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Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif bonhomie takes dialogue process to higher levels

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday diplomacy in Lahore on Friday, that took even the well-glued senior government mandarins by surprise and provoked the opposition to slam it as “adventurism”, seems to be auguring well for the country in deriving some tangible results in the key problem area of cross-border terrorism.The quickened pace of developments that started with Modi-Sharif meeting on the sidelines of Paris climate summit on November 30, leading to secretive talks between national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and his Pakistan counterpart Lt. Gen (Retd.) Nasir Khan Janjua in Bangkok on December 6, followed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s Pakistan visit and a tete-a-tete with Sartaj Aziz, is now leading to foreign secretary-level talks on January 15 under the new nomenclature of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.The foreign secretary-level talks, for which S Jaishankar is expected to head to Islamabad, will work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue including peace and security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism.The firming up of modalities are expected to lead to structured NSA-level talks later next year.While union home ministry remains clueless about the status of its role in the talks, the comprehensive bilateral dialogue seems to have taken the scope of cross-border terrorism out of its purview as it will now be discussed at the level of NSAs, instead of home secretary-level talks that existed well within its domain during composite dialogue.While, some see it as diminishing role of the union home ministry in issues related to Pakistan that directly impact country’s internal security situation for which it is solely accountable. It seems that the ministry’s role now would be limited to hold talks on narcotics smuggling and ceasefire violations at the borders, said sources.However, according to sources in the intelligence agencies, stepping up the level of cross-border terrorism to NSA is expected to put more pressure on Pakistan to speed up the trial of perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, dismantling of terror camps in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and reining in banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.”The government has done well by letting NSA Ajit Doval handle the cross-border terrorism in its entirety. Doval is an old and expert hand and knows Pakistan too well. Given the international pressure, he is capable of extracting more from Pakistan than any other person in the government. We now expect to see gradual building up of pressure on Pakistan to deliver in matters related to Mumbai trial, Dawood’s deportation and squeezing terror groups by acting on their finances and training camps,” said sources.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

India sees no role for a third party in Indo-Pak talks: Sources

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They were asked what will happen if Pakistani delegation again met Hurriyat separatists or the Kashmiri separatist leaders tried to meet them here in the run-up to the next month’s meeting between the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries.
File Photo
PTI
India is very clear that no third party has any role in Indo-Pak parleys despite Pakistan’s stand that it would continue to speak to Kashmiri separatist leaders whom they term as “voice of Kashmiris”, highly placed government sources said on Monday.”What we have agreed with Pakistan during External Affairs Minister’s visit to Islamabad is Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue. So, it is a bilateral thing and no third party has any role to play in discussions between India and Pakistan,” the sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They were asked what will happen if Pakistani delegation again met Hurriyat separatists or the Kashmiri separatist leaders tried to meet them here in the run-up to the next month’s meeting between the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries. India is also very clear that any attempt to consult Kashmiri separatists will be highly undesirable.The Indian assertion assumes significance as Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit recently said at an event, held after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s Islamabad visit, there was no change in Islamabad’s policy towards Hurriyat leaders as they represented the “voice of Kashmiris” and hoped that the dialogue process will not be halted even if there were roadblocks.”Hurriyat represents aspirations of people of Kashmir. As far as we are concerned, there is no change in our policy towards them,” Basit had said when asked whether Hurriyat leaders will be invited for dinner if the talks between India and Pakistan were held in the national capital. The Pakistan envoy had also asserted “it was time both the neighbours behave as mature nations”.Angered by Pakistan’s consultations with Kashmiri separatists India had in August last year called off talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, telling it bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.In August this year also, the NSA-level talks were called off after New Delhi had made it clear that the then Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders during his visit in New Delhi.

Need to insulate Indo-Pak dialogue process: Omar Abdullah

Abdullah said it did not matter as to where the talks took place but “at least the process has been restarted”.

Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday warned that attempts would be made to derail the dialogue process between India and Pakistan and said there was a need to thwart any such challenges by “insulating” the talks.He also asserted that Jammu and Kashmir was a party to the talks and urged the Narendra Modi government to start a dialogue with the state “the way it has started with Pakistan”.”What we will have to do most is to insulate this dialogue because many attempts will be made to derail this process. Many attempts will be made to make this dialogue unsuccessful.Our endeavour should be to make all such attempts unsuccessful,” Abdullah told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Conference (NC) working president was talking to reporters after inaugurating the renovated headquarters of the party which was damaged during the floods last year and in a fire incident. Abdullah said it did not matter as to where the talks took place but “at least the process has been restarted”. “It is good that talks have restarted. I have no objection that we had to talk in a third country. It’s okay that we held talks in Bangkok and not in Delhi or Islamabad. At least the process of dialogue has been started,” he said.”Our Foreign Minister visited Islamabad and talks were restarted there. There was an announcement of holding a comprehensive dialogue. Now, we will wait for the shaping up of this comprehensive dialogue,” he added. The former chief minister said Jammu and Kashmir is a party to talks even if India and Pakistan would not make it a party on their own. “We are already a party. We are a party to this issue since this issue is there…We want dialogue,” he said.He said the Kashmir issue could be resolved only when there are talks on its internal and external dimensions. “I will not get into whether this has to be a tripartite or bipartite dialogue. There are two parts of Jammu and Kashmir issue one is internal between New Delhi and the state and the other external between New Delhi and Islamabad. This issue can be resolved only when there are talks on both the tracks.”Right now the dialogue is on a single track and the talks have been started between New Delhi and Islamabad, but the talks between New Delhi and the state are also important. We are not seeing any development on that,” he said. Abdullah said “we will request and will be hopeful of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s government to have talks with Jammu and Kashmir the way the government has started talks with Pakistan”.

