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Union environment ministry issues fresh directions to control air pollution

The MoEF&CC and environment ministers of the five NCR states had met three times this year to take steps on the issue of air pollution. Preventing stubble burning of crops in Punjab and Haryana and burning of biomass was also one of the issues taken up during these meetings and for which the ministry issued directions on Wednesday.

dna Correspondent

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Delhi odd-even rule: Trial run to be conducted on Thursday

“Convince your parents, relatives and friends to follow the odd-even scheme. We are to do this not out of any imposition, but because it is important for our health and life. If you see anyone violating the odd-even scheme, just ask that person to go back home. If the same person receives 10 such remarks in a day, it would stir his conscience and persuade him to keep his car off the road,” Kejriwal said, addressing the students at Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya in north Delhi’s Civil Lines.

PTI
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Lalu Prasad Yadav ‘Super CM’ of Bihar: Sushil Modi<!– /.block –>High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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DMDK Chief Vijayakanth hits back at Jayalalithaa for criticising his party workers

Meanwhile, BJP leaders Muralidhar Rao and Pon Radhakrishnan met Vijayakanth today, in a meeting the party described as a “courtesy call”.

PTI
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

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Modi’s surprise visit to Pak: What happened behind the scenes to make it possible

“It is a positive step that he came … definitely … but we still have to move with caution,” he said. “It’s a new Modi in an old bottle; Nawaz Sharif should take it one sip at a time.”

reuters

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Modi in Pakistan – PM Modi raised dignity of nation by his birthday diplomacy: Rajnath Singh

Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on Christmas day, where he was received by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. PM Modi’s 150-minute visit to Pakistan was first by an Indian Prime Minister in 11 years.

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<!– /#sidebar-second –>Great achievement: Indian referee Ashok Kumar selected for Rio Olympic Games<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Nawaz Sharif gets birthday hug from Narendra Modi in Lahore; surprise move stuns even PM’s own party

“Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif & wished him on his birthday,” came the first tweet. The twitter handle was @narendramodi.Then came the second. “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”It took the world by surprise. Modi was in Kabul then. But at the end of the two-and-a-half hours in Pakistan, the two sides had given trust a big push. The two leaders agreed to increase people-to-people contact and take talks forward.The prime minister’s choice of the day for the visit was also significant. It was not only Christmas day, it was Nawaz Sharif’s birthday as well. It was also the Rasm-e-Heena (a wedding ceremony) of Sharif’s granddaughter Mehr ul Nisa.In fact, Modi was recreating what his mentor A B Vajpayee did in 1999, that too on the latter’s birthday.In his inimitable style, Modi ended 2015 with a unique diplomatic venture, having dinner in Moscow, breakfast and lunch in Kabul and afternoon Kashmiri noon chai (salt tea) at Sharif’s Raiwand residence.The surprise move even caught Modi’s own party, the BJP, off-guard. Its leaders, however, characterised it as one of PM’s “pleasant surprises”.Though official sources here said that the PM himself took this “instantaneous” decision, the sequence of events over the past one week, makes one believe that a window was being explored behind-the-scene for this highly secretive visit.Pakistan’s high commissioner in India, Abdul Basit, had left for Islamabad last Tuesday. The presence of an Indian industrialist in Lahore, who had arranged a one-to-one meeting between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Kathmandu last year, to attend Sharif’s birthday as well as the wedding of his granddaughter, doesn’t seem a coincidence.After the meeting, Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said: “The Modi-Sharif meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere… It has been decided that there will be greater interaction, people-to-people contact, and an environment of goodwill will be created.”Pakistani channels reported that both the prime ministers were in a casual mood during the chai pe charcha, which included vegetables, kheer and special Kashmiri salt tea. Sharif later saw off PM Modi at the airport.Chaudhry said that during the brief meeting, the two PMs decided that as part of a comprehensive dialogue, the foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet in mid-January.Attempting to dispel the notion that the visit was pre-planned, Chaudhry said that the Pakistani PM’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz and National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua too would have attended the meeting if the Indian PM had informed about his visit earlier.He added that the two sides decided to collectively work towards the common goal of fighting poverty and to open new avenues for peace and mutual cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.Special security arrangements were put in place in and around Lahore. Flights were diverted or grounded, hours before the Indian Air Force plane hit the tarmac of the Alama Iqbal Airport, Lahore. Modi had left for Moscow in Air India One, meant for the PM’s foreign travels, he arrived in Kabul and Lahore in an Indian Air Force plane which was escorted by a decoy plane and was also laced with defence systems.Modi is scheduled to visit Pakistan once again, in September 2016, to attend the SAARC summit.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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

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

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

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

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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Modi in Pakistan Live: PM Narendra Modi departs for Lahore to meet Pak PM Nawaz Sharif

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Prime Minister Modi had earlier today extended his wishes to the Pakistani counterpart on his 65th birthday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday departed for Lahore for his surprise visit to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The two Prime Ministers would be meeting at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport.Earlier, confirming the news, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him on his birthday. Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”Prime Minister Modi had earlier today extended his wishes to the Pakistani counterpart on his 65th birthday. The two Prime Ministers had last met at the Paris Climate Summit COP21

Updates: PM Modi leaves for Lahore for unexpected Pakistan visit, after speech at Afghan Parliament

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The relations between India and Pakistan witnessed some positive developments after chill for several months.

Modi

PM Narendra Modi has left for Lahore airport from Kabul, on an unexpected and impromptu visit to Pakistan. He will meet Nawaz Sharif there.Earlier, In a surprise development, it had been announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a stop over in Lahore, to meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif there on Friday afternoon.Modi was in Kabul on Friday, inaugurating the Afghan Parliament building and delivering a speech. Modi announced scholarships for 500 children of nartyred Afghan security forces.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: LIVE Updates: PM Modi addresses Afghan Parliament, announces 500 scholarships for childrenModi on Friday greeted his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and wished him good health.”I wish the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and pray that he remains in wonderful health,” Modi, tweeted.The relations between India and Pakistan witnessed some positive developments after chill for several months. The two countries recently decided to launch a comprehensive dialogue after Modi and Sharif met in Paris.

Congress slams, BJP hails Modi’s sudden detour to Pakistan

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It also happens to be Nawaz Sharif’s birthday, and Modi has already extended his greetings.

PM Narendra Modi

The Congress has slammed PM Narendra Modi for announcing an unexpected visit to Lahore, Pakistan to meet PM Nawaz Sharif. The two will meet at Lahore airport.”If the decision is not preposterous then it is utterly ridiculous,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. “This adventure of PM Modi is going to have serious implications on India’s national security”, he claimed.”Have relations with Pakistan improved that PM is meeting Pakistan PM today, without taking the people into confidence?”, Congress leader Ajoy Kumar argued.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli praised the decision.”Better relations with Pakistan are in the interest of the region. We will keep raising our concerns too. If two countries can try to work out a relation that brings peace not only between them but the entire region, it is something to be welcomed,” he said. Related Read: PM Modi to make sudden visit to Pakistan today after speech at Afghan ParliamentModi is currently in Afghanistan and will fly to Pakistan this afternoon before coming back to Delhi. It also happens to be Nawaz Sharif’s birthday, and Modi has already extended his greetings.Modi on Friday delivered a speech at Afghanistan’s new Parliament building, which India has built. He announced scholarships for 500 children of martyred Afghan soldiers. Among other things, he also promised that India and Afghanistan would always remain friends.Related Read: PM Modi addresses Afghan Parliament, announces 500 scholarships for children; promises everlasting friendship

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

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

PM Narendra Modi

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

Meetings with Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj had encouraging results: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Sharif had met Modi last month at the Paris climate change summit and Swaraj at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad last week.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

PTI
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said his recent meetings with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yielded “encouraging results” with both countries agreeing to resume the comprehensive bilateral dialogue.Sharif said this during his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou where he briefed the Chinese leader on his recent meetings with Modi and Swaraj. Sharif had met Modi last month at the Paris climate change summit and Swaraj at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad last week.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Pakistani premier apprised his Chinese counterpart of his recent meeting with Modi and Swaraj that have yielded encouraging results,” said a press release issued by the Pakistani embassy here on the Sharif-Li meeting.”Both countries have agreed to resume the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, which is a welcome development,” Sharif said on the revival of the Indo-Pak talks.During his meeting with Li on the sidelines of the 14th Heads of Government Council Meeting of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Sharif said that Pakistan has established a Special Security Division (SSD) to protect “our Chinese brothers” working in his country on various projects. On the USD 45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Sharif said he was satisfied with progress of CPEC projects.”Pakistan wants all the projects under CPEC to be implemented in a timely and efficient manner,” he said.Sharif said the progress achieved by Chinese takeover of the strategic Gwadar Port Free Zone is a good beginning for initiating the process of building the economic zone. The Prime Minister said Pakistan valued SCO’s role and was grateful that with China’s support, Pakistan is being accepted as a full member of SCO.On counter-terrorism and security issues, Sharif apprised the Chinese premier about military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and National Action Plan to fight terror that are being successfully implemented in Pakistan.While expressing satisfaction over progress in CPEC, Li said that China will extend full support to the implementation of agreed projects and help Pakistan build its industrial capacity. Sharif also extended an invitation to the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan.

