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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.

Mirwaiz Farooq welcomes decision to hold Indo-Pak talks

He said the Kashmir issue is accepted as a human and political issue at the international level

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Thursday welcomed the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir, saying dialogue is the “most effective way” of resolution of contending issues.”Hurriyat has always stood for meaningful talks between the two countries and believes that dialogue is the most effective way of resolution of the contending issues,” he said. Addressing a seminar organised by the Jammu Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) on International Human Rights Day here, the Mirwaiz urged the leadership of both the countries to involve the Kashmiri leadership in talks so that “a just, long-lasting and dignified solution to Kashmir dispute is arrived at while keeping the wishes and aspirations of the people in mind”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the Kashmir issue is accepted as a human and political issue at the international level. “Kashmir has a strong case at the international level and the international community realizes that the resolution of Kashmir is essential for a long-lasting peace in South Asia,” he said.Terming Kashmir as the core issue between India and Pakistan which had kept the two countries in a confrontation mode for the past over six decades, the Mirwaiz said other issues like Siachen and Sir Creek were the derivatives of this basic issue. Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan had yesterday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.

J&K wants plea challenging Article 35A dismissed

Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.

A year after the Supreme Court’s notice to the Centre on a plea challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants ‘special status’ to permanent residents of J&K and preventing rest of Indian citizens from acquiring immovable property and exercising voting rights in the state, the Union of India has failed to respond but the Jammu and Kashmir government has filed its reply seeking dismissal of the petition.Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Filing an affidavit, the Mufti government in the state said the apex court had already dealt with the President’s 1954 order which allowed only the permanent residents of J&K to buy and sale the immovable properties, getting government jobs and voting rights there and restrained others.It submitted that since Article 370 as enacted and amended remained in the Constitution as an integral part thereof and since the presidential order of 1954 has been recognised and acted on, as valid, ever since its promulgation, and when challenged, it was rejected by the two Constitution benches of the Supreme Court and sought dismissal of the petition.The petition was filed by ‘We the citizens’, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation registered as a society, through its president Sandeep Kulkarni was first heard a year ago on August 19, 2014 by the Bench headed by Chief Justice. The court then sent notices to the Centre and J&K government.Petitioner’s counsel Varun K Sinha argued that “the state of J&K is integral part of India and therefore the citizen of J&K as well as citizen of other states of the country have got equal fundamental rights and on the ground of certain clauses/paras contained in the constitution application to J&K order 1954 are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”He also argued that although President has the power to modify/ clarify the Article 35 with regard to the state of J & K but his 1954 order was illegal saying “with the insertion of Article 35 A can only be done by the Parliament through an amendment.”Last year when the petition was filed, the BJP, then in the Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir and vying for a mission 44 ahead of elections, had not only supported it vociferously, but also promised to annul this legal provision to make citizenship laws uniform all over country. But now that it is sharing power with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), it is becoming increasingly difficult for the law department of Jammuand Kashmir government, as well as for the Central government to either support or oppose the plea.The Article 35A that forms basis of Permanent Resident law replicated actually a state subject law promulgated by the Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a strong campaign by Kashmiri Pandits who were opposed to the hiring of civil servants from Punjab, because it had affected their representation in the Dogra administration.The Kashmiri Pandits’ agitation of the time did not affect the Muslim majority because the Dogras as a policy kept Muslims largely out of the administration. Also, the law was brought to prevent rich landlords from the erstwhile undivided Punjab to claim property and permanent resident rights after marrying Kashmiri Muslim girls. A provision was incorporated that Kashmiri girls, marrying outside the state, will forfeit their immovable property rights.Earlier, dna had reported that Centre’s concerned ministries – law and justice and ministry of home affairs – were busy gathering inputs from various agencies on the implications, as in Kashmir, both the mainstream parties – the National Conference as well as ruling People’s Democratic Party – have warned the government of dire consequences on the issue. Both of them want the Central government to oppose the petition tooth-and-nail.

‘Don’t expect any breakthrough’: Nawaz Sharif’s call for dialogue is nothing new, say analysts

Days after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif indicated that the country is ready for a dialogue with India without pre-conditions for sustainable peace, New Delhi still has to reply to the PM’s statement.

While the media widely reported Sharif’s statements, experts and foreign policy analysts sitting in New Delhi see no ray of hope in Pakistan prime minister’s statement. Speaking with Livemint, former Indian foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, “This (Sharif’s statement) is nothing new. They have said this all the time. Their point is that India should talk unconditionally and any attempt by India to hold them to any agreements that they have been party to, is seen as a condition.”

Sharif had indicated that Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India without pre-conditions for sustainable peace, according to Pakistani TV channel Geo News on Saturday. The report said that Sharif indicated this during a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not attending the CHOGM, however, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is representing India at the summit in Malta.

A file image for Indian PM Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. PTIA file image for Indian PM Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. PTI

A file image for Indian PM Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. PTI

The channel reported that Sharif said Pakistan intends to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours, including India and Afghanistan. However, according to this report in Livemint, which quoted a person familiar with the development, New Delhi still has not released any statement after the Geo News report. However, the officer, who was not named in the report, said that Sharif’s statement could also mean that the Pakistani Prime Minister wanted India to drop what Pakistan viewed as conditions for dialogue.

Ties have been strained between India and Pakistan over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between national security advisers of the two countries were cancelled in August because of a dispute over the agenda. India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir. Like the arguments made by senior editor of Firstpost Karan Pradhan in this article, Pakistan military and civilian government in past have worked in sync to derail peace talks. Be it the 10 July Ufa meeting of Sharif and Modi, right after which voices in Pakistan and the Valley decried the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not mentioned in the joint statement or the September 2014 incident when the Pakistan high commissioner, Abdul Basit, decided to meet with the Kashmiri separatists — there have been enough instances where Pakistan has very well gone ahead and derailed chances of any dialogue.

The national security advisors (NSA) were to hold talks on the subject of terrorism while the border guards’ chiefs and the military officers were to discuss maintenance of peace along the border as per a 2003 accord. However, Pakistan’s attempts to hold a meeting with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the NSAs’ dialogue in New Delhi in August resulted in India strongly opposing the move and the talks ultimately being called off.

In his article, Pradhan asks (and answers) if Pakistan is not interested in the dialogue, why don’t they go ahead and cancel it anyway.

“That doesn’t fit into the Pakistani strategy of denial, misdirection and self-victimisation. By letting New Delhi cancel talks, Islamabad is able to take the perceived moral high ground and tell the world (especially Kashmiris) that India is not interested in the peace process.”

To top all this, analysts and foreign policy experts seem to echo the emotion. Sibal, speaking to Livemint said, “What Pakistan means is that they should be given a free hand. It is Pakistan that is laying conditions and their primary condition is that they should be allowed to raise any subject, any issue in the face of very clear Indian objections,” Sibal said. “I am not sure this (Sharif’s stateemnt) is the breakthrough (in the logjam) we are looking for.”

With inputs from agencies

Hope in the conflict zone: Kashmir youths join army in large numbers seeking better prospects

The relations between the Army and the civilian population in Kashmir continue to be affected by militancy and protests, as also enforced disappearances and custodial deaths. However, in spite of the conflict, recent reports indicate that several youths from the state are now joining the army as a career option.

As many as 146 persons joined the army and were enlisted in the Jammu and Kashmir light infantry, NDTV reported. Earlier this year, 20,000 candidates applied for 55 vacancies in the Territorial Army in Kashmir, according to the report.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

In fact, 23 recruits are from Kupwara, which has been known as a major centre of militancy in the strife-torn state, Hindustan Times reported.

The army’s humanitarian efforts during floods in the state appear to have brought some positive transformation in its relations with the citizens. A 20-year-old student who has been recruited by the army has been quoted as saying by Hindustan Times that the army came to people’s rescue during the 2005 earthquake as well as the 2014 floods.

An article by Vivek Bharadwaj on Firstpost had said that a large number of youngsters had expressed gratitude to the army for their rescue efforts on an online platform. Some even countered posts criticising the army and claiming that they were only saving tourists and VIPs.

This comes even as the army has expressed concern over recruitment of educated youth by terror outfits, as reported by PTI. A senior army official was quoted as saying that alienation and lack of opportunities could be driving youth towards extremist outfits.

The same lack of opportunities appears to be leading youth to join the army in the state. Unemployment could be a major reason why people are seeking to join the defence forces, NDTV reported.

Last year, from July to December, 767 Kashmiri youth joined the army, according to a PTI report from March 2015 put up by The Deccan Herald. An army commander was quoted as saying that earlier 25,000 persons had applied for 1,301 vacancies.

With inputs from PTI

Srinagar: Blindfolded Kashmiri Pandit invites ‘hugs’ to promote brotherhood in Valley

He said the basic aim of the campaign is to promote universal brotherhood, interfaith dialogue, tolerance and also build bridges between people of different communities within the state.

Kashmiri Pandits in May 2015 staged a protest in Srinagar demanding that the state and the Centre take the community members into confidence before any decision on their return to the Valley.
File Photo
PTI
Amid a raging debate on intolerance in the country, a Kashmiri Pandit stood blindfolded in the heart of the city inviting people to hug him to exhibit brotherhood between various communities in the Valley.Inspired by a Muslim man who stood blindfolded in Paris asking people to embrace him if they trusted him after the November 13 attacks, Sandeep Mawa, a doctor by profession, stood at Press Colony in Srinagar asking people to hug him. He was accompanied by members from Sikh and majority Muslim community, who embraced people irrespective of their religion to send a message of tolerance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We, all humans, are alike. When God has not differentiated between us, why should there be any division? There should not be any intolerance. This is the message we want to send across,” Mawa, who is the chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Reconciliation Front, said.He said the basic aim of the campaign is to promote universal brotherhood, interfaith dialogue, tolerance and also build bridges between people of different communities within the state.”We do not want politicians and agencies to divide people on the basis of religion. We will not allow anyone to harm Kashmiriyat. We oppose the hate campaign. The politics of religion is not good,” he said.Mawa said politicians should leave the people of Kashmir alone and desist from “dividing” the people.”If they do not mend their ways, there will be a civil revolution in Kashmir,” he said. He also asked the Centre to talk to Pakistan for “addressing Kashmir issue” saying the neighbouring country was “a party to the dispute”.

Om Puri slams Aamir Khan’s remarks, calls reaction to intolerance ‘intolerable’

Om Puri is not only one of our most committed actors he is also an artiste who speaks his mind fearlessly.

Reacting sharply to Aamir Khan’s hugely controversial statement that his family felt ‘insecure’ in the country’s atmosphere of growing intolerance, Puri says, “I am shocked Aamir Khan and his wife feel that way. I find Aamir’s reaction to intolerance overblown and intolerable.”

Not that Puri downplays the radical wrongdoings. “Whatever happened in Dadri is condemned by every Indian. But are we all supposed to run away from India just because there are sporadic cases of violence? In Kerala, Muslim fundamentalists chopped off a Christian’s hands; should we all flee because there are such incidents? Are you implying that such incidents are so common in our country that you need to run away? Radical undesirable elements exist among both Hindus and Muslims. They are just a handful of troublemakers.The majority of Hindus and Muslims are secular.This is my firm belief,” he adds.

Aamir_Om_380Aamir_Om_380Puri describes Aamir’s reaction as paranoid and calculated. “He has said he discussed this with his wife. So the statement about leaving the country was not spontaneous .No matter how we perceive his words, they make an extremely irresponsible statement. You are provoking the people of your community. You’re telling them, ‘Bhaiya, ya to taiyyar ho jao, lado. Ya mulk chhod ke jao’ (fight or flee).”

He sees Aamir as a weighty voice and one that needs to be used cautiously. “He is not some ordinary rabble-rouser. He is Aamir Khan..And if he’s such superstar in India, have only Muslims made him what he is? All of Hindustan loves you. How could you utter such shocking words?And let me repeat,they were not spontaneous words. He admits he had discussed this at home.”

Puri feels Aamir’s insecurities are baseless, “He is an influential man and therefore highly protected.What about the common man? You are doing a very dangerous things by telling people, ‘Be careful of the Hindus.’ For a popular voice to say this, and a voice that’s taken very seriously is a very dangerous thing.’

Speaking of tolerance Puri reasons, “What is Aamir talking about? We Indians are the most tolerant people in the world. When the 26/11 attacks happened did we rush into Pakistan with an army? Did we retaliate? No! We kept quiet while planes, buses, trains even our parliament was attacked. Kashmiri pundits were driven outf of their native land. And we kept quiet. And now Aamir wants to run away? He can afford to buy his own island for his family’s safety . But what about the common man who has to face so many hardships every day? Should they all run away from their country?”

He feels the BJP will deal firmly with radical elements, “After the Bihar debacle, BJP knows it will lose ground if it encourages radical elements. The junta wants to make sure politicians don’t take them for granted. If they could get rid of Congress after decades why not the BJP? A government that encourages violence won’t be tolerated. I want to ask Aamir Saab, when was the last time we had commual riots in our country? What is he insecure about?”

DCW’s Swati Maliwal shocked by BJP MLA OP Sharma’s comments about AAP’s Alka Lamba

The DCW had earlier recommended registration of FIR against Sharma for calling the AAP legislator a “drug addict” in August this year. “Shocked at Sharma’s comments on lady MLA Alka Lamba…

File Photo

Delhi Commission for Women (DWC) chairperson Swati Maliwal expressed shock over BJP MLA OP Sharma’s derogatory remarks against AAP legislator Alka Lamba, and assured the latter of support. Dubbing Sharma as a “habitual offender” and one lacking respect for women, Maliwal said the DCW had recommended registration of FIR against Sharma in another case earlier, but the absence of police action has emboldened the BJP leader to “repeat” such offence. The DCW had earlier recommended registration of FIR against Sharma for calling the AAP legislator a “drug addict” in August this year. “Shocked at Sharma’s comments on lady MLA Alka Lamba…He appears to be a habitual offender and lacks respect for women. I had recommended registration of FIR against Sharma to police. Sad no FIR was registered. That’s why he got the courage to repeat such offence,” she said.”MLA Sharma been elected by Delhi to protect women and work towards making Delhi safe for them. Not for sexist comments n threatening them. DCW will now support MLA Alka Lamba to take this battle to court. No man should get away with misbehaving with a woman (sic),” Maliwal tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharma made the remarks during a discussion in assembly on homeless people and night shelters in the city, initiated through a calling attention motion by BJP’s Vijender Gupta. Gupta said this year 402 deaths of homeless persons were reported till date, under Kashmiri Gate police station area in the city, while the number was 221 last year and alleged that the AAP government was not serious about this matter. Alka LambaLamba intervened in the discussion saying that the deaths were not due to cold but due to “use of drugs”. This prompted Sharma to counter Alka and make a personal derogatory comment against her. AAP MLAs immediately voiced their protest over the remarks and rushed into the well of the House shouting slogans and demanding his expulsion.The Speaker expressed his regret over the incident and suspended Sharma till Thursday.