Full Text: Sushma Swaraj explains why she went to Pakistan in Parliament

Answering critics, she said in the latest arrangement, the level of talks on terror has been raised as this issue will now be dealt with by the National Security Advisers (NSAs) instead of Foreign Secretaries as earlier.

File Photo

​Rejecting any “flip flop”, India 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. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while briefing Parliament on her recent visit to Pakistan, justified the decision to have ‘Comprehensive Dialogue’, saying there is a “need for bridging the gulf” with the neighbouring country for peace and stability in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Answering critics, she said in the latest arrangement, the level of talks on terror has been raised as this issue will now be dealt with by the National Security Advisers (NSAs) instead of Foreign Secretaries as earlier.The fact that NSAs of India and Pakistan met in Bangkok without any publicity does not mean any third country’s involvement but it was only to take forward the Ufa process as such a meeting could not take place in Delhi as “you all know”, she told the Lok Sabha.Here’s the full text of her argument: Hon’ble Chairman,
I rise to brief this august House and Hon’ble Members on my recent visit to Islamabad, Pakistan to lead the Indian delegation to the ‘Heart of Asia’ Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan and recent developments relating to ties between India and Pakistan.The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 8-9, 2015 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. India has actively participated in the Heart of Asia Process since its beginning. The process brings together friends of Afghanistan from its immediate and extended neighbourhood as well as supporting countries and international organizations 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. In my statement at the Conference, I urged full and direct transit for Afghanistan through Pakistan to India. 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. I also take this opportunity to inform the House that during my visit to Islamabad, I called on Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with my Pakistani counterpart Mr. Sartaj Aziz. Following my meetings the decision of this Government to begin a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Pakistan was announced in a Joint Statement in Islamabad on December 9, 2015. 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 Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris on November 30, 2015.As the House is aware, the Prime Minister of Pakistan was invited in May 2014, among other SAARC leaders, by Prime Minister 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. In the first meeting between the two Prime Ministers during that visit of Mr. Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi, our views on India-Pakistan ties and our 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.As the House is also aware, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met in Ufa in July 2015 and agreed that the two countries had collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia. To that end, they decided on a meeting of the National Security Advisors to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. They also stated that the two countries were prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. During the Ufa meeting, PM was extended an invitation by Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif to visit Islamabad for attending the SAARC Summit in 2016.For the reasons that we all know, the expected meetings of NSAs and Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries envisaged at Ufa, did not materialize though Directors General of BSF and Pakistan Rangers met and a number of humanitarian measures, agreed at Ufa, were implemented.In this background, when our Prime Minister met his Pakistan counterpart during the COP-21 Summit meeting in Paris on 30 November 2015, there was a discussion on how the two countries could build an atmosphere conducive for again re-engaging with each other. 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 realization of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region. At the same time, there was also a sharp awareness that the principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.Following PM’s conversation with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris, the two leaders decided that both sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. The National Security Advisors of the two countries accordingly met on December 6, 2015. The meeting was held in Bangkok. Discussions between the two NSAs in that meeting were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control, and Jammu & Kashmir – the State which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC.My visit to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference came two days after the constructive talks between NSAs on issues related to security, terrorism, etc. My meetings with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad were held in the backdrop of this positive development. Both 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.Accordingly, it was decided to begin a dialogue with Pakistan under the new title “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. The Foreign Secretaries have been tasked to work out modalities and schedule of the meetings under the new Dialogue.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. At the same time, the Government is also 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. The new Dialogue with Pakistan has twin aims of removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and at the same time, of exploring and establishing cooperative ties. Initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues will 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. I am confident that we have the support of the entire House in this expectation.(Read: A moderate Modi — is the BJP finally planning to switch off its election mode?)

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.

Indo-Pak talks: Foreign Secretaries to meet in Delhi next month to chart dialogue path

Aziz said it was also decided that terrorism would be discussed by the two National Security Advisers as part of this Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

AFP
The Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet next month in Delhi to work out the details of the newly-announced Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue after the two countries decided to re-engage.Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, while making a statement in Parliament, said the Secretaries will decide on the modalities and schedule of the comprehensive dialogue the two countries have decided to engage in. Sources said the meeting will take place in Delhi. Aziz briefed the Parliament about the recently held ‘Heart of Asia’ conference and his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during which it was decided that the two countries would engage in a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aziz said all issues, including Kashmir, would be part of the peace talks under the agreed formula for the fresh re-engagement with India. “It was decided that the two Foreign Secretaries will meet next month to work out the details of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and the level of interaction in various Working Groups,” Aziz said. “This dialogue includes all the subjects of the Composite Dialogue, with some additions,” he told the Parliament, a day after lawmakers demanded that the government apprise them under what conditions the talks with India will be held.Aziz said it was also decided that terrorism would be discussed by the two National Security Advisers as part of this Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. “We had emphasised that Pakistan is a victim ofterrorism. We have lost tens of thousands of lives in the fight against terrorism. Zarb-e-Azb is the largest counter-terrorism operation of its kind and is being internationally acknowledged and appreciated,” he said. Aziz lauded the vision of Prime Ministers of the two countries — Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi — for starting of talks after their meeting in Paris on November 30 paved way for the meeting of the two National Security Advisers in Bangkok on December 6.”Both the delegations were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia,” he said. Aziz said it was decided in the meeting with Swaraj to continue the constructive engagement between Pakistan and India.He said as announced in the joint statement, the two sides agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue to discuss security, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Jammu & Kashmir, 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.Earlier, the lawmakers had criticised the government for agreeing on a joint statement which they said “favoured” India.