Hurriyat leaders meet Pak High Commissioner, ask to maintain ‘consistent’ Kashmir policy

After Swaraj met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other leaders, the two countries decided to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue covering Kashmir and other bilateral issues.

Abdul Basit

Two hardliner Hurriyat Conference leaders on Monday met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in Delhi and told him that Islamabad should maintain “consistency and firmness” over its Kashmir policy.They also emphasised that Pakistan should play an “active role in highlighting the human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir at international fora. “A Hurriyat delegation sent by chairman Syed Ali Geelani today held a detailed meeting for one-and-a-half hours with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They held a detailed discussion over the recent meeting of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan rulers on the occasion of Asia Heart Conference in Islamabad and also discussed the Kashmir policy there,” Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar said in a statement in Srinagar. After Swaraj met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other leaders, the two countries decided to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue covering Kashmir and other bilateral issues.The two-member Hurriyat delegation comprised Geelani’s personal secretary Peer Saifullah and chief organiser of the amalgam Altaf Ahmad Shah, he said, adding Deputy High Commissioner and the other officials in the Pakistani mission were also present. “The Hurriyat delegation handed them a message of Geelani that Pakistan should continue to maintain consistency and firmness over its Kashmir policy and play an active role in highlighting the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir at international forums,” Akbar said.The delegation also apprised the Pakistan High Commissioner about the present situation in Kashmir, he added.

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

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

File Photo

​Rejecting any “flip flop”, India asserted that the decision to re-start talks with Pakistan was based on “trust” and said the intent would be to have an “uninterrupted” dialogue process despite provocations by the “saboteurs”, an apparent reference to terror groups. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while briefing Parliament on her recent visit to Pakistan, justified the decision to have ‘Comprehensive Dialogue’, saying there is a “need for bridging the gulf” with the neighbouring country for peace and stability in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Answering critics, she said in the latest arrangement, the level of talks on terror has been raised as this issue will now be dealt with by the National Security Advisers (NSAs) instead of Foreign Secretaries as earlier.The fact that NSAs of India and Pakistan met in Bangkok without any publicity does not mean any third country’s involvement but it was only to take forward the Ufa process as such a meeting could not take place in Delhi as “you all know”, she told the Lok Sabha.Here’s the full text of her argument: Hon’ble Chairman,
I rise to brief this august House and Hon’ble Members on my recent visit to Islamabad, Pakistan to lead the Indian delegation to the ‘Heart of Asia’ Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan and recent developments relating to ties between India and Pakistan.The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 8-9, 2015 in Islamabad was devoted to the themes of security and connectivity. The Conference provided to us an important opportunity on a vital regional platform for political consultations and regional cooperation to reiterate India’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development and our faith in its future. India has actively participated in the Heart of Asia Process since its beginning. The process brings together friends of Afghanistan from its immediate and extended neighbourhood as well as supporting countries and international organizations to promote political consultations and regional cooperation for a united, democratic, independent, strong and prosperous Afghanistan. My visit to Islamabad underlined India’s strong commitment to that cause. In my statement at the Conference, I urged full and direct transit for Afghanistan through Pakistan to India. In the context of relations between India and Pakistan, I advocated working together for peace and development in South Asia, with self-confidence and maturity. I also take this opportunity to inform the House that during my visit to Islamabad, I called on Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with my Pakistani counterpart Mr. Sartaj Aziz. Following my meetings the decision of this Government to begin a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Pakistan was announced in a Joint Statement in Islamabad on December 9, 2015. This decision of the Government follows the recent developments and engagements between the two countries, especially the constructive discussions between their National Security Advisors in Bangkok on December 6, 2015. The meeting of the NSAs resulted from discussion between our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris on November 30, 2015.As the House is aware, the Prime Minister of Pakistan was invited in May 2014, among other SAARC leaders, by Prime Minister to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Government. This was a demonstration of our commitment to good neighbourly ties with Pakistan, in line with our vision for peace and development in the region through deeper regional integration in South Asia. In the first meeting between the two Prime Ministers during that visit of Mr. Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi, our views on India-Pakistan ties and our concerns on terrorism and violence were conveyed to the Pakistani authorities. The meetings as decided between the two sides in May 2014, however, did not take place.As the House is also aware, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met in Ufa in July 2015 and agreed that the two countries had collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia. To that end, they decided on a meeting of the National Security Advisors to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. They also stated that the two countries were prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. During the Ufa meeting, PM was extended an invitation by Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif to visit Islamabad for attending the SAARC Summit in 2016.For the reasons that we all know, the expected meetings of NSAs and Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries envisaged at Ufa, did not materialize though Directors General of BSF and Pakistan Rangers met and a number of humanitarian measures, agreed at Ufa, were implemented.In this background, when our Prime Minister met his Pakistan counterpart during the COP-21 Summit meeting in Paris on 30 November 2015, there was a discussion on how the two countries could build an atmosphere conducive for again re-engaging with each other. The underlying sentiment, on which I am confident that this House concurs fully, was that the continued estrangement of two neighbours was a hurdle to the realization of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region. At the same time, there was also a sharp awareness that the principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.Following PM’s conversation with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris, the two leaders decided that both sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. The National Security Advisors of the two countries accordingly met on December 6, 2015. The meeting was held in Bangkok. Discussions between the two NSAs in that meeting were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control, and Jammu & Kashmir – the State which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC.My visit to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference came two days after the constructive talks between NSAs on issues related to security, terrorism, etc. My meetings with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad were held in the backdrop of this positive development. Both sides condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace. There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attacks trial. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion.Accordingly, it was decided to begin a dialogue with Pakistan under the new title “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. The Foreign Secretaries have been tasked to work out modalities and schedule of the meetings under the new Dialogue.I would like to assure the House that this Government accords the highest priority to the country’s security. In order to meet any threats in this regard, the Government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels. At the same time, the Government is also committed to building an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia, initiated by the Government on the day of assuming office itself, are taken further forward. The new Dialogue with Pakistan has twin aims of removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and at the same time, of exploring and establishing cooperative ties. Initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues will contribute to welfare of the entire region, and promote better understanding and mutual trust. The new Dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region. I am confident that we have the support of the entire House in this expectation.(Read: A moderate Modi — is the BJP finally planning to switch off its election mode?)

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

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

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

How South Asian rivals resumed talks

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

Sushma Swaraj returns after ‘successful’ Pakistan visit

Holding a bilateral discussion, Swaraj and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday ‘condemned’ terrorism and ‘resolved’ to cooperate to eliminate it.

Sushma Swaraj reaches New Delhi

Image courtesy: ANI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reached New Delhi late Wednesday evening after a ‘successful’ visit to Pakistan, where she attended the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference and held bilateral talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his adviser Sartaj Aziz.”After a successful visit to Pakistan, EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for Delhi,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. Holding a bilateral discussion, Swaraj and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz today ‘condemned’ terrorism and ‘resolved’ to cooperate to eliminate it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They acknowledged the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the NSAs of both the countries, and decided that the NSAs would continue to address all issues connected to terrorism.However, Indian was assured by Pakistan of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a ‘Comprehensive’ Bilateral Dialogue, and directed the Foreign Secretaries of their respective countries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings. During her two day visit, Swaraj also met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and discussed the terror threat in Afghanistan and the status of peace and reconciliation process.Swaraj also held bilateral meeting with her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev and discussed issues of mutual interest.

Full text of joint statement made by India and Pakistan

Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue

Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz

Reuters
Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JOINT STATEMENT1. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led the Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. She called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz.2. The EAM and the Adviser condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.3. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the Foreign Secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the Dialogue including Peace and Security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and religious tourism.