Family confirms identity of 1st jihadi from J&K to die in US drone attack in Pakistan

dna first reported on Wednesday on Mohammad Ashraf being the first Kashmiri militant of AQIS to be killed in North Waziristan. His family in Nagam village of Kokarnag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district has now confirmed the identity of the slain militant.

Family has confirmed the identity of Mohammad Ashraf, first jihadi from J&K to die in US drone attack in Pak

A few days before he was killed in a US drone attack in Shawal valley of North Waziristan in Pakistan, Mohammed Ashraf Dar called his brother in Kashmir, in December last year, to ask about the well-being of his family. As the brother once again tried to convince him on returning back home, marry and settle down, Ashraf said, “I will not get married. My aim is to attain martyrdom and I want to be successful in achieving this objective.” On January 4 this year, Mohammad Ashraf alias Umar Kashmiri’s prophecy came true. He was killed along with five other militants of Al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent (AQIS) including Punjabi Taliban commander leader Qari Imran aka Qari Ubaidullah, also in-charge of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Ashraf is the first Indian national to be killed in a US drone attack. Details on Ashraf’s identity and nationality emerged recently in a video purportedly uploaded on Jihadi networks by As-Sahab, the media arm of AQIS as a part of the series ‘Jihadi memories’, eulogising its martyrs.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> dna first reported on Wednesday on Mohammad Ashraf being the first Kashmiri militant of AQIS to be killed in North Waziristan. His family in Nagam village of Kokarnag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district has now confirmed the identity of the slain militant. “Yes, he is my brother,” Nazir Ahmed Dar, elder brother of Mohammad Ashraf, told dna. Nazir said during the course of 14 years that his brother had been ‘missing’, the family was in touch with him through phone. “Initially, he used to make calls to the local STD booth, but once we owned mobile phones, he started calling regularly and recently even shared his latest photos.” The Dar family, with middle-class background and sharing a two-storey house, has been keeping a low profile since Ashraf, the youngest of five siblings crossed Line of Control (LoC) for arms training on August 23, 2001. “He used to spend time manning the grocery shop, reading Koran and offering namaz. He was not interested in going to school and dropped out in sixth standard,” said Nazir who runs the shop now. A man missingcomplaint was lodged at the local police station but there was no information on Ashraf’s whereabouts. Around 2004, Ashraf first contacted his family and informed them that he had crossed the LoC soon after he went missing. Some years later, unable to bear the separation of her youngest son, Ashraf’s mother Raja Begum, died young at 45. Although he refrained from giving any details of his whereabouts, his job or which militant group he had joined, Ashraf did make occasional references to Afghanistan in recent years. The timeline of Ashraf’s journey from Anantnag in Kashmir to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the early 2000 and later to Afghanistan and finally in North Waziristan in Pakistan where he was killed as an Al Qaeda militant, has many missing details. When contacted Abdul Jabbar, senior superintendent of police, Anantnag, said the incident of Ashraf being a AQIS member or of him being killed in a drone attack in Pakistan “is not in the notice of J&K police”. However, a team of police reached the Dar family’s house on Wednesday night to confirm Ashraf’s identity. Inspector general of police, Kashmir, Javaid Geelani said while some people in Anantnag are claiming the slain militant to be their family member, the police “can’t confirm the identity”.

Home-grown militants pose a greater threat in the Valley

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

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

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

India hits back at Pakistan, says it must stop human rights violations in PoK before sermonising

In her statement, Lodhi had repeated Pakistan’s call for UN Security Council resolutions to be implemented in the state and said fulfilling promise of self-determination to the Kashmiri people is “indispensable” to establishing lasting peace and stability in South Asia.

India on Tuesday hit back at Pakistan for raking up the Kashmir issue at the UN again, saying it should first stop human rights violations in PoK and ensure the right of self-determination for the victims before “sermonising” others on it.Visiting Member of Parliament Rattan Lal Kataria rejected the “unwarranted” references to Jammu and Kashmir made by Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi in the Third Committee of the General Assembly on ‘Right to self- determination’ yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kataria said it is very “ironical” that comments on Kashmir and self-determination “come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir and consistently denying human rights of the occupied territory.””Pakistan should first stop human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir and ensure the right of self-determination for the victims before sermonising others on it,” he said in his statement to the committee here.In her statement, Lodhi had repeated Pakistan’s call for UN Security Council resolutions to be implemented in the state and said fulfilling promise of self-determination to the Kashmiri people is “indispensable” to establishing lasting peace and stability in South Asia.”The continued suffering of Kashmiri women, children and men should shake the collective conscience of the international community,” Lodhi had said.”The 70th Anniversary of the United Nations ought to be a catalyst to spur this body into action, and not just more words. Fulfilment of the long-held promise of self- determination to the Kashmiri people is urgent as well as indispensable to establishing lasting peace and stability in South Asia,” she had said.Kataria said UN and other international fora should not be used to selectively redefine some of the basic principles of UN Charter, such as self-determination, and to “abuse them for subversive political agendas to encourage secession and to undermine pluralistic and democratic state.” He asserted that it would be suffice to say that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.The people of Jammu and Kashmir exercised their right to self-determination at the time of India’s independence and have since then regularly participated in free, fair and open elections at all levels, Kataria said.The elections have been held under the scrutiny of international media and opinion, which has not faulted the electoral process, he argued.”The 65% record voter turnout in the 2014 election in Jammu and Kashmir, despite the threats from Pakistan-based terror groups, is a resounding response by our people,” Kataria said.

Indo-African Summit: Taste of India at dinner for African dignitaries

The menu crafted especially for the occasion by a team of top chefs of ITDC-run The Ashok hotel, offered a variety of selections from West, South and Eastern regions of the country besides the cuisine from Northwest Frontier Province and Awadh showcasing the rich culinary diversity of the country.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity before the start of their bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, October 28, 2015.

Reuters
Visiting African dignitaries were served a sumptuous array of delicacies on Wednesday– from Kashmiri cuisines to South Indian coastal dishes along with palate- pleasing combination of sweet and sour flavours of Gujarat — at the banquet hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. The dinner at the Crafts Museum in Pragati Maidan provided a traditional ambiance for the event in honour of African Heads of governments and States.While the delectable vegetarian platter included Paneer Tikka, Subz Til Kebab and the famous Moti-e-Zamin, the main course comprised Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Panir Rihana, Adraki Gobhi, Dal Dera Ismail Khan and the host’s favorite Vatana Muthia nu Shaak, served along with the choices of assorted Indian breads.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The menu crafted especially for the occasion by a team of top chefs of ITDC-run The Ashok hotel, offered a variety of selections from West, South and Eastern regions of the country besides the cuisine from Northwest Frontier Province and Awadh showcasing the rich culinary diversity of the country.The non-vegetarian menu comprised the hotel’s signature Kebab-e-Bannu, Tandoori Prawns and Pathar Kebab for starters while main course had Malabar Meen Curry, Murg Rihana and Dum ki Gosht Biryani in a flavorful combination of aromatic rice and lamb curry with special spices.The beverage menu included refreshing Mint Sorbet and Qehwa/South Indian coffee while the sweet tooth cravings of the guests were taken care by delicious Stuffed Kala Jamun served along with Rabri, Saffron flavored Sandesh, Shrikhand and fresh fruits.Talking about the menu, The Ashok Chef Rajan Loomba, said, “For today’s dinner our emphasis was to create a combination of different varieties of authentic Indian cuisines, representing the wide variety of unique dishes from across the country.”

Dussehra celebrated in Kashmir Valley

Kashmiri Pandits restarted celebrating the festival in the Valley after the gap of 20 years in 2007 and the celebrations are an annual feature since then.

The effigy of demon king Ravana goes up in flames during Dussehra festival in Jammu on Thursday.

PTI
Dussehra, the festival signifying the victory of good over evil, was celebrated with religious fervour and enthusiasm in Kashmir Valley on Thursday. Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus burnt giant effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath installed at Polo ground in Srinagar.Hundreds of people, including women and children braved restrictions imposed by police and thronged the ground to witness the fireworks and the ritual of burning the effigies this evening.Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, accompanied by several cabinet colleagues, was also present at the celebrations. The event was organised by Kashmiri Pandits Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS). Dussehra is celebrated on the culmination of nine days of Navratras.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kashmiri Pandits restarted celebrating the festival in the Valley after the gap of 20 years in 2007 and the celebrations are an annual feature since then.

BJP condoles death of Kashmiri trucker, targets former CM Omar Abdullah

The party expressed “shock and sorrow” on behalf of the state unit on Zahid Rasool Bhatt’s death, who was targeted in the October 9 Udhampur petrol bomb attack and died yesterday in Delhi, where he was admitted with 74 per cent burns.

Family members of 24-year-old Zahid crying after the Kashmiri truck conductor who was injured in petrol bomb attack in Udhampur district dies in Delhis Safdarjung Hospital, at his residence in Batango in Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Sunday.

PTI
BJP on Monday condoled the death of Kashmiri trucker who was targeted in Jammu region, terming it as a “tragic loss”, and appealed to all the sections of society in the state to maintain peace and tranquility.The party also hit out at former chief minister Omar Abdullah for blaming BJP and its allies for the youth’s death and said that the NC president should not try to “grind” political interests out of such sensitive issues.”BJP expresses its condolences to the bereaved family and sympathies with it on this tragic loss,” BJP State Spokesperson, Balbir Ram Rattan said here today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party expressed “shock and sorrow” on behalf of the state unit on Zahid Rasool Bhatt’s death, who was targeted in the October 9 Udhampur petrol bomb attack and died yesterday in Delhi, where he was admitted with 74 % burns, Rattan said in a statement.BJP Spokesman Prof Virendra Gupta appealed to all the sections of society in the state to maintain peace and tranquility, and stick to the traditions of mutual brotherhood and tolerance. They also criticised Abdullah for his series of tweets yesterday attacking BJP and its allies for the death of the trucker from South Kashmir.”Person like Omar Abdullah, who is a leader of Opposition in the state legislature, should speak with responsibility and not try to grind political interests out of such like sensitive issues and should not indulge in the blame game,” the spokespersons said.The leaders said that Omar Abdullah and other leaders like him, who gave provocative communal statements on the sensitive issue, are “responsible” for the tragedy. They, instead of appealing to the people for keeping restrain, are playing “divisive politics” at a time when there is a need of keeping restrain and respecting religious sentiments of each other, the spokespersons said.Omar Abdullah should conduct introspection of his own actions and reactions of instigating religious and regional sentiments of the people for political mileage, they said.

Udhampur attack: Injured trucker dies in the hospital, 9 held; protests triggered

Zahid, who was admitted in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi with 74 per cent burn injuries, breathed his last at 11.30 am after his condition worsened in the last 12 hours, police and hospital sources said.

Family members of 24-year-old Zahid crying after the Kashmiri truck conductor who was injured in petrol bomb attack in Udhampur district dies in Delhis Safdarjung Hospital, at his residence in Batango in Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Sunday.

PTI
A truck conductor, injured in a petrol bomb attack in Udhampur nine days back, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, triggering protests in some parts of Kashmir even as nine people were arrested for the assault and five of them slapped with the tough Public Safety Act.Zahid, who was admitted in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi with 74 per cent burn injuries, breathed his last at 11.30 am after his condition worsened in the last 12 hours, police and hospital sources said.A resident of Anantnag in South Kashmir, Zahid was conductor of the truck that was en route to Kashmir when a mob attacked it with petrol bombs on October 9. The driver of the truck Showkat Ahmed is also admitted in the hospital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As soon as the news about his demise reached his Batengoo village, a spontaneous shutdown was observed and clashes between protesters and police broke out there and adjoining areas in Kulgam and several places in Srinagar, police said. Police had to use force, like teargas and cane-charge, to control the situation but nobody was hurt.An aircraft of the state government flew Zahid’s body this evening from Delhi to Srinagar from where it was taken to his native village for last rites. Ruling PDP chief and MP from Anantnag Mehbooba Mufti, state’s Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari were at the Srinagar airport to receive the body.Expressing deep shock over the death, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed blamed the “politics of hate and intolerance” for it and said it is posing a “grave challenge to the state and country’s plurality.” He asserted that under no circumstances shall those guilty of this “barbaric crime” be allowed to go unpunished.Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader from Jammu region where the attack took place, also condemned the incident and said the perpetrators should not be spared. Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah attacked BJP and its allies over the incident and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to who would be blamed for the death.Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said nine people have been arrested and five of them booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for allegedly attacking the truck.To protest against the death, both factions of separatist Hurriyat Conference and JKLF called for a shutdown in the Valley tomorrow. A Kashmiri pandit organisation, Kashmir High Court Bar Association, traders’ bodies and transport union have extended support to shutdown call.

India witnessed religiously motivated killings, riots and forced conversion: US report on International Religious Freedom 2014

In the India section of the Congressional mandated annual report released by Secretary of State John Kerry today, the State Department said that some government officials made discriminatory statements against religious minorities.

India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence, according to the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom 2014.In the India section of the Congressional mandated annual report released by Secretary of State John Kerry today, the State Department said that some government officials made discriminatory statements against religious minorities. “There were reports of religiously motivated killings, arrests, coerced religious conversions, religiously motivated riots and actions restricting the right of individuals to change religious beliefs,” said the report.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It said that in some cases, local police failed to respond effectively to communal violence, including attacks against religious minorities, although local officials used broad authorities to deploy police and security forces to control outbreaks of religiously motivated violence. The local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Act Now for Harmony and Democracy reported more than 800 religiously- motivated attacks from May through the end of the year 2014.Citing Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Niranjan Jyoti’s remarks at an election rally in Delhi, it said government officials reportedly made discriminatory statements against members of religious minorities. “After her remarks stirred several days of heated national condemnation and disrupted proceedings of parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament that he ‘strongly disapproved of the remarks’ and ‘we should avoid using such language’. Jyoti subsequently expressed regret for her remark,” the report said. The State Department said there is restriction on free expression on basis of religion in India.Authorities continued to enforce laws designed to protect “religious sentiments” which, according to observers, at times had the effect of limiting free expression related to religion, the report said. The State Department rued that hundreds of legal cases remained pending from violence during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots.The Nanavati-Mehta Commission on the 2002 riots ultimately released its Final Report on November 18. Some NGOs called into question the impartiality of the findings. Court cases related to the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha continued, resulting in convictions for persons responsible for the public rape of a nun during the riots. Displaced Kashmiri Hindu Pandits continued to seek redress for crimes committed against them and their houses of worship by Kashmiri insurgents in the 1990s, it said. The State Department said some human rights NGOs and religious minority groups expressed concern over what they perceived as laws and government practises favouring Hinduism over other faiths, while some Hindu groups expressed concern over laws and government practises that they perceived as favouring minority religious communities. Some human rights and religious minority groups said state-level “anti-conversion” laws were designed to impede conversion from Hinduism, while not restricting conversion to Hinduism, according to the report.Police arrested Christians and Muslims for alleged “coerced conversion” of Hindus, the report said, adding that conversion of Hindus to Christianity occasionally resulted in assaults and arrests of Christians.The report mentioned the arrest of five Christians in Madhya Pradesh in March on charges of “coerced conversion” of Hindus to Christianity after they reportedly showed a movie about Jesus to a gathering of persons in their home. It also referred to Agra incident, saying that in December Hindu groups Bajrang Dal and Dharma Jagran Samamvay Vibhag announced that they had converted 57 families (approximately 200-250 people) to Hinduism.Muslims attending the event subsequently stated they were unaware that it was a conversion ceremony, it added. Noting that there are operative “anti-conversion” laws in 6 of the 29 states: Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, it said authorities describe these laws as measures to protect vulnerable individuals from being induced to change their faith.For example, the Gujarat law proscribes religious conversions through “allurement, force, or fraud,” it added. It also noted that during September and October last year certain Hindu groups mounted a propaganda campaign accusing Muslims of engaging in a “love jihad,” which they claimed involved a coordinated strategy by the Islamic community for Muslim men to marry women from other faiths in order to convert them to Islam.”In December Hindu groups, including the VHP, Bajrang Dal, and Hindu Sena, led demonstrations throughout the country against the Bollywood movie PK, due to its ‘objectionable’ portrayal of Hindu gods and goddesses,” the report said. “Protestors burned posters of the movie, burned effigies of the movie’s star, Aamir Khan, smashed windows and ticket booths at theaters, and called for the movie to be banned,” the report added.