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

Odd-even formula: Delhi government to issue guidelines on carpooling

Delhi Dialogue Comission (DDC) vice-chairman Ashish Khetan will submit a blueprint on carpooling to the government by early next week and how it can be effectively implemented

delhi pollution

With odd-even scheme for private vehicles set to start from January 1 in the capital, the Delhi government will soon issue guidelines on carpooling policy for commuters and office goers.Delhi Dialogue Comission (DDC) vice-chairman Ashish Khetan will submit a blueprint on carpooling to the government by early next week and how it can be effectively implemented. “Government is holding meetings with stake holders including cab aggregators to roll out a carpooling policy. We will issue complete guidelines on it so that people can easily use carpooling service,” said a senior government official.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DDC, an advisory body of the AAP government, on Wednesday held day-long consultations with over a dozen providers to enable and expand ridesharing, carpooling, and shuttle services for the citizens. This consultation explored the challenges and opportunities in providing and rapidly expanding these solutions to minimise the apprehensions in the minds of car commuters, when the air pollution control measures will be implemented from the new year.

Pakistani media welcomes resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue

Dawn reported that in a “major breakthrough”, Pakistan and India announced that they were resuming the dialogue on outstanding issues, ending a two-year logjam.

Reuters
Pakistani media on Thursday welcomed the resumption of Indo-Pak comprehensive dialogue, describing it as a “major breakthrough” and a pleasant turn in bilateral ties following three top-level meetings in 10 days.The decision to resume the talks was taken yesterday during visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here and her meeting with Pakistani leaders.Dawn reported that in a “major breakthrough”, Pakistan and India announced that they were resuming the dialogue on outstanding issues, ending a two-year logjam. “The ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ as it has been named will include all elements covered under the previous versions of the talks peace and security, confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage / Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism,” it reported.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the headline ‘Breakthrough at last’, The Express Tribune wrote that “ten days and three meetings that’s all it took Pakistan and India to break the deadlock in their strained relations”. It further said that a “chance meeting” between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in Paris and surprise talks between their National Security Advisers in Bangkok led to a formal meeting between their top foreign policy officials in Islamabad on Wednesday which produced a major agreement: resumption of a stalled dialogue process.The Nation s headline: ‘Composite dialogue goes comprehensive’ captured the essence of new format of talks which will be not much different than the one suspended after Mumbai attack.”All the pillars of the composite dialogue would be part of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue and more things could be added to it,” it wrote. The paper commenting on Swaraj’s meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that they agreed on increased contacts at all level and resolving all the outstanding issues between the two nuclear neighbours through dialogue, during the meeting which lasted for almost an hour.”Premier Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan wanted good relations with all its neighbours including India which was reciprocated by Indian minister. Sushma confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan next year for the SAARC summit expected to be held in September 2016,” it said. The News International termed that start of dialogue as a ‘pleasant turn’ in ties of the two nations.”The mercurial relations between Pakistan and India took a pleasant turn when both countries decided to restart the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue previously known as the Composite Dialogue.” It reported that a succession of meetings paved the way for a possible meeting between the two foreign secretaries.Talking about terrorism it reported that it appears that terrorism will now be the exclusive domain of the two National Security Advisers with Pakistan holding out an assurance that there will be movement on the Mumbai trial which has moved at a snail’s pace. Swaraj’s visit here came days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok.Before Paris, the Prime Ministers of the two nations 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. In August last year, India called off Foreign Secretary-level talks over the same issue.

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.

Full text of joint statement made by India and Pakistan

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

Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz

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.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JOINT STATEMENT1. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led the Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. She called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz.2. The EAM and the Adviser condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They 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. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.3. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the Foreign Secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the Dialogue including Peace and Security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and religious tourism.

India, Pakistan NSAs talk terror and Jammu & Kashmir in Bangkok

Secret meeting also covers other issues; Up next will be meeting between foreign ministers