Afghanistan seeks help to fight terror

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tells a security conference in Islamabad that ‘regional and international terror groups’ are responsible for the violence in his country.

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

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

File Photo

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

High-level India-Pakistan talks held

India and Pakistan describe their high-level talks in Bangkok as ‘candid, cordial and constructive’.

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

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

Narendra Modi with Nawaz Sharif

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

When PM Narendra Modi shook hands with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif

Earlier, the Spokesperson had tweeted, “PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif at COP 21 in Paris,” along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.

Twitter: Vikas Swarup
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif met today on the sidelines of the UN climate summit, with the Indian side describing the encounter as a “brief exchange of courtesies”, but Pakistanis terming it as a “good” meeting. Modi and Sharif had a brief meeting during which they warmly held hands before sitting down for a chat amidst frosty ties between the two neighbours.Downplaying the chance encounter, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “this was a brief exchange of courtesies in the Leaders Lounge. Prime Minister meets many Heads of State/Government.”After his meeting with Modi, Sharif told Pakistani media that the talks were held in a “good way, in a good environment”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I had good discussions with the Indian Prime Minister in a good way, in a good environment and even they have expressed that we should take our issues forward. And we also have the same opinion and hope,” he said.”Pakistan desires better bilateral relations with India,” he said.”We want peace without any compromise on the dignity and honour of Pakistan,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying.He also favoured resumption of talks with India.”If both the sides are on agreeing terms, then its not possible that the talks and discussions are not taken ahead,” Sharif added.Earlier, the Spokesperson had tweeted, “PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif at COP 21 in Paris,” along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.The meeting is the first between the two leaders after July when they met in the Russian city of Ufa and agreed that their National Security Advisors would meet. However, the meeting did not take place amidst a blame game between the two countries. Sources sought to differentiate the bilateral meeting Modi had with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the brief chat the Prime Minister had with Sharif. “Whether Kuala Lumpur or Paris, Tokyo or New York always time for good friend PM @AbeShinzo,” Swarup tweeted after a meeting between Modi and Abe.

Nawaz Sharif tells David Cameron that Pakistan is ready for dialogue with India: Geo News

Valletta (Malta): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated that Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India without pre-conditions for sustainable peace, according to Pakistani TV channel Geo News.

Sharif is said to have given this indication during a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta on Friday.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. ReutersPakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

The channel reported that Sharif said Pakistan intends to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours including India and Afghanistan.

Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between National Security Advisors of the two countries were cancelled in August because of a dispute over the agenda.

India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir.

The Pakistani Prime Minister told Cameron that Pakistan was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and that his country, itself being victim of terrorism, could feel the pain of French people.

The two leaders expressed long term commitment to work together for greater security and prosperity of their countries.

Both prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work in partnership for countering the shared threats of terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration, the report said.

It said Sharif and Cameron agreed to continue close collaboration in diverse fields particularly trade, investment and security and the British Prime Minister lauded Pakistan’s efforts in eradication of militancy and extremism.

PTI

BJP labels Salman Khurshid, Mani Shankar Aiyar as ISIS propagandists

“When it comes to condemnation atleast Azam Khan’s statement was condemned by Samajwadi Party(SP) and they disassociated with it completely, but Congress party has chosen to not do so in this context against Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyar,” she added.

Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday labelled Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid as propagandists for the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) following their very public criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “While the world is getting together against terrorism, the Prime Minister’s words and agenda to fight terrorism have been accepted the world over. It is in this context the G-20 summit has happened. Hundred and thirty people have been killed in Paris on an open assault to civilization and it seems that these people (Congress) are behaving and conducting themselves as propagandists for ISIS and Taliban,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When it comes to condemnation atleast Azam Khan’s statement was condemned by Samajwadi Party (SP) and they disassociated with it completely, but Congress party has chosen to not do so in this context against Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyar,” she added. Mani Shankar Aiyar who went to Pakistan before the Bihar Assembly polls courted a controversy by saying that Islamabad should help India in defeating Prime Minister Modi and ensure that the Congress is back at the Centre.Related read: Ex-Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid criticises Modi govt and praises Nawaz Sharif in PakistanKhurshid also during his visit to Islamabad said: “India has not responded to Pakistan’s overtures for peace in South Asia the way it should have. If you look back at the first face-to-face between our PMs, your PM took a brave, far-sighted decision. What we said and did made things uncomfortable for Pakistan after the visit of Nawaz Sharif at Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.”Related read: Mani Shankar Aiyo – Congress leader says Modi must be removed for proper Indo-Pak talks

On Kashmir, Pakistan shifts to hard line; local leaders still fine with the `Musharraf formula’

A series of interviews following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir a week ago have given a clear insight into why he did not allude to India-Pakistan talks. Evidently, Pakistan is not willing for a solution along the lines of wide autonomy on both sides of the Line of Control and overall joint management – which is commonly known as `the Musharraf four-point plan.’

Although a wide spectrum of other Kashmiri leaders still endorses this flexible formula, Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin told a Kashmiri interviewer in Pakistan that talks had to be triangular and should move towards implementing the UN resolutions for a plebiscite.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The interview, which Salahuddin gave to Kashmiri youth leader Touseef Raina, was published on 11 November in the Srinagar-based daily Kashmir Images. Since Hizb has been armed, financed, trained and closely coordinated by the Pakistan Army’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, this interview indicates that Pakistan’s Army is not currently in tune with the position laid down by former army chief, Musharraf.

As if to confirm that this is now the line of the Pakistani state and not only of its Army, extremist leader Asiya Andrabi announced on 13 November that Pakistan Prime Minister had written this to her too.

She shared Nawaz Sharif’s letter to her with the press. In it, he wrote: “The essence of the principles of partition is that the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir should be given the right to self determination. This right has been recognized by the entire world through the forum of the United Nations. …lapse of a long time does not mean that these resolutions have become outdated.”

On the other hand, a range of other leaders within Kashmir do not share this hard-line position. This range includes a wide spectrum, from former Union cabinet minister and diehard pro-India leader Farooq Abdullah to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Both told this writer last week that they were eager for India-Pakistan talks to go forward. Both blamed India for intransigence.

The Mirwaiz said he wanted Kashmiri leaders to be consulted as well but did not insist that they necessarily be at the India-Pakistan table for talks. Describing the ten years of the UPA government as `pathetic’ with regard to a Kashmir solution, the Mirwaiz said that `we were hoping Modi would be Vajpayee 2.0,’ but `there is no comparison.’

Abdullah went further, insisting that Pakistan was committed to the four-point formula that General Pervez Musharraf had proposed when India-Pakistan talks were in full steam about a decade ago. On the other hand, he said India was being inflexible. “Pakistan is willing to settle – autonomy under India here, and under them there. They want a solution that will not make them lose face,” he asserted.

The moderate faction of the Hurriyat has shown great flexibility in backing the `Musharraf formula.’ It is quite possible that this group could gain power under that arrangement – which could explain why `hard-liners’ such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Syed Salauhddin and Aasiya Andrabi are against the scheme.

Pakistan seems eager to bring the Mirwaiz in line with their current objectives, but the latter has shown flexibility in order to promote a resolution. The Mirwaiz revealed that he had told Pakistan High Commissioner Basit not to invite Hurriyat leaders to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when the latter visited Delhi to attend Modi’s investiture as prime minister. The Mirwaiz did not visit Delhi even when he was invited before the scheduled foreign secretary level talks.

Despite this, he said that there had been absolutely no initiatives from New Delhi, whether back-channel, informal or just some preliminary feelers to the Hurriyat. Emphasizing the urgency for negotiations to move forward, Mirwaiz Umar observed that the current militants were often inspired by the idea of a khilafat, and there was a possibility of militant anarchy in the period ahead.

“We had influence in the past but not on this generation of militants,” the Mirwaiz said. His colleague and former chairman of the Hurriyat, Abdul Ghani Bhat, added a more somber note in a separate interview. “Kashmir has assumed monstrous dimensions in my calculation,” he warned.

Analyzing the range of recent interviews, the bottom-line appears to be that every sort of Kashmiri leader backs Indo-Pak talks in one or other paradigm. The crucial difference between militants and others is a deal-breaker.

Ex-Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid criticises Modi govt and praises Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan

He praised Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif for attending Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in India: “If you look back at the first face-to-face between our PMs, your PM took a brave, farsighted decision. What we said and did made things uncomfortable for Pakistan after the visit.”