Sahitya Akademi award winner Mridula Garg does not want writers to return their awards

She said that by returning their awards writers were equating the Akademi, an autonomous body, to the government.

Several writers and artists are returning their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest over issues like the murder of eminent Kannada writer MM Kalburgi, “communal poison” and “rising intolerance” in the country. Nayantara Sahgal, Kashmiri writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas and Kannada writer- translator Srinath DN are a few of the growing number of writers registering their protest.But Sahitya Akademi award winner and noted Hindi writer Mridula Garg took a different stance. In a statement given to a leading English daily, she said that by returning their awards writers were equating the Akademi, an autonomous body, to the government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to dna, Akademi secretary K Srinivasarao, said that he had only got four letters informing him of resignation or of awards being returned. “We have received letters from Uday Prakash, Ashok Vajpeyi and e-mails from Aman Sethi and GN Devy. The other resignations I am hearing about in the media,” he said.Mridula Garg fears that if writers kept resigning from the Akademi board, the government will take the cue and might appoint their own representative. Therefore, she urged writers to wait for Akademi’s emergency meeting instead of hurrying to dissolve it by resigning.

Call for Jammu bandh tomorrow over MLA Engineer Rashid’s beef party

Jammu has extended its backing for the Bandh call while the chambers of commerce and industries have refused to extend their support.

VHP today demanded immediate arrest of Rashid for hosting ‘Beef party’ (File Photo of Kashmiri Pandit protest against beef party)

PTI
A call for a day-long bandh in Jammu tomorrow was given on Friday by Panthers Party, which was supported by High Court Bar Association, to protest the killing of cows in Udhampur district and the ‘beef party’ hosted by Independent MLA Engineer Rashid. The Panthers Party has “called for a complete one-day Jammu Bandh to protest against the killing of three cows in Udhampur district yesterday. The party will also be protesting against the beef party that was hosted by the Independent MLA Engineer Rashid,” its spokesman said.The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Jammu has extended its backing for the Bandh call while the chambers of commerce and industries have refused to extend their support. “We have decided to extend our support to the Jammu bandh call to protest the killing of cows in Udhampur and the beef party hosted by engineer Rashid”, a spokesman of the Bar Association Jammu said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The transporters union in Jammu have so far not taken any decision on extending support. “We are yet to decide whether to extend support or not,” a spokesman of the transporters union said. Meanwhile, VHP today demanded immediate arrest of Rashid for hosting ‘Beef party’ but said it will neither support nor oppose the Jammu Bandh.

Javed Akhtar comes out in support of Nayantara Sahgal’s decision to Sahitya Akademi award

Sahgal, who had received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us (1985)’, on Tuesday had returned her award.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Eminent poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar on Wednesday came out in support of noted author Nayantara Sahgal’s decision to return her Sahitya Akademi award, saying the recent incidents of intolerance were not expected from a country like India and that it must have pained the writer.”I can understand her agony. She comes from a tradition of secularism and better values and when she feels this thing, she must be very pained,” Akhtar told PTI when asked about Sahgal returning her award in protest against rising intolerance in the society.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I understand… what can one say? It is a protest but I think much more has to be done in the society because whatever is happening now-a-days, is not desirable at all,” he said.”And one does not expect this from our society at least. I don’t expect such things to happen in India. One used to hear such things happening in some other society; not ours,” the noted poet and successful film script writer said, adding, “One does not feel proud of what is happening here.””The writers should actually communicate and write more and they should see to it that writings should reach people. Who am I to say whether she should have done it or not but the fact is that this is also a protest and draws attention and makes people think why she has done it,” he said.Akhtar spoke to the PTI on occasion of the launch of the book ‘Pigeons of the Domes’ by noted author and translator Rakhshanda Jalil. The book is a compilation of 19 short stories by various Hindi and Urdu authors and includes stories on Hindu-Muslim relations, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, marginalisation of Hindus in Punjab and the persecution of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.Sahgal, who had received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us (1985)’, on Tuesday returned her award saying, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now… I am doing whatever I believe in.”

I can understand her agony: Javed Akhtar supports Nayantara’s decision to return Sahitya award

New Delhi: Eminent poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar on Wednesday came out in support of noted author Nayantara Sahgal’s decision to return her Sahitya Akademi award, saying the recent incidents of intolerance were not expected from a country like India and that it must have pained the writer.

“I can understand her agony. She comes from a tradition of secularism and better values and when she feels this thing, she must be very pained,” Akhtar told PTI when asked about Sahgal returning her award in protest against rising intolerance in the society.

Javed Akhtar. Agencies.

Javed Akhtar. Agencies.

“I understand… what can one say? It is a protest but I think much more has to be done in the society because whatever is happening now-a-days, is not desirable at all,” he said.

“And one does not expect this from our society at least. I don’t expect such things to happen in India. One used to hear such things happening in some other society; not ours,” the noted poet and successful film script writer said, adding, “One does not feel proud of what is happening here.”

“The writers should actually communicate and write more and they should see to it that writings should reach people. Who am I to say whether she should have done it or not but the fact is that this is also a protest and draws attention and makes people think why she has done it,” he said.

Akhtar spoke to the PTI on occasion of the launch of the book ‘Pigeons of the Domes’ by noted author and translator Rakhshanda Jalil.

The book is a compilation of 19 short stories by various Hindi and Urdu authors and includes stories on Hindu-Muslim relations, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, marginalisation of Hindus in Punjab and the persecution of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Sahgal, who had received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us’ (1985), on Tuesday returned her award saying, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now… I am doing whatever I believe in.”

PTI

India didn’t respond to goodwill measures, interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters: Sartaj Aziz

Pakistan Prime Minister’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Kashmir was among the oldest unresolved international disputes at the UN forum.

Pakistan PM’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaz Aziz.

Reuters
Pakistan has said it was regrettable that instead of responding to its goodwill gesture, India is “interfering” in its internal matters and accused it of supporting terrorism.Pakistan Prime Minister’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Kashmir was among the oldest unresolved international disputes at the UN forum.Speaking at the Annual Coordination Meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers here yesterday, he also accused Indian security forces of human rights violations and ceasefire violations. He asked the OIC member states to impress upon India to end its alleged repression of Kashmiris and to come to the negotiating table for peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including the Kashmir, according to a press release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He “regretted that instead of responding to Pakistan s gesture of goodwill, the Indian side was not only interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters but was also supporting terrorism inside Pakistan,” the release said.Aziz also said the denial of right of self-determination to Kashmiri people continued to stain the collective conscience of the international community. “He clarified that elections held under foreign occupation could not be a substitute to the exercise of right to self-determination under a UN plebiscite,” the release said.The meeting, convened on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, was chaired by Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah and attended by Foreign Ministers of OIC member states.The meeting also adopted reports of the various OIC Contact Groups, including the one on Jammu & Kashmir which reaffirmed the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people in accordance with UNSC resolutions, the release added.A diplomatic back and forth ensued between India and Pakistan at the UN following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif s address to the General Assembly in which he had proposed a new four-point peace initiative to India, including demilitarization of Kashmir and “unconditional mutual withdrawal” from Siachen Glacier.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in her address to the world body, said India does not need four points but only one that Pakistan should give up terror and come to the negotiating table for talks. Both countries exercised the Right of Reply to respond to each other’s leaders’ statements with India saying that terrorism in Pakistan is a “home grown” problem that has “begun to bite the hand that fed it.”

Kashmiryat – a feeling in life and beyond

Trademark Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture) was in full flow when the local Muslim youth left their Eid engagements to arrange and organise the funeral of Ram Chand Koul at Wahibug village in the Pulwama district.

In the valley of death, Kashmiryat is the toast of the season! When entire Kashmir was drenched in Eid fervour, a south Kashmir Muslim village was mourning the death of 80-year-old Kashmiri Pandit, who stuck to his roots despite his community migrating to Jammu at the onset of militancy. Trademark Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture) was in full flow when the local Muslim youth left their Eid engagements to arrange and organise the funeral of Ram Chand Koul at Wahibug village in the Pulwama district. From arranging the priest to collecting wood, Muslim neighbours did all to cremate Koul in accordance with the Hindu traditions despite the pressing engagements on Eid-ul-Azha (Bakr Eid).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “I was away in Jammu to attend an official function when I got the news of the demise of my father. Only my sister and brother-in-law were in the house. But it was the local Muslims who, though busy with Eid, came rushing to our house and helped the family and other pandit neighbours. By the time I arrived, they had called the priest and even collected wood for funeral”, Vinod Koul, son of Ram Chand Koul, told dna. Koul, who retired as technician in Power Development Department (PDD), had decided not to migrate from the Valley in the height of militancy. Though Koul family had constructed a house in Srinagar, they stayed put in the village alongside the Muslim brethren all through. Both communities have been living in harmony for decades though some of the Pandit families migrated to Jammu at the onset of militancy. There were 40 Pandit families before militancy in this village. But after migration only eight families are now putting up in Wahibug, which was once the hotbed of militancy.”We have been living in harmony since ages. We care for each other and live like brothers”, said Ghulam Rasool, a local villager. Figures released by Hindu Welfare Society (HWS), an apex body of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, reveal that there are 671 families of Pandits who did not migrate and continue to reside in the valley. Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37128 are Hindus, 22,46 Muslim 1738 Sikhs and five others. “Kashmiryat is in the DNA of people here. We have always helped each other whether in happiness or sorrow. When there used to be a marriage of Kashmiri Pandit girl, local Muslim women used to recite wanwun (Kashmiri folklore). If a Pandit passed away, local Muslims would join the funeral. And it was evident on Eid when Muslims turned up for funeral of Ram Chand Koul”, said CL Bhat, general secretary of HWS.

How a beef ban could result in Jammu and Kashmir descending into violence

As the news of the ultimatum given by the state wing of the VHP has spread and sunk in amongst Kashmiris, apprehensions, worries and anxieties have begun to be voiced by people here.  The VHP ultimatum pertained to the ‘discussion’ to be held in the state Assembly about the activation of a piece of legislation dating back to the Maharaja which prohibits sale and slaughter of bovines in the state.

The  leader of the state unit of the VHP said: “If the beef ban is revoked, VHP would enforce an economic blockade in Kashmir, forcing people to starve. The people of Jammu would not tolerate it…The government will have face consequences”.

Drawing a parallel with the 2008 agitation, Sharma said, “People will be forced to take to the streets and launch an agitation similar to the one in 2008 if slaughtering of bovines continued unabated in the region”.

Protests in Kashmir over the beef ban. PTI imageProtests in Kashmir over the beef ban. PTI image

Protests in Kashmir over the beef ban. PTI image

This is as clear as a threat can be. The VHP leader’s statement comes just ahead of Eid-Al-Adha- a festival where animal sacrifice (bovines, lambs, camels) is mandatory for Muslims. It comes even as the separatist spectrum of the state’s politics, in conjunction with major religious bodies, have enjoined Kashmiris to slaughter bovines to demonstrate defiance against the activation of the legislation that prohibits it.

The stage is set for a confrontation between the people and the state, and between the people of Jammu and Kashmir. (Hindus form the majority in the Jammu division of the state, while Muslims are a majority in the Kashmir division).

The question is why have things come to such a pass?

The reasons pertain to the alliance between the BJP and the PDP- two parties that are as different as chalk and cheese, with differing and different agendas and manifestos. Inevitably, and perhaps even naturally, despite the ‘common minimum program’ agreed upon by the two parties after elections, the respective agendas of the two parties will be at odds with each other.

This is what happened in the past few months; the beef ban controversy is merely a catalyst that brought the contradictions of the alliance out in the open. The PDP, which won 28 seats, appears to have been in the alliance purely for the purposes of power and government formation. The BJP, on the other hand, appears to have had larger agendas and interests in opting for the alliance and government formation.

Each appears to have thought, or assumed, that they would make the alliance fungible and cannibalize it for their respective interests and agenda. But , as is perhaps natural in politics and alliances of opportunism, the contradictions have come to the fore and the state is now poised on the precipice of conflict and even violence.

But why did the BJP rake up of the beef ban at this point in time?

The answer is speculative but given the paucity or even non existence of alternate scenarios, be plausible. The BJP appears to have decided to consolidate its power and position in the Jammu region of the state. What better way than to strike on an issue that would be of import to peoples of both the regions of the state, albeit for different reasons.

In Kashmir, the beef ban would jar with the sensibilities of people and offend them given its Muslim character. In Jammu, the resistance to the ban would do the same given that the majority of the population there is Hindu. In  this schema, the BJP kills two birds with one stone.

Does this mean that the stage is set for the trifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir? This may not be the real reason for the BJP’s agenda. Trifurcation of the state has strategic and political consequences. By weaning off Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir, the focus will be on Kashmir as a Muslim dominated entity overlain with ethnic undertones and overtones. This will sharpen and make powerful the separatist argument  for self determination. For these reasons, powers that be may be loathe to trifurcate the state.

But why is the BJP doing what it is doing? The reasons for the far right’s activism may be to alter the balance of power in Jammu in the party’s favour and then negotiate and even enjoy power from a position of strength.

This is as fas as the tactical and strategic aspect of the power play that is going in the state under the guise of the beef ban is concerned. But what is alarming is the potential for the states’ descent into violence and conflict and the larger impact of these on inter-group relations in the country. If the state gets caught in the crucible and vortex of conflict, the price will be paid by innocent people.