Narendra Modi with Nawaz Sharif

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi had an animated discussion with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris last Monday, many wondered what they could have discussed. In the absence of any official release about the talks, the media could only speculate about the contents. On Sunday, the answer became clear to all and sundry. In an unusual turn of events, the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the two countries – Ajit Doval and Lieutenant General Naseer Khan Janjua – met in Bangkok, away from media limelight.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> This time, there was an official statement. “The discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and others, including tranquility over the Line of Control,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement said. The statement said the two sides also agreed to carry forward constructive engagement. What it signals is a possible meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz. Swaraj is set to visit Islamabad on Tuesday for the Afghanistan-related Heart of Asia ministerial conference. A meeting between the two ministers on the sidelines of the conference is highly possible now. Any forward movement in these talks will also prepare the ground for Modi’s visit to Pakistan, the first one after Vajpayee’s in January 2004. Pakistan is hosting the SAARC summit next year. Interestingly, the NSA-level Bangkok meeting coincided with the Track-II, 17th Chaophraya Dialogue between Indian and Pakistani journalists in the same city. However, it seems none of them got any hint of the meeting, till the foreign offices of both countries put out a joint statement. The timing and the venue of the meeting were kept a secret, lest it gets derailed. Last Monday’s meeting between Modi and Sharif in Paris was the first between the two leaders since they met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Ufa, Russia, in July this year. They had then agreed on a meeting between the NSAs of the two countries and had also directed the foreign secretaries to renew talks. However, talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his then Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, scheduled in New Delhi in August this year, were cancelled after the Pakistan high commission insisted on inviting Hurriyat leaders for a reception in honour of Aziz. India also wanted to skip the word Kashmir and other bilateral issues and concentrate only on terrorism during the talks, which was unacceptable to Pakistan. Last month, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta, Malta, Sharif had told British Premier David Cameron that Islamabad was ready for unconditional talks with New Delhi. Though no country will acknowledge it, it seems the Paris meeting, which sparked hopes of a renewal of the dialogue process, was an outcome of nudging by big powers. Senior journalists at the 17th Chaophraya Dialogue, who met under the aegis of Jinnah Institute (JI) and Australia-India Institute (AII), called upon both the governments to delink confidence-building measures from dialogue process, and called for encouraging cross-LoC interactions. They expressed the hope that the two countries would meet soon to increase bilateral trade and economic cooperation, and urged Pakistan to give Non-Discriminatory Market Access status to India.

Farooq Abdullah’s remark seditious, will take back land from Pakistan: Yogi Adityanath

Abdullah had yesterday said “PoK was part of Pakistan” and would remain with it while India.

“The statement given by Abdullah is irresponsible, seditious and amount to contempt of Parliament,” the BJP MP

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath on Saturday termed as “irresponsible and seditious” the statement of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on PoK, and said the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control would be taken back. “The statement given by Abdullah is irresponsible, seditious and amount to contempt of Parliament,” the BJP MP told reporters here. Abdullah had yesterday said “PoK was part of Pakistan” and would remain with it while India would continue to control its part of Jammu and Kashmir and claimed that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had proposed this to the then President Pervez Musharraf. Adityanath said “every inch of land of Kashmir belonged to India and the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control would be taken back”. Asked if BJP was contemplating forging an alliance before Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, he said a decision in this regard will be taken by the party’s central leadership and Parliamentary Board.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related read: Dialogue only route to resolution of Kashmir problem: Farooq AbdullahThe BJP MP said Bihar Assembly poll outcome was the result of “casteist mentality”.

India, US ask Pakistan to act against 26/11 perpetrators

India and the US decided to take their counter-terrorism co-operation to the next level in view of the continued danger faced from terror groups and the emergence of the new global threat from the Islamic State.

PTI
Recognising the threat posed by outfits like the al-Qaeda, LeT and the D-Company, India and the US today agreed to deepen cooperation in fighting terrorism and asked Pakistan to bring to justice the 2008 Mumbai attack perpetrators.US Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj co-chaired the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that ended with the important takeaway of a joint statement on combating terrorism, recognising the threat posed by terror groups operating from terror safe havens within the South Asia region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and the US decided to take their counter-terrorism co-operation to the next level in view of the continued danger faced from terror groups and the emergence of the new global threat from the Islamic State.At the conclusion of the dialogue, India and US issued a separate joint statement on counter-terrorism co-operation, pledging to fight terrorism together.Swaraj said the joint statement reiterates commitment of the two countries on common approach against terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani network and the D-Company.”We (India and the US) reiterate that the threat posed by al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D-Company (Dawood Ibrahim), Haqqani network and other regional groups undermines stability in South Asia. And we call to Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack,” Swaraj told reporters while reading from the joint statement.”We (India and the US) strongly condemn the July 27, 2015 terrorist attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and August 5, 2015 attack in Udhampur,” she said of the terror assaults in India which were carried out by terrorists based in Pakistan. Swaraj said the joint statement states that the two countries are determined to fight terrorism to the end.In response to a question, Kerry said the two countries are committed to bringing all their efforts together in this fight against terrorism.Another significant outcome of the parleys coming just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama in New York next week was that both sides set up a new mechanism of dialogue between India’s Foreign Secretary and US Deputy Secretary of State on regional and global issues.After the talks, Swaraj listed six key points as takeaways from the dialogue with the most important one being stepping up cooperation in fighting terrorism.The two countries also decided to elevate the Secretary- level trilateral with Japan to a Ministerial-level. Kerry and Swaraj would meet their Japanese counterpart in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.Responding to questions, both Kerry and Swaraj refuted reports that the India and US meeting was aimed at China.”It has nothing to do with China,” Kerry asserted. There is no message intended to be sent to China through this strategic and commercial dialogue, he said.Swaraj said China did not figure in the talks at all.”This is bilateral dialogue,” she said adding that any apprehension about India and US coming together against China is mistaken.There is no effort about India and US coming together to increase their influence in any part of the world, she said.Kerry also announced that India and the United States have also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of climate change and renewable energy. It also decided to launch a Fulbright Climate Fellowship programme.In another important outcome, India and the US decided to train troops in six African countries before they are deployed on a UN Peacekeeping mission. Kerry described this as a milestone.The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to a secure and stable Afghanistan and agreed to launch an Ocean Dialogue, an issue close to Kerry’s heart.Both Swaraj and Kerry described the meeting as “meaningful and productive”.”Our discussions have been most productive and fruitful and allowed us an opportunity to assess and review all the good work being done on both sides in different fields. We have also charted new ideas and initiatives to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation in different domains,” Swaraj said in her statement at the press conference of First India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.Swaraj said that in her meeting with Secretary Kerry, they shared India-US’ strategic priorities, interests and concerns on issues of mutual interest including security and counter-terrorism, convergences in India’s Act East policy and the US re-balance in Asia.”We have agreed to step up our cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. We have recognised the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups operating from safe havens in our region and the need for Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks,” Swaraj said.”A main take-away from our discussions includes our shared view that we need to keep the big picture, the strategic framework of relationship in mind, especially when it comes to our strategic security and political interests, regionally as also internationally, as also when we deal with transactional issues,” she said.”We also talked about creating new substantive underpinnings to deepen bilateral engagement including in the fields of defence, security, cyber, energy, climate change, science and technology, space, health, and other areas of economic development,” she added.The Indian side also welcomed US’ reiteration of support for India’s membership of the four major multilateral export control regimes including the NSG.