File Photo

Senior Congress leader and former foreign minister Salman Khurshid set the cat among the pigeons when he praised Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif while criticising the Modi government. He said in Islamabad at an event: “India has not responded to Pakistan’s overtures for peace in South Asia the way it should have.”He praised Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif for attending Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in India: “If you look back at the first face-to-face between our PMs, your PM took a brave, farsighted decision. What we said and did made things uncomfortable for Pakistan after the visit.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He claimed that the BJP-government had failed to adequately reciprocate Islamabad’s peace overtures. Meanwhile former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman, wondered whether New Delhi had a clear policy on Pakistan, and that all political parties in Pakistan wanted peace in India. She said: “Track-2 exchanges between India and Pakistan were critical because of the cognitive disconnect between the two sides. Simultaneously, a new generation of youngsters in both countries was busy constructing new identities and ideas of themselves and their neighbour.”Sambit Patra slams Congress Responding to the former foreign minister and key Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s slamming BJP for ignoring Pakistan’s peace overtures in Islamabad on Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday said that the Congress dispensation should explain if this is Khurshid’s statement or the party’s view.
‘Salman Khurshid should remind of the fact that government of India does not represent any party and domestic politics should not be carried to foreign nation because it demeans the people of India and ethos of India. The congress dispensation should explain if this is Salman Khurshid’s statement or this is what the congress means,’ said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra to ANI. Patra added that Sonia Gandhi should explain and apologize. ‘He not only praises the Pakistani Prime Minister and Pakistani government that it is trying its best to fight terrorism, to spread peace in the south east Asia, but the Indian Government is not reacting to these offers by the Pakistani Government. And his statement that PM Modi is yet to become a statesman, by Salman Khurshid is absolutely appalling,’ he added. Patra further added that his statement only means to abuse the ethos of peace loving India. With inputs from ANI

War with India not an option, we have always been for talks: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: War with India is not an option as use of force could only worsen the situation, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said while hoping to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Sharif, during a meeting with President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday, wished to resolve all outstanding issues with India through dialogue as he believed the use of force could only worsen the situation, The Nation reported quoting a senior government official who cited the conversation between the two leaders.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said war with India was not an option, according to the report.

Sharif said his government desired friendly ties with India, all its neighbours and the world at large for sustainable development.

Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Dr Asif Kirmani, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs, also attended the meeting.

“They (Sharif and Hussain) discussed the regional situation and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to have friendly relations with all the neighbouring countries for peace and prosperity in the region,” an official statement said.

The government official said the “LoC violations by India” were discussed and Sharif told Hussain he raised the issue with the US when he recently visited Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

Sharif said the US and world powers wanted Indo-Pak dialogue but alleged it was New Delhi which was not cooperating, according to the official.

“We have always been for talks,” he was quoted as saying.

Another official said the Premier was a bit concerned about the discrimination by the US on the civil nuclear deal.

He pledged to continue efforts to convince the US for an India-like agreement.

The official statement said that Prime Minister Sharif discussed matters regarding relief and rehabilitation of earthquake affectees, overall law and order and economic situation in the country and operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’.

The two leaders noted that work on different projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was proceeding at a satisfactory pace and hoped that successful completion of the CPEC will usher in an era of unprecedented development and prosperity not only in Pakistan but in the entire region.

“We will not allow any group to slit throats of others in the name of religion,” Sharif said referring to militants.

He said none of the terror groups will be allowed to dictate terms or change political structure of the country.

“Pakistan will be run according to law and not on the whims of anyone,” he said.

Sharif also criticised his political adversary Imran Khan for trying to destabilise his government through protests last year.

PTI

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

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

Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
File Photo

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

India’s arms build-up will force Pakistan to take deterrent measures: Nawaz Sharif in US

Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday kept up his attack on India and warned that Pakistan will have to take “credible deterrent” measures in the face of Indian “arms build-up” and “dangerous military doctrines”.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

“While refusing dialogue, India is engaged in a major arms build-up, regrettably with the active assistance of several powers. It has adopted dangerous military doctrines. This will compel Pakistan to take several counter measures to preserve credible deterrence,” Sharif said in his address to the US Institute of Peace (USIP), a US Congress top American think-tank.

Sharif claimed that after coming to power two-and-a-half years ago, he has made several “sincere efforts” to improve relationship with India.

“I accepted his (Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s) invitation to attend his swearing-in ceremony New Delhi,” he said.

The momentum this generated was scuttled when India cancelled the NSA-level talks on “flimsy excuse”, he alleged. In his address, Sharif blamed India for narrowing the talks to just one issue of terrorism after his meeting with Modi at Ufa, Russia in July.

“The cancellation of NSA-level talks have been followed by increased ceasefire violations by India across the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary, and a stream of hostile statements by Indian political and military leadership,” he alleged.

The NSA-level talks scheduled for 23 August in New Delhi were called off at the last minute, after India made it clear that Pakistan’s insistence on holding discussions on Kashmir and a meeting with separatists will not be acceptable to it.

Sharif also said anti-Pakistan actions by Hindu extremist groups in India have exacerbated the present tension in the region.

He was apparently referring to incidents targetting Pakistanis in India by Shiv Sena activists, who stormed the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai and forced cancellation of a meeting between the cricket chiefs of the two countries.

Earlier, they threatened organisers of a show by legendary Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai, forcing them to cancel the event.

“In my address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), I proposed a new peace initiative comprising four specific and feasible steps that could serve as the basis for progress towards normalisation.

“Unfortunately, India’s response was not positive,” he said.

During his address to the UNGA on September 30, Sharif proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir and unconditional withdrawal of forces from Siachen.

India, however, had said de-militarising Kashmir is not the answer for achieving peace but “deterrorising” Pakistan is.

In his address today, Sharif also said a normal and stable relationship between Pakistan and India can be build by adherence to the principle of the UN charter, especially the principle of sovereignty, equality of States and non-interference in internal affairs and the right of people of self-determination.

PTI

LeT flays Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif for promising action against it

Sharif promised action against all terrorist networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant outfit on Friday criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for promising action against the group during his meeting with US President Barack Obama. “Prime Minister Sharif’s promise of taking action against the group was aimed at pleasing New Delhi,” its spokesman Abdullah Gaznavi said in an e-mail statement. He said Sharif’s statement has “hurt the sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims” and it will have a bearing in the state.”His (Sharif’s) action cannot be termed as right and beneficial for the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said. Sharif promised action against all terrorist networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, in a joint statement issued after his talks with Obama yesterday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: US welcomes Pakistan’s commitment to take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba

Shiv Sena asks Pakistan to take the first step towards better ties with India

The Shiv Sena has been vehemently protesting against Pakistan by boycotting the entry of their nationals into the country saying that until Islamabad mends its terrorist activities and stops attacking India, there can be no ties between the nations in any way.

Shiv Sena said that even though Nawaz Sharif is the Prime Minister, somebody else is running the country.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Dismissing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that Islamabad will take ‘effective action’ against terror groups, the Shiv Sena on Friday said it was a customary fake promise while asserting that if Pakistan wants to fix ties with India, then they will have to take the first step.”They have been saying forever that terrorism including the LeT will be stopped and action will be taken on Hafeez Saeed and Dawood, but nothing has happened. This is because nothing is in Nawaz Sharif’s hands. He is the Prime Minister but someone else in running the country. The government has no control over their military and the terrorist groups,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shiv Sena has been vehemently protesting against Pakistan by boycotting the entry of their nationals into the country saying that until Islamabad mends its terrorist activities and stops attacking India, there can be no ties between the nations in any way.The United States had clearly mentioned earlier that Pakistan’s relationship with India is critical to Islamabad’s future while emphasised on trying to mend the hostile relations between the two countries.Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in the United States of America for a three day visit. Also read: Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray ‘burns’ BJP at Dussehra rally

India’s response to desire for better ties discouraging, says PM Nawaz Sharif

“New Delhi’s response to the desire of bilateral ties is discouraging,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying during his address to the Pakistani diaspora soon after arriving in the US on a four-day official visit.

Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, during a meeting with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in Ufa. during the BRICS/SCO Summits – Russia 2015 on July 10, 2015 in Ufa, Russia.