A shop keeper on the Boulevard – the scenic stretch of road that borders the Dal Lake- told me, “It will be difficult for Kashmiris in the rest of the country if there is violence here.”

“But, we will also not remain silent here,” he added , as his gaze wandered to a group of tourists from other parts of the country who were sauntering past.

The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ sentiment will only be heightened and innocents will feel the heat. This is the real tragedy of  Kashmir.

Kashmir is never going to be part of Pakistan, says Farooq Abdullah

Abdullah said, “they (Pakistan) are not going to get Kashmir even if they try over the sky. That is not going to happen. So why cause further miseries for nothing. Why don’t they realise it is the Muslim population dying this side and Muslim population that is dying that side.

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has rejected the notion that the threat of a nuclear war would solve the Kashmir issue, asserting that the region would never be a part of Pakistan and dialogue is the best way to “move forward”.Admitting that Kashmir has been the main agenda as far as India and Pakistan are concerned, Abdullah said: “What is important is dialogue between the two nations to get to some point of understanding. “There is no way, by threats of war or using atom bomb and saying we have nuclear weapon, that does not solve the problem. What we have to do is find ways and means, whether it is Track II or III, to get to some position of understanding.”One thing is absolutely clear: borders won’t change how much countries want to change it, borders will not change.” Abdullah said this while participating in a programme titled ‘A Conversation on Jammu and Kashmir’ with former R&AW chief A S Dulat, who has also authored a book titled ‘Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years’ nlast night.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The programme was anchored by journalist Ashis Ray. Abdullah said, “they (Pakistan) are not going to get Kashmir even if they try over the sky. That is not going to happen. So why cause further miseries for nothing. Why don’t they realise it is the Muslim population dying this side and Muslim population that is dying that side.”They bomb us and we bomb them. It is innocent people who dies. How long, 65 years. Enough. I would like to tell both India and Pakistan: For God’s sake. Enough is enough. Let us get together and move forward rather than live in tragedies.” Following the cancellation of NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan last month, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz accused India of considering itself a regional power, forgetting that Pakistan is “nuclear power”.”(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s India acts as if they are a regional superpower, but we are also a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves,” Aziz had said. Earlier this month, Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif termed Kashmir an “unfinished agenda” and warned India of “unbearable damage” in case of a “long or short” war.”If the enemy ever resorts to any misadventure, regardless of its size and scale short or long it will have to pay an unbearable cost,” he had said in his address to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war with India on September 7.But answering questions, Abdullah said “the truth is, Kashmir is never going to be part of Pakistan, whether Farooq Abdullah lives or dies. It is never going to happen in many centuries to come. So let us draw a different friendship. Come and enjoy Gulmarg, Pehlgam and the gardens Mughals made. Come and enjoy the Kashmiri dishes we cook. Give something to us as tourists.”I would love to see the day I can drive right through to Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. My grandfather, my uncle are buried in Lahore. I cannot go there. When I die you can not stop my soul from going there.”

2006 Mumbai train blast case: Quantum of sentence to be announced on Monday

On July 11, 2006, a series of seven blasts was carried out over a period of 11 minutes on suburban trains in Mumbai, claiming 187 lives.

In this photograph taken on July 11, 2006, rescue workers search for bodies inside the mangled compartment of a blast affected local train at Mahim railway station in Mumbai.

AFP
The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Friday has held 12 of the 13 accused arrested in 2006 serial train blast case guilty under UAPA, damage to public property, Railways act, Explosives Substances Act and the IPC. However, the one acquitted has been cleared of all the charges. The court will decide on the sentencing on Monday.On July 11, 2006, a series of seven blasts was carried out over a period of 11 minutes on suburban trains in Mumbai, claiming 187 lives. In the last nine years, the case witnessed countless twists and turns. In fact, the prosecution dropped many of its theories that it had relied on initially.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence advocates said, “Earlier, the prosecution had claimed that some people, who looked Kashmiri, had visited a shop to buy pressure cookers to put the explosives in. None of the arrested accused, however, looked Kashmiri. So they dropped the pressure cooker theory and said the accused had used a rexene bag.”According to the police, highly sophisticated explosives had ripped through the first-class general compartments of seven suburban trains, all headed towards distant western/northern suburbs. Two of the blasts – in Mahim and Borivali – took place while the trains were nearing the stations. The remaining took place in trains moving away from the platforms. The explosions were so powerful that they ripped the double-layered steel roofs and sides of each of the seven compartments, throwing injured and dead passengers out.At Mahim and Borivali stations, apart from the passengers in the compartment, the explosions killed and injured people waiting on the platforms and even those travelling by trains in opposite directions. A few panicked passengers had jumped off the trains on hearing the explosions, only to get killed under the trains on the tracks.The quantum of punishment will be announced on September 14, Monday, by the judge after hearing arguments of the both sides.

Mumbai 7/11 serial train blasts verdict today

On July 11, 2006, a series of seven blasts was carried out over a period of 11 minutes on suburban trains in Mumbai, claiming 187 lives. In the last nine years, the case witnessed countless twists and turns. In fact, the prosecution dropped many of its theories that it had relied on initially.

The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court will pass its verdict in the 2006 serial train blast case on Friday. Judge Yatin D Shinde is going to pass the verdict. On July 11, 2006, a series of seven blasts was carried out over a period of 11 minutes on suburban trains in Mumbai, claiming 187 lives. In the last nine years, the case witnessed countless twists and turns. In fact, the prosecution dropped many of its theories that it had relied on initially.Defence advocates said, “Earlier, the prosecution had claimed that some people, who looked Kashmiri, had visited a shop to buy pressure cookers to put the explosives in. None of the arrested accused, however, looked Kashmiri. So they dropped the pressure cooker theory and said the accused had used a rexene bag.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The defence added that the prosecution also couldn’t prove that the accused were at the spot at time of the incident through their call data records (CDR). So they came up with some eye witnesses, who they claimed had seen the accused planting explosives in the trains.According to the police, highly sophisticated explosives had ripped through the first-class general compartments of seven suburban trains, all headed towards distant western/northern suburbs. Two of the blasts – in Mahim and Borivali – took place while the trains were nearing the stations. The remaining took place in trains moving away from the platforms. The explosions were so powerful that they ripped the double-layered steel roofs and sides of each of the seven compartments, throwing injured and dead passengers out.At Mahim and Borivali stations, apart from the passengers in the compartment, the explosions killed and injured people waiting on the platforms and even those traveling by trains in opposite directions. A few panicked passengers had jumped off the trains on hearing the explosions, only to get killed under the trains on the tracks.

DG level talks between India, Pakistan today; ceasefire violations on agenda

The Director General level bi-annual meeting between India and Pakistan border guarding forces will take place in Delhi on Wednesday.

The Director General level bi-annual meeting between India and Pakistan border guarding forces will take place in Delhi on Wednesday.While the 15-member Pakistan delegation will be led by the senior Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki, the 23-member Indian side would be headed by BSF DG D K Pathak during the talks and expected to raise issues like ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel and infiltration.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cross border firing, infiltration and smuggling are among the key issues to be discussed during the meeting.The talks will also endeavour to focus on positive issues like different levels of communication, more simultaneous coordinated patrolling and other confidence building measures.The talks between Indo-Pak border forces come after more than one-and-a-half-year. The last round was held in December 2013 in Lahore.Despite it cancelling the NSA-level talks with India which made it clear that there should not be any meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz during his visit here, Islamabad had agreed to New Delhi’s proposal on a meeting between the two border guarding forces.The Pakistani delegation is likely to stress on the activation of the UNMOGIP (UN Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan), they said.

Indo-Pak talks: Ceasefire violation, infiltration to be raised in BSF-Pakistan Rangers meet

The Indian side will also take up the issue of smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes and drugs

Repeated violation of ceasefire and frequent infiltration attempts by terrorists will be in top agenda of the meeting between heads of border guards of India and Pakistan to be held here next week. The meeting between chiefs of Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers will be held from September 9 to 13, a fortnight after the cancellation of NSA talks between India and Pakistan. “The agenda for the meeting has been exchanged by the two sides. From Indian side, we will raise the issue of repeated ceasefire violation and frequent infiltration attempts by terrorists,” a senior official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Killings of civilians living along the border due to firing from Pakistan will be forcefully raised by the BSF. The Pakistan Rangers are also expected to raise the same issue as they have been claiming casualties in their side too.The Indian side will also take up the issue of smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes and drugs as also unauthorised construction of defence infrastructure, the official said.Confirmation by Pakistan for the DG-level talks comes despite it calling off the NSA talks a fortnight ago after India made it clear that Kashmiri separatist leaders would not be allowed to meet Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz during his visit here.The decision on meeting of NSAs and heads of border guards was taken during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia, on July 10.

India strongly rejects Pakistan raising Kashmir issue at UN

She strongly rejected Pakistan raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers yesterday, saying that the Pakistan representative’s remarks on the issue in the UN are “totally irrelevant”.

Strongly rejecting Pakistan’s call for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, India has asserted that the state is an integral part of the country and its citizens have chosen a democratically-elected state government as it lambasted Islamabad for raising the issue at the UN.”Pakistan must know that this is the platform of the Inter-Parliamentary Union where the 2030 development agenda is being discussed,” Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told PTI.She strongly rejected Pakistan raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers yesterday, saying that the Pakistan representative’s remarks on the issue in the UN are “totally irrelevant”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raking up the Kashmir issue at yet another UN forum, Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Of Pakistan Murtaza Javed Abbasi had said in his speech that “it is time” to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination through an “independent and impartial plebiscite under the United Nations”.Mahajan said Jammu and Kashmir has been an integral part of India since independence and elections have been held in the state for the past many years.”Pakistan should keep in mind that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted to elect their state government. What can be more democratic than this,” she said, strongly rejecting Pakistan’s call for a plebiscite.She said Pakistan is trying to make an issue out of a non-issue by bringing up Jammu and Kashmir at every platform of the UN.”They are ignoring the realities on the ground. This (Jammu and Kashmir) is not an issue for the UN. They are making a non-issue an issue but they will not get success,” she said.She further said that Pakistan is not focusing on the theme of the conference, which is development but bringing a bilateral issue into the forum.”They are not focused on development. They are not thinking about their citizens and how development should take place in Pakistan. But instead every now and then they try to raise only one issue,” Mahajan said.In his speech, Abbasi had said that “outstanding disputes” continue to fester in South Asia preventing the region from realising its tremendous economic and social potential.He had claimed “foremost among these disputes” is the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an “internationally recognised” disputed territory, underwritten by several United Nations resolutions.”The Kashmiri people have waited for too long for their just and inalienable right to self-determination. Peace in South Asia is an imperative not only for the people of that region but also for the citizens of a globalised world,” he had said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTI

Why this is an opportune moment for India to call for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir

India should immediately hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.

Call it a referendum or plebiscite, but India will win hands down. There will be very few takers for a merger with Pakistan or independence. The resounding verdict will put an end to the debate once and for all. So let’s just get it over and done with.

I must admit that I wasn’t aware of the win-win situation for India in Jammu and Kashmir until 10 August, when I attended the launch of former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat’s book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, at the Oxford bookstore in Kolkata. As a result of Dulat’s presence at the event, the strategic community – serving and retired senior RAW, IB and army officers – was also in attendance.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The chief guest of the evening was General Shankar Roychowdhury, retired chief of army staff. After he did the honours, the audience heard with rapt attention a no-holds-barred discussion between Dulat and Sunanda K Datta-Ray, famous columnist who once edited The Statesman, about the book. .

After the tête-à-tête, the discussion was thrown open to the house. Several speakers stood up to ask questions or express an opinion. Without much ado, Lt Gen John Ranjan Mukherjee — the GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps in Jammu and Kashmir until 2001 — told the house that a plebiscite is the best solution for the festering problem because the will of the majority of people in Jammu and Kashmir is with India.

Pakistan, according to him, is living in a world of fantasy as 80 to 90 percent of the population of the state stands staunchly behind India regardless of their gripes over the quality of governance for decades.

After these stunning opening remarks, General Mukherjee provided a detailed community-wise break-up of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions in Indian-administered Kashmir and the southern and northern areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, to bolster his case for a plebiscite.

In the Jammu region, 66 percent of the population is Hindu anyway. Muslims account for 30 percent, in addition to four percent belonging to other ethnic groups. But 65 percent of Jammu’s Muslims are Shias who are bitterly anti-Pakistan because of the treatment meted out to Shias in Pakistan. Between eight and 10 percent of the Muslim population are ethnic Kashmiri Sunni Muslims — representing three to five percent of Jammu’s population. By General Mukherjee’s reckoning, at least 95 percent of Jammu’s population would vote for India in a referendum — barring Kashmiri Sunni Muslims.

In the Kashmir region, the mountain tribes like Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Paharis, Baltis and Shins comprise 20 percent of the population, and are staunchly pro-India. They regard ethnic Kashmiri Sunni Muslims — accounting for 65 to 70 percent of the population — as exploiters. Among the rest, 10 to 15 percent are Hindus and Sikhs, and five percent are Shias.

Among Kashmir’s Sunni Muslims, 20 to 25 percent are pro-India, while five percent are pro-Pakistan. Ten to 15 percent are pro-independence and 50 to 55 percent are fence-sitters, who wish to get on with their lives and are not concerned about who rules, as long as they can live in peace. But at the heart of their requirements is greater autonomy.

General Mukherjee said that if greater autonomy is ensured and if the Hindus, Sikhs, Shias and mountain tribes continue being as pro-India as they are, 70 to 80 percent of Kashmir’s population would passionately vote to remain in India.

In the Ladakh region, the entire population is pro-India, anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir as Buddhists and Shia Muslims account for 52 percent and 45 percent of the population respectively.

The General concluded that an objective analysis of ethnicity and religious patterns in the state left no doubt in his mind that India enjoys the backing of a formidable 80 to 90 per cent of the total population.

In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, barely 10 percent are ‘real’ Kashmiris entitled to vote in a plebiscite. The rest are Punjabi ex-servicemen, Afghans and Mirpuris settled there by the government of Pakistan to engineer a radical change in the region’s demography.

The speech totally blew my mind. It wasn’t Tom, Dick or Harry holding forth but a straight-talking army commander with inside knowledge of what Bill Clinton once called the most dangerous place on earth, addressing a gathering of those in the know of things.

Having always been under the impression that an overwhelming majority in Jammu and Kashmir is pro-Pakistan, I decided to cross-check his assertions with my contacts in the security establishment. They told me that what the General had said was accurate and known to those who dealt with Kashmir on a regular basis, the information-cum-analysis wasn’t in the public domain for obvious reasons.