Shared democratic values key to Indo-US strategic partnership, says Sushma Swaraj

Tuesday’s India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will see delegations of both nations holding discussions in areas of mutual interest and identify possible areas for collaboration.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Emphasising on the need for partnerships among nations to tackle terrorism, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and rule of law constitute key pillars of the Indo-US strategic partnership.”At a very fundamental level, our popular and bipartisan support in both countries and shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and rule of law constitute key pillars of our strategic partnership,” Swaraj said at the India-United States Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that is being held in Washington.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The emerging context of the India-US political, strategic, security and economic ties continues to be constantly shaped by international geopolitics, the strength of the Indian economy amidst global economic uncertainties and the need for partnership among democracies to respond to global challenges like terrorism,” she added.Swaraj further said that Indo-US ties were going through a busy phase.”It’s important we set timelines to achieve our targets, we look forward to busier schedules in months ahead. One of the defining characteristics of our bilateral agenda since last July has been purposeful action to implement decisions,” she said.Tuesday’s India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will see delegations of both nations holding discussions in areas of mutual interest and identify possible areas for collaboration.The dialogue is seen as the most comprehensive mechanism for discussion and deliberation on the specifics of bilateral agenda of cooperation in different fields between India and the United States.Apart from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Indian delegation comprises of Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, besides senior Indian Government officials.

Lalu left red-faced as he asks ‘Do you believe in caste?’ and youth reply ‘No’

Patna: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was stumped today by an audience of youth on his favourite topic: caste.

RJD leader Lalu Yadav fields questions at the IBN Dialogue Bihar 2.0. IBNLive

RJD leader Lalu Yadav takes questions at the IBN Dialogue Bihar 2.0. IBNLive

In his long-winding address at IBN Dialogue Bihar 2.0 organised by Network18 Group (that includes Firstpost.com), Lalu asked his audience, mostly youth, in his usual rhetorical way, “Do you believe in casteism?”

Pat came the reply “No”.

That was not the answer he was expecting. So an insistent Lalu paraphrased his question: “Is there caste relevant or not?”

A forceful, full-throated cry again greeted him: “No, caste is irrelevant.”

A stumped Lalu looked quite bewildered before he could recovered his wits and responded rather sarcastically: “I bow to your wisdom.

Then he emphatically explained the relevance of caste in Bihar to an audience which continued to be unimpressed with his caste pitch.

He took recourse to the late socialist leader Lohia’s slogan of the Sixties and said that he had favoured empowerment of OBCs that comprised 60 per cent of the population. Lohia used to say that the empowerment of the OBCs would pave the way for a better evolution of society.

Apparently Lalu’s attempt to convince the audience about relevance of caste did not find traction with the youth as one girl remarked, “You are doing casteism.”

A rebuffed Lalu immediately took up the challenge and contradicted the allegation and said, “No, I am not doing casteism, rather I am taking up the cause of socially and economically marginalised sections of society.”

This protracted exchange with youngsters in the audience and his failure to win them over on the caste issue, may be significant to the election at hand. It is largely perceived that Nitish Kumar’s alliance with Lalu has robbed the latter of his development plank. Lalu is hellbent on harping back to the caste divisions of the 90s at a time when the youth of Bihar seem to be in a mood to transcend caste. This is expected to help the campaign of Narendra Modi who is pegging it on development and opportunity while reminding the state that electing Nitish’s coalition would mean return to jungle raj and end of development.

Even while responding to questions on the fear of Jungle Raj returning to Bihar, Lalu stayed on the caste divide. He said their regime was being widely publicized as “Jungle Raj” since two backward leaders have come together to take on the BJP. He described the BJP not as a party but a mask of the RSS. To substantiate his charge, he told the audience about how several ministers, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, lined up before the RSS a couple of days back to give account of their performance. “Kahata hai ‘Jungle Raj’ hai. Lalu aa raha rai. Where is the Jungle Raj?” Lalu thundered.

Mounting an attack on the BJP, the RJD chief called upon the masses to seek details of black money as promised by Modi on the Lok Sabha poll eve. “This is the right time to seek details of black money from Modi. Ask about the money promised to be credited in your bank accounts earlier,” he quipped.

He also questioned Modi’s visit to a mosque in Dubai and asked him to explain the reason behind it. “I know the reason, and if he (Modi) did not mend his ways, I will let the masses know the reason,” Lalu said but refused to divulge any further.

He dismissed the opposition’s charge of being opportunistic saying he joined hands with Nitish just to stop the BJP from coming to power. He claimed the “match” is over in Bihar even though the game is yet to start.