Getty
Terming the Kashmir issue as the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said New Delhi’s response to Islamabad’s desire for better bilateral ties has been discouraging.”New Delhi’s response to the desire of bilateral ties is discouraging,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying during his address to the Pakistani diaspora soon after arriving in the US on a four-day official visit.Sharif said the Kashmir issue is the bone of contention between the two neighbours and it will have to be resolved for peace and stability in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier in the day, Sharif was received at the Andrews Airforce Base by the Assistant Secretary of State Peter Selfridge and accorded a Guard of Honour by the United States armed forces.During the visit, the Pakistan Prime Minister will hold discussions on wide-ranging issues of bilateral interest with President Barack Obama on October 22, Vice President Joe Biden, and various Cabinet members.Sharif will also interact with members of the US Senate and the House of Representative as well as senior US Government officials.White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US president hoped to strengthen ties between security forces of both countries to counter extremist forces in that region.”What the President hopes to do is to strengthen the relationship between the two countries based on our shared interest…in countering extremist forces in that region of the world.”I am confident that the President will come to his meeting with Prime Minister Sharif with some ideas about what more the Pakistanis could do to strengthen the relationship between our two countries and to advance the security interests of our two countries,” he said.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif arrives in US; to raise Kashmir issue with President Obama

“I was told by the Pakistan High Commissioner that the Pakistan Prime Minister would be raking up the Kashmir issue with Obama (on October 22) during his visit to the US,” said the Mirwaiz who had an hour-long meeting with the envoy Abdul Basit here yesterday.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday arrived in Washington on a four-day official visit to the US.Scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, Sharif was received at the Andrews Airforce Base by the Assistant Secretary of State Peter Selfridge.Sharif was accompanied by his wife Kulsoom Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and his special assistant on foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharif will raise the Kashmir issue with US President Barack Obama when he meets him on Thursday, its envoy told separatist Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.”I was told by the Pakistan High Commissioner that the Pakistan Prime Minister would be raking up the Kashmir issue with Obama (on October 22) during his visit to the US,” said the Mirwaiz who had an hour-long meeting with the envoy Abdul Basit on Tuesday.This meeting came about two months after his proposed interface with Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz was aborted as the Centre had directed police to detain all separatists coming to Delhi for meeting Aziz. The NSA level talks were later called off by Pakistan.Farooq said the central government was neither keen on talking about Kashmir to Pakistan nor to Kashmiris.”How can we ignore Kashmir when it is the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan? We, in Hurriyat, firmly believe that the two countries need to come together on table and sort out all the differences. We only want to provide our view point to both India and Pakistan,” he said.Referring to four-point solution proposed by Sharif during his speech at the United Nations, the Mirwaiz said “it is sad that this too was rejected by India. I wonder what is in the mind of government.”Sharif, during his speech at the UN last month, had mooted the four-point formula for improving ties with India, which included demilitarisation of Kashmir, unconditional withdrawal of forces from Siachen, formalisation of the 2003 border ceasefire and restraint by both countries from “use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances”.India rejected it, saying that instead of four-steps, Pakistan just needed to end cross-border terrorism for normalisation of the bilateral ties.On the recent attacks in various places including one on a Kashmiri truck in Udhampur, the separatist Hurriyat chief said incidents of intolerance and hate-violence was increasing.”The number of incidents of violence is only increasing and the situation seems from going from bad to worse,” he said.”It seems that divisive forces have been let loose after the new government took over. What is worrisome that this has not spared Jammu and Kashmir even where polarisation is being done with a design to break the state. And moreover, the government is doing nothing to rein in such criminals who are hell bent on disturbing secular fabric,” he said.He said various trade and student delegations had met him and expressed their fears over moving out of Kashmir.

Bitter by-election in Pakistan revives political tensions | Reuters

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE, Pakistan Pakistanis began voting on Sunday in a closely contested by-election seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s rule after he swept to power in 2013 elections.

The race for the parliamentary seat in Punjab, Pakistan’s richest province and Sharif’s power base, pits the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party against the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Last year PTI’s leader, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, led street protests in the capital for months, alleging rigging in the 2013 polls.

The protests forced Sharif to rely on the powerful military for security, which gave them a greater say in foreign and security policy. Many in the military had opposed Sharif’s election promise to improve relations with arch rival India.

On Sunday, 348,000 voters will vote under army supervision as close Sharif ally Ayaz Sadiq faces off with PTI candidate Aleem Khan in the NA-122 constituency in the Punjab capital of Lahore.

Sadiq told Reuters that the race was a battle to “prove the very legitimacy of the 2013 election.”

Khan’s party had only ever won a single parliamentary seat – his own – before 2013, when his promises of a crackdown on widespread corruption and tax evasion by the wealthy won enough voters to propel the party to power as the third-largest in Pakistan.

A Gallup poll conducted this month said 37 percent voters favoured PTI while 46 percent favoured PMLN.

“People are fed up by the PMLN’s empty slogans,” said PTI’s Aleem Khan. “I am positive that I will win.”

Security and the economy have improved under Sharif, although analysts say many external factors have contributed.

Attacks have fallen around 70 percent this year, partly due to a military offensive in the northwest and a military-led crackdown in the southern city of Karachi.

Annual inflation is at its lowest in a dozen years, largely to due reduced international oil prices. The economy is growing faster, although still not fast enough to absorb new entrants to the job market.

But the government has failed to crack down on corruption or tax the wealthy, whose continued tax evasion is starving social services like schools and hospitals of cash.

PMLN say Aleem’s promises of reform are undercut by his tenure as minister under a military dictator, and PTI’s failure to fulfil its election promises in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province it rules.

“Where are the dams Imran was going to build?” said voter Zaman Naqvi, cradling a stuffed lion, PMLN’s election symbol. “Where are all the uplift projects? Where are the improvements in education and health?”

(Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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

PM-level talks between India, Pakistan shouldn’t be without preparations: Ex-Pak Foreign Minister

New Delhi: Summit talks between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan should not take place without any “proper preparations”, said former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, adding the only way to end the post-Ufa deadlock is to begin secret back-channel parleys.

The secret talks should be conducted in the same way both sides very nearly finalised a formula for resolving the Kashmir issue between 2004 and 2007, he said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asserting that India and Pakistan should first remove the intense mutual “antagonism” to improve strained ties, he said a “gag order” must be imposed by their Prime Ministers against those in the establishment making inflammatory comments against each other.

Days after his book ‘Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove‘ hit the stands in India, Kasuri claimed the back-channel peace talks that almost culminated into its permanent settlement of the Kashmir issue around eight years ago had the endorsement of Pakistan military and ISI, asserting that it was time both sides “grow up” and resolve it.

Kasuri, who was Pakistan Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007, called Narendra Modi‘s invitation to Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony last year and seeking a meeting with him at Ufa as a positive signal in approaching the Kashmir issue.

“High-level meetings, summit level meetings should never take place without proper preparations. There was no homework done for Ufa. It is better that these meetings do not take place. I am in favour of shaking hands, smiling, even a cup of tea in front of cameras without serious talks,” Kasuri told PTI in an interview. Modi and Sharif held talks in the Russian city of Ufa in July.

In his 850-page book, Kasuri details the contours of what he claimed “the possible settlement” of Kashmir issue which he said included its demilitarisation, self-governance and setting up of a joint mechanism through which people on both sides can cooperate with each other. There has been no authentication yet by the Indian side about Kasuri’s claim.

Kasuri said it took almost three years to persuade Pakistan Army and the ISI about the “settlement” on Kashmir and they as an “institution” decided to back it while claiming that the perception that the army does not want resolution of the lingering issue was not correct.

“I made sure that papers were delivered to President Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.

Talking about current state of ties between India and Pakistan, he said both sides must traverse the peace path and open unbounded opportunities for their people.

Referring to aggressive comments from both the sides against each other in the wake of border tensions in the recent months, Kasuri said both the Prime Ministers “must apply a gag order” and that only the two premiers should talk.

“They should ask people who know nothing to keep quite. It is not their business to talk,” he said adding “relationship of antagonism should be removed.”

Kasuri also hoped that Modi will adopt a pragmatic approach in resolving the Kashmir issue, rejecting apprehension in some quarters in Pakistan that he could adopt an aggressive attitude.

“I hope Modi’s desire to develop India economically will bring the pragmatism in his personality to the fore and help check a tendency among some elements in his party to please grass-roots support,” he wrote.

Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between India-Pakistan National Security Advisors were canceled recently because of a dispute over the agenda. India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir.

In his book, Kasuri said as Foreign Minister he held talks with Kashmiri leaders in Islamabad, New Delhi and in some other world capitals to know about their views about resolution of the Kashmir issue.

