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PM Modi’s Pakistan visit path-breaking departure from protocol-driven politics: BJP

“We had the Ufa statement which was focused on our primary concern that is terrorism. There were hiccups after that. Then we had the Bangkok talk. Our Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan. “If the two countrioes can try to have a positive approach and work out a relationship that brings peace not only between them but to the entire region and therefore to the world, then that is something that should be welcomed,” he said.

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Narendra ModiNawaz SharifRam MadhavSushma SwarajAtal Bihari VajpayeeIndiaPakistanBharatiya Janta Party(BJP)
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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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Also ReadIndiaModi in Pakistan: PM has taken a ‘courageous’ step, says Sudheendra KulkarniIndiaWatch: PM Narendra Modi greeted by PM Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airportIndiaPM Modi’s Pakistan visit path-breaking departure from protocol-driven politics: BJPIndiaSchools in India like factories churning out products: Madhavan NairIndiaJD(U) ‘shocked’ by PM Modi’s surprise visit to PakistanIndiaModi’s stopover in Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj says PM Modi acted like a ‘statesman’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>al-Qaeda suspect did not visit Odisha secretariat: Police<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>

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Modi’s stopover in Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj says PM Modi acted like a ‘statesman’

Earlier, Modi had wished Sharif on his birthday. “Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him on his birthday,” Modi had tweeted. Modi’s sudden visit comes within days of both countries deciding to re-engage in “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet next month to discuss modalities about the dialogue.

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Narendra ModiSushma SwarajPakistanAfghanistanNawaz SharifLahoreVikas SwarupNational
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<!– /.block –>Chattisgarh goes Techy; emerges as top performer in ‘Digital India Week’ <!– /.block –>
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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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Also ReadIndiaModi in Pakistan: PM has taken a ‘courageous’ step, says Sudheendra KulkarniIndiaWatch: PM Narendra Modi greeted by PM Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airportIndiaPM Modi’s Pakistan visit path-breaking departure from protocol-driven politics: BJPIndiaSchools in India like factories churning out products: Madhavan NairIndiaJD(U) ‘shocked’ by PM Modi’s surprise visit to PakistanIndiaModi’s stopover in Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj says PM Modi acted like a ‘statesman’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Investment via Participatory Notes slips to Rs 2.54 lakh crore in November<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>

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Security in Lahore on high alert ahead of PM Modi’s surpise visit

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Earlier, Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said, “Yes, we have been informed by the Indian High Commission that PM Narendra Modi would stop over in Lahore to meet our PM today. Details are being worked out.”

Pakistani authorities on Friday put security on high alert in Lahore especially around the airport area following the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day-long visit to the city.A PM House spokesman confirmed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will receive his Indian counterpart at the Lahore airport who is expected to reach here around 2.45 PM (local time) from Afghanistan.”PM Modi’s plane is scheduled to arrive at the Lahore airport shortly,” the spokesman said, adding that the Indian premier would stay in Lahore for about two hours. Meanwhile, heavy contingent of police and Pakistan Rangers have reached the Allama Iqbal International Airport and taken charge of the security.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: PM Modi to make sudden visit to Pakistan today after speech at Afghan Parliament”Security in Lahore has been put on high alert,” a senior police official told PTI. He said police have also been deployed on the adjoining areas of the airport. A PML-N source told PTI that Sharif had invited Modi to attend the marriage of his granddaughter Mehrun Nisa which is taking place today at the Sharif’s Raiwind palatial residence of Raiwind.”I cannot confirm but there are chances that Modi goes to Raiwind and holds meeting with PM Sharif at his residence,” he said. Earlier, Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said, “Yes, we have been informed by the Indian High Commission that PM Narendra Modi would stop over in Lahore to meet our PM today. Details are being worked out.”Also Read: LIVE Updates: PM Modi addresses Afghan Parliament, announces 500 scholarships for children; promises everlasting friendship

Pakistan proposes Foreign Secretary-level talks with India in January

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Pakistan has proposed Foreign Secretary-level talks with India to be held in middle of January next year. As per the sources, Pakistan has asked for Islamabad as the venue for the talks.

Foreign Secretary of India S Jaishankar.
File Photo

Pakistan has proposed Foreign Secretary-level talks with India to be held in middle of January next year. As per the sources, Pakistan has asked for Islamabad as the venue for the talks.Recently, the national security advisers of Pakistan and India met for a brief and unannounced meeting in Bangkok, which was followed up by an informal and short meeting between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India.

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.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif tells ministers not to make anti-India remarks: Reports

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The ministers and senior officials have been stopped from issuing statements which could damage the peace process, the report said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
File Photo
Getty Images
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed his ministers and aides not to make anti-India statements that can affect the recently resumed peace dialogue, according to a media report.”There will be statements only that encourage the dialogue process rather than digging out the past. The Prime Minister has asked close aides and cabinet members to promote peace,” a close aide of Sharif was quoted as saying by The Nation.The measure was taken to let peace process move forward after being set in motion this month. The ministers and senior officials have been stopped from issuing statements which could damage the peace process, the report said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharif’s aide was quoted as saying that the Prime Minister was optimistic about better ties with India which would benefit the whole region. He said Sharif was annoyed by some statements from India but understands this is not the Indian government’s policy. Sharif, the aide said, wanted to give top priority to Kashmir, terrorism and trade when the two sides sit on the table to discuss peace.Another official was quoted as saying that the Prime Minister and the military leadership were on the same page to make peace with India.”There is no difference of opinion and both agree that there should be no compromise on the stated position on key issues,” he said.Analysts say it was a positive development that Pakistan and India agreed to resume comprehensive dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan earlier this month during which she called on Prime Minister Sharif and met his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.After the meetings, the two countries decided to re-engage under the ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’. The Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet next month to work out the details of the dialogue.

Nitish prohibition plan: Here’s what you can and cannot buy in Bihar

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However, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) would be available at limited government outlets. Initially there would be total ban on sale of country liquor from new financial year starting from April 1, 2016.

Nitish Kumar

The Nitish Kumar government on Friday unveiled its strategy to enforce prohibition of alcohol in Bihar in phases as part of which there would be total ban on country liquor from April 1 next year.However, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) would be available at limited government outlets. Initially there would be total ban on sale of country liquor from new financial year starting from April 1, 2016, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said after a special cabinet meeting this evening.From that date onwards, limited shops run by government body Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited (BSBCL) will sell IMFL in municipal and town council areas. Kumar said BSBCL, which runs under aegis of state Excise department, would take up the responsibility of retail sale of IMFL and would run outlets under strict guideline. “Earlier BSBCL was involved only in wholesale trade of IMFL but from now it would take up direct responsibility of retail also,” Kumar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said after BSBCL takes up the job of IMFL sale, almost 90 per cent of present liquor outlets would be shut down thus minimizing the ill effect of alcohol consumption in the state. The Chief Minister, who had called the special cabinet meeting to approve the new Excise Policy, said his government decided to go phase-wise in enforcing prohibition in Bihar to make it “more effective.” However, he did not say anything on when the IMFL would also come under prohibition.Reiterating his pre-poll commitment to women that if he returned to power his future government would ban alcohol, Kumar said he was not bothered about revenue loss on account of prohibition. “The state is drawing around Rs 5000 crore from sale of liquor at present. I do not bother about losing revenue for a great social cause (banning liquor to save poor families getting ruined on this count),” he said. Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan accompanied Kumar in the press conference. The Bihar CM stressed on social movement against alcohol consumption to make the Prohibition more effective. He exhorted women self help groups to demolish “Bhattis” (makeshift manufacturing place of hooch) and inform police immediately. “I am going to lay a guideline for response time for police action on such complaints from women against any such illegal hooch manufacturing,” Kumar said.”The police response time on such complaints should not be more than the time needed to travel from police station to the site,” he said. A committee under Chief Secretary would monitor everything relating to enforcement of liquor ban.The Bihar CM said direct responsibility would be fixed on District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police for illegal sale and manufacturing of liquor once the enforcement comes into action. Kumar said he has asked the Health department to set up de-addiction centre in every district to help habitual drinkers give up the bad habit. “We need to tread step-by-step and that is why prohibition has been decided in phases,” the CM said.The Bihar CM said from April 1, 2016 foreign liquor would be available only from BSBCL outlets that would function under strict government guidelines. CCTV cameras would be installed at BSBCL outlets to find out if any one is consuming liquor outside the shop, as is the practice by some people, he added.

Delhi HC dismisses CBI’s plea to probe into AAP’s funding

The plea, moved before the high court on February 4, had also sought CBI probe against Home Ministry officials, who in their report had earlier stated that donations made by eight foreign residents to AAP, were not in violation of the FCRA.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking CBI probe into past and present funding of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).”The petition is dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said, while passing order on the PIL alleging that AAP has been receiving foreign funds in violation of FCRA. The bench also said that the petitioner, advocate M L Sharma, approached the investigator and it is not that the agency has declined to entertain his complaint.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs had informed the bench that nothing was found against AAP in its probe regarding allegations that it had received offshore funds in violation of FCRA provisions, after which the court reserved its verdict on the plea. AAP had termed the allegations against it as “baseless” while contending that the party had not flouted any law in receiving foreign funds and got donations worth Rs 30 crore from Indian citizens only, of which about Rs 8.5 crore had come from NRIs.The plea, moved before the high court on February 4, had also sought CBI probe against Home Ministry officials, who in their report had earlier stated that donations made by eight foreign residents to AAP, were not in violation of the FCRA. Denying violation of foreign exchange or other laws, AAP had earlier contended that the PIL accusing it and its founding members of having illegally received foreign funding was “scandalous, frivolous, motivated and baseless”.AAP had claimed that it has “very small amount of funds and has the most transparent method of political funding among all parties”. The PIL had also alleged that “undisclosed funding to AAP was coming from terrorist groups” and that the party had succeeded in stalling Home Ministry probe against it and managed to get a favourable reply to mislead the court. It had alleged that it was a case of serious corruption on part of the ministry officials who filed an “un- investigated” report despite high court direction.The ministry in its report had said that eight people with foreign addresses made donations to AAP and “their passport numbers as mentioned in the contribution report of EC were checked and it was found that they possess Indian passports and NRIs holding Indian passports are not a foreign source”.

Talks with Pakistan on the basis of trust: Sushma Swaraj

The minister also assured the Lok Sabha that dialogue will continue uninterruptedly. “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.

Underlining the importance of talks with Pakistan, India on Monday admitted that the deadlock had adversely affected the progress of SAARC and peace in the region. Rejecting the impression that there have been several flip flops in talks with the neighbouring country in the last few months, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told both Houses of Parliament that talks have been re-started on the basis of trust and there is a need to bridge the gulf in relations with Pakistan.The minister also assured the Lok Sabha that dialogue will continue uninterruptedly. “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.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During half-an-hour discussion on her statement on her recent visit to Islamabad to attend Heart of Asia conference, Swaraj said dialogue is the only way forward hoping that anti-dialogue elements will not be able to provoke and effect the dialogue process. She also categorically stated that there is no involvement of any third party in talks held at Bangkok, Ufa in Russia and Paris. She also told Parliament that expansion of list of trade items through Wagah and Muzaffarabad routes is on the agenda of the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. The minister said that religious tourism, which was not part of previous composite dialogue process, has now been included in the new comprehensive bilateral dialogue process.She further said the new dialogue mechanism has twin aims of removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and exploring and establishing cooperative ties. She said that 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.In the morning, in a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha, amidst ruckus created by Opposition benches on the issue of a killing in Punjab, Swaraj hoped that re-engaging with Pakistan will mark beginning of peace and development as continued estrangement was a hurdle to peace and prosperity in the region. She said the foreign secretaries of both the countries have been tasked to work out modalities and prepare schedules of the meetings under the new dialogue. She said, the government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels to meet any security threat. Swaraj also noted that there was a sharp awareness that principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.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.”Swaraj said the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia conference 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. 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.