Political pressures notwithstanding, Lalu appeared to be in his full spirit today claiming he had his “consumer”” (his fans) spread all over the world. “Lekin unko koi puchhata hai (But who bothers about them)?” asked Lalu in oblique reference to his rivals.

Though he seemed to be out of tune with the youth on the caste issue, there were moments of vintage Lalu when he claimed the women folk have been only too eager to take selfies with him. “They always request for selfies and I never disappoint them. I just tell them not to misuse them (selfies),” Lalu said.

With inputs from Manoj Kumar

There is no role for Hurriyat Conference in Indo-Pak talks, says BJP

Opposition National Conference had said on Tuesday Hurriyat Conference has shunned armed violence and opposes it and is prepared for a sustained, productive dialogue.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
BJP on Wednesday said there was no role for any third party, including Hurriyat Conference, in the talks process between India and Pakistan as per the Simla agreement.”There is no room for any third party interference or consultation for holding talks between India and Pakistan,” state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi told reporters.”Dialogue can take place only between the two countries as per the Shimla agreement and any involvement of person or organization within or outside India is not acceptable…there is no role for Hurriyat Conference or any other separatist body in any such talks,” Sethi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition National Conference had said on Tuesday Hurriyat Conference has shunned armed violence and opposes it and is prepared for a sustained, productive dialogue. “This should be enough for New Delhi to engage with them and include them in their talks with Pakistan – be it on issues directly related to Kashmir or indirectly related to Kashmir.” Sethi said the talks can take place between the two countries to resolve the border dispute and on ceasefire violations and Pakistan’s support to terrorists and separatists in India.Pakistan’s attempts to involve Hurriyat will only give legitimacy and importance to it, which is unacceptable, Sethi said.

No role for any third party in India-Pakistan talks: BJP

Jammu: BJP on Wednesday said there was no role for any third party, including Hurriyat Conference, in the talks process between India and Pakistan as per the Simla agreement.

BJP said there was no role for third party in Indo-Pak talks. AFP

BJP said there was no role for third party in Indo-Pak talks. AFP

“There is no room for any third party interference or consultation for holding talks between India and Pakistan,” state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi told reporters in Jammu.

“Dialogue can take place only between the two countries as per the Shimla agreement and any involvement of person or organization within or outside India is not acceptable…there is no role for Hurriyat Conference or any other separatist body in any such talks,” Sethi said.

Opposition National Conference had on Tuesday said Hurriyat Conference has shunned armed violence and opposes it and is prepared for a sustained, productive dialogue. “This should be enough for New Delhi to engage with them and include them in their talks with Pakistan – be it on issues directly related to Kashmir or indirectly related to Kashmir.”

Sethi said the talks can take place between the two countries to resolve the border dispute and on ceasefire violations and Pakistan’s support to terrorists and separatists in India.

Pakistan’s attempts to involve Hurriyat will only give legitimacy and importance to it, which is unacceptable, Sethi said.

PTI

No redlines in diplomacy: Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

The separatist leader said Hurriyat feels that if both the countries are able to carry forward the dialogue process with sincerity, the amalgam has no issue whether to join the process of dialogue now or later.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
With India asserting that a meeting between Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz and Kashmiri separatists was unacceptable, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq today said there should be no redlines and pre-conditions in diplomacy and politics.”The reported drawing of redlines by India coupled with its pre-conditions are not non-political. There are no redlines in politics and diplomacy,” Mirwaiz said addressing Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The separatist leader said Hurriyat feels that if both the countries are able to carry forward the dialogue process with sincerity, the amalgam has no issue whether to join the process of dialogue now or later.”Hurriyat is desirous of a meaningful dialogue (between the two countries) to settle all outstanding problems, especially the core issue of Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said adding “sidelining Kashmir or ignoring theKashmiris won’t help.” “Kashmir is not a boundary dispute or a regional problem but linked to the future of 1.25 crore population. The issue could be resolved only by taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state,” he said. He also said that the people of Kashmir are “not the third but the basic party to the issue and enjoy ownership rights”.Hurriyat was always desirous of strong relations between India and Pakistan so that a conducive atmosphere is created to pave way for resolution of all outstanding issues, he added. Terming Kashmir as the “biggest hurdle”, he said the two countries cannot improve their relations till the Kashmir issue remains unresolved.”All the outstanding issues between the two countries are the off-shoots of Kashmir problem. The premiers of the two countries during their meeting in Ufa agreed to resume dialogue to resolve all issues for peace and prosperity. The biggest hurdle between the two countries is not terrorism but the issue of Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said. He said Hurriyat leadership held talks with former Prime Minister A B VAjpayee and his deputy L K Advani besides Pakistani leadership during the previous NDA government at the centre.”It was the then government which provided travel documents to Hurriyat leaders after Vajpayee talked about resolving Kashmir within the ambit of humanity,” he said. He said the state assembly has no role in the resolution of Kashmir issue which could be resolved only through UN resolutions or talks between the parties to the dispute.

Detaining Yogendra Yadav has shown brutal, dishonest face of Delhi Police: AAP

He said that Yogendra Yadav and his colleagues have all the right to sit on a peaceful protest against the policies of the government which they consider anti-farmer and unjust.