“There was also a general realisation that rising militancy was not in our long-term interests. We felt that in the changing international climate, Pakistan would do all it can to espouse the cause of Kashmiris,” he said.

In his book, Kasuri blamed mushrooming of madrasas for rise in militancy among the youth particularly in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He said it was a failure of Pakistan government in the social sector, particularly education, which played a major role in radicalising young minds in madrasas.

“Pakistan is facing the consequences of this radicalisation. It is also believed that a large number of Muslim countries were involved in supporting their respective lobbies financially in Pakistan to create pockets of support along sectarian lines,” he said.

Elaborating on efforts to contain militancy, he even wrote that centres were set up to “wean away” militants from their “past” and impart skills to them. He said Pakistan was trying to take steps to “de-radicalise” and rehabilitate those involved in militancy.

PTI

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif invites hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Geelani to Pakistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to visit his country, his party said in Srinagar on Saturday.

Nawaz Sharif and Syed Geelani

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to visit his country, his party said in Srinagar on Saturday.”Geelani was handed the invitation letter from Sharif by Pakistan High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit over a dinner at the latter’s residence at Tilak Marg in Delhi last night,” a spokesman of the Geelani-led Hurriyat said in Srinagar.The spokesman said Sharif termed the Kashmir issue as the unfinished agenda of the creation of Pakistan and contended that friendly relations between New Delhi and Islamabad without resolving Kashmir would be nothing but “self deceit”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In the letter, Sharif has said Kashmir is not a border dispute but concerns ‘right to self-determination’ of two crore people. He also said Pakistan has made it clear to India that there can be no progress on bilateral ties while ignoring Kashmir issue,” the spokesman claimed.Sharif also said that the National Security Advisor level talks between the two countries could not take place as “India was not ready to talk Kashmir issue”.”We want good relations with all our neighbours including India but New Delhi’s unrealistic approach has been a big impediment,” the spokesman quoted the Pakistan Prime Minister having said in the letter.The spokesman said Geelani has in principle accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan. He, however, did not give specific date of travel.

Pakistan and India should live like good neighbours, says Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif said he told the United Nations that it was its resolution on Kashmir and not that of Pakistan therefore it was the body’s duty to implement it.
File Photo
PTI
Pakistan and India should live like “good neighbours” and resolve all issues including Kashmir through dialogue, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday.”I raised the issue of Kashmir in the UN with courage and spoke out my heart (over the issue). I also gave a proposal to India to improve ties with Pakistan. We (Indian and Pakistan) should live like good neighbours and find out a solution to the Kashmir issue,” Sharif said while talking to reporters at the Governor’s House in Lahore.The prime minister said he told the United Nations that it was its resolution on Kashmir and not that of Pakistan therefore it was the body’s duty to implement it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I spoke the truth while looking into their eyes. The UN should realise itself and implement its resolution on Kashmir,” he said.In his address last week at the United Nations General Assembly, Sharif had proposed a four-point formula to improve ties with India. He proposed demilitarisation of Kashmir, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Indian troops from Siachen, resumption of composite dialogue and formalisation of border ceasefire.The premier further said: “We have laid a foundation of strong ties with Afghanistan. We really worked hard to bring (Afghan) Taliban on negotiation table. While the overt talks were under in Pakistan the news of Mullah Omar’s death was broken that sabotaged this effort. I don’t know why two years after his death the news was broken at the time when talks were underway,” he said, adding Pakistan was again trying to bring the Taliban and Afghan government on the table.Sharif said his government would get another term (after 2018 general elections) because the people are happy with its performance. He underlined the achievements of his government in transport, health, education and energy sectors, adding that the country’s economy has stabled because of his government’s people-friendly polices.Sharif also said that he had thought of stepping down had the report of the Judicial Commission auditing the rigging allegations in 2013 elections pinpointed rigging.”Had the judicial commission’s report not come in our favour, I would have stepped down,” he said.

RSS organ calls for freeing PoK from Pakistani control

Pakistan has raised the bogey of Kashmir word with plebiscite in the UN General Assembly as a custom, RSS said.

Nawaz Sharif could not garner international attention as earlier, said RSS

File Photo
After Pakistan failed to elicit a response at UN on Kashmir, RSS organ ‘Organiser’ has said freeing Pak-occupied Jammu and Kashmir from its illegal occupation is the only solution to end this issue. “That Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism is a well known fact now. On the other hand Bharat is widely recognised as the power centre in global matrix. Therefore, K word is no longer a currency in international politics. “Now freeing the PoK (Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) from the illegal occupation of Pakistan, ….. is the only solution to end this longstanding issue,” the editorial in ‘Organiser’ has said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It said Pakistan has raised the bogey of Kashmir word with plebiscite in the UN General Assembly as a custom, but Nawaz Sharif could not garner international attention as earlier. The RSS organ also said that to the contrary, videos showing Pakistan brutality and protests against Islamabad in the Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoK) are going viral and a leader from J&K Moulana Syed Athar Hussain Dehlavi after touring the areas has stated that people residing there want to be a part of India as they are impressed with governance here and are distressed with growing extremism in Pakistan. “This transformation is a sign that the discourse on Jammu and Kashmir is set to change forever,” it said.The editorial “Forget about K, talk about POK” said people of Jammu and Kashmir have time and again voted for the Assembly and Parliamentary elections in India ….., which Pakistan funded fringe elements such as Hurriyat always try to sabotage.On the other hand, it claimed, demography on the other side of J&K was ‘forcefully changed’ and basic rights as equality before law and right to freedom of association or formation of political parties have been denied to the people, which Pakistan courts have also accepted. “The region did not get any democratic representation… People of this occupied region always live under the shadow of violence, as POK is the main centre for terrorist training camps. The protests in Mirpur-Muzaffarabad have just started getting the limelight, Gilgit Baltistan is still in dark as there is no media coverage of atrocities and aspirations of these neglected regions,” it said.

Can Pakistan and India ever live in harmony?

India and Pakistan’s leaders may both want to settle their countries’ differences – but there’s little sign of them being able to do so, says Owen Bennett-Jones.

Pakistan arrests 70 Indian fishermen

Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PSMA) spokesman Lt Commander Wajid Nawaz said that all the fishermen were arrested when they were in Pakistani waters.

Pakistan has arrested 70 Indian fishermen for allegedly violating its territorial waters off the coast of southern Sindh province, an official said on Sunday.The arrests were made yesterday and the fishermen were brought to provincial capital Karachi.Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PSMA) spokesman Lt Commander Wajid Nawaz said that all the fishermen were arrested when they were in Pakistani waters.”We arrested 70 fishermen yesterday,” Nawaz told PTI.He said the fishermen will be handed over to police in Karachi to register cases against them.Nawaz said that 10 boats were also confiscated.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier reports had said that Pakistan arrested 100 fishermen.Both countries regularly arrest fishermen who stray in each other’s waters due to poorly marked sea boundary.

Has Narendra Modi’s foreign policy bubble burst?

Has Narendra Modi’s foreign policy bubble burst?

No peace talks until you stop terror: Sushma makes things clear to Pakistan at UNGA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave a hard-hitting rebuttal to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Wednesday to United Nations General Assembly that largely dealt with India. In her speech, that was delivered from the same platform on Thursday, she told Islamabad point blank that a one-point programme was enough to turn around India-Pakistan relations: give up terrorism and sit down at the negotiating table.

Her 25-minute speech in Hindi at the UNGA set the template for India-Pakistan bilateral relations from New Delhi’s perspective. But there is one subtle discrepancy in what she actually spoke at the UNGA and the English translation of her speech put out by the Ministry of External Affairs.

In her speech, that was beamed live by most Indian TV channels, Swaraj said that India has been facing terrorism for 25 years, suggesting that she takes the cut off year for the beginning of Pakistan-fomented terrorism in India as 1989-90 when terrorism hit Jammu and Kashmir, and is ignoring the previous five years of terror activities that rocked Punjab.

Sushma-Swaraj-at-UN_AFPSushma-Swaraj-at-UN_AFP

AFP image

But the English rendering of her speech put out by the MEA quoted her in this context as saying: “A threat that India has lived with for more than a quarter of a century was tragically brought home to this very city in the autumn of 2001. Since then, the proliferation of terrorist acts, the rise of extremist ideologies, and the impunity of states that back it have not been adequately countered.”

This may stoke political controversy back home. But this may be a minor technical glitch. Overall, she took on Nawaz Sharif head on.

This is what she said: “Yesterday the Prime Minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one – give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.