Floods over, time to listen to currency smugglers’ tales in Chennai

Last week, the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized foreign currency worth Rs 4.5 crore, mostly US dollars, from three airports in India, originating from Chennai.

The deluge in Chennai had an unexpected victim — hawala racketeers and foreign currency smugglers. With flood waters receding and life limping back to normalcy, they are back again.Last week, the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized foreign currency worth Rs 4.5 crore, mostly US dollars, from three airports in India, originating from Chennai.Sources said that the seizure is just the tip of the iceberg, and the actual amount could well be over Rs 100 crore from South alone. This is based on an over-the-envelope calculation that only a minuscule of the smuggled item/commodities are normally caught by the agency.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior DRI officials told dna that these bundles of greenbacks were stranded for a couple of weeks as the city went under water.DRI sleuths say that these money bags travelled all the way from Chennai by road. These consignments were on the way to Singapore and Dubai, but were seized at the Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru airports.”The smugglers apparently took a forced sabbatical owing to the floods. They became active again, though the consignments seized were small in value terms,” said a DRI official.”We believe organised gangs in southern states are behind this and are using various airports to deliver the consignments to Dubai and Singapore,” he adds.Chennai ranks on top in terms of seizure of gold. As per data available with DRI, 4,400 cases of gold smuggling were registered in the country during 2014-15. About 4,480 kg of the precious metal, worth about Rs 1,120 crore, were seized, of which over 25% were from Chennai alone.”Intelligence inputs suggest an increase in smuggling of foreign currency appears to be intrinsically linked with the funding of smuggling of gold in the country,” sources told dna.In 2014-15, foreign currency worth Rs 25.09 crore was seized in the country against Rs 14.49 crore in 2013-14.So far, DRI has booked four carriers. Two individuals travelling to Singapore, in Jet Airways and Singapore Airlines, were detained in Mumbai for carrying currencies worth over Rs 2 crore in cartons of rice.While one of them was detained in Delhi for carrying Rs 1 crore in US dollar, the other was caught in Bengaluru for carrying undeclared foreign currency worth Rs 1.5 crore.As per norms, a person coming to India from abroad can bring with him/her foreign exchange without any limit. However, if the aggregate value of the foreign exchange, either in currency or bank note, is in excess of $10,000 (or its equivalent) or the value of currency alone exceeds $5,000, it should be declared to customs authorities.Data suggests that the US dollar accounted for 25% of the total currency-wise seizure in 2014-15. Interestingly, Saudi Riyal topped the list with 47% of the foreign currency seizure.

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”.

Sushma Swaraj to make statement in Parliament on her Pakistan visit

A Parliamentary Affairs Ministry release said that Swaraj will make a statement on her recent visit to Islamabad and developments relating to ties between India and Pakistan in both the Houses of Parliament during the next week of Winter session.

Reuters
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will make a statement in both Houses of Parliament on Monday on her two-day visit to Pakistan and the recent developments relating to bilateral ties.”I will make a statement on my recent visit to Islamabad tomorrow at 11 am in Rajya Sabha and at 2 pm in Lok Sabha,” Swaraj tweeted on Sunday. A Parliamentary Affairs Ministry release said that Swaraj will make a statement on her recent visit to Islamabad and developments relating to ties between India and Pakistan in both the Houses of Parliament during the next week of Winter session. “This is one of the major agenda items for next week,” the statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan had on December 9 announced in Islamabad 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 about a fortnight days ago, it was announced there that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue.The two sides came out with a joint statement, which happened after Swaraj met Sharif and later his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz there on the concluding day of her two-day visit (December 8-9). She was in Pakistan to attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

UPSC says no paper admit cards for civil services main exam

About 15,000 candidates have qualified in this year’s civil services preliminary examination, results of which were declared on October 12.

UPSC building

No paper admit card will be issued for this year’s civil services main examination, scheduled to begin from Friday, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has said. The candidates will have to download their e-admit cards and take a printout thereof. UPSC will be conducting the main examination at 23 centres from December 18 to 23. The civil services examination is conducted annually in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Commission has uploaded the e-admit cards on its website at www.upsc.gov.in. The candidates are advised to download their e-admit cards and take a printout thereof. The candidates will have to produce the printout of their e-admit cards at the allotted venue for appearing in the examination,” a press release issued by the UPSC said.”No paper admit card will be issued for this examination by the Commission,” it said. In case the photograph is not visible or available on the e-admit cards, candidates are advised to carry identical photograph for each session along with proof of identity such as valid identity card, Aadhar card, voter identity card, driving license, passport etc. to the venue of the examination.About 15,000 candidates have qualified in this year’s civil services preliminary examination, results of which were declared on October 12.As against a record number of 9,45,908 candidates who had applied for the exam, about 4.63 lakh wrote the test on August 23, which is about 49% of the total applicants.

India, Japan committed to eliminate terrorist safe havens: Foreign Secretary Jaishankar

Expressing satisfaction at the direction of bilateral engagement, the two Prime Ministers resolved to transform the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, a key relationship with the largest potential for growth, into a deep, broad-based and action-oriented partnership, which reflects a broad convergence of their long-term political, economic and strategic goals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe applaud as Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar exchanges documents with Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Saturday.

PTI
Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe have condemned all forms of terrorism and asserted their commitment to eliminate terrorist safe havens from their territories. “The two leaders have strongly condemned terrorism in all forms, underlining that they have zero tolerance. Calling upon all countries to implement United Nations Security Council resolution 1267. Referring to the need for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and stopping cross border movement of terrorists and underlining the need for the countries to effectively deal with trans-national terrorism and eliminate from their territory,” Jaishankar told a press briefing after Prime Minister Modi signed several bilateral agreements with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at Hyderabad House here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “There is also a specific mention of bringing the perpetrators of terrorist attacks including those of November, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice,” he added. Expressing satisfaction at the direction of bilateral engagement, the two Prime Ministers resolved to transform the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, a key relationship with the largest potential for growth, into a deep, broad-based and action-oriented partnership, which reflects a broad convergence of their long-term political, economic and strategic goals. The two Prime Ministers underlined the need for closer coordination and effective communication, bilaterally and with partners, to address existing and emerging challenges in spheres of security, stability and sustainable development. They underlined their determination to expand cooperation with other partners, to enhance connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. The two leaders also assured that India and Japan will work to strengthen regional economic and security forums and coordinate their actions to tackle global challenges including the reform of the United Nations, climate change as well as terrorism.

Paris Climate talks hit roadblock, Javadekar says agreement depends on flexibility of developed countries

India stuck to its demand that developed countries like the US should shoulder more of the cost that countries face in adapting to the effects of climate change.

From L-R, Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change of China, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India attend a news conference during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget

Reuters
Negotiations for a climate change deal hit a roadblock on Friday with countries like India and China refusing to yield their ground on emissions and funding, stretching the high-stakes talks by a day to wrap up a highly-elusive deal. Mounting hectic last-minute efforts, US Secretary of State John Kerry met Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in the third interaction in as many days. Javadekar said the success of Paris agreement will depend on the spirit of accommodation and flexibility shown by developed countries. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India stuck to its demand that developed countries like the US should shoulder more of the cost that countries face in adapting to the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, China was resisting calls, led by the US and the European Union, for all nations to review and update their national plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions every five years and had also reasserted demands that developed nations do far more to curb greenhouse gas emissions, sources said. Diplomats from 195 countries attending the Conference of Parties (CoP) are grappling with how to resolve differences over crucial issues, which are very dear to the developing nations but could not reach a deal before the self-imposed deadline of tonight. Despite the apprehensions of a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit that failed miserably, hosts France struck an optimistic note, saying “we are nearly there”. “We are nearly there. I’m optimistic,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters accompanied by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I’ll present a text tomorrow at 0900 (1330 IST) to the parties that I’m sure will be adopted.” “We had a very constructive meeting. We made a lot of progress. Progress made last night, a long night, but there’s still a couple of very difficult issues we’re working on,” he said, after talks with summit host, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. A desperate UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed to envoys to take a “final decision for humanity”. “This negotiation is complicated, most difficult but important for humanity.We have just very limited hours remaining.” He identified important questions including how to share the burden of cutting down greenhouse-gas emissions between rich and poor nations; how to finance the cost of climate change in developing countries and how ambitious to be in curbing planetary over-heating.

Pakistan opposition alleges joint statement favours India

The opposition assault was led by Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday in parliament as even a key coalition partner expressed reservations over the outcome of talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia conference.

Reuters
Opposition parties have criticised the Pakistan government over the joint statement with India, alleging that it heavily favoured New Delhi at the cost of Islamabad’s stance on the Kashmir issue.The opposition assault was led by Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday in parliament as even a key coalition partner expressed reservations over the outcome of talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia conference here, the Dawn reported. “While the statement categorically addressed Indian concerns over the Mumbai trial, what about Samjhauta Express case and Kashmir cause which the government recently took up at the United Nations and kept on boasting about taking such a bold stand,” Mazari said in the National Assembly.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Quoting from the joint statement that “the Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai attack trial,” she sought clarification about the difference between “composite” and “comprehensive” bilateral dialogue. She wondered whether the resumption of bilateral talks meant Pakistan had relinquished its options to use multilateral forums to take up issues, particularly Kashmir.She questioned the language of the statement and said the prime minister must clarify it on the floor of the house. Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman was also of the view that such statements warranted a clarification from the government side because apparently it didn’t explain what actually transpired during the talks. “When Pakistan highlights the issue of Kashmir at the UN under its resolution, India says it’s a bilateral issue which requires no international forum. At the bilateral level, the Indian argument has been that Kashmir is its integral part.Then somebody must explain to this house at what level the government intends to take it up with India,” he said. Rehman said that as far as the issue of Kashmir was concerned, under the UN resolution, no one could bar Pakistan from highlighting it at any forum in the world. He called for strengthening the National Assembly’s Kashmir committee which he heads, and making it a powerful arm of parliament.However, the JUI-F chief, whose party shares the treasury benches with the ruling PML-N, praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for organising the Heart of Asia ministerial conference on Afghanistan which he believed would go a long way in bringing regional countries together. Leader of Opposition Khursheed Ahmed Shah, however, reserved harsh comments for the prime minister for his continued absence from the assembly.”Whom should I address? Empty chairs on the treasury benches? I have decided I will not open the discussion on the presidential address unless the prime minister attends proceedings of the house,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin had ‘reached far and wide’: Sharad Pawar

The Maratha strongman said it was Sangma, who had first raised the objection to the ‘foreign origin’ issue, which was “unexpected for many as he was believed to be very close to Sonia Gandhi.”