After having the privilege of listening to such an honest, powerful and logical advocacy of a referendum in the troubled state, I’m convinced that despite three full-blown wars, Kargil incursions and the unending export of terror to India by successive Pakistani regimes, we should still call Islamabad’s bluff and agree to a plebiscite.

SNM Abdi is a Firstpost columnist and former Deputy Editor of Outlook

Journalists from India, PoK decide to set up mechanism to share content, discuss mutual issues

At a first of its kind of interaction, Kashmiri journalists from India and PoK decided to set-up a mechanism of sharing content including both news and views, to break various myths and distortions associated with their respective regions.

India-Pakistan flags collage

File Photo
At a first of its kind of interaction, Kashmiri journalists from India and PoK decided to set-up a mechanism of sharing content including both news and views, to break various myths and distortions associated with their respective regions. A group of 29 journalists, comprising editors and reporters from Kashmir discussed a range of mutual issues related to their profession and their role in the conflict. The journalists also talked about the possibilities of building linkages across the Line of Control (LoC) to help build a peaceful atmosphere.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“The thrust of the deliberations was on how to improve the contact across the line of divide and try to reach out to the readers with the accurate information. For this the discussion was held on various mechanisms to translate this into reality,” said a joint statement, issued at the end of two-day deliberations. Despite acrimony attached to botched up national security advisor level talks, both the governments of India and Pakistan had facilitated this first of its kind of interaction.The journalists urged both countries to facilitate movement of journalists on both the sides. A four-member joint group was also constituted to look into content sharing between the different media organizations and also a joint working group of the journalists from the two sides that would further build up the linkages. In the next step, two newspapers from each side will be encouraged to sign a proper MoU on content sharing, so that readers from both sides are informed about the news about each other region on real time basis. Other decisions taken at the meeting included documenting history of journalism on both sides, creating a digital library related to J&K, trying to circulate hard copies of newspapers through cross-LoC routes, involve media departments on both the sides of LoC, arrange professionals to lecture journalism students in the universities of both regions, to publish a six-monthly newsletter, online and print, institute awards for the best cross-LoC reporting, and preparation of a directory of Kashmiri journalists working all over the world. The conference, a first of its kind, organized by Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) and Center for Peace Development and Reforms (CPDR) in association with Kashmir Initiative Group.

PDP, BJP in an opportunistic coalition, not helping Jammu and Kashmir: Rahul Gandhi

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that the coalition government in the state is an opportunistic coalition. It is not working to help the people of the state,” the Congress leader said at the rally in Pampore area of Pulwama district, 25 kms from here.

PTI
Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the PDP-BJP alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir saying it was an “opportunistic coalition” that was not helping the people of the state.The Congress Vice President, who was addressing a rally in Pulwama during his three-day visit to the state, said it felt like a homecoming “as my roots are here”.A day after he met the people affected by ceasefire violations by Pakistan in Balakot and asked the government to look into the demands, Rahul targeted the ruling alliance saying it had failed to continue the development works initiated under the UPA for the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that the coalition government in the state is an opportunistic coalition. It is not working to help the people of the state,” the Congress leader said at the rally in Pampore area of Pulwama district, 25 kms from here.Rahul said the previous UPA government at the Centre had initiated several schemes for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the farmers.”But the (present) NDA government and the state government are not carrying forward those works,” the Congress leader, who arrived here this morning on the second leg of this visit to the state, alleged.He highlighted the Saffron Mission started by the UPA government for the farmers of Pampore and adjoining areas, which are involved in saffron production, saying it had benefited the farmers by providing sprinklers for irrigation.Invoking his Kashmiri roots, Rahul said whenever he visited the state it felt like a homecoming. “I have a special relation with Jammu and Kashmir as my roots are here.”Whenever I come to Jammu and Kashmir I am happy that I am coming home but I am also sad as people here have faced problems… people have died (in violence) over the years.” Rahul said Congress party is working to help the people, farmers and youth of Jammu and Kashmir. “We work for peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.The Congress leader expressed his gratitude to the farmers of the state for contributing towards the nation building.”You work in the fields… you work for the nation. And for that we thank you,” he added.Gandhi is scheduled to address another public rally later in the day in Sopore town, considered to be the hot bed of militancy in the Valley.

Increasing number of Kashmiri youth taking to militancy: Indian Army

Any youth joining terrorists’ ranks is a cause of concern, says Gen Subrata Sahu.

Any youth joining terrorists’ ranks is a cause of concern, says Gen Subrata Sahu (Representational Image)

File Photo
Increasing number of Kashmiri youth are joining militancy and this is a matter of concern, a top army commander said on Wednesday while talking about the strategy of Pakistan-based terror groups to focus on recruiting locals after their “failure” to push in terrorists.Outgoing Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha said “several motives” are being exploited by recruiters, including religious radicalisation, discontent due to personal or academic failures, links with terrorists and overground workers and desire for recognition or status. “Any youth joining terrorists’ ranks is a cause of concern,” he said while mentioning that there has been an increase in the number of youth recruited in 2014-15 as compared to 2012-13.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gen Sahu, who is moving to Army Headquarters in Delhi for his next assignment, said “attempts of infiltration” from across the border had increased this year but “the attempts have resulted in their failure”. Describing it as “a battle between their desperation and our determination”, he said there has been an increase in the intensity of attempts this year which is evident from 11 attempts in which 19 terrorist neutralised. “Without getting into specifics, even other indicators suggest an increase in number awaiting infiltration,” he added.He was asked if the infiltration level was nearly zero, how did four Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists, including Mohammed Naved Yakub who was caught alive during Udhampur attack, manage to sneak in from Gulmarg sector. “This case is still being investigated and there have been repeated changes in his (Naved’s) statements. We will wait for the final inference,” he said.

UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon regrets India-Pakistan NSA-talks did not happen

The UN Chief had last week welcomed the talks between the NSAs and hoped that the dialogue would lead to positive outcomes.
File Photo
AFP photo
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday expressed regret over calling-off of the planned NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan and hoped that leaders of the two countries will use “all opportunities” to resume talks soon.”The Secretary-General regrets that the planned meeting between the National Security Advisors (NSA) of Pakistan and India did not take place on 23-24 August. The Secretary-General reiterates his call to both countries to continue to address their differences through dialogue. He sincerely hopes that the leaders of the countries will use all opportunities to resume talks at an early date,” Ban’s Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan had called off the talks at the last moment after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had virtually given an ultimatum to Islamabad to give a commitment that it would not meet Kashmiri separatist leaders. The UN Chief had last week welcomed the talks between the NSAs and hoped that the dialogue would lead to positive outcomes.

India, Pakistan media on failed talks

‘Disappointment’ and ‘blame game’ in Pakistani and Indian papers after the cancellation of planned security talks.

After NSA-level talks fiasco, military talk in doldrums

Pakistan cancelled the talks on Saturday after India clearly said that it would not allow a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders and talks will only focus on terrorism.

After the cancellation of NSA-level talks, proposed meetings between top military officials of India and Pakistan are now unlikely, a media report said on Monday.Pakistan cancelled the talks on Saturday after India clearly said that it would not allow a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders and talks will only focus on terrorism.The Express Tribune said that with the NSA talks called off due to differences over the agenda as well as Pakistan s invitation to Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders, the meetings between Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) as well as heads of Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force are uncertain.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The paper quoted an official as saying that the Ufa agreement has now become “controversial” and “irrelevant” as a result of cancellation of the NSA-level talks.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa last month had agreed on meetings between DGMOs and heads of Pakistan Rangers and BSF.India wanted the two meetings before the NSA-level talks but Islamabad proposed September 6 for the meeting between the heads of Rangers and BSF, which would be followed by the DGMOs’ meeting.

Pakistan media lays blame at India’s door for cancellation of NSA talks

Islamabad: Pakistani media blamed India for the cancellation of first-ever NSA-level talks by setting “pre-conditions” ahead of National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz’s visit to New Delhi, in a blow to the efforts to normalise their bilateral ties.

Aziz was expected to discuss terrorism and other outstanding issues with his counterpart Ajit Doval but he called of the trip after India asked Pakistan to give a commitment that he would not meet Kashmiri separatist leaders. All leading newspapers carried the story about cancellation of NSA-level talks on the front page, highlighting the Indian “pre-conditions” which, according to local media, led to the breakdown of parleys.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In a front page headline “NSAs’ talks cancelled over Indian conditions”, Dawn blamed Indian conditions for cancellation of talks. “Amid intense bickering, the government decided on Saturday to cancel the planned meeting of national security advisers with India, citing New Delhi’s refusal to allow an expanded agenda and a meeting with Kashmiri leaders,” it said.

The News International, under the headline “No talks with pre-conditions, Pakistan tells India” reported that “without waiting to burn the midnight oil and succumbing to ‘orders’ from New Delhi, Pakistan responded to the ‘hilarious’ Indian directives by saying that it will not attend the NSA level talks on the basis of preconditions set by India.”

It further said that in the final word from Pakistan, “thankfully, the war of words came to an end on Saturday night with peace and better bilateral relations emerging as the biggest loser.”

The Express Tribune termed the cancellation of talks as blow to the efforts of normalisation of India-Pakistan ties. “India’s intransigence is to blame for the cancellation of the meeting between Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval which was agreed upon by the prime ministers of the two countries in their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Russian city of Ufa,” it said.

The Nation carried a front page story “Stubborn India ‘kills’ peace hopes”, saying India’s attitude of inflexibility was the main reason for failure of purposed talks.

“An overbearing India yesterday dashed hopes for peace in the region by virtually murdering planned talks with Pakistan by putting ‘unacceptable’ conditions, though none of the two sides officially declared the death of dialogue,” it reported.

The Urdu media and TV channels were even more harsh and squarely blamed India for the cancellation of talks. Media also tried to portray that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government were not serious in talks with Pakistan and they just use the opportunity to address the domestic audience.

PTI

Pakistan shouldn’t have deviated from agenda set in Ufa: Rajnath Singh

It was decided that there will be no third party in the NSA-level talks, he added on Pakistan’s insistence on meeting Kashmiri separatists.

It was decided that there will be no third party in the NSA-level talks, he added on Pakistan’s insistence on meeting Kashmiri separatists.

Asserting that India has always been in favour of friendly ties with neighbouring countries, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday expressed disappointment with the cancellation of the NSA-level talks and said that Pakistan should not have deviated from the agenda set in Ufa, Russia. Singh said Pakistan’s move to cancel the talks is extremely unfortunate and added that India was ready for the talks.”It has been India’s thinking from the very beginning that we must have cordial relations with our neighbouring countries. We will always make attempts in this regard. Pakistan should not have deviated from the agenda set in Ufa during the meeting between the two Prime Ministers. Pakistan called off the talks, India did not cancel it,” Singh said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It was decided that there will be no third party in the NSA-level talks. There was no decision taken that people from different levels will come and talk. Pakistan should have talked based on the agenda which was decided,” he added.Pakistan called off the NSA-level talks with India late on Saturday night. A statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office said the proposed talks will not serve any purpose if conducted on the basis of what it called preconditions.” laid down by India.

Who is Shabir Shah?

Founder of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), Shabir is a separatist leader who seeks the ‘right of self determination’ for Jammu and Kashmir.
File Photo
AFP
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday issued fresh summons to Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah, at present in Delhi, for questioning in connection with a decade-old case of alleged terror financing through the ‘hawala channel’.62-year-old Shabir Shah’s was also detained on Saturday upon his arrival at the Delhi airport, to prevent him from meeting Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz ahead of the proposed NSA-level talks, which later fell through. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Who is Shabir Shah?Founder and Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), Shabir is one of the separatist leaders who seeks the ‘right of self determination’ to Jammu and Kashmir. He was born in Anantnag in 1953 and his father Ghulam Mohammad Shah died in police custody in Anantnag in 1989. Shah has been repeatedly booked under Public Safety Act in Kashmir and has spent time in and out of preventive detention without trial. In an interview with Shah in 1998, a Rediff article talks about the mood of Kashmiri people in 1994 when Shah was released. It said he was welcomed by a huge gathering of people outside the Srinagar’s Central jail. Shah parted ways with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference last year and formed a separate unit.

Cancellation of talks by Pakistan is unfortunate: Home Minister Rajnath Singh

Cancellation of NSA talks by Pakistan is “unfortunate”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Sunday and made it clear that the possibility of any future dialogue will depend on the neighbour.

Cancellation of NSA talks by Pakistan is “unfortunate”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Sunday and made it clear that the possibility of any future dialogue will depend on the neighbour.He underlined that India stands for dialogue and cordial relationship with Pakistan, a day after the talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his counterpart Sartaj Aziz were called off.”The cancellation of NSA-lvel talks between India and Pakistan is unfortunate. India is in favour of dialogue,” Singh said on the sidelines of a function at Sanskrit Vidyapeeth here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Pakistan blaming India for cancellation of talks, the Home Minister said, “It is Pakistan which has cancelled the talks and not India.”He said that India has always been of the view of maintaining good and cordial relationship with the nighbours and its efforts would continue.”But Pakistan should not have deviated from the agenda decided during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (in Ufa in July),” he said.On Pakistan’s criticism of India’s objections to Aziz’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders, Singh said, “the thing was that there will be no third party in NSA-level talks. It was only NSA level talk. There was nothing like that others too will hold talks before, later or in between.” The Union Minister said Pakistan should have held talks as per pre-decided agenda.On Pakistan’s claim that Kashmir was the main agenda, the Home Minister said, “then why was it not decided earlier that when it would be part of NSA level talks? It was never an issue on agenda.”India has maintained that terror was the only agenda on the talks between the two NSAs.Asked about possibility of any dialogue in future, Singh said, “go and ask Pakistan, how can I reply to it.”

After Sushma’s riposte, Pak calls off NSA talks; India says decision is unfortunate

New Delhi/Islamabad: After going through several now-on, now-off moments, the NSA talks between India and Pakistan were finally called off on Saturday, with both sides sticking to their positions.

In a late night statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office said it has “come to the conclusion that the NSA talks would not serve any purpose if conducted on the basis of the two conditions” laid down by India — a clear signal calling off the talks.

In reply, India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate. India did not set any preconditions.

“We only reiterated that Pakistan respect the spirit of the Simla & Ufa Agreements to which it was already committed,” he said.

Pakistan’s statement came in response to India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s press conference in which she said Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz was welcome to come to India for talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval but Islamabad must abide by the agenda agreed to at Ufa and only discuss terrorism.

AFPAFP

AFP

Aziz, who was slated to travel to India on Sunday for the talks, addressing a press conference earlier in Islamabad, said he was willing to come for the talks but Kashmir would be on the table and he would also speak with the Kashmiri separatists.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement at night that talks held on the two conditions laid down by Sushma Swaraj would not serve any purpose.

It accused the Indian minister of “restricting the agenda” of the talks to only two items: creating an atmosphere free from terrorism and tranquillity on the Line of Control.