“This was precisely what was discussed and decided by the two Prime Ministers at Ufa this July. Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our Directors General of Military Operations to address the situation on the border. If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”

This perhaps sums up the Pakistan policy of the current Indian government.

Swaraj also exhorted the international community to not categorise terrorists as “good” or “bad” and underscored the need for “zero tolerance” for terrorism and to not ascribe any religion to terrorists as they have no religion.

“Equally importantly, an international legal regime, under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism can no longer be held up. 19 years ago, in 1996, India had made this proposal at the United Nations but we have been unable to adopt it and entangled ourselves in the issue of definition. We have to understand that there can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists. Neither can terrorism be linked to any religion. A terrorist is a terrorist; one who commits crimes against humanity cannot have any religion. Therefore, my appeal to all of you is that we should come together in this 70th anniversary year of the United Nations and pledge to unanimously adopt the CCIT,” she said.

She reiterated India’s stand on the issue by saying that India was all for talks with Pakistan but also made it clear that talks and terror cannot go hand in hand.

Swaraj thus articulated that the Modi government won’t consider Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as business as usual and Pakistan will have to give up using terrorism as a means of statecraft before the two South Asian neighbours can sit on the negotiating table to resolve their outstanding bilateral disputes. In other words, the international community should not expect India to smoke the peace pipe with Pakistan till that country completely turns off the terror tap.

On Pakistan, banyan trees, yoga and the girl child: Sushma Swaraj’s top 10 quotes at the UNGA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj delivered a hard-hitting speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. Speaking in Hindi, Swaraj addressed several key issues such as terrorism, talks with Pakistan, sustainable development, and yoga among others in her confident oratory style. Her emphatic speech was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

Sushma Swaraj at UN. PTISushma Swaraj at UN. PTI

Sushma Swaraj at UN. PTI

The 26-minute speech censured Nawaz Sharif’s comments in the UN, pointed out that the plotters of the 26/11 attacks were walking free, called for a better-represented UN Security Council, urged women empowerment, promoted yoga and equated the United Nations to a banyan tree.

Here are the top 10 quotes from Sushma Swaraj’s UN address translated in English

On the religion of terrorism

We have to understand that there can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists. Neither can terrorism be linked to any religion. A terrorist is a terrorist; one who commits crimes against humanity cannot have any religion.

On Pakistan not acting against 2008 Mumbai attacks planners

The world shared our outrage at the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which citizens of many nations were helplessly butchered. That the mastermind behind the attack is walking free is an affront to the entire international community.

On Nawaz Sharif’s propose four-point new peace initiative

We do not need four points (from Pakistan) we need just one — give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.

On women’s empowerment

As a woman and an elected Member of Parliament, it has been my firm conviction that there is a shortcut to real social change — empowering the girl child.

On Gandhi and sustainable development

If Mahatma Gandhi was among us today, he would ask if we have used the resources of the planet for our needs or for our greed?

On Intentional Yoga Day

The health of the planet is tied to our own well-being and it is this holistic approach that guided us in our call for the First International Day of Yoga, celebrated with much fervour in 192 countries of the world.

On India’s humanitarian efforts

Our own (India’s) response in our neighbourhood to humanitarian crises has been quick, responsive and holistic. Whether it was Nepal or Yemen, India has emerged as a net security provider, assisting not only our nationals but those of other countries that sought our help.

On PM Modi and India’s economic development

Ever since the new government of Prime Minister Modi took office a year and a half ago, we have committed ourselves to this renewal, one that has enabled India to play its rightful role in international affairs while also becoming the fastest-growing major economy in the world.

On a stronger UN Security Council

How can we have a Security Council in 2015 which still reflects the geopolitical architecture of 1945? How can we have a Security Council which still does not permanent membership to Africa and Latin America? If we are to preserve the centrality and legitimacy of the UN as the custodian of global peace, security and development, the reform of the Security Council is the need of the hour.

On United Nations as a banyan tree

I invite all of you to contemplate the idea of the United Nations as a Banyan Tree. In the Eastern tradition, the Banyan is a tree that signifies wisdom, yet is non-judgemental and all-encompassing. I end my speech with the hope that the United Nations will grow into such a banyan tree.

India rejects Nawaz Sharif’s demand for de-militarising Kashmir

“To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

“Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir,” said Swarup.

India on rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s demand for de-militarising Kashmir and instead said it is Pakistan that should be “deterrorised.” India’s strong reaction came shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a demand for demilitarisation of Kashmir as part of his 4-point “peace initiative” with India. Raking up the Kashmir issue while addressing the UN General Assembly(UNGA), Sharif termed its non-resolution as a failure of the world body. “To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is. “Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in sharp retorts through a series of tweets. Another Indian official called Pakistan a “prime sponsor of terrorism” as it uses terror as a “legitimate instrument” of its statecraft after Sharif said Pakistan is the “primary victim” of terrorism. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In truth, it(Pakistan) is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists. The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood,” First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Abhishek Singh said in a sharp retort exercising India’s Right of Reply during the General Debate of 70th session of UNGA.In more tweets, Swarup said that Pakistan’s “instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.”Reacting to Sharif’s remarks that “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation”, Swarup said the “Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.” Sharif had equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about “suffering of Muslims across the world”, saying “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation.”Abhishek Singh also hit out at Pakistan on this issue, asserting that the “occupier in question is Pakistan.” He also asserted that on each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. “India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,” he added.

Pakistan misusing UN to ‘distort reality & portray false picture of the challenges in our region’, says India

India has rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations and accused him of misusing the global forum to ‘distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region’.

AFP
India has rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations and accused him of misusing the global forum to ‘distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region’.Exercising India’s Right of Reply during the general debate of 70th session of the UN General Assembly, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, in a strongly-worded statement said it is regrettable that the delegation of Pakistan has once again chosen to misuse the High Level Segment of the UN General Assembly Session to distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The First Secretary said Pakistan claims to be the primary victim of terrorism, but in truth it is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists.”Seeking to mask its activities as though an outcome of domestic discontent in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir carries no credibility with the world,” he added.The First Secretary said it was stated that Jammu and Kashmir is under foreign occupation.Also read: Social media backs India on Kashmir, Pakistan told to vacate PoK”It is, except that the occupier in question is Pakistan. In fact, India’s reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan for many years,” he added.Stating Pakistan apparently regrets that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved and that our dialogue has not progressed, the First Secretary said, “If it is so, this is because Pakistan has chosen to disregard its commitments, whether it was under the 1972 Simla Agreement, the 2004 Joint Declaration forswearing terrorism, or more recently, the understanding between our two Prime Ministers at Ufa.””On each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,” he added.Pointing out that reference was made to ceasefire violations and exchanges of fire along the Line of Control and the International Boundary, the First Secretary said the world knows that the primary reason for firing is to provide cover to terrorists crossing the border and added that it needs no imagination to figure out which side initiates this exchange.He said it is not uncommon for states, when confronted with serious challenges, to shift responsibility on others.Also read: India hits back at Nawaz Sharif, calls Pakistan ‘prime sponsor of terrorism’; says de-terrorising will bring peace”That is the case with Pakistan and terrorism, reflecting the inability to recognize that this is a home grown problem that has begun to bite the hand that fed it. We agree that terrorism has underlying causes in this case, poverty of wisdom and ignorance of consequences,” the First Secretary said.”The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood. All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves,” he added.On Wednesday, Sharif had proposed a four-point agenda to defuse tensions between his country and India with regard to the Kashmir issue as well as the frequent reported incidents of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the International Working Boundary that separates the two nations in Jammu and Kashmir.He suggested that Pakistan and India formalise and respect the November 26, 2003, understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. For this purpose, he called for the UNMOGIP’s expansion to monitor the observance of the ceasefire.Secondly, the Pakistan Prime Minister said both countries needed to reaffirm their resolve not resort to the use of force under any circumstances, which he added was a central element of the UN Charter.Thirdly, Sharif proposed that steps should be taken to demilitarise Kashmir and fourth Pakistan and India should agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground.Accepting terrorism to be a menace that was hindering global peace, development and progress, Sharif also said that there was a need for one and all to address the underlying causes of this ever present threat and challenge.He said the global threat of terrorism cannot be defeated unless its underlying causes are addressed.

Pak NSA accuses India of using ‘brute force’ to quell Kashmiri struggle; says ready to talk without pre-conditions

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz blamed India for protests in PoK and ceasefire violations.