President Pranab Mukherjee releases a book on NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his 75th birthday celebration at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Thursday.

PTI
Sharad Pawar, who was shown the door by Congress for raising the matter of foreign origin of party chief Sonia Gandhi in 1999, says the issue had “reached far and deep” at that time.Pawar also blames senior Congress leader Arjun Singh for “orchestrating” his expulsion along with P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar from the party on the foreign origin issue. The trio went to form Nationalist Congress Party.Pawar recalls in his book ‘On My Terms-From the Grassroot to the Corridors of Power’ how at a function in Mumbai a university girl had asked him “in a country of one billion people, why can’t the Congress find a leader of Indian origin?”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The fact that the question was posed by a member of the younger generation indicated that issue had reached far and deep. This means the foreign origin issue (of Sonia Gandhi) would take centre stage in election,” the NCP chief says in the book.The function in Mumbai, reminsces Pawar, took “some days” prior to the May 15, 1999 meeting of Congress Working Committee called by Gandhi in Delhi where “for no apparent reason’ the Congress President herself raised the subject of her foreign origin and asked party members to voice their opinion on the issue ‘candidly’.According to Pawar, he told the CWC meeting that “the people of India will not forget that then Gandhi family has contributed a lot to this country….but it will be gross mistake to presume that the opposition will not campaign on the foreign origin issue.””Since Sonia Gandhi had initiated the discussion on the issue, she was expected to respond to the points raised by her members. However, for the reasons best known to her she chose to remain silent. The CWC meeting ended on that uneasy note.”Pawar says he, Sangma and Anwar also drafted a four-page letter and proposed an amendment in the constitution so that offices of the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister could only be held by natural-born Indian citizens.”Our move was in sharp contrast to the mass show of loyalty, which was on full display outside. Soon after our letter was received, the CWC met again to suspend us for six years. Even while a hysterical exhibition of loyalty and support to 10 Janpath continued for a full one week, a meeting of the AICC was called at Talkatora Stadium on May 25. It dutifully endorsed our suspension. We came to later that it was all pre-planned. Arjun Singh had orchestrated the entire episode,” Pawar says in the book.The Maratha strongman said it was Sangma, who had first raised the objection to the ‘foreign origin’ issue, which was “unexpected for many as he was believed to be very close to Sonia Gandhi.”

How South Asian rivals resumed talks

India and Pakistan agree to resume high-level talks, but can they achieve lasting peace?

South Asia rivals to resume peace talks

India and Pakistan agree to resume high-level peace talks which will take in security and territorial issues, including disputed Kashmir.

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.

Indian minister in Pakistan for talks

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is in Islamabad for a security conference on Afghanistan and talks with Pakistani officials.

Cricket in Dubai, talks in Bangkok, firing at LoC: JD(U) on NSA-level talks

“The NSA of Pakistan Sartaz Ajiz has said that they will have talks without discussing the Kashmir issue. We want to raise this issue in the Parliament today whether the Kashmir issue was raised in the NSA-level talks yesterday,” he added.

Janata Dal(United) leader KC Tyagi on Monday said the country has been betrayed by the government with regard to the secret National Security Advisor(NSA) level meeting held in Bangkok at a time when innocent civilians and soldiers are being killed along the Line of Control and the International Border by Pakistani troops.”Cricket match is taking place in Dubai, talks are taking place in Bangkok, and firing is taking place across border. It seems the country is being betrayed,” Tyagi told ANI.”The NSA of Pakistan Sartaz Ajiz has said that they will have talks without discussing the Kashmir issue. We want to raise this issue in the Parliament whether the Kashmir issue was raised in the NSA-level talks on Sunday,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Sunday, it was revealed that the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan had held a secret meeting in Bangkok and discussed a range of issues, including peace and security, terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.According to media 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, and Bangkok was chosen as the most convenient location for both sides to have the discussions.A joint statement issued later said that the foreign secretaries of both countries accompanied the NSAs. The statement said the discussions “covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, other issues including tranquillity over the Line of Control.”The discussions reportedly lasted for over four hours and that all subjects having a security dimension, including Jammu and Kashmir, were raised and talked about.”It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement,” the joint statement.It is also being reported, but yet to be confirmed, that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is all set to travel to Pakistan on Tuesday for an Afghanistan-related conference.

A new beginning: India- Pak held NSA level meet; terrorism, Kashmir among issues discussed

According to MEA, talks were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere.

Image courtesy: MEA

Ministry of External Affairs revealed that National Security Advisors of both India and Pakistan met in Bangkok on Sunday along with the respective foreign secretaries.According to MEA, talks were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere.PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif had earlier met briefly on the sidelines of Paris Climate Conference. During the meeting, the NSAs discuss peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and other issues. NSAs have agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement in the future, said the MEA statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is slated to travel to Pakistan to attend a multilateral summit. Earlier in the year, a proposed meeting of Pakistan NSA to India was called off after both sides failed to agree about the issues to be discussed.

India yet to confirm Sushma Swaraj’s visit: Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit

Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.

Amid reports of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s likely visit to Pakistan to attend a conference, Pakistan Ambassador to India Abdul Basit on Friday said that they are yet to get confirmation in this regard from the Indian government.”We have not got confirmation yet,” the Pakistan Envoy told exclusively to ANI when asked about Swaraj’s participation in the conference on Afghanistan to be held in Islamabad. If Swaraj visits Pakistan then it will be the first bilateral visit at the Foreign Minister’s level to Pakistan under the NDA government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.India has been invited for the conference. But, the MEA has not yet given any indication as to who will represent India there.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj likely to visit Pakistan next week

A Foreign Office (FO) official said that Pakistan has invited the Foreign Ministers of different countries including India for the meeting. “We hope for maximum participation, though some of the countries like India so far have not confirmed high-level participation,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Sushma Swaraj
File Photo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to visit Pakistan next week for a regional conference on Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said on Thursday.Pakistan is co-hosting a ministerial-level conference on December 9 to discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan and officials of about 27 countries are expected to attend it.A Foreign Office (FO) official said that Pakistan has invited the Foreign Ministers of different countries including India for the meeting. “We hope for maximum participation, though some of the countries like India so far have not confirmed high-level participation,” he said on condition of anonymity.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Another FO official said there was “greater possibility” that Swaraj would come to Pakistan for the regional conference after the brief interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart in Paris on the sidelines of the UN climate summit. According to Dawn, a senior Pakistani official said that Swaraj was “highly likely” to attend the meeting.The Express Tribune quoted officials at Pakistan’s Foreign Office and an Indian diplomat that “Swaraj will most likely attend the conference following this week’s unscheduled meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India in Paris”.Modi and Sharif had a brief meeting during which they warmly held hands before sitting down for a chat, with the Indian side describing the encounter as a “brief exchange of courtesies” but Pakistanis terming it as a “good” meeting.Swaraj’s possible visit may also indicate breaking of impasse created in Indo-Pak ties after the cancellation of a meeting between the NSAs of the two countries in August amid mutual blame game.

UNSC seat should not be a high priority for India: Former Diplomat

Getting a seat in the United Nations Security Council should not be a high priority for India, a former top diplomat has said.

Representational Image

Getting a seat in the United Nations Security Council should not be a high priority for India, a former top diplomat has said.”I don’t think it should be a high priority for India. We have wasted enough time in this already,” Krishnan Srinivasan, former Foreign Secretary of India, said on Tuesday. He said the issue was so complicated that it was postponed year after year at the UN.”Permanent membership of the UNSC without veto is not so attractive that we should spent time on it,” he said.United Nations Information Centre director Kiran Mehra Kerpelman said the discussion on UN in India was always related to the UNSC seat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Many complain that the UN only talks, but talking is better than bombing,” she said.

Following Emergency in island nation, Sushma Swaraj holds talks with Maldivian FM Dunya Maumoon

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen had on November 4 imposed Emergency in the country for 30 days citing threat to national security and gave sweeping powers to security forces.

Maumoon’s visit here comes nearly a month after Swaraj’s trip to Male during which she co-chaired a Joint Commission meeting. ”

Imgae credit: MEA Twitter
Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon on Saturday apprised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj circumstances leading to imposition of Emergency in the island nation earlier this month besides current political situation. After her extensive talks with Swaraj, Maumoon, who arrived here today on a two-day visit, said she came here to apprise India about the Emergency and developments leading to it. Both Swaraj and Maumoon also deliberated on a range of other issues of mutual interest. “I came largely to personally apprise about the emergency and other developments leading to the Emergency,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen had on November 4 imposed Emergency in the country for 30 days citing threat to national security and gave sweeping powers to security forces. However, the Emergency was lifted on November 10, a week after its imposition after requests from many countries including the US and Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth. Maumoon’s visit here comes nearly a month after Swaraj’s trip to Male during which she co-chaired a Joint Commission meeting. “Diplomacy at home and abroad! Earlier today EAM @SushmaSwaraj met Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.During her visit, Swaraj had called on Yameen who had bluntly told her that his government will not tolerate that “foreign parties” interfere in domestic issues. The remarks were downplayed by India, maintaining that they were aimed at the Commonwealth and not at it.

Full text: Come, you will get wings of a new business environment in India, says PM at Asean meet

Prime minister Narendra Modi today invited the business community in the Asean region to see the winds of change in India and promised them the full cooperation.

“Now, it is India’s turn. And we know that our time has come. We are at a take-off stage,” he said at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

In the speech he claimed his government has been striving hard to bring about reforms in order to transform the country.

Referring to the recent measures on the FDI fron he said the government has taken dynamic steps to further open up the economy.

“With this round of reforms, we are among the most open economies in the world,” he claimed.

Here’s the full text of his speech:

Tan Sri Dato Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council,

Dato Ramesh Koddamal, Co-Chair of the ASEAN-India Business Council,

Business Leaders of ASEAN,

Members of the ASEAN Business Community,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very happy to be here with you. I feel honoured to address this privileged gathering of the leaders who have transformed South East Asia into one of the most dynamic regions of the world. I congratulate you for this achievement. I also congratulate you on the creation of One ASEAN Community which you are going to sign off tomorrow.

India and ASEAN are natural partners. Our ties date back to ancient times. They continue to serve as a bridge between our countries and regions.

Friends! I have been saying that the 21st century belongs to Asia. I say this because of the track record of the ASEAN countries. Together, ASEAN’s ten member countries form an economic powerhouse. ASEAN has emerged as one of the largest economic zones in the world. Last fifteen years have seen your rapid and yet stable growth. Your Macro-economic stability has been the main reason for growth and stability in South East Asia. With good governance, futuristic infrastructure and focus on new age technologies, you have created excellence.

In simple things like tourism, you have done miracles. Once again, I compliment the leadership and people of ASEAN countries for what they have achieved.

When I analyse the Asian miracle, I find that small countries of ASEAN and a big country like China, both have done well. This shows that growth depends more on the spirit of people rather than the size of population. I have had personal relations with many leaders of this region. I have also visited a number of places a number of times. Even as Prime Minister, my engagements with the Asian leadership started as soon as I took over. I met a number of ASEAN leaders in the last Summit too.