On Aziz’s planned meeting with Hurriyat leaders ahead of meeting Doval on Sunday, the Pakistan Foreign Office said meeting the separatists has been “a long-standing practice” and that “it would be inappropriate for India to now impose the condition of changing this longstanding practice”.

“Pakistan, therefore, reiterates that the scheduled NSA level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India.”

Sushma Swaraj, in her press conference, said Aziz has to remain within the agenda agreed to at Ufa, Russia, on July 10 between both their prime ministers.

She said the mandate for the NSA talks was to discuss terrorism-related issues and there was no space for the Hurriyat in talks, as per the Simla Agreement inked between both countries.

She gave Pakistan till Saturday midnight to give its answer on what it proposed to do.

“Pakistan is saying that Kashmir is the core issue, but that was not said at Ufa. In Ufa, it was decided that all outstanding issues including Kashmir… but first let us discuss terrorism and violence,” she said.

“The NSAs will talk on all issues relating to terrorism. Aziz said that he is waiting for my press conference. I am answering — please keep to the Simla and Ufa agreements signed by both our countries.

“As per the Simla agreement spirit, there can be no third party in talks, and the Hurriyat cannot be included. As per the Ufa spirit, don’t increase the agenda. And do come, you are welcome.”

Sushma Swaraj denied that India was laying any pre-conditions for the NSA talks, as alleged by Pakistan, and said if Pakistan sticks to its stand of raking up Kashmir at the NSA parley and Aziz meets the Hurriyat — “Toh baatchit nahin hogi” (then there will be no talks).

She said that as per the operative part of the Ufa agreement, there will be three meetings — between the NSAs to discuss terrorism, talks between the directors general of the BSF and Pakistani Rangers, and between the DGMOs.

Sushma Swaraj also said Pakistan was “running away” from the talks as India has caught a Pakistani terrorist alive after the Udhampur attack.

Earlier, Aziz in his press conference in Islamabad said: “I am still ready to go to New Delhi to hold (NSA) talks without any preconditions.”

The atmosphere for the talks soured over the Pakistan High Commission in India inviting the Jammu and Kashmir separatist leaders to meet Aziz ahead of the NSA talks on August 23-24.

Aziz maintained that the core issue of Kashmir would be on the agenda of talks.

To a query, he said: “No serious talks with India are possible without discussion on the core issue of Kashmir.”

Aziz said the Pakistan High Commission had invited the separatist leaders to enable him to meet a cross-section of leaders.

India said this was unacceptable.

Hours before Aziz spoke in Islamabad, Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah was detained in New Delhi when he flew in from Srinagar to meet the Pakistani NSA, if he arrives as scheduled.

Aziz said they have prepared three dossiers on alleged activities of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) on Pakistani soil.

“If I don’t get an opportunity to hand over the dossiers to Doval in New Delhi, I hope to give it to him in New York next month if he comes with (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi,” he said, adding that he would hand them over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

IANS

Sartaj Aziz will go to India if not stopped: Pakistan

Pakistan Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said Aziz was fully prepared to travel to India and his “travel bag, file work and ticket” are ready.
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dna Research & Archives
Pakistan Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid on Saturday said his country will go ahead with NSA- level talks unless India refused to host the meeting. He was reacting to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s press conference in New Delhi in which she made it clear that the first-ever NSA-level talks would not take place if Pakistan insists on discussing Kashmir and ropes in separatists.”Sartaj Aziz will go to India if he was not stopped by India from visiting,” he told Geo TV.Rashid said Aziz was fully prepared to travel to India and his “travel bag, file work and ticket” are ready. He said putting conditions on a host was against traditions as India first invited Pakistan and was now creating hurdles.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I hope India will not allow the ray of hope to die,” he said.Responding to Swaraj’s assertion that under the Shimla Agreement there are only two parties to the Kashmir conflict, he said that Kashmiri leaders will not attend the talks between the two countries as they were only invited for reception. He said like India, Pakistan also has a right to talk about issues of its concern.

Separatist leader Shabbir Shah put under house arrest

Shah, who parted ways with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference last year and formed a separate unit, was placed under house arrest on Friday and not allowed to go for Friday prayers.
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AFP photo
In a new twist ahead of Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, Kashmiri separatist leader Shabbir Shah, was detained on Saturday on arrival at the Delhi airport and will not be allowed to meet Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz here tomorrow. As soon as he deplaned, central security agencies along with Delhi Police asked him about the place where he would be staying in Delhi and later drove him there.The separatist leaders were told that “restrictions have been imposed on their movement in the national capital” ahead of talks between Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, official sources said. Shah along with two other separatist leaders Mohammed Abdullah Tari and Zamir Ahmed Sheikh will stay in a south Delhi guest house and the trio will remain confined to that place only. His associate Zamir told PTI that they were being taken to the guest house which they had booked and the officers politely told Shah that the team was free to go back to Srinagar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While leaving Srinagar, Shah had said the he would like to meet Aziz. “Today we are going to ask the people of India whether former Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, their leader L K Advani or Manmohan Singh were wrong. During their tenure, they never blocked us from meeting Pakistani officials when they came to India…Kashmir is an important issue…Pakistan’s stand is clear. They are saying that they will come for talks and present whatever they want to say. India can also put forward its argument but Kashmir issue must be included,” he insisted.Shah, who parted ways with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference last year and formed a separate unit, was placed under house arrest on Friday and not allowed to go for Friday prayers.The top separatist leaders have received an invite from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a reception being hosted for Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Sunday afternoon to hold talks with Doval on Monday. The Pakistan High Commission’s invitation to hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatist leaders to meet Aziz has upset New Delhi but Pakistan has stuck to the line that such meetings were “routine”.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani continues to be under house arrest ahead of Sartaj Aziz’s visit

Kashmiri separatist leaser Shabbir Shah, who was taken under house arrest on Thursday and released on the same day, was again put under detention in New Delhi.

Security personnel were deployed outside the Hydrepora residence of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
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dna Research & Archives
Although Kashmiri separatists leaders put on house arrest were released on Thursday, Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah continues to be under detention. In a press note released on Friday on their official Facebook page, All Parties Hurriyat Conference said, “Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani continued to remain under house arrest today and he was again forcibly stopped from offering the Friday congregational prayers by the police and he was not allowed to come out of his house.”Top Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were on Thursday put under house arrest. Security personnel were deployed outside the Hydrepora residence of Geelani. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The separatist leaders were invited by the Pakistan High Commission to meet Pakistan’s Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz on August 23. India had cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August last year after its envoy invited separatist leaders for consultations ahead of the meeting in Islamabad.As soon as separatist leader Shabbir Shah deplaned in New Delhi, central security agencies along with Delhi Police asked him about the place where he would be staying in Delhi and later drove him there. The separatist leaders were told that “restrictions have been imposed on their movement in the national capital” ahead of talks between Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, official sources said. Shah along with two other separatist leaders Mohammed Abdullah Tari and Zamir Ahmed Sheikh will stay in a south Delhi guest house and the trio will remain confined to that place only. Shah, who parted ways with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference last year and formed a separate unit, was placed under house arrest yesterday and not allowed to go for Friday prayers.While India advised Pakistan on Friday not to go ahead with its meeting with the separatists, Pakistan said that it won’t accept India’s advice .”Responding to the Government of India’s advice, conveyed by their High Commissioner that Sartaj Aziz may not meet Hurriyat leaders during his visit to India, Foreign Secretary conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner that it would not be possible for Pakistan to accept this advice. Pakistani leadership has always interacted with the Kashmir/Hurriyat leadership, during their visits to India. Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established past practice,” Pak MoFA said. “The Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people of the Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan regards them (Hurriyat leaders) as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir Dispute. Pakistan has proposed and conveyed to India a comprehensive agenda reflecting broad understanding reached between the leaders in Ufa, that all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, other disputes, terrorism and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries,” MoFA added.Addressing a press conference on Saturday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave an ultimatum to Pakistan and said that if Pakistan chooses to go ahead with the meeting, then the talks will be called off. She gave Pakistan time till midnight to decide. Here is the press note released by All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Press NoteSrinagar21\: Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani continued to remain under house…
Posted by All Parties Hurriyat Conference on Friday, August 21, 2015

No room for third parties in Indo-Pak talks, says Sushma Swaraj

The press conference is taking place a day after India and Pakistan sparred through verbal and written statements over Islamabad’s determination and intention to meet with separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the proposed August 23 and 24 NSA talks.

Photo Courtesy: ANI Twitter
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said that there can be no room for third party intervention in any dialogue or conversation between the governments of India and Pakistan.Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Swaraj said, “There will be no room for third parties. The talks, if they take place, will be only on terror,” Swaraj told media. Cautioning Pakistan and specifically its National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz not to take the step of allowing third parties like the Hurriyat to have a say or to dictate the agenda of the Indo-Pakistan bilateral interaction, the external affairs minister said, “Please do not take the step of allowing third party intervention in a bilateral dialogue or interaction. Let the interaction be between India and Pakistan only. Please also do not move away from the agenda agreed upon, which was terror.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to the meeting between the two prime ministers and later with the respective delegations in Ufa, Russia, on the sidelines of the SCO summit last month, Swaraj, “It was agreed by both sides that there would be three meetings. The first meeting was to be between the directors general of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers (PR). The second meeting was to be between the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries on the issue of ceasefire violations, and the third meeting, was to be between the national security advisors of the two countries on the issue of terror.”The press conference is taking place a day after India and Pakistan sparred through verbal and written statements over Islamabad’s determination and intention to meet with separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the proposed August 23 and 24 NSA talks. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that its High Commissioner’s invitation to the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership on August 23 was very much in keeping with the practice and tradition of the past many years.While India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent across a strong message to Pakistan, insisting that there are only two stakeholders in the talks between India and Pakistan and added that New Delhi is committed to discuss the issues peacefully and bilaterally. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz for the talks in the national capital on Monday.

To talk or not to talk? Pak trying to evade its Ufa commitment, says India

Merely hours after Pakistan rejected India’s “advice” not to hold a meeting between its NSA Sartaj Aziz and Hurriyat leaders, India on Friday criticised Pakistan and said that it had always been uncooperative with respect to the proposed talks.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Swarup said Pakistan government’s statement on Hurriyat has not come as a surprise because “there has been a pattern to Pakistan’s actions after the Ufa summit and today’s position is a culmination of that approach.”

“This provocative action (Pakistan inviting Hurriyat leaders) was in consonance with Pakistan’s desire to evade its commitment at Ufa,” Swarup said at a press conference in Jaipur, criticising Pakistan for inviting Hurriyat leaders to a meeting with Aziz.

“India has always held that there are only two stakeholders in our relations, not three,” Swarup said. “Unilateral impositions of new conditions cannot be the basis of going forward,” he said.

“In Ufa, both PMs agreed on a meeting of NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism,” the MEA spokesperson said. “Instead, we saw a sharp increase in unprovoked firing from Pakistani side and some serious cross border terror incidents, including the one at Udhampur which resulted in capture of a Pakistani national, a matter that would have naturally come up in the NSA level talks on terrorism, to Pakistan’s discomfort” he said.

The Spokesperson pointed out that “Ufa understanding on the talks – read out jointly by the two Foreign Secretaries – was very clear: the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. This was the only agenda set for them by the two Prime Ministers.”

Pakistan took 22 days to respond to the Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi and then proposed an agenda at complete variance with what the two Prime Ministers had agreed upon, the Spokesperson said.

“Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process. Even more significantly, without confirming either the programme or the agenda, the Pakistani High Commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA,” Swarup said.

The people of both countries “can legitimately ask today what is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation”, Swarup said.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. In fact, it had taken the initiative to engage at Ufa, he said.

Shortly after Swarup’s press conference, a PTI report said that the NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan were cancelled. However, TV channels quoted government sources as saying that the talks had not been cancelled.

Pakistan, on the other hand, said that India “was making excuses” to avoid talking to Islamabad.

Shortly after India said the NSA level talks cannot go on if Pakistan insisted on talking to Kashmiri separatists, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said: “India has made excuses before and refused talks. They are making excuses again.”

Earlier during the day, Swarup had said that India wanted the talks to happen and had conveyed to Pakistan its agenda three days ago, response to which was still awaited.

“We want talks to happen. India is ready for talks. We are committed to the talks. Now it is up to them (Pakistan),” he had said when asked about the fate of the talks between the NSAs which seems to be in jeopardy after Pakistan’s invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders.

“We have made it clear to Pakistan that hosting of Kashmiri separatists will be contrary to the spirit of the Ufa understanding. We have conveyed our position on their reported meeting with them (separatists) and sought clarity on the agenda,” Swarup had said, who is in Jaipur in connection with the Summit of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Conference to be attended by 14 nations.

He had said India had also communicated to Pakistan the agenda for the NSA talks and was yet to get any response officially.

(With agency inputs)

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon calls on India, Pakistan, urges the two sides ‘to return to dialogue’

India said it was very clear that the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism and this was the only agenda set for them by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan when they had met in Ufa, Russia, last month.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon
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AFP photo
As the proposed talks between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan appeared deadlocked, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on the two sides “to return to dialogue” in the interest of their people and exercise maximum restraint.The UN chief “would urge both sides to keep the best interests of the civilians in mind and whatever would ensure their safety is paramount,” Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Eri Kaneko told PTI at the United Nations.”In that vein, he would urge both sides to return to dialogue in the interests of their people,” Kaneko said when asked about the proposed NSA-level talks hanging by a thread after India made it clear that Pakistan’s insistence on meeting Kashmiri separatists is not acceptable. Kaneko earlier told reporters on Friday that the Secretary General’s message to the governments of India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint and take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians still stands.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UN chief is “seriously concerned about the reports specially of casualties inflicted upon civilians and he would urge both governments to exercise maximum restraint and to take steps to ensure protection of civilians,” she said.Kaneko added that the Secretary-General had welcomed the upcoming talks between the NSAs and “he would hope that any talks that are supposed to happen would proceed as they were supposed to.”India said it was very clear that the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism and this was the only agenda set for them by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan when they had met in Ufa, Russia, last month. India also asserted that Pakistan’s insistence on meeting Hurriyat leaders as a precondition is a “complete departure” from the Ufa understanding. “India has always held the position that there are only two stakeholders in our relationship, not three… India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. In fact, we took the initiative to engage at Ufa,” a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi.”But, unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward.”The UN Secretary-General had on August 19 reiterated his call for both nations to resolve their differences through dialogue. He had welcomed the upcoming talks between the NSAs and had hoped that it would lead to a positive result. Ban had also expressed “serious concern” over the recent escalation of violence along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, that resulted in a number of casualties on both sides, including civilians.National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is scheduled to meet his Pakistan counterpart Sartaz Aziz for talks on terrorism- related issues for the first time on Sunday in New Delhi. But the talks appear to be hanging by a thread after both countries hardened their positions over Pakistan meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks.