Yogendra Yadav arrested by Delhi police

ANI
Condemning the crackdown on Yogendra Yadav by Delhi Police, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) vice-chairman Ashish Khetan on Tuesday said the act has shown the brutal and dishonest face of the police.It is deeply unfortunate and condemnable that the Modi Government and the police, which works directly under the Modi Government, is curbing civil liberties and the fundamental rights of peaceful agitators,? Khetan told ANI.He said that Yogendra Yadav and his colleagues have all the right to sit on a peaceful protest against the policies of the government which they consider anti-farmer and unjust.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By cracking down on peaceful agitators, by dragging them to the police station, by manhandling them, and now, by arresting them, I think the police has once again shown its brutal and dishonest face. What is the police in Delhi doing he added.The ex-AAP leader was detained by the Delhi Police during a farmers’ protest at Jantar Mantar last night.Yadav was trying to march towards the Prime Minister’s official 7 Race Course Road residence, and has alleged that he was brutally assaulted.

Dialogue the only solution, war with Pakistan not an option: Government

India will take forward its engagement with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues notwithstanding flare ups in border as “war is not the option”.

India will take forward its engagement with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues notwithstanding flare ups in border as “war is not the option”.Making this clear, top government sources said to PTI that New Delhi believes that dialogue is only option to resolve all pending irritants with Islamabad and Prime Ministers of both the countries have reached an understanding for it at their recent meeting in Ufa (Russia).”Talks are on track. Dialogue is the only way forward as war is not the option,” the sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said recently that India was committed for dialogue with Pakistan but will give “effective and forceful” response to unprovoked firing and cross-border terrorism.As agreed in Ufa, the three level of talks — between National Security Advisors, Directors General of Military Operations and chiefs of border guards forces — will be held. The first meeting between DGs of BSF and Pakistan Rangers will be held on September 9-13.”The three level of talks will go on notwithstanding whatever happens in border,” the sources said. New Delhi understands the internal dynamics of Pakistan and also the facts that there are elements which always try to sabotage the peace process, the sources said.Asked what are the plans to bring back underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, they said India has been raising the issue in every meeting with Pakistan and it will continue to do so till the most wanted fugitive was brought to justice.

Bihar Polls: Nitish Kumar promises to ban liquor in his next government

“When I form government next time, a ban would be imposed on liquor,” Kumar said much to the glee of the gathered women.

Acceding to the demands made by the women in Patna, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday promised to impose a ban on liquor when he forms the government next time.Kumar’s promise came in response to demands made by some women in the midst of his address at a Village Dialogue Programme of the Social Welfare department here. “When I form government next time, a ban would be imposed on liquor,” Kumar said much to the glee of the gathered women. The Chief Minister in his speech highlighted his government’s efforts for empowerment of women.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bihar government aims to link 1.5 crore women with Self Help Groups (SHG) in its efforts in empowering women, the CM said. Around 10 lakh SHGs have to be created in Bihar where 1.5 crore women would be linked, Kumar said at the programme.Connecting 1.5 crore women with SHGs means linking 1.5 crore families and out of a target to constitute 10 lakh SHGs, three-four lakh have already come up, he said. Kumar said his government ran several schemes for empowerment of women.At the time of launch of the bicycles for class IX girl students programme, 44 per cent of girls were studying in high school level, which increased to 56 per cent due to the scheme, he said. The number of girls studying at high school level was 8,15,837 while the number of boys was at 8,28,347 which meant a difference of only 13,000, the CM said.Identifying the strength of women, he said his government reserved 50 per cent seats in panchayats and urban local bodies for them. Kumar said education of girls has brought down fertility rate in the state from 3.9 to 3.6 now and the aim was to bring it at 2.It has been seen that if a girl was matric pass, the fertility rate of that family was 2 in the state, at par with the national average and if she passed the higher secondary standard, the fertility rate was 1.6 per cent and the rate in the country was 1.7 per cent, the CM added.

Digital Dialogue: Will do everything possible to make India innovation hub, says PM Modi

He said his government wants India to emerge as the innovation hub where the next big ideas emerge, driven by the power of technology.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night promised to do everything possible to make enterprise and innovation easier so that India emerges as an innovation hub and keeps pace with the fast changing world.”The world is changing, quicker than ever before and we cannot remain oblivious to that. If we don’t innovate, if we don’t come up with cutting edge products there will be stagnation,” he said in a ‘Digital Dialogue’, and added, “On the part of the government, I assure absolute support.” Responding to numerous suggestions with regard to digitalisation received through the day on a specially-created platform on social media, Modi said, “We are doing everything possible to make enterprise and innovation easier. We have covered substantial ground in the last 14 months and want to do a lot more in the future.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said his government wants India to emerge as the innovation hub where the next big ideas emerge, driven by the power of technology. Exhorting people to keep innovating as “innovation is what will help us grow faster”, the Prime Minister particularly encouraged the start-ups, saying they are “the engines of exponential growth, manifesting the power of innovation”.He said that several big companies of today are start-ups of yesterday. “They were born with a spirit of enterprise and adventure kept alive due to hard work and perseverance and today have become shining beacons of innovation,” he noted.To a question on challenges to the road map of Digital India, Modi said, “When we have taken up such an ambitious initiative and that too at such a large scale, there will be several challenges. But, we should neither underestimate these challenges nor should we get overwhelmed by them. We must be laser-focused on our Mission and that is what we are doing.” Talking about the challenges, he mentioned access and affordable access as also skills and knowledge.”We have to empower our citizens with the skills and knowledge to use digital applications and services. We also have to volunteer time and effort to share digital skills so that our fellow citizens who have recently been digitally empowered get to know how to use this powerful medium and are able to get the maximum out of this medium,” he added.Another challenge, he said, is reforming the citizen-government interface and the processes of governance. “A Digital-First model of governance will not only bring in efficiency and transparency but also will also dramatically reduce corruption,” he said. One more challenge is innovation and keeping pace with the latest in technology, Modi said. “Everyday, there are new innovations that is making some pieces of technology obsolete. It is in this fast-changing technology environment that we must realise the Digital India goals,” he added.