PM Modi at the Asean summitPM Modi at the Asean summit

PM Modi at the Asean summit

My government took office nearly 18 months ago. The Indian economy faced serious challenges. A high fiscal deficit, a high current account deficit, a large number of stalled infrastructure projects and persistent inflation were among them.

It was obvious that reforms were needed. We asked ourselves the question – Reforms for what? What is the aim of reform? Is it just to increase the measured rate of GDP growth? Or is it to bring about a transformation in society? My answer is clear: we must REFORM TO TRANSFORM.

In short, reform is not an end in itself. Reform for me is just a way station on the long journey to the destination. The destination is the transformation of India. We have to take the fruits of development to the margins of our geography and to the bottom of our demography. We have to touch lives, while reaching for the sky.

By almost every major economic indicator, India is doing better than when we took office 18 months ago.

• GDP growth is up and inflation is down

• Foreign investment is up and the Current Account Deficit is down.

• Tax revenues are up and interest rates are down.

• The fiscal deficit is down and the rupee is stable.

Obviously, this did not happen by accident. And the world economy is not exactly doing well. This success is the result of a series of concerted policies. We have embarked on a course of fiscal consolidation. We have entered, for the first time, into a monetary framework agreement with the Reserve Bank to curb inflation.

Even while cutting the fiscal deficit, we have substantially increased productive public investment. This has been made possible in two ways. Firstly, we have imposed carbon taxes on fossil fuels. We have taken the bold step of de-controlling diesel prices and thereby eliminated energy subsidies, and have in fact imposed taxes on fossil fuels. We have increased the cess on coal by 300%. Globally, there is much talk of carbon taxes. We have actually acted. Secondly, we have reduced wasteful expenditure through innovative methods including targeting subsidies to the deserving through technology.

PM Modi at the Asean summitPM Modi at the Asean summit

PM Modi at the Asean summit

Overall, there is increased confidence within and outside the country. The IMF and World Bank have expressed even better hope for our economy this year and after. The Economist magazine this week stated that “India is in healthier shape than any other big emerging economy.”

However, as I said, our aim is not mere reform, but “reform to transform”. Macro-economic stability is good. But to transform India, much more needs to be done. We have begun a series of concerted steps. These include structural and institutional reforms.

Agriculture remains India’s mainstay in terms of providing livelihood. We have introduced a series of simple but powerful structural reforms. There was a tendency to divert subsidised fertiliser for the production of chemicals. We have found a simple but very effective solution: by neem-coating the fertiliser, it becomes unsuitable for diversion. We are now moving towards universal neem-coating. This has already saved billions of rupees of diverted farm subsidies.

We have also introduced Soil Health Card. This tells every farmer the condition of his or her soil and then enables him to choose the right crop, best quantity and mix of inputs.

We have launched a housing for all program, one of the most ambitious in the world. It involves building 20 million urban houses and 29.5 million rural houses, totalling nearly 50 million. While the programme will make sure no Indian is houseless, it will also generate a large amount of employment – that too, mainly for the unskilled, the semi-skilled and the poor.

We have undertaken major improvements in the transport sector. Our major ports witnessed a 4.65% growth in traffic and an 11.2% increase in operating income, in 2014-15 despite a global contraction in trade volume.

The pace of award of new highway works has increased from 9 km/day in 2013-14 to 23 km/day currently. These will have large multiplier effects throughout the economy.

We were committed to restore credibility in the process of allocation of natural resources. My government has intervened with legislative and administrative measures to improve the supply of critical inputs and raw materials. They include Coal, other minerals and spectrum. The hallmark of this intervention is allocation through transparent auction.

We started the Jan Dhan Yojana. In less than a year, we opened 190 million new bank accounts. On Social security front, we have launched innovative and attractive schemes for insurance and pension. We have also set up MUDRA Bank to fund the small traders who were unfunded so far. More than six million small traders have already availed the loans.

While expanding the banking services, we are also taking steps to strengthen the Banking system. Credible and capable bankers have been appointed to head banks. For the first time since banks were nationalised 46 years ago, private sector professionals have been appointed in key positions. We have taken concerted action to revive stalled infrastructure projects – We have started a major revamp of the power sector. These measures will also benefit our banks.

Let me now turn to issues of investment, which may be of more direct relevance to you.

In a break with over 65 years of tradition, we have involved India’s States in foreign policy. The Ministry of External Affairs has been asked to work with the States. When I visited China, a state-to-state summit was also held. And states have been asked to create export promotion councils. Making the States think globally is yet another reform with potential to transform.

Our aim is to create jobs for more than a billion young hands. To provide this, the share of manufacturing must reach around 25% in our GDP. We have launched a campaign called ‘Make in India’ and aggressively worked on the front of Ease of doing business. Reducing complicated procedures, making them available at one platform- preferably online, simplifying the forms and formats has been taken up on war footing. That is how we have jumped up by 12 ranks in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report of 2016. Industry is realising the benefits of these changes. Index of Industrial Production in the current year shows a distinct improvement over the previous year. We are working in all ways to make India a global manufacturing hub.

World Class Infrastructure has remained a dream for India. Hence, our maximum focus is on building futuristic infrastructure. By exercising tight control over unproductive expenditure, we have greatly increased capital investment by the Public Sector. To further augment such investments, we are encouraging the PPP model. We are also setting up National Investment and Infrastructure Fund which will help us leverage public investments. We are also coming up with Tax Free Infrastructure Bonds with a view to broaden the corporate bond market and to provide long term finance for infrastructure. We are eager to work with Malaysia, Singapore and other ASEAN countries in this regard.

As a result of our initiatives,

PM Narendra ModiPM Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi

• The sentiments for private investment and inflow of foreign investment have turned positive. Foreign investment is up 40%.

• India has been consistently ranked as the most attractive investment destination by several global agencies and institutions.

• India has also improved its UNCTAD ranking of investment attractiveness. Against 15th so far, now we are at 9th place.

• India has also jumped 16 places on the World Economic Forum’s global competitive index after five years of decline in the list.

• MOODY’s have upgraded the outlook for India.

Campaigns like Digital India and Skill India are designed to prepare the people to take part in this process. We have witnessed exponential growth in the number of start-ups in the recent past. To tap this energy fully, we have launched the Start up India Campaign.

We are aware of the interest of the Global investor community in the potential that India has. In recent months, this interest has gone up. Therefore, to re-vitalize the flow of investments, we have launched the second wave of structural and financial reforms. We are trying to further open up the economy and introduce an element of predictability and stability in taxation system.

To give you some examples:

• We have allowed and enhanced FDI levels in key sectors including Insurance, Defence and Railways.

• Now, most of these FDI sectors have been put on automatic approval route.

• We have also rationalised FDI policies in many sectors, including construction, plantation and medical devices.

• We have now allowed composite caps for Foreign portfolio investors in all sectors where FDI is allowed. Earlier, portfolio investments had a separate cap.

• We have greatly liberalised the licensing regime; to give you one example – we have taken out almost 60% of Defence items out of the licensing process.

• We have ended retrospective taxation.

• We have notified the regulations for the Alternative Investment Funds.

• We have rationalized capital gains tax for Real Estate Investment Trusts.

• We have also decided to defer the implementation of General Anti Avoidance Rules.

• We have introduced the Goods & Services Tax Bill in Parliament. We are hopeful of rolling it out in 2016. This will create a unified system of taxation across the country.

• We have drafted a new bankruptcy code. Formation of the Company Law Tribunal to expedite cases is on the way.

These are just a few examples. Almost on a daily basis, we are trying to remove the bottlenecks that were affecting our growth process. Even early this month, we have taken very dynamic steps to further open up the economy for FDI. With this round of reforms, we are among the most open economies in the world.

Going further, I want to assure you that India is committed to protect Intellectual Property Rights of all innovators. We have taken several initiatives for transparency and online processing in IP administration. A comprehensive National IPR policy is expected by the end of the year. We are moving fast to make sure that our tax regime is transparent and predictable. We are also keen to see that genuine investors and honest tax payers get quick and fair decisions on tax matters.

Friends, India is a land of immense opportunities. To give you some examples: our fifty cities are ready for putting up Metro Rail Systems. We have to build 50 million affordable houses. The requirement of road, rail and waterways is enormous. We have decided to go for renewable energy in a big way – 175 GW. We have to do all this in a short span of time. Our democratic values and an alert judicial system ensure the safety of your investments. We have set the tone of Governance with a long term vision and an open mind. We are particularly working to make India the easiest place to do business.

Friends, Most of the ASEAN economies have done their bit for Asia’s resurgence. Now, it is India’s turn. And we know that our time has come. We are at a take-off stage. I invite you to come and see the winds of change in India. Winds do take time to cross the borders. That is why; I am personally here to invite you. When you come, you will get the wings of a new business environment. And once you are there, I assure you of my full co-operation.

Thank You.

Notice to Indira Jaising’s NGO for FCRA ‘violation’

‘Lawyers Collective’ has allegedly received foreign contribution between 2006-07 and 2013-14 and the Home Ministry reportedly found discrepancy in the filing of annual returns of the NGO where Jaising, who had served as the Additional Solicitor General in UPA government, was functioning as Secretary.
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A show cause notice has been served by the Home Ministry to an NGO run by Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. ‘Lawyers Collective’ has allegedly received foreign contribution between 2006-07 and 2013-14 and the Home Ministry reportedly found discrepancy in the filing of annual returns of the NGO where Jaising, who had served as the Additional Solicitor General in UPA government, was functioning as Secretary.”Yes, the Home Ministry has served a show cause notice to Ms Indira Jaising under FCRA,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On behalf of ‘Lawyers Collective’ and Jaising, a statement was issued saying that “neither I nor the Lawyers Collective has received any notice from you under FCRA relating to allegations about violation of the FCRA or any other law. As and when it is received, it will be responded in accordance with law.”However, the statement disclosed receiving a letter requesting them to answer a “standard questionnaire, which we are in the process of replying” by December 7.She said, “I am indeed surprised that the notice seems to have been released to the press, even before it is served on Lawyers Collective or me or before I or the Lawyers Collective have had an opportunity to respond to it.”I am constrained to come to the conclusion that this is an exercise in creating a negative public perception about me and the Lawyers Collective and not about the alleged violations of law.” She expressed hope that the government will follow the legal route, rather than use the press to “achieve extraneous aims”.”I, therefore, request that you refrain from issuing copies of alleged notices, which are meant for me or the Lawyers Collective, to the press and observe due process of law,” Jaising, who is at present in the US, said in the statement.She again reiterated that no notice has been received about the allegations about the violations of the FCRA or any law by her or the ‘Lawyers Collective’.”If it has indeed been issued, you are requested to send it to the registered address of the Lawyers Collective, if it pertains to the Lawyers Collective, or to me if it pertains to me so that an appropriate reply can be made,” she said.Lawyers Collective has its registered office in Mumbai.

Was Narendra Modi given a warm welcome in UK back in 2003? Former diplomat disagrees

According to Satyabrata Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK post Godhra riots, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.