Pakistan NSA meeting separatists just ‘recreation’, says a top BJP leader

India put the ball in Pakistan’s court over the NSA talks, saying that hosting of Kashmiri separatists would be contrary to the Ufa spirit where the two countries had decided to have talks on terror.

Abdul Basit had extended an invitation to the Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other Hurriyat leaders to meet with Sartaj Aziz on August 23.
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dna Research & Archives
BJP is hopeful that the upcoming talks between NSAs on terror issue will be held as planned as any meeting of Pakistan NSA with separatist leaders is just “recreation” which can take place later, a top party leader said on Friday. The leader, who is a key pointsman of the ruling party on external affairs, said the Indian position has been clearly conveyed to Pakistan. He voiced hope that the proposed talks, whose fate remains uncertain following differences over the issue of Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz meeting Hurriyat leaders, will be held.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about the “flip-flop” of detaining and releasing Hurriyat leaders on Thursday in Srinagar, he said “a message was conveyed to Mufti Sayeed government” after the incident, but chose not to elaborate. He also rebutted veteran party leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha’s criticism of the Modi government’s decision to go ahead with talks despite numerous provocations from PakistanThe leader said such issues are “dynamic and progressively evolving” and the country cannot have a static stand. As far as provocations like ceasefire violations are concerned, government has been tough with Pakistan and will convey its feelings during the meeting between NSAs, he said.Talking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to the Gulf countries and his recent trip to the UAE, he said India wanted to isolate “sponsors of terrorism” with their help and termed the visit a “success on all three parameters– trade, economy and strategic relations”. India put the ball in Pakistan’s court over the NSA talks, saying that hosting of Kashmiri separatists would be contrary to the Ufa spirit where the two countries had decided to have talks on terror.

Pakistan editorials have mixed views to NSA talks

India today put the ball in Pakistan’s court over the NSA talks, saying that hosting of Kashmiri separatists would be contrary to the Ufa spirit where the two countries had decided to have talks on terror.

The meeting between Aziz and Doval was supposed to discuss terrorism, but now it seems it will be an open agenda, which means either side can raise its concerns.
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dna Research & Archives
Editorials appearing in several newspapers in Pakistan have lampooned the Indian Government for placing Hurriyat leaders under house arrest ahead of the visit of Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs And National Security, to Delhi on August 23 And 24. According to The Nation, attempt to physically restrain the Hurriyat from meeting with the Pakistan High Commission, would surely be a step too drastic by any standard ‘one taken based on sentimental outrage rather than sound strategic insight.'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The paper further states that if India hopes to have a constructive dialogue regarding its concerns, then it must give equal weight to Pakistan’s concerns ‘foremost of which is the Kashmir issue. It states firmly that Hurriyat leaders are representatives of the Kashmiri people, and under every law of dialogue and negotiation, their voices must be heard.’ It also suggests that Pakistan can take placatory steps without changing the crux of their stance. The Frontier Post, in its editorial, which is more of a background to the forthcoming talks, reminds India of the missed opportunities of the past year to have a dialogue with Pakistan, and suggests that both New Delhi and Islamabad should show a greater level of understanding and long-term vision to get bilateral relations back on track. A third paper, The Daily Times, in its editorial, calls on all countries in South Asia and Afghanistan to give up the game of blame and counter blame for better ties. It also seeks to understand why the goal posts for the August 23 and 24 meeting have been suddenly changed. The meeting between Aziz and Doval was supposed to discuss terrorism, but now it seems it will be an open agenda, which means either side can raise its concerns. Whether that will mean both sides talking to or at each other remains to be seen, says the Daily Times.

Heads they win, tails we lose: India should have ignored Pakistan’s invite to Hurriyat

Somebody in Pakistan has the coin Amitabh Bachchan flipped in Sholay. Whichever way it falls on the fate of the NSA-level talks between the two countries, Pakistan will walk away with diplomatic victory.

India has pushed itself into a corner by turning the spotlight on Kashmir before the talks. When the two countries decided to restart dialogue at Ufa (Russia), India seemed to have scored a tactical victory when it claimed Kashmir will not be part of the agenda; and that the discussions would only be about terrorism.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Unfortunately for India, the talks have now become hostage to the Kashmir issue. By highlighting the subject India didn’t seem keen to discuss, Pakistan has reversed India’s gains and positioned itself once again as rehnuma (friend, philosopher and guide) of Kashmiris.

What were Indian diplomats smoking before they agreed to share the peace-pipe with Pakistan? Exactly a year ago, talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries were called off at the last minute because of Pakistan’s invitation to Hurriyat leaders. Basic common sense suggests India should have discussed the Hurriyat issue with Pakistan before agreeing to resumption of dialogue; the two sides should have reached a consensus at Ufa before saying yes to dialogue in Delhi.

It is evident, in the hurry to seal the deal, India forgot to warn Pakistan against flirting with Kashmiri separatists. Before signing on the dotted line at Ufa, India failed to see that the rival neighbour will once again cross the Lakshman rekha on Kashmir.

India knows that Pakistan has no interest in dialogue; it agrees to parleys only under international pressure. The commitment made under duress means nothing; Pakistan is always keen to wriggle out of it and blame India for failure to negotiate. True to form, over the past few weeks, Pakistan has done its best to force India to cancel the talks — first with heavy shelling and terror attacks on the border and then with provocative statements on Kashmir.

India did well to retaliate to provocations on the border, by pounding villages in Pakistan. It met fire with fire, sound byte with sound byte instead of calling off dialogue. But, it messed up completely on the diplomatic front. Knowing Pakistan’s history of U-turns, India should have pre-empted the neighbour’s game plan by blocking every possible exit route. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Pakistan could lean back on the tested formula of irritating India by inviting Hurriyat leaders for discussions. Yet, the door used last time by Pakistan was not sealed, forcing India to instead lock up Hurriyat leaders, a desperate measure that could prove counterproductive.

The decision to put Hurriyat leaders under house arrest is a tactical victory for Pakistan. Such harsh measures end up alienating Kashmiris further from India and portraying Pakistan as a loyal friend of the people of the state.

The Valley is simmering with discontent; rebellion is in the air. After a brief interregnum of peace (between 2000-2008), militants have started striking again. Incidents of attacks on security forces have gone up; pro-Pakistan slogans, flags and demonstrations have once again become part of daily life in the Valley. More local youth are joining militant organisations.

The coin falls in Pakistan’s favour every time India does something to incite anger in Kashmir. When Pakistan appears steadfast in its commitment to the Kashmir issue and India appears eager to avoid it, the resultant sentiment in the Valley doesn’t benefit India’s long-term interests.

Ideally, India should have ignored Pakistan’s invite to the Hurriyat. It is part of Pakistan’s charade on Kashmir and is at best tokenism that yields nothing. Most of the Hurriyat leaders have lost credibility in the eyes of Kashmiris. With the exception of hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, nobody has a respectable following. (This is the reason why all others were released after being arrested on Thursday).

Modi could have followed the Atal Behari Vajpayee doctrine while dealing with Hurriyat. Like Vajpayee, he could have allowed them to have their customary chai pe charcha with the Pakistani delegation and go back to Srinagar with memories of a pleasant evening. Giving undue importance with a meeting that is nothing but a photo-op for the Hurriyat and lip-service to the Kashmiri cause by Pakistan, India has needlessly complicated the situation.

India gains nothing from the mess. If Pakistan gets to meet Hurriyat, it will be seen as a climb down by India. If India uses force and threat of detention to keep Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir, it will fuel anger and resentment in the Valley. And if the talks are called off, Pakistan achieves its primary objective of wriggling out of discussions.

Like in Sholay, heads Pakistan wins; tails India loses.

India committed to talks but Pakistan has to take a call: MEA Vikas Swarup

Pakistan has invited Kashmir separatists for a reception and talks with Aziz, setting off a confrontation with India.
File Photo

India put the ball in Pakistan’s court on Friday over the much-hyped NSA talks, saying that hosting of Kashmiri separatists would be contrary to the Ufa spirit where the two countries had decided to have talks on terror. External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said here that India wanted the talks to happen and had conveyed to Pakistan its agenda three days back, response to which was still awaited.”We want talks to happen.India is ready for talks.We are committed to the talks. Now it is up to them (Pakistan),” he said when asked about the fate of the talks between the NSAs which looks in jeopardy after Pakistan’s invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders for meeting with its NSA Sartaj Aziz.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have made it clear to Pakistan that hosting of Kashmiri separatists will be contrary to the spirit of the Ufa understanding. We have conveyed our position on their reported meeting with them (separatists) and sought clarity on the agenda,” said Swarup who is here in connection with the Summit of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Conference to be attended by 14 nations. He said India had also communicated to Pakistan the agenda for the NSA talks and was yet to get any response officially.Pakistan has invited Kashmir separatists for a reception and talks with Aziz, setting off a confrontation with India.

Farooq Abdullah urges separatists not to meet Pakistan NSA

Abdullah said that if the talks are called off by India, cross-border shelling would resume, “may be, with added intensity”.

Farooq Abdullah

NC leader Farooq Abdullah on Friday urged separatist leaders not to meet Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz during his visit to India for talks with his Indian counterpart so that the two countries can find a way of ending hostilities along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir.”I request them (separatists) not to meet Aziz and let the National Security Adviser-level talks go ahead between the two countries… may be something comes out of these talks that will (deal with) cross-border shelling,” the former J-K chief minister said. Abdullah was responding to the Ministry of External Affairs’ ‘advice’ to Pakistan not to go ahead with Aziz’s engagement with the Kashmiri separatists during his visit to India for talks with NSA Ajit Doval on August 23.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Abdullah said that if the talks are called off by India, cross-border shelling would resume, “may be, with added intensity”. He, meanwhile, slammed “vested interests” in both India and Pakistan for being opposed to peace prevailing in J-K.National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu claimed that both India and Pakistan were trying to “wriggle out” of the dialogue process. “While terrorism is a grave concern, any India-Pakistan talks without Kashmir on the agenda is not going to make much of a headway. The two countries are trying to wriggle out of the dialogue process,” said Mattu.As to the MEA’s advice to Pakistan regarding that country’s NSA’s proposed meeting with separatists, Mattu said such interactions have been taking place in the past and there was nothing new in it.

Hurriyat-Aziz meet: India stumped Pakistan to score diplomatic win before NSA talks

A behind-the-scenes diplomatic shadow boxing is going on between India and Pakistan ahead of the 23-24 August talks between their national security advisors.

Both sides are trying to score brownie points over one another on many issues, two of which are: (i) whether the Kashmiri separatists will meet Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz before or after his talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval; and (ii) what will be the agenda of talks, whether only terror will be discussed as India has been claiming or whether Kashmir too will figure in the talks as is being asserted by Pakistan.

Sartaj Aziz in a file photo. AFPSartaj Aziz in a file photo. AFP

Sartaj Aziz in a file photo. AFP

Firstpost has learnt that the entire top leadership of Hurriyat Conference has been won over by the Narendra Modi government and these leaders will be meeting Sartaj Aziz after his talks with Doval. Obviously there is some quid pro quo but those details remain nebulous.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik is learnt to have decided to skip the meeting with Aziz while another important Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani will reach New Delhi on Monday and will be meeting Aziz after the NSA-level talks are over. Geelani has decided to send his two associates – Shaukat Bakshi and Ghulam Rasool Dhar – to New Delhi on Sunday to attend the power dinner being hosted by Pakistan high commission in honour of Aziz.

Another key separatist leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too will be meeting Aziz after his talks with Doval. Mirwaiz, chairman of the Awami Action Committee, is expected to reach Delhi by Sunday afternoon.

This denotes that the Modi government has scored an important diplomatic point over Pakistan.

Pakistan has been claiming that the separatists will be meeting Aziz before his talks with Doval. If that were to happen, Pakistan would have successfully conveyed an impression across the world that it is micro-managing and choreographing the Kashmiri separatists. The message to India in such a situation would be that Kashmiri separatists are Pakistan’s puppets and Pakistan has been controlling their strings and would continue to do so.

Such a scenario would have been a big no-no for the Modi government. Against this backdrop, subterranean moves were made to ensure that the separatists do not meet Aziz before the talks while the government will look the other way when they do meet Aziz after the talks.

The high drama in Kashmir over the house arrest of the separatists and their release after a couple of hours is a sub plot of the larger script.

Instructions for their house arrest and the release were sent to Srinagar from New Delhi, a not-so-subtle message to Pakistan to convey who is the boss and who is in-charge of the state.

However, the move has a stamp of covert operations. The entire drama was enacted to provide a face-saving to the separatists so that they can tell their people that the government is taking recourse to force and they have nothing to do with the government. This way, the separatists can project to their followers that no deal had been cut between them and the Modi government.

Moreover, the Indian side is clear that the only agenda of the talks between the two NSAs is terror while Pakistan has made it clear that Kashmir will be discussed in a big way. The Pakistani strategy is obviously an attempt to make up for its loss at Ufa where the K word was conspicuous by its absence from the India-Pakistan joint statement after the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

While India and Pakistan are engaged in one-upmanship in the run up to the NSA-level talks, one can very well make out the fate of the 23-24 August talks given the fact how diametrically opposed the two sides are in the run up to the event. A pithy tweet by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah sums up the bizarre situation. This is what Abdullah tweeted: “I’ve never seen an Indo-Pak dialogue where both sides are so keen to sabotage it. India & Pak competing to give reasons to call off talks.”

Needless to say next couple of days are full of high drama.