Spoke to Dawood Ibrahim thrice but he never offered to surrender, says Neeraj Kumar

Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar on Saturday rubbished a media report which quoted him as saying that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who allegedly organised 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, wanted to surrender in 1994 but his top bosses did not allow it. Kumar was the deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) then.

The report further says Kumar still wonders if the then PV Narasimha Rao-led government at the Centre had anything to do with the order from them.

File image of Dawood Ibrahim.File image of Dawood Ibrahim.

File image of Dawood Ibrahim.

“I did not give any such interview. The report (published in a leading English daily) is based on our informal conversation with the journalist on a chapter of my soon-to-be published book. I have been misquoted at several places in the report,” he told Firstpost.

The daily quotes Kumar thus: “I spoke to a jittery Dawood three times in June 1994…. He seemed to be toying with the idea of surrendering but had one worry — his rival gangs could finish him off if he returned to India. I told him his safety would be the responsibility of the CBI.” But the seniors of the then DIG CBI reportedly told him to stop calling Dawood.

Terming the report “baseless” and “concocted”, the former police officer, who retired in July 2013 as commissioner of Delhi Police, said, “Yes, it is true that I had words with Dawood thrice. During the three telephonic conversations, he kept trying to convince me that he had no involvement in the serial blasts (in which 257 people died and over 700 suffered injuries). But he never offered to or indicated that he was willing to surrender. The story that I was instructed by my seniors to put an end to the talks is baseless and concocted,” he said.

However, Kumar confirmed that Dawood’s trusted aide Manish Lala, who was behind bars in the Arthur Road jail, had facilitated the conversation.

Kumar is writing a book on top 10 probes he conducted during 37 years of his service as an officer of the Indian Police Service. His book, which will be published next year by Penguin, will have a chapter titled ‘Dialogue with the Don’ in which he will be narrating his conversation with Dawood.

Pakistan’s efforts on reining in terrorists should allay India’s concerns, not US: Majid Memon

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majid Memon on Monday said efforts made by Pakistan to rein in terrorists on its soil would have to satisfy India’s concerns more than that of the United States.Responding to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s move to credit Pakistan for taking action against terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), he said, “That’s the satisfaction level of the United States. But then it is India which is immediately concerned with the terrorist activities in Pakistan. If Pakistan is at all sincerely and seriously combating terrorism and taking all positive steps to eliminate terrorist activities and that even it should satisfy India and not the US. And, I think, let the Indian authorities be satisfied with regard to this kind of a stand.”Congress leader Manish Tewari, however, chose to accuse Pakistan of being the epicenter of terrorism in the region.”One thing is evident if Pakistan was doing enough there would not have been a daily situation in South Asia where Pakistan is blamed not only by India, but by its other neighbours for being the epicenter of terrorism in the region,” he said.Kerry’s pat on Islamabad comes just ahead of his India visit where he is scheduled to attend Vibrant Gujarat summit.Kerry will also visit Pakistan later this month to hold the Strategic Dialogue in Islamabad.

NDA land ordinance a threat to unauthorised colonies: Former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party Chief Arvind Kejriwal
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Slamming the Centre for bringing in amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that if voted to power, he would “not allow Narendra Modi” to forcibly acquire the land of the poor.The former Delhi chief minister claimed that the changes in the 2013 legislation, which have been effected by way of an ordinance, were designed to enable the government to “snatch” the land on which unauthorised colonies have come up in the national capital. He further alleged that the amendments would also adversely affect the farmers and rural population of Delhi.Addressing the second leg of Delhi’s Village Dialogue at Chhatarpur, Kejriwal charged that the amendments were a result of the “pressure” on BJP to secure benefits to a “selected few people and companies” who had funded their Lok Sabha election campaign.”The government, including DDA, acquired land from farmers in 1970s and 80s, but did not use it. In some cases, the farmers did not take the compensation because they did not agree to the acquisition. Over a period of time, unauthorised colonies came up there. But on paper, the land still belongs to the government.”Under the new law, most of the land on which the unauthorised colonies have come up can be acquired by the government. Your land will go or people will be asked to pay more money,” Kejriwal said.Trying to woo voters after the Modi Cabinet recently cleared an ordinance to regularise unauthorised colonies, Kejriwal said the Centre has to make it clear whether the new provisions in that regard make it the owner of the land on which the unauthorised colonies have come up.”These colonies have not been regularised for a long time due to wrong policies of successive governments. Does it mean that now the government agencies will become the owner of such land according to the provisions of the ordinance? Chhatarpur will bear most of the brunt because of this law,” he claimed.Kejriwal also cautioned that a BJP-led government at the Centre and in Delhi would be “detrimental”.”If Kejriwal comes to power, then he will not allow Narendra Modi to do this (forcibly acquire land),” he said, adding that the land amendments were not beneficial for farmers.”The BJP has cheated the people of Delhi. Your land will be protected till my last breadth,” Kejriwal further said.

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