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PM Narendra Modi in his recent UK tour addressed a joint press conference with David Cameron where questions were raised about travel restrictions imposed on the erstwhile Gujarat CM post-2002 Godhra riots. Modi answered promptly saying that he wants to ‘set the record straight’ and that he had travelled to UK in 2003, and was warmly welcomed in the country. Now, ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal, who was India’s Deputy High Commission in London at that time has written an article in The Wire, where he claims that the situation was not as rosy as Modi is claiming in UK at that time. Pal says that post-Gujarat riot, the British media was up in arms and Foreign Office in London was busy doing damage control. According to Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK in such a hostile atmosphere, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They thought that Modi’s visit would drive a wedge between the immigrants and criticising him would not go down well with the Indian government, a crucial ally. Hence according to Pal, they wanted Modi to cancel his visit keeping larger bilateral interests in mind. The Indian High Commission also shared similar views and they sent their recommendations to the Foreign Ministry. Pal claims that Foreign Ministry also saw reason to their objection, but due to intervention from then PM Vajpayee, Modi’s trip went through. Pal has made an even more startling claim that there was serious apprehension of Modi being formally arrested or being under citizen’s arrest during his 2003 UK tour. UK government expressed their concern to their Indian counterpart, however Modi continued his trip as usual. According to Pal, this showed that Narendra Modi’s personal ambition was more important to him than Indo- UK bilateral relationship. Pal goes on to say that in 2005 Modi again planned a UK visit but the authorities were much more strident in their views. With a regime change in India too, Modi chose to play safe that time and promptly cancelled his visit, claims ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal.

India, Afghanistan discusses key bilateral, regional issues

During foreign office consultations today which were led by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation and various aspects of regional security, particularly the menace of terrorism.

The consultations came close on the heels of a visit by Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar last week during which he had held discussions with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as well as his counterpart Ajit Doval

Photo courtesy: MEA Twitter handle
India and Afghanistan on Tuesday discussed key bilateral and regional issues including the security situation in the war-torn country amid India’s commitment to strengthen the defence capability of that country.During foreign office consultations today which were led by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation and various aspects of regional security, particularly the menace of terrorism.”A Neighbour & a Friend. Foreign Secretary & Dy FM Hekmat Karzai lead #IndiaAfghanistan Foreign Office Consultations,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The consultations came close on the heels of a visit by Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar last week during which he had held discussions with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as well as his counterpart Ajit Doval.During Atmar’s visit, the two countries had discussed ways and means to enhance cooperation to strengthen Afghanistan’s defence capability for safeguarding its security and combating all forms of terrorism.

FDI in Defence: Congress unwilling to support Modi government’s decisions

Interacting with reporters here, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “We make it clear this will not be supported, there is no national consensus. We are for FDI, we are for FDI in defence also but we cannot have those checks removed in a sensitive sector like defence

Noting that “there is no national consensus” on easing of FDI norms in the defence sector, Congress on Friday said it would not support the move as “we cannot have those checks removed” in such a sensitive sector.Interacting with reporters here, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “We make it clear this will not be supported, there is no national consensus. We are for FDI, we are for FDI in defence also but we cannot have those checks removed in a sensitive sector like defence. We cannot have scrutiny and cabinet committee approval done away with.” He said the erstwhile UPA-II government had increased FDI in defence to 49% but there was a condition that there would be scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) approval.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This government has dispensed with any FIPB scrutiny or CCS approval for FDI up to 49% and put it under automatic route,” Sharma said, adding that his party opposes this decision firmly. The government had on November 11 relaxed foreign direct investment norms in the defence sector by allowing FDI up to 49% under automatic route and beyond that through the FIPB’s approval. It had also done away with the earlier requirement of mandatory permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) beyond 49%.The Congress leader said that while an impression was being given that these are just executive decisions but the government is obliged to come to Parliament also. “Once the FDI policy decisions are made, it’s mandatory that RBI will come up with a FEMA notification, which the government is obliged to table in both Houses of Parliament. And Parliament alone would ratify those notifications, both Houses independently,” Sharma, who is the Congress’ deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, said.”We equally have concerns about the opening up of the media sector, particularly the news and current affairs. In raising the FDI, it shall be opposed. We don’t want to create monopolies, we don’t want foreign media moguls to come and control Indian media, particularly news and current affairs,” Sharma added. He said it was also perhaps the first time such decisions had been taken without cabinet approval, which would be acquired later. “After the achievements in Bihar election, and before going to London, the Prime Minister has taken these decisions, perhaps to demonstrate that he has vision,” Sharma said.

Modi in UK: PM Modi, British PM Cameron commence bilateral talks

S Jaishankar, Vikas Swaroop, Navtej Sarna Rajan Mathai, Narendra Modi, David Cameron, United Kingdom

Delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his United Kingdom counterpart David Cameron commenced a short while ago at the latter’s 10 Downing Street residence here. National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop, Secretary (West) Navtej Sarna and India’s High Commissioner to the UK Rajan Mathai besides several other top officials are assisting the Prime Minister in the talks.”I’m confident that the Indo-UK relationship will further deepen under your leadership. I hope ties between both our nations will be productive, beneficial for each other, the world and humanity,” Prime Minister Modi said in his opening remarks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was earlier given a ceremonial Guard of Honour in the Treasury Quadrangle on King Charles Street here. British Prime Minister David Cameron and key members of his cabinet were also present on the occasion. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi arrived here today on a three-day bilateral visit to the United Kingdom. He was received at the Heathrow Airport by Hugo Swire who is the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Priti Patel who is Witham constituency MP, the Indian High Commissioner to UK Rajan Mathai, UK’s High Commissioner to India James Bevan along with several senior officials of the British Government and military attach?s of the Indian High Commission.This is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to Britain since assuming office last year and is also the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UK in almost a decade.

India frees up foreign investment in 15 major sectors | Reuters

NEW DELHIIndia has eased foreign direct investment norms in 15 major sectors, including mining, defence, civil aviation and broadcasting, the government said on Tuesday, in a bid to drum up investment and speed growth.

The announcement came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to regain the political initiative after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a humiliating defeat last Sunday in a state election that has reinvigorated opposition parties.

“The crux of these reforms is to further ease, rationalise and simplify the process of foreign investments into the country and to put more and more FDI proposals on the automatic route, instead of the government route, where the time and energy of the investors are wasted,” the government said in a statement.

The government also increased the financial power of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to give single window clearance for investment projects of up to 50 billion rupees ($753.35 million), from 30 billion.

The government statement listed the sectors where investment norms have been eased, but did not cite precise steps. The sectors include construction, agriculture, mining and banking.

Within defence manufacturing, firms can automatically increase foreign ownership to 49 percent, without seeking government approval.

Tuesday’s move makes it easier for private sector lenders such as Axis bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank to raise fresh foreign capital, as foreign portfolio investors can buy stakes of up to 74 percent on condition there will be no change in control and management.

Modi hopes the measures, most of them aimed at cutting red tape, will help bypass parliament, where his reforms have run into political opposition.

“The most significant thing is there have been FDI reforms in a broad range of sectors. This will help boost the economy and add jobs,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

Modi heads to Britain this week to strengthen economic ties with the world’s fifth largest economy.

A government source said Tuesday’s reforms had been in the planning stage for a while, and were not related to the election loss in Bihar.

SINGLE BRAND RETAIL

The government eased rules on sourcing for “single brand” retailers, particularly for high-tech, and allowed them to sell online without specific permissions.

But it stopped short of lifting curbs on multi-brand retailers, such as retail giant Wal-Mart, which to date has focused on its wholesale business in India. That segment was opened to foreign investment in 2012, but the limit remains at 51 percent.

The measures also free up restrictions in the construction industry, allowing overseas investors to exit and repatriate investment even before project completion.

During the period from January to June, foreign direct investment flows into India rose to $19.4 billion, up 30 percent from a year earlier, a sign of what the government called investors’ growing confidence in the country.

India’s economy, which grew at 7 percent in the first quarter of 2015/16, is projected to expand at around 7.5 percent this year.

($1=66.37 rupees)

(Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Manoj Kumar, Nidhi Verma, Rupam Jain Nair and Mayank Bharadwaj in New Delhi and Clara Ferreira-Marques and Devidutt Tripathy; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Malini Menon and Clarence Fernandez)

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

Modi visit will tackle challenges of our time: UK minister

Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.”

File Photos

The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship and shared values, a senior minister here has said as the country paid homage to troops from the Indian sub-continent who fought alongside their British colonial leaders. “This week we also commemorate, once again, the men and women from our two countries who fought together in both World Wars for freedom and democracy. India made a huge contribution to Britain’s war effort and staggering numbers fought on behalf of the allied forces,” Britain’s minister in charge of India in the UK Foreign Office Hugo Swire said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today, British Indians contribute immensely to the UK and are a cornerstone of British life. We see their success in culture, business, media, public services and, increasingly, in politics too,” he said. Britain marked ‘Remembrance Sunday’ in honour of the troops who laid their lives in the wars.Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.””The visit by Prime Minister Modi this week is an opportunity to celebrate the ties between our two great countries and deepen our existing bonds in business, education, security, and culture,” he said. “This visit will also ensure that our partnership plays an indispensable role in tackling the immense challenges of our time, from climate change and migration, to economic development and security.” “As the oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world it is right that we come together and build two great futures for our two nations.”

Greenpeace India’s registration cancelled by Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies

The NGO said the fresh notice of cancellation of its registration was an extension of the “deep intolerance” for differing viewpoints which the government was “harbouring” and asserted that it would again seek legal “redress”.

Greenpeace

Greenpeace India on Friday claimed that its registration as a society has been cancelled by Registrar of Societies in Tamil Nadu and said the government’s “clumsy” tactics to suppress free speech was turning into a national and international embarrassment.The NGO said the fresh notice of cancellation of its registration was an extension of the “deep intolerance” for differing viewpoints which the government was “harbouring” and asserted that it would again seek legal “redress”.”Greenpeace India Society has just received notice from the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies, summarily announcing cancellation of its registration as a society,” the NGO said in a statement. It said while several international leaders, including the United Nations Secretary General have recently upheld the importance of civil society in healthy democracies, this notice is the “latest assault” on free speech in India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The RoS is clearly acting under directions of the Home Ministry in Delhi, which has been trying to shut Greenpeace India down for over a year now. “The MHA’s clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government,” said Vinuta Gopal, Interim Executive Director of Greenpeace India. It said for the last 18 months, Greenpeace India has endured repeated attempts at suppression through different government authorities.”This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbour,” Gopal said. She said the Registrar has passed this order without granting Greenpeace a hearing and without complying with the Madras High Court order to address each of our points and queries. “This is a blatant attempt to circumvent the legal process and shows no respect for the law. We are confident that we are on strong legal ground. We have faith in the legal process and are confident of overcoming this order,” she said.It can be mentioned here that the Union home ministry had recently told Delhi high court that it cancelled the foreign contribution registration of the NGO as it was continuing to use its Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) accounts despite the suspension of the same.

Arrest of Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir violates ‘human rights’, says Pakistan

It added, “The massive gathering of people in Kashmir for Hurriyat leadership is a stamp of approval for the realization of the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people under UN auspices.”