Separatists to go ahead with meeting with Pak NSA, says Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Stop childish acts like locking us up in our houses, says Farooq

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, on Wednesday said that he was baffled over the house arrest and the subsequent release of the separatist leaders and that it was a very negative move. He also said that the Hurriyat will go ahead with the talks with the Pakistan National Security Advisor in New Delhi. “We were put under house arrest for no rhyme or reason. Although, it’s not a new thing for us to be put under house arrest. But, if this is an attempt to stop us from meeting the Pakistan NSA, then it is a very negative move”, Mirwaiz said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He asserted that Hurriyat’s intention was that both nations continue with the talks and in no way were they opposing it. “With LoC incidents on a rise and people dying, having talks has become a prerequisite. All the issue that are happening in Kashmir can only be solved when the talks go ahead,” Mirwaiz said.He added that the Indian government must try to understand that at some point the matter of Kashmir will have to be resolved. Either by war or dialogue and that nobody wants the latter. “Indian government needs to bring a positive change in its thoughts process so that all the state holders can be involved in the process. They need to stop childish acts like locking us up in our houses. Both nations need to show maturity and not try to stop the talks,” he said.Yasin Malik also said that Kashmiris need an end to the conflict and that can happen only through talks. “Issue Kashmiris voice is to take them out from this conflict and this can only happen when the Kashmir issue is solved,” he saidThe Hurriyat leaders will now travel to Delhi to meet with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz, who will arrive in India on Sunday to hold talks on terror with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. The meeting between the top security officials of both nations will see the recommencement of dialogue between the two countries after a year. India had called off the talks last year after Pakistan consulted Kashmiri separatists before a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries.With inputs from ANI

Terror, ways to prevent it focus of Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, stresses govt

Agenda of meeting was settled at the Ufa meeting between PMs Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif: Ravi Shankar Prasad

The first was the meeting between NSAs to talk on terror, including the exchange of voice samples of 26/11, he said

Defending its decision not to call off the India-Pakistan NSA-level talks despite the neighbouring country courting Kashmiri separatist leaders, government on Thursday said that the meet will only focus on the issue of terror and ways to prevent it. “This meeting is for talks on terror and the need to prevent it,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.He was asked to respond to Pakistan High Commission’s invite to separatist leaders ahead of the National Security Adviser-level talks here on Sunday. “I would just like to remind that the agenda of the meeting was settled at the Ufa meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. The first was the meeting between NSAs to talk on terror, including the exchange of voice samples of 26/11 (Mumbai terror attacks).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Therefore, this meeting is for talks on terror and the need to prevent it,” he said. The minister said that a structured briefing will come from the Ministry of External Affairs on the issue. Responding to a series of questions at a briefing on the decisions of the Union Cabinet on the house arrest of Hurriyat leaders, Prasad said he would not make a comment on the “policing exercise” of the government of Jammu and Kashmir as the state police “is free to take appropriate action”.Asked whether India was “okay” with the Pakistan NSA seeking a meeting with Kashmiri separatists, the minister said foreign policy initiatives are not determined via media debates. “The stand of the government, I have told you very clearly and categorically, is that it is a talk on terror,” he said.To a question on Rahul Gandhi’s plan to visit Poonch amid ceasefire violations by Pakistan, he said the Congress leader is free to travel anywhere in the country.Rahul plans to visit Jammu and Kashmir next week to meet people affected by shelling from across the border. “A discussion on his (Rahul’s) understanding of foreign policy can be held at a later date,” Prasad said in response to a question that the Congress Vice President had attacked the government on the issue of the situation on the border with Pakistan.

Pakistan committed ultimate sin of inviting Hurriyat to meet Sartaj Aziz, talks a waste of time: Yashwant Sinha

“Pakistan will never accept our point of view. So what is the point in discussing any issue. It will not be anything but a waste of time. Its intention is to denigrate India,” the senior BJP leader said.

As the BJP backed India’s talks with Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz despite his meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders here, former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha questioned the party’s “deviation” from its red lines.”Pakistan will never accept our point of view. So what is the point in discussing any issue. It will not be anything but a waste of time. Its intention is to denigrate India,” the senior BJP leader said.Sinha cited four reasons to argue against talks– increase in number of terrorist attacks in India, the border and Line of Control suddenly becoming disturbed and volatile following violation of ceasefire by Pakistan, Pakistan committing the “ultimate sin” of inviting Hurriyat to meet Aziz and Pakistan indulging in “provocative” statements.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Pakistan’s mindset is very obvious. It is back to same old games…. I cant understand why we need to deviate from our stated position, particularly in view of the recent escalation,” Sinha told dna. Recalling the experience of the Vajpayee regime’s engagement with Pakistan, he said after six years it was established that “terror and talks cannot go together”, a line which the BJP clung on to during the UPA rule.Meanwhile, BJP leaders took refuge in the argument that Aziz’s meeting with the separatists was taking place only after the NSA level talks begin over the weekend. This would not send the message that the Hurriyat was setting the agenda for the talks, sources said. Last year, foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan were called off after Pakistan High Commissioner held consultations with Hurriyat leaders on the eve of the talks.”The NSA level talks will focus on terror from the Indian side. There is a diplomatic invitation by the Pakistan High Commission for a reception in the evening, which has been extended to the Hurriyat also,” BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said.The BJP, however, indicated its reservations about Pakistani High Commissioner inviting Kashmiri separatist leaders for a meeting with Aziz.”Pakistan knows our stand. If we want talks and if Pakistan wants it too, as it keeps telling the world, then it should take a decision taking into account our stand. Our party’s stand on this is very clear,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said answering questions at a press conference here.However, he was evasive when asked if India should go ahead with the talks in the face of Aziz meeting Kashmiri separatists or on Sinha’s comments.”This is not a composite dialogue between Prime Ministers, but a meeting between two NSAs,” Hussain said

After inviting separatists, Pakistan knocks at UN doors over Kashmir

PTI
Separatists have a reason to celebrate after Pakistan pressed India’s raw nerve by raising Kashmir issue in the United Nations Security Council ahead of the National Security Advisor (NSAs) level talks. Pakistan’s newfound diplomatic offensive comes at a time when New Delhi is already unhappy over Islamabad’s invite to Kashmiri separatists for talks with the visiting Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz in national capital on Sunday, the day he is arriving to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.From moderates to hardliners, separatists are singing paeans of Pakistan for inviting them for talks and seeking mediation of UN and Organiation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to resolve the Kashmir issue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Collectively, and in cooperation with the UN, it has the capabilities to address and overcome these challenges including Palestine and other middle east conflicts as well as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” said Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative at UN, while speaking during an open debate on the subject of regional organisations and contemporary global security challenges on Tuesday.Lodhi’s words proved to be music to the ears of separatists who were feeling marginalised after the joint statement between India and Pakistan in Ufa Russia recently.“Pakistan has always been raising Kashmir issue in international forums. Be it UN or OIC, it has been consistent stand of Pakistan to seek world body’s help in resolving the Kashmir tangle,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, told dna.Mirwaiz, who is flying to meet Aziz on Sunday, noted that third party mediation has become imperative since there has been lack of mutual trust between the two countries.“There is a need for effective engagement between the two sides and involvement of people of Kashmir. If it does not happen then third party mediation becomes imperative,” he said.Hurriyat hardliners led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani too welcomed Pakistan’s aggressive stand on Kashmir saying it reflects the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.“Kashmir is a core issue and Pakistan is a party to it. It has been consistently raising Kashmir issue in world forums which is very heartening and encouraging,” said Ayaz Akbar, spokesman of Geelani led Hurriyat.Geelani, who boycotted the Eid Milan party at Pakistan high commission on July 21 as a mark of protest against Islamabad for skipping Kashmir issue in the Modi-Sharif meeting in Ufa Russia, has mend fences with Islamabad and is scheduled to fly to national capital to meet Aziz.“Geelani Sahab will meet Sartaj Aziz Sahab and apprise him about the prevailing situation of the state,” said Akbar.Pakistan High Commission justified its invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders, saying such meetings are not “unprecedented”. “We have been meeting and talking to them (Kashmiri leaders). There is nothing unprecedented about it. I don’t understand why there is so much hype,” Manzoor Ali Memon, Counsellor (Press) in Pakistan High Commission,Islamabad’s newfound aggressive posturing notwithstanding, Pakistani army continues to vitiate the atmosphere on the borders by pounding the Indian forward positions and civilian areas along the line of control in Poonch district.

Call in separatists: Pakistan resorts to tested formula to derail NSA talks

Our High Commissioner in India has been informed by the Ministry of External Affairs that the Government of India — taking exception to the High Commissioner’s meetings with Kashmiri leaders — has decided to call off the foreign secretary level talks scheduled for August 25, 2014 in Islamabad,” said the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a statement issued on 18 August, 2014.

The growing sense of déjà vu is inescapable.

At the risk of jinxing an improvement in India-Pakistan relations, the process of trying to schedule diplomatic dialogue — this time, between National Security Advisers Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz — is becoming all too formulaic.

Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz. PTI

Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz. PTI

The latest ‘provocation’ to India, as last year when foreign secretary-level talks were cancelled by New Delhi, is a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders. A PTI report quotes Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson for the Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference confirming that the group had been “invited for the talks with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz”.

Stating that a decision on whether Geelani would attend, will be taken at a meeting of the Hurriyat, Akbar welcomed the position taken by Pakistan “that there will be no dialogue with India without inclusion of Kashmir issue”.

Meanwhile, the faction headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also been invited and although a meeting on Wednesday will be held to decide on their attendance, PTI quotes sources in the Mirwaiz-led group who said that the meeting will be a mere formality because they “believe in dialogue as a solution for the Kashmir issue”.

In August 2014, when a similar situation had arisen, the then spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin had said , “This is a red line we have drawn… We have told Pakistan — you either talk to us, or to them (Kashmiri separatists)”.

More than a red line, Islamabad seems to have interpreted the issue as a red button to be pressed whenever the need to “irritate India” arises.

This, however, appears to go well beyond mere irritation. What we are witnessing is the Pakistani military and its civilian government actually working in sync to do their best and derail the talks. Why? Whether stalling for time on the 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks inquiry, or avoiding a discussion on Dawood Ibrahim (believed to be sheltered in Pakistan) or pretending self-confessed Pakistani citizen Mohammed Naved (captured after the Udhampur attack) doesn’t exist, neither of the Sharifs — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif — appear to want constructive talks with India.

Unfair allegations? Look at the evidence:

Soon after the 10 July meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Ufa, Russia, voices in Pakistan and the Valley decried the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not mentioned in the joint statement. Since then there have been “40 (ceasefire) violations” in August alone — leading UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon  to call on both countries to exercise maximum restraint. And there have also been terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur in July.

On Tuesday, at the UN Security Council, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi sought mediation from the UN and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation in resolving the Kashmir issue, a matter that India has staunchly wanted to resolve bilaterally. As for the talks with separatist leaders, Aziz had admitted to The Hindu in September 2014 that Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s talks with the Hurriyat were not “necessary” right before the meeting of foreign secretaries.

Our right to meet different representatives of the Kashmiri people is always there… but that doesn’t mean that it has to take place this particular time,” he had said.

And yet, here we are again.

Even as The Hindu notes that India’s foreign policy has graduated from “no talks until terror stops” to “talk about terror”, and the Pakistan Observer taking cognisance of the potential for economic prosperity, calls on the country to “continue to engage India, no matter at what level and no matter on what subject”.  The atmosphere, as The Asian Age points out, has already become vitiated.

This could see the talks, should they happen, deadlocked by rhetoric before they even have a chance to get off the ground. This perhaps would allow more time to be lavished on discussing the more ‘important’ issues, like the resumption of India-Pakistan cricket ties.

But wait, you may well ask, if Pakistan doesn’t want talks, why doesn’t Islamabad just go cancel them instead of embarking on this far more complicated and tedious route?

Answer: That doesn’t fit into the Pakistani strategy of denial, misdirection and self-victimisation. By letting New Delhi cancel talks, Islamabad is able to take the perceived moral high ground and tell the world (especially Kashmiris) that India is not interested in the peace process.

For example, check out last year’s MoFA statement issued after foreign secretary-level talks were cancelled by India. It rued that the “Indian decision is a setback to the efforts by our leadership to promote good neighbourly relations with India”.

Let’s hope this growing sense of déjà vu doesn’t turn into an overwhelming sense of inevitability.

Call in separatists: Pakistan turns to tested formula to derail NSA talks

Our High Commissioner in India has been informed by the Ministry of External Affairs that the Government of India — taking exception to the High Commissioner’s meetings with Kashmiri leaders — has decided to call off the foreign secretary level talks scheduled for August 25, 2014 in Islamabad,” said the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a statement issued on 18 August, 2014.

The growing sense of déjà vu is inescapable.

At the risk of jinxing an improvement in India-Pakistan relations, the process of trying to schedule diplomatic dialogue — this time, between National Security Advisers Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz — is becoming all too formulaic.

Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz. PTI

Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz. PTI

The latest ‘provocation’ to India, as last year when foreign secretary-level talks were cancelled by New Delhi, is a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders. A PTI report quotes Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson for the Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference confirming that the group had been “invited for the talks with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz”.

Stating that a decision on whether Geelani would attend, will be taken at a meeting of the Hurriyat, Akbar welcomed the position taken by Pakistan “that there will be no dialogue with India without inclusion of Kashmir issue”.

Meanwhile, the faction headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also been invited and although a meeting on Wednesday will be held to decide on their attendance, PTI quotes sources in the Mirwaiz-led group who said that the meeting will be a mere formality because they “believe in dialogue as a solution for the Kashmir issue”.

In August 2014, when a similar situation had arisen, the then spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin had said , “This is a red line we have drawn… We have told Pakistan — you either talk to us, or to them (Kashmiri separatists)”.

More than a red line, Islamabad seems to have interpreted the issue as a red button to be pressed whenever the need to “irritate India” arises.

This, however, appears to go well beyond mere irritation. What we are witnessing is the Pakistani military and its civilian government actually working in sync to do their best and derail the talks. Why? Whether stalling for time on the 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks inquiry, or avoiding a discussion on Dawood Ibrahim (believed to be sheltered in Pakistan) or pretending self-confessed Pakistani citizen Mohammed Naved (captured after the Udhampur attack) doesn’t exist, neither of the Sharifs — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif — appear to want constructive talks with India.

Unfair allegations? Look at the evidence:

Soon after the 10 July meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Ufa, Russia, voices in Pakistan and the Valley decried the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not mentioned in the joint statement. Since then there have been “40 (ceasefire) violations” in August alone — leading UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon  to call on both countries to exercise maximum restraint. And there have also been terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur in July.

On Tuesday, at the UN Security Council, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi sought mediation from the UN and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation in resolving the Kashmir issue, a matter that India has staunchly wanted to resolve bilaterally. As for the talks with separatist leaders, Aziz had admitted to The Hindu in September 2014 that Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s talks with the Hurriyat were not “necessary” right before the meeting of foreign secretaries.

Our right to meet different representatives of the Kashmiri people is always there… but that doesn’t mean that it has to take place this particular time,” he had said.

And yet, here we are again.

Even as The Hindu notes that India’s foreign policy has graduated from “no talks until terror stops” to “talk about terror”, and the Pakistan Observer taking cognisance of the potential for economic prosperity, calls on the country to “continue to engage India, no matter at what level and no matter on what subject”.  The atmosphere, as The Asian Age points out, has already become vitiated.

This could see the talks, should they happen, deadlocked by rhetoric before they even have a chance to get off the ground. This perhaps would allow more time to be lavished on discussing the more ‘important’ issues, like the resumption of India-Pakistan cricket ties.

But wait, you may well ask, if Pakistan doesn’t want talks, why doesn’t Islamabad just go cancel them instead of embarking on this far more complicated and tedious route?

Answer: That doesn’t fit into the Pakistani strategy of denial, misdirection and self-victimisation. By letting New Delhi cancel talks, Islamabad is able to take the perceived moral high ground and tell the world (especially Kashmiris) that India is not interested in the peace process.

For example, check out last year’s MoFA statement issued after foreign secretary-level talks were cancelled by India. It rued that the “Indian decision is a setback to the efforts by our leadership to promote good neighbourly relations with India”.

Let’s hope this growing sense of déjà vu doesn’t turn into an overwhelming sense of inevitability.

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