on a BSF convoy.With the deceased Pakistani militant’s popularity, particularly in south Kashmir, no longer a concern for the security forces, agencies now believe that countering ‘home grown militancy’ can pose an equally challenging task. In fact, the vacuum created by the killing of Qasim, one of LeT’s most senior militants in Kashmir, awaits to be filled by young Kashmiri militants who, according to agencies, despite being ‘ill-trained’ might pose a grave threat to the security situation in the valley.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a senior intelligence official, the new generation of Kashmiri militants led by the 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, are poorly trained and lack proper ammunition as most of them have trained themselves in remote parts of Kashmir itself.The official further said that most of the militants joining the Hizb rank either snatch weapons from the security forces posted in the valley or borrow it from LeT. In order to save the bullets for a possible confrontation with the armed forces, these militants practice without bullets.”While these terrorists might lack proper training in arms and guerrilla warfare, their Kashmiri identify can pose a great threat especially to areas where they belong from. The youngsters in these places who chose to idolise the terrorists sometimes end up joining their ranks,” said the official.A senior J&K police officer while speaking to dna said that unlike the past, when Kashmiri youth crossed over to Pakistan to receive arms training, militants of Kashmiri origin now hold a slight edge over Pakistani ones due to the connect they form with the general population.He said foreign militants from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan were previously looked as ‘mythical characters’ but the new-age Kashmiri militants are more real than their predecessors. Among other prominent militants are Nisar Pandit, Zakir who hails from Noorpur and Isaaq Dar from Tral area of Kashmir, also known by the nickname ‘Newton’ which he got after topping his class.The officer also said the fact that most of the new militants are educated and degree holders is intentionally highlighted to influence educated youth of the valley.”We are fighting the current militancy at multiple levels, social media being one of them. But the sympathy garnered by some of the Kashmiri militant groups has to be tackled carefully. People here have seen these militants grow from boys into adults and while dealing in such scenarios we have to ensure we do not end up alienating people further,” said the officer who had been part of the counter insurgency operations in North Kashmir. Reaching out people through videos In August this year, Burhan, had also released a five-and-half minute video which was first circulated through WhatsApp before it was uploaded on Facebook. The 21-year-old is seen in the video asking Kashmiri youth to join the ‘armed movement against the Indian state’. His elder brother Khalid was killed this year in police action during an attempt to capture Burhan, now referred to as a ‘poster boy’ of the new age militancy.

Afghan Hazara march through Kabul to protest beheadings | Reuters

KABULThousands of demonstrators from Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority marched through cold and rainy Kabul on Wednesday to demand government action over the killing of seven members of their community by Islamist militants who dumped their partially beheaded bodies.

The demonstration, one of the biggest seen in Kabul in years, was peaceful but there was an angry mood directed at the Islamist militants blamed for the killings and the government that failed to prevent them.

The Hazara, a Persian-speaking, mainly Shia minority have long faced persecution in Afghanistan, with thousands massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but a series of murders and kidnappings this year has stoked a mood of growing despair.

“The only way to prevent such crimes in the future is to take over all government offices until they wake up and make a decision,” said demonstrator Sayed Karim, 40, one of thousands who filled the whole of Mazari Square in western Kabul.

As well as adding to the daily toll of killings, the deaths of the seven Hazara, who included three women and two children, have heightened the risk that sectarian hatreds will further poison the climate in a country made up of different ethnicities.

Bearing the green-draped coffins of the dead and carrying banners with slogans like “The Taliban are committing crimes and the government is supporting them”, the crowd marched more than 10 km (six miles) to the presidential palace.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killings and promised an investigation but they have added to a mood of insecurity that has grown since the Taliban briefly seized control of the key northern city of Kunduz in late September.

Ghani’s national unity government has come under increasing pressure to address parliament on the worsening security situation.

“This sends a very dangerous message to the people of Afghanistan, its government and its international allies,” parliamentary lower house speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said.

“This issue doesn’t belong to a family, a tribe or an ethnic group but it belongs to all Afghans.”

The killings in the southern province of Zabul occurred amid fighting between rival Taliban factions and Islamic State militants that has underlined the risk of further fragmentation, complicating any reopening of the peace process and creating the risk of more generalised anarchy.

Demonstrators said Hazara people were being killed every day on the roads between Ghazni, Bamyan and Wardak provinces to the west of Kabul, where the Taliban control of much of the countryside after most international forces pulled out last year.

In addition to the Taliban and Islamic State, many Hazara have directed their anger more broadly against the Pashtun, the largest ethic group from which the Islamist movements recruit most of their followers.

“We’re from this country.” said a demonstrator who gave her name only as Sohaila. “We have to have the same rights as other citizens.”

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib and Samar Zwak, Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.