Pakistan has condemned the recent crackdown on Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it was a clear violation of human rights.”These actions are an attempt by the Indian authorities to stifle the voice of the Kashmiris, who are struggling against the continued Indian occupation and gross human rights violations in Kashmir,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said.Pakistan condemns the recent crackdown on political workers and especially the leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in Kashmir,” the Foreign Office further said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It added, “The massive gathering of people in Kashmir for Hurriyat leadership is a stamp of approval for the realization of the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people under UN auspices.”The state police and administration have imposed curfew like restriction in seven police station areas of the city on Friday to thwart the ‘Jamia Masjid chalo’ call given by the Separatist leadership ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the state.The state government has launched a massive crackdown on separatist leaders ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the state.All prominent separatist leaders, including JKLF chief Yasin Malik, senior Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have been either detained or put under house arrest.Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, who continues to be under house detention since he returned from New Delhi this April, has announced a ‘Million March’ on November 7, the same day when Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address a rally in Srinagar.

Ready to help India in addressing economic challenges: US

NDA Government has taken a number of positive steps for streamlining the economy but is not moving as fast as America would like to have, a top US official has said, offering help to address India’s internal challenges like bureaucratic and infrastructure bottlenecks.

NDA Government has taken a number of positive steps for streamlining the economy but is not moving as fast as America would like to have, a top US official has said, offering help to address India’s internal challenges like bureaucratic and infrastructure bottlenecks.Underlining that India-America commercial ties has considerable room to grow, Arun M Kumar, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, said “India is only our 11th largest trading partner and 18th largest export market. Two-way trade is more than five times smaller than in the US-China relationship.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India’s vast untapped potential makes playing the long-game worthwhile,” said Kumar, who is also Director General for the US and Foreign Commercial Service, at an event organised by Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.Listing out the challenges being faced, he said India’s bureaucratic capacity; the overall ease of doing business; systemic infrastructure bottlenecks; and the challenge of finding adequate financing to complete infrastructure and other large-scale projects are the major hurdles.”We stand ready to help India address its internal challenges. By helping facilitate a single market, the GST is an important building block to facilitate greater trade and investment with India.”The Modi government is aware of the hurdles, and while it is not moving as fast as some would like, it has taken a number of initial, positive steps,” he said.The US officials said the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue can and should be the long-term vehicle to help drive the commercial aspect of the relationship.Private sector from each country will be active participants in driving the relationship forward in the years to come, he noted.

Pakistan says nuclear capability built to ‘deter’ agression from India

The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman issued a statement in this regard after an article by scientist and commentator Dr Parvez Hoodbhoy said in its opening sentence that Pakistan will use nukes in case of war with India

Pakistan on Wednesday said its nuclear capability is to “deter” possible aggression from India and to prevent war.The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman issued a statement in this regard after an article by scientist and commentator Dr Parvez Hoodbhoy said in its opening sentence that Pakistan will use nukes in case of war with India.”The opening sentence of the article is not only incorrect but also misleading,” Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said. Hoodbhoy’s article said, “Pakistan may first use nuclear weapons in a future war with India was announced last week by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khalilullah clarified that the Foreign Secretary had stated that Pakistan’s nuclear capability has been developed to deter aggression by India. “This capability is for deterrence and to prevent war,” he said. The Foreign Office statement claimed that India is using its conventional advantage to “create space for war” while Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intended to “prevent and eliminate that space for war”.Chaudhry last month had said Pakistan’s tactical weapons are aimed at off-setting the threat by India’s cold-start doctrine — developed for use in a possible war with Pakistan that involves various branches of India’s military conducting offensive operations.

Russia stance on Assad suggests divergence with Iran | Reuters

MOSCOW Russia does not see keeping Bashar al-Assad in power as a matter of principle, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday in comments that suggested a divergence of opinion with Iran, the Syrian president’s other main international backer.

Fuelling speculation of Russian-Iranian differences over Assad, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps suggested on Monday that Tehran may be more committed to him than Russia, saying Moscow “may not care if Assad stays in power as we do”.

While Russia and Iran have been Assad’s foremost foreign supporters during Syria’s four-year-old war, the United States, its Gulf allies and Turkey have insisted the president must step down as part of any eventual peace deal.Talks in Vienna on Friday among the main foreign players involved in diplomatic efforts on Syria failed to reach agreement on Assad.

Asked by a reporter on Tuesday if saving Assad was a matter of principle for Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Absolutely not, we never said that.”

“We are not saying that Assad should leave or stay,” RIA news agency quoted her as saying.

But another regime change in the Middle East could be a catastrophe that “could simply turn the whole region into a large black hole”, she added.

Zakharova said Russia had not changed its policy on Assad and that his fate should be decided by the Syrian people.

But her remarks appeared to suggest a difference of approach compared with Iran, which has sent forces to fight alongside Assad’s military and ordered in fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it controls.

Russia “may not care if Assad stays in power as we do”, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency on Monday. But he added: “We don’t know any better person to replace him.”

Syria’s deputy foreign minister rejected the idea of a transitional period sought by Western states that want Assad removed from power, saying during a visit to Iran that an expanded government was being discussed.

“We are talking about a national dialogue in Syria and an expanded government and a constitutional process. We are not at all talking about what is called a transitional period,” Faisal Mekdad said.

Russia intervened militarily at the end of September to support Assad by launching bombing raids on rebel groups trying to overthrow him.

DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS

But Moscow has also shown increasing flexibility as it steps up diplomatic efforts to resolve a conflict that has killed 250,000 and displaced millions.

Syrian government officials and members of the country’s splintered opposition could meet in Moscow next week.

“Next week, we will invite opposition representatives to a consultation in Moscow,” Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying.

“The meeting … will possibly be with the participation of government representatives,” Bogdanov said. He did not say which opposition members might attend, but the invitation appeared to suggest a change in tone from Moscow, which has until now dismissed such groups.

Moscow’s goal was not to support Assad, but to save the Syrian state and defeat terrorist groups, a Russian analyst said. “It is the beginning of a political process,” said Irina Zvyagelskaya, a Middle East analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss attempts to start a dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, Moscow’s foreign ministry said.

At the talks in Vienna, where Russia was the leading player, Moscow said it wanted opposition groups to participate in future discussions on the Syria crisis and exchanged a list of 38 names with Saudi Arabia.

The list included mostly former and current members of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC), Syria’s Western-backed political opposition bloc, Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Among those named were former SNC head Moaz al-Khatib and incumbent president Khaled Khoja, the daily reported, as well as representatives from a diverse range of political, religious and ethnic groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and a Christian pro-democracy movement.

Khoja said last week the Russian air strikes were intended to prop up Assad and had helped Islamic State militants who have taken control of large areas of the country.

The SNC has been accused of slipping into virtual irrelevance on the battlefield as Islamist and Kurdish groups have grown stronger. But it remains one of the main parties in international discussions to end the war.

The coalition boycotted peace talks held in Russia in January and April, distrustful of the Kremlin and dismissing Damascus rivals who attended as token opposition, but it sent a delegation to Moscow in August.

REBEL ADVANCE

On the battlefield, a newly-formed U.S.-backed Syrian rebel alliance advanced against Islamic State in the northeast province of Hasaka on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

In the west, Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in Hama province while unidentified jets bombarded the outskirts of the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa in the north.

Syrian government forces and allied militia clashed in fierce battles with Islamic State fighters southeast of Aleppo city, the Observatory said.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry and Sylvia Westall in Beirut; Writing by Giles Elgood; editing by David Stamp)

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

Shiv Sena says proud of Pakistan government calling it a terrorist organisation

“Whatever is happening in Pakistan in relation to the Shiv Sena, is a matter of pride for us. Pakistan government’s stand against us has put a stamp of approval on our patriotism,” said Sena.

Shiv Sena logo

Seizing on Pakistan government’s call to the international community to take note of Shiv Sena’s activities, the party has prided itself saying the neighbouring country’s stand firmly vindicated its patriotism even though it would have brought cheers to its critics.In a dig at those who criticised it, including the ally BJP, over its aggressive position against cultural and sporting ties with Pakistan, Sena said those who have opposed its stand would be happy with Pakistan’s statement.”Whatever is happening in Pakistan in relation to the Shiv Sena, is a matter of pride for us. Pakistan government’s stand against us has put a stamp of approval on our patriotism….We consider it as our good fortune that Pakistan considers us as their enemy and thereby has crowned us with respect and glory,” said an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ on Monday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sena said it does not regret its decision to oppose the concert planned by Ghazal legend Ghulam Ali, former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri’s book launch and Pakistani cricket players’ tour in Mumbai.”Pakistan is a parasite born out of the Indian soil, which they have reddened with the blood of innocents. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had demanded that Shiv Sena be declared a terrorist organisation. Now, the Nawaz Sharif government has asked the global community to take notice of us.”Those who feel that terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the Parliament attackers were sent to India to do ‘Satyanarayan Puja,’ (a ritual for wellbeing) will be very happy with Pakistan’s stand on the Sena. Crackers will be burst in Pakistan seeing their happiness,” it said.Pakistan had on Friday asked the international community to take note of the “terrorist” activities of Shiv Sena which smeared the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni with black paint to protest launch of Kasuri’s book organised by him.”I agree with you that the international community should take note of the terrorist activities of this organisation. We have repeatedly expressed our concern on its activities,” said Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah during his weekly briefing while responding to a question about any plans to get Sena declared a terrorist organisation globally.

Pakistan urges the world to take notice of Shiv Sena’s ‘terrorist’ activities

Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said this during his weekly briefing while responding to a question about any plans to get Shiv Sena declared a terrorist organisation globally.

Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
File Photo

Pakistan on Friday asked the international community to take notice of the “terrorist activities” of Shiv Sena which had blackened the face of ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni over the launch of a book by former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri.”I agree with you that the international community should take note of the terrorist activities of this organisation. We have repeatedly expressed our concern on its activities,” said Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah.Khalilullah said this during his weekly briefing while responding to a question about any plans to get Shiv Sena declared a terrorist organisation globally.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier this month, Shiv Sena activists smeared the face of Observer and Research Foundation (ORF) chairman Kulkarni with black paint to protest Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai. A concert of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali, also scheduled in Mumbai, was cancelled after security concerns arose over threats issued by Shiv Sena activists.Khalilullah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and offered condolences as well as assistance following the recent earthquake. Good gestures like this has been made in the past by both sides, he said.”However, this does not diminish the need to resolve outstanding disputes and issues including Kashmir through a ‘sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbours,’ as emphasised in the Pak-US Joint Statement issued during the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington,” he said.To a question, the Foreign Office spokesman said that accusation about the presence of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Karachi have been made in the past and Pakistan rejected them “as baseless and unfounded.” He also said that an Indian Minister recently said that Dawood’s whereabouts were not known.Khalilullah said the steep rise in India’s defence budget and its massive arms buildup through acquisition of modern weaponry is a matter of concern as the growing conventional asymmetry undermines regional stability and also negatively impacts the balance of strategic deterrence.”Pakistan remains fully cognizant of evolving security dynamics in South Asia and, while adhering to the policy of avoiding an arms race, will take all measures to safeguard its national security,” he said. He also said that Pakistan never accepted any pressure from anywhere on its nuclear programme.Being a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan has every right to take all possible measures for its defence, he said.

African ministers appeal to India for ‘Make in Africa’ programme

Stating that the Indian Ocean not only separates India and South Africa but also connects them, Foreign Ministers of South Africa Maite Nkoana-Mashabane added that both the countries should cooperate in exploring the marine resources with the help of modern technology.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during a meeting at The India-Africa Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday.