Sartaj Aziz

PTI
National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India at any level without any pre-conditions.Addressing the meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir in New York, Aziz said that Pakistan remains committed to finding a just and peaceful resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.According to Ary News, Aziz said, “Pakistan is steadfast in extending political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir in their just struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination. Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India at any level without any preconditions.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Massive protests erupt in PoK as people demand freedom from Pakistan, raise pro-India slogansHowever, upping the ante on the eve of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan has also accused India of ceasefire violations, holding “sham” elections in Jammu and Kashmir while putting the onus on it for cancellation of the NSA-level talks.Pressing for plebiscite in Kashmir, Aziz said, “India continues to hold sham elections in J-K, with coercive military presence”.He also accused India of trying to quell the Kashmiri struggle by using “brute force”.Also read: India hits back at Pak Army chief Raheel Sharif, says isssue with Pakistan is how to get back PoK​”India is attempting to change the demographic make-up of Jammu and Kashmir by settling non-State, non-Muslim subjects” in the state, he claimed.”On its part, Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India, at any level, without any preconditions, in order to address each other s concerns and establish lasting peace by resolving all outstanding issues, especially the J-K dispute,” he said.Meanwhile, people in large numbers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) were seen protesting against the Pakistani establishment and demanding freedom, in a video available with a leading news channel.A few days ago, reflecting a chill in bilateral relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif waved at each other as they attended the UN peacekeeping summit.Last month, Pakistan had cancelled the NSA-level talks with India claiming that no peace process can be initiated without Kashmir being discussed.​

Government dismisses Pak PM Sharif’s suggestion for plebiscite in Jammu Kashmir

He was replying to a question on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asking for holding of plebiscite in the state.

The government on Monday dismissed Pakistan’s suggestion for holding plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir saying the territory is an integral part of India and blamed the neighbouring country for allowing its land to be used for terror activities.”Kashmir is an internal issue. It is an integral part of India,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters here.He was replying to a question on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asking for holding of plebiscite in the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rijiju blamed Pakistan for allowing its territory to be used by terrorist organisations for their acts directed against India.”Our issue is terrorism and how Pakistan’s land is used for terror acts directed against India,” he said.Sharif met Ban before his speech to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations yesterday.According to the Pakistan mission, Sharif urged the Secretary General to play a role in defusing tension between Pakistan and India and to help end alleged violations at the Line of Control.Sharif called for implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on the Kashmir dispute and holding of plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.Ban stressed on the need for a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve tension between them.

dna Must Read: From Nawaz Sharif on Kashmir issue to missing Hadrik Patel

1) Kashmir is a core issue, to be raised at every forum, says Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

1) Kashmir is a core issue, to be raised at every forum, says Pakistan PM Nawaz SharifAhead of the United Nations General Assembly Session, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again reiterated that Kashmir is a core issue and that must be resolved. Sharif made the statement while talking to reporters as he arrived in UK’s capital en route to the United States, where he will attend UN General Assembly’s 70th session. Read More<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Quota row: Is Hardik Patel missing? High Court tells Gujarat government to find himIn a dramatic post-midnight development, the Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to find Hardik Patel, spearhead of Patel quota stir, after an aide moved a habeas corpus petition alleging that Hardik had been illegally detained by police. Read More3) Class 10 textbook in Chhattisgarh cites working women as cause of unemployment: ReportIn fresh controversy, reports have emerged from BJP-ruled Chhattissgarh of a class 10 textbook that not only promotes patriarchy but is also blatantly misogynist in nature. According to a report in a leading daily, the class 10 social science textbook says that ‘working women are one of the causes of unemployment in the country’. The book has been published by the Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education. Read More4) India, US ask Pakistan to act against 26/11 perpetratorsRecognising the threat posed by outfits like the al-Qaeda, LeT and the D-Company, India and the US today agreed to deepen cooperation in fighting terrorism and asked Pakistan to bring to justice the 2008 Mumbai attack perpetrators. Read More5) In Ayodhya, a fitting lesson for every meat ban supporterAmidst ongoing raging controversy regarding meet and beef ban in India, the temple town of Ayodhya has a different example of harmony and respect for religious customs. In Ayodhya, there is a complete ban on sale of meat throughout the year except on the three days of Eid when Muslims can freely perform qurbani and even the sants don’t object to it, reports a leading daily. Read More6) What will Deepika Padukone gift Ranbir Kapoor on his birthday?Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone says she wishes love and happiness for former boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor, who will turn 33 on September 28. It will be a working birthday for the actor, who is starring with Deepika in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha. Read More

India won’t fire first bullet along border: Rajnath Singh to delegation of Pakistan Rangers

“Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism,” he told the Pakistani delegation. Singh said India wanted to engage in dialogue with Pakistan at different levels and that was why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia.

Rajnath Singh

India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan as it wants cordial relations with all its neighbours, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday told a visiting delegation from the country which is here for border talks. “India wants friendly relations with all its neighbours. India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border,” Singh told the delegation of Pakistan Rangers, headed by its Director General Maj. Gen. Umar Farooq Burki.In his response, Burki told Singh that he was the “mere DG of a force and not the leadership” like the Home Minister and could not give any commitment in this regard. Burki, however, said that he would convey Singh’s message to the Pakistani leadership. The Home Minister further told the Pakistan Rangers delegation that it should be ensured that no infiltration takes place from Pakistan to India.He also said that both India and Pakistan must unite against the menace of terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism,” he told the Pakistani delegation. Singh said India wanted to engage in dialogue with Pakistan at different levels and that was why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia.”Unfortunately, the NSA level talks did not take place. But we want to have a good relation with Pakistan. I am saying this not for formality’s sake, but ‘tah-e-dil-se’ (from the bottom of the heart),” he said.Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh further said that “we can change friends, but not the neighbours” and that was why it was necessary to have cordial relations with all neighbouring countries.

dna in Pakistan: West will not allow Indo-Pak impasse to continue for long, feel peaceniks

Journalist-turned politician Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, also Chairman of Senate Defence Committee, says it was a rare moment in Pakistan politics, when military, public opinion and political class have joined together to oppose India’s attempts to shift goal posts on Kashmir.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tough messages that Kashmir, henceforth, was a “no-go” area in the bilateral discussions, has sent worried signals not only in the Pakistan’s traditionally anti-India establishment, but amongst peaceniks, known for lobbying for a softer approach towards India. They feel that the latest Indian stance has made Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s position precarious, even more vulnerable than it was after Kargil war of 1999. Sharif, they say, has been struggling for quite some time, to wrest foreign policy from the ambit of military.Pakistan says it was ready to address India’s “core concerns” on terrorism, but will not allow changing of goal posts on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Away from rhetoric, posturing and protestations, foreign offices of both countries were, however, struggling to keep the sprit of Ufa joint statement alive, by arranging meetings between heads of border guards and director generals of military operations (DGMOs) to keep the peace window open. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Interacting with a group of visiting Kashmiri journalists, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry stressed that Pakistan was a changed country now. “They (India) should understand it. We will reciprocate India’s core concerns, but they need to respect our core interest as well… But if they feel, they can browbeat us, it wouldn’t happen,” he said. On the recent terror incidents in Gurdaspur and capturing of a Pakistani origin terrorist Naveed in Udhampur, he offered joint investigation into such incidents.On the issue of the captured Pakistani terrorist, another senior official in his ministry was amazed that they were still to receive any demarche from India. “All we hear about Naveed and others is through media. They (India) have not even issued a demarche or even informed us through diplomatic channels about these captured terrorists like it was done in case of Ajmal Kasab,” he said. In world diplomacy demarches are issued to protest or object to actions by a foreign government.A Pakistani interlocutor, who was recently in India to fine-tune contacts ahead of the national security advisor level talks, was plainly told by top foreign office officials in New Delhi that Modi’s message was to look at Pakistan policy beyond those adopted by his mentor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Congress regimes. “The impression, I got from my interlocutors in New Delhi was that Modi wants to be different not only from the Congress governments, but from Vajpayee also,” he said.Also Read: Why Modi’s Pakistan policy faces a serious crisis of credibilityChaudhry, said it was unfortunate to blame Pakistan for distorting the agenda agreed at Ufa. He, however, agreed that while a substantive discussion on Kashmir was not at the agenda of NSA talks, both sides were to discuss modalities and formats to discuss the unresolved issues that definitely included issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The three point agenda proposed by Pakistan included discussion on all