AFP photo
Several African ministers on Tuesday pitched for investment in their countries and appealed to India for a ‘Make in Africa’ programme besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign. Foreign Ministers of South Africa and South Sudan – Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Barnaba Marial Benjamin aggressively pushed for investments in their countries.”We have resources and the Make in India initiative can get a boost with the help of technology which India has. On the other hand, with investments (in South Africa) there can also be a programme of Make in Africa,” Mashabane said at the Ministerial Meeting of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that the Indian Ocean not only separates India and South Africa but also connects them, she added that both the countries should cooperate in exploring the marine resources with the help of modern technology.The conference witnessed speeches of 40-odd foreign ministers of African nations, cutting across regions. There was also a blend of languages — English, French, Portuguese and Arabic — used by the ministers, reflecting the linguistic diversity of the continent.Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe, which currently is the chair of the African Union, lauded India’s efforts and termed the country a “reliable partner” in cooperation. Noting that India had done exceedingly well in Medium and Small Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) and that 70 per cent of employment in Zimbabwe came through this sector, he said India was an “ideal partner” to team up with.Highlighting the 2015 Development Agenda with an aspiration of transforming world by 2030, Foreign Minister of Uganda Sam Kutesa said India-Africa partnership was central to address the issues through sustainable development.”I have outlined before that if one chooses to live the life of a warrior, they must also be prepared to run. It is therefore important that our decision at this forum embrace the (2015 Development) agenda and put in place clear mechanisms to support its implementation. It is also important that we think about setting time frames for implementation of commitments we make at this forum,” Kutesa, president of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, said in his speech.

AIIMS doctors collect Geeta’s DNA samples to identify parents

New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of 23-year-old Geeta, who has returned to India from Karachi almost after 15 years, to determine her parentage and the results will be known “after 15-20 days”.

Geeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndia

Geeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndia

“We have deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of Geeta from the hotel where she is staying. These samples will be sent to the AIIMS Forensic lab and Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for carrying out necessary tests to determine her parentage,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, Head of AIIMS Forensics Division.

Gupta said that they have already collected the samples of the family which claimed Geeta as its own on 24 October after the Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the hospital.

The Ministry had asked it to collect samples for DNA test to confirm if Janardhan Mahato, who claims that Geeta is his first born Heera, is indeed her father.

“We have already collected the samples from her reported parents after we received a letter from the Foreign Ministry to assist in her DNA test,” said Gupta adding that the samples have been sent to AIIMS Forensic lab and CBI’s Forensic lab.

“We are fast tracking this test and the results will be out in 15-20 days,” he added.

Geeta, a deaf-mute girl, travelled from Karachi to Delhi this morning, nearly 15 years after she accidentally crossed over to Pakistan as a child.

She is accompanied from Karachi by the Edhi family, who run a charitable foundation and looked after her all these years.

Geeta will soon meet Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she earlier this month had identified as her father from one of
the many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission
in Islamabad.

PTI

#GeetaComesHome: Sushma Swaraj says Geeta can stay in India irrespective of DNA test result

“She denied all charges immediately. She said that when she went to Pakistan, she was just a little girl so there was no chance that she could have been married,” Swaraj told the media here.

Picture Source: MEA

Brushing aside all reports that Geeta, who returned from Pakistan, was married with children, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that the news was false as she had denied the same. “She denied all charges immediately. She said that when she went to Pakistan, she was just a little girl so there was no chance that she could have been married,” Swaraj told the media. According to Geeta’s interpreter, she often felt sad when she was living in Pakistan and showed the eagerness to return to her homeland. “I”ve been told that when Geeta was in Pakistan, sometimes she would often fight because she was so upset. But she has been smiling ever since she has come home and that indicates how she really feels at the moment,” Swaraj added. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DNA test conducted The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of 23-year-old Geeta, who has returned to India from Karachi almost after 15 years, to determine her parentage and the results will be known “after 15-20 days”. “We have deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of Geeta from the hotel where she is staying. These samples will be sent to the AIIMS Forensic lab and Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for carrying out necessary tests to determine her parentage,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, Head of AIIMS Forensics Division. Gupta said that they have already collected the samples of the family which claimed Geeta as its own on October 24 after the Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the hospital.(Read: Sushma thanks Edhi foundation)Real Life Bajraangi BhaijaanThe Ministry had asked it to collect samples for DNA test to confirm if Janardhan Mahato, who claims that Geeta is his first born Heera, is indeed her father.”We have already collected the samples from her reported parents after we received a letter from the Foreign Ministry to assist in her DNA test,” said Gupta adding that the samples have been sent to AIIMS Forensic lab and CBI’s Forensic lab.Read: Geeta’s father confident of passing DNA test)”We are fast tracking this test and the results will be out in 15-20 days,” he added. Geeta, a deaf-mute girl, travelled from Karachi to Delhi this morning, nearly 15 years after she accidentally crossed over to Pakistan as a child. She is accompanied from Karachi by the Edhi family, who run a charitable foundation and looked after her all these years. Geeta will soon meet Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she earlier this month had identified as her father from one of the many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. With inputs from agencies

Gurgaon: 4 Shiv Sainiks arrested for disrupting play by Pakistan artists

Around 5-6 young men claiming to be Shiv Sainiks yesterday climbed atop the stage at an open air theatre in Gurgaon, on Delhi’s outskirts, where a group of seven Pakistani actors were staging a play “Banjh” (infertile).

Four alleged Shiv Sena activists were on Sunday arrested for disrupting a drama staged by some Pakistani actors in Gurgaon. Acting on a complaint by Municipal Corporation PRO Satbir Rohilla, Gurgaon police registered an FIR against the four persons belonging to Shiv Sena, police spokesperson said.All the four accused persons, identified as Ajay, Gautam, Sumit and Jitu, have been arrested by the police, the spokesperson said. Around 5-6 young men claiming to be Shiv Sainiks yesterday climbed atop the stage at an open air theatre in Gurgaon, on Delhi’s outskirts, where a group of seven Pakistani actors were staging a play “Banjh” (infertile). “They shouted slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ and disrupted the show for about 5-10 minutes,” Rohilla had said. The incident comes days after the Shiv Sena forced cancellation of ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s musical performance in Mumbai as part of their campaign against personalities from the neighbouring country. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read – Shiv Sena’s protests show face of cultural terrorism in India: Sudheendra KulkarniThe Sena works had also recently blackened the face of former BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni in Mumbai when he refused to cancel the book launch of former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai.

Pakistani citizens visiting India are safe: Indian embassy

It is media hype and the situation on the ground is very different in India,” said the embassy

Amid incidents targetting Pakistanis in India by Shiv Sena activists, the Indian mission on Thursday said there is no security issue for nationals of this country visiting India and visas were being issued as per routine. “There is no delay in issuing visas to Pakistanis citizens and our activities are continuing as per routine,” Indian High Commission spokesperson Balbir Singh said. About recent attacks by Shiv Sena, Singh assured that there is no threat to Pakistani citizens visiting India. “It is media hype and the situation on the ground is very different in India,” he was quoted as saying by The Dawn.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The paper also quoted a Foreign Office (FO) official as saying that the ministry of foreign affairs was in constant contact with the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. The official said it is important for Pakistani citizens in India to remain in touch with the High Commission due to the recent activities of Shiv Sena. “We are observing the situation and if it remains the same due to the activities of Shiv Sena, the FO may issue a travel advisory for our citizens,” he said.In the latest attacks, Shiv Sena activists stormed Mumbai headquarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office, forcing cancellation of a meeting between the cricket chiefs of the two countries. Last week, the Mumbai book launch of Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri was opposed by Shiv Sena, who smeared ink on Observer Research Foundation’s Sudheendra Kulkarni for hosting the event.Earlier this month, threats from Shiv Sena led to organisers cancelling legendary Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s show in Mumbai despite the ruling BJP assuring that the event would not be stopped.

Nawaz Sharif calls Shiv Sena ‘anti-peace elements’, says attacks regretful

The Pakistan Prime Minister said that his visit to the US would help promote relations between the two countries.

These anti-peace elements should desist from their nefarious activities,” he said on his arrival in London from Islamabad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the recent attacks by Shiv Sena, saying it is unfortunate and regretful. “These were even condemned by Indian intellectuals and critics. These anti-peace elements should desist from their nefarious activities,” he said on his arrival in London from Islamabad. Sharif said that there would be no compromise on the country’s national interests during his talks with President Barack Obama and other senior US officials, The Nation reported.The Pakistan Prime Minister said that his visit to the US would help promote relations between the two countries. He also said that Pakistan is a responsible sovereign nuclear state whose strategic assets are secured, that is a deterrence against any kind of external aggression. Sharif stated that evidence of India’s alleged sponsoring of terrorism has been forwarded to relevant people and organisations. The US sees Pakistan as one of the few sources of influence over the extremists, and analysts say Washington will use Sharif’s trip to urge him to keep pushing for a new round of talks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Foreign Office had earlier clarified that no ‘deal’ is being discussed between Pakistan and the United States.

Russia assures cooperation on declassification of Netaji files: Sushma Swaraj

The Russian FM has assured EAM Sushma Swaraj that the country will look into India’s request for declassification of the files.

Imgae credit: MEA Twitter
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has requested Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s cooperation in declassification of files on Subhash Chandra Bose. The Russian FM has assured EAM Sushma Swaraj that the country will look into India’s request for declassification of the files. Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said, “India asked if there is any information from the Subhash Chandra Bose files that can be shared. FM Lavrov said he will look into it.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that its foreign policy towards Russia has never changed, India on Tuesday said it was its “tried and tested real friend”. During her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was very happy to convey that there was progress on all components “Druzhba-Dosti”, the vision document agreed upon during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin last year. “I want to tell you that Russia is India’s tried and tested partner and a real friend. Our foreign policy towards Russia has always been the same,” Swaraj said.On his part, Lavrov said he was hopeful that Swaraj’s visit will provide impetus to India-Russia ties. He also referred to India’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and said that its full membership will give boost to the efforts of the group in achieving its goals. Russia has been favouring India’s permanent SCO membership, saying joining of the group by the largest democracy will add weight to the organisation. The SCO had set in motion the process of granting India a full membership of the grouping at its meeting in the Russian city of Ufa in July. Also read- PM Modi’s decision to declassify Netaji files taken with election in mind: Political partiesIndia, one of the largest energy consumers in the world, is keen to get the membership of the bloc as it will help it play a major role in the SCO energy club which was set up to create a unified energy market as well as to ensure cooperation among major oil and gas companies from the member nations. Three major suppliers of energy — Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have been playing major roles in the SCO energy club and the Indian government feels getting membership of the bloc will give it greater access to a number of key energy projects in the region. SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit. Lavrov also talked about India going to chair the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-China-South Africa) next year and said today’s meeting was a good opportunity to recap the functioning of the grouping.

Why is Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif cutting short his US Visit?

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shortened his official US visit to three days from the initially planned five, the Foreign Office said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shortened his official US visit to three days from the initially planned five, the Foreign Office said, amid reports that the change in his itinerary was made over fears of protests by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf party. “The Prime Minister will be paying an official visit to the United States on 20-23 October,” Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said.”The visit is taking place at the invitation of the President of the United States,” he told reporters. A media report yesterday had said that Sharif’s US visit was initially planned from October 19 to 24. However, Sharif had to cancel some of his engagements in the US apparently over fears that Khan’s party may hold protest against him in Islamabad, as it did during Finance Minister Ishaq Dhar’s visit to New York last month.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report had said that Sharif’s October 19 visit to Chicago, where he was scheduled to address potential Pakistani-American investors, has been cancelled. During the media briefing today, the Foreign Office spokesman said Sharif will meet with President Barack Obama and have other engagements. Khalilullah said that the Prime Minister will brief the US leadership on Pakistan’s policies for the revival of the economy, fight against terrorism and the regional situation.”Discussions will also be held on bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, education, defence, counter- terrorism, health and climate change,” he said. Sharif will also meet Chairman House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Members and interact with Pakistan-US Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He will give a talk at the United States Institute of Peace and address the Pakistani community there.

Former Pakistan defence minister says Bin Laden comments taken out of context

He said if the Pakistan Government knew that Osama was residing in the Abbottabad, action would have been taken immediately.

File Photo
Pakistan’s Former defence minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has denied that he had ever made the remark that Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan was known to the establishment. According to The Nation, Ahmad, while talking to a private news channel, said that Indian media has misquoted his clips and taken his statement out of context.Related Reads: ISI held Osama prisoner for 6 years, handed over to US, claims report
​US trashes Seymour M Hersh’s claim that ISI revealed Osama bin Laden’s hideout​
Germany’s foreign intelligence agency helped US track down Osama, says report
<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said if the Pakistan Government knew that Osama was residing in the Abbottabad, action would have been taken immediately. Earlier, CNN-IBN had broadcasted an interview of Mukhtar in which he stated that then Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Army Chief General Kayani and other officials had prior information about Osama’s s whereabouts. (Read: Pakistan knew Osama was living in Pakistan says ex-Foreign Minister Ahmed Mukhtar)

SC issues notices to activist Teesta Setalvad on alleged illegal foreign funding

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to social activist Teesta Setalvad on a petition by the CBI alleging that an NGO run by her received foreign grants from Ford Foundation which were prohibited under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

File photo. Image courtesy: AFPFile photo. Image courtesy: AFP

File photo. Image courtesy: AFP

Issuing notice to Teesta Setalvad and others, the apex court bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla and Justice V. Gopala Gowda extended till December 8 the bail granted to Teesta and her husband Javed Anand in the alleged misuse of funds in the Gulberg society case.

Directing the listing of the matter on December 1, the court said that Teesta Setalvad will file her response to the CBI plea in four weeks and CBI will file its rejoinder, if any, thereafter.

CBI has challenged Bombay High Court order whereby while holding that the documents being sought by the CBI relates to accounts and therefore it does not require custodial interrogation as it granted her interim bail.

The CBI on Wednesday opposed the high court order granting interim bail to Teesta alleging that she was not cooperating with the investigating agency probing the allegation.

IANS

‘Don’t lecture us on pluralism,’ India hits back at Pakistan

If India has a shortcoming, it is capable of looking after it,” top official sources said.

The Indian reaction came after Pakistan Foreign Office said it “noted with concern attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India”

India on Tuesday lashed out at Pakistan for “lecturing” it on pluralism after Islamabad expressed concern over attempts to disrupt functions of its prominent personalities, and asserted that non-practice of terrorism was central to the betterment of the Indo-Pak relationship. “(As if) Pakistan is the embodiment of tolerance, pluralism. India does not need to take a lecture from Pakistan. If India has a shortcoming, it is capable of looking after it,” top official sources said. The Indian reaction came after Pakistan Foreign Office said it “noted with concern attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India” while referring to cancellation of a cultural event by gazal maestro Ghulam Ali and attempts to disrupt a function in Mumbai organised for its former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. “There is a need to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the sources said India still remains interested in NSA-level talks as per Ufa understanding but made it clear that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft. “A lot of what has not gone as per Ufa is because of Pakistan’s domestic politics…. They are also having some disturbance. There are non-elected players in play. The dynamics of it is both complicated and less transparent. “The issue is that there has to be a recognition that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft and you cannot say it was only Gurudaspur attack, why are you overreacting or an attack on BSF, why are you overreacting.”It cannot be a routine way. There has to be recognition that non-practice of terrorism is central to the betterment of the relationship. If they are in denial of that (that is an issue). One country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. It is not asking for too much,” they said.On Pakistan leaders meeting Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leaders, the sources said India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way they interact with the Hurriyat was done in a manner where they are projected as a third party.

Over 15,000 qualify in civil services prelims exam: UPSC

Over 15,000 people have qualified in this year’s civil services preliminary examination, results of which were declared by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Over 15,000 people have qualified in this year’s civil services preliminary examination, results of which were declared on Monday by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).”A total of 15,008 candidates have qualified in the preliminary examination,” UPSC Secretary Ashim Khurana told PTI.As against a record number of 9,45,908 candidates who have applied for the exam, about 4.63 lakh had sat in the test on August 23, which is about 49 per cent of the total applicants.”The results of the preliminary exam were declared within 50 days of conducting the exam. It is the shortest ever duration in which the results were declared,” Khurana said.For the 2014 exam, the results were declared in 51 days.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All the qualified candidates are advised to fill up the Detailed Application Form online for civil services (main) examination, to be held from December 18, 2015, a statement issued by the UPSC said.The civil services examination is conducted by the UPSC annually in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.The preliminary examination consists of two papers — Paper I and Paper II of two hours duration each. There were 2,186 venues in 71 centres (or cities) across the country.The Commission has a facilitation counter near the examination hall building in its campus here. Candidates may obtain any information or clarification regarding their result of the examination on all working days between 10 AM to 5 PM, in person or on Tel No 011-23385271, 011-23098543 or 011-23381125.Candidates can also obtain information regarding their result by accessing Union Public Service Commission website — www.upsc.gov.in.

Can’t let Maharashtra turn into banana republic: Fadnavis slams Sena for attack on Kulkarni

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday disapproved of Shiv Sena’s protests against the launch of former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book in Mumbai saying the issue has brought disrepute to the state.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

“We may not agree with views of somebody, but when a foreign dignitary or a diplomat arrives on a valid visa and holds a programme, which is not illegal, it’s the duty of a state to provide protection,” Fadnavis said while reacting to Shiv Sena’s protests.

The Chief Minister said there could have been better ways to put forth the point of view by Shiv Sena.

“We cannot endorse Mr Kasuri, but can’t let our state turn into banana republic. The rule of law has prevailed. I think the way things have happened has brought a bad name to our state. There could have been better ways to put forth a point of view,” he added.

Despite Shiv Sena’s protests and blackening of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni by some of its supporters, the organisers went ahead with the launch of Kasuri’s book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy‘ at a function in Mumbai.

PTI

9 things to know about ex-BJP ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni

Sudheendra Kulkarni

ANI
Sudheendra Kulkarni, the man responsible for LK Advani’s now infamous Jinnah speech is again back under the spotlight with Shiv Sena smearing ink on his face for organising former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch.In a way, Kulkarni is an oddball in Indian politics. Originally a card-carrying Marxist with pro-Soviet leanings, Sudheendra became an BJP ideologue when it hadn’t become the latest fad. He was one of the ‘liberal’ talents attracted by the Vajpayee- Advani era of BJP, who always had a difficult relationship with its parent body RSS.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here are some salient features of Kulkarni’s political life so far. 1. IIT Bombay alumni Kulkarni, was originally member of CPI(M). 2. He has worked as a journalist, editing Mumbai-based tabloid Blitz. 3. Though he formally joined BJP in 1996, Kulkarni was associated with both Vajpayee and Advani from the late 80s, at a time when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was just taking off. 4. Kulkarni was the speech writer for former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was known for his stunning oratory and phrases. The man who gave the ideological spin laced with hard data to Vajpayee was the unassuming back-room boy Kulkarni. He formally worked as Director, Communications and Research in the PMO. 5. In 2005, Kulkarni formally left BJP after the furore over Advani’s speech in Pakistan where he called Jinnah ‘secular’. Kulkarni was reportedly behind writing that speech. A civil engineer by profession, Sudheendra however said that he had only done what he was asked to do. 6. Kulkarni became associated with BJP again and was part of the Advani’s core team in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections where the veteran leader was saffron party’s PM candidate. 7. After the election debacle, Kulkarni lambasted BJP’s strategies and also RSS’s interference in it, which he believed led to the downfall. 8. Sudheendra Kulkarni masterminded the ‘cash for vote’ sting in 2008. The purpose was to show UPA resorting to horse-trading to get numbers after the Left withdrew support on the Indo-US deal. During debate, three BJP MPs showed wads of cash which they claimed where given by the government side to garner their support. BJP also gave ‘documentary evidence’ to support their proof. Parliamentary committee however found no evidence of bribing. A police investigation started in 2009. An investigation committee recommended action on leaders including Kulkarni. In September 2011, Kulkarni was arrested in connection with the scandal. He maintained that his work was only that of a whistleblower. However, within two months he walked out of Tihar jail, with High Court saying the leaders wouldn’t have conducted a sting operation if their purpose was to take bribe.9. In 2012, Kulkarni again became close to BJP and there were reports of him working closely with Nitin Gadkari. He even defended Gadkari over various corruption charges.Kulkarni is a rare breed of free-thinking intellectual who has found it hard to be part of a structured party and tempering his views according to its norms. Kulkarni may have written a number of erudite articles and his written speeches may have moved many a troubling soul, but the lingering image of him smeared in black ink will be the one he will be remembered for by the coming generations. There lies his greatest tragedy. Also read: Ex Pak Foreign Minister Kasuri reacts to ink thrown on Sudheendra Kulkarni

Maharashtra CM Fadnavis assures protection for Kasuri, but says ‘anti India propaganda’ will not be tolerated

Kasuri is scheduled to attend the launch of his book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy at 5.30 pm in Worli on Monday.

Maharashtra chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday assured protection to the book launch event of former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, after Observer and Research Foundation (ORF)​ Chairman and former BJP idealogue was allegedly smeared with black ink on Monday morning.Kulkarni on Monday alleged that Shiv Sena workers threw black ink at him. Kulkarni told a leading channel, “At least eight to ten Shiv Sainiks attacked me outside my home. Right as I was leaving they smeared black ink on me. I was abused by them.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to the news agency, Fadnavis said, “For all foreigners, diplomats or foreign dignitaries who are allowed on proper Visa in our country it is responsibility of our government to provide them security. Hence Mr.Kasuri and the program will be provided total security.”Also read- It will be ‘sheer madness’ if India, Pakistan think of going to war: Khurshid Mahmud KasuriHowever, stating that this doesn’t mean that they endorse all views expressed in the program, Fadnavis added, “No anti India propaganda will be tolerated through any such program and if found so the organisers would be held responsible.”The foreign policy think tank has organised a launch event for Kasuri’s book and had said that it will continue as scheduled amid threats from Shiv Sena. Kasuri is scheduled to attend the launch of his book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy at 5.30 pm in Worli on Monday.The attack on Kulkarni has taken place even as he met Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his residence Matoshree. It was understood that the meeting would be futile and Kulkarni left Matoshree without getting any assurance from the Sena leader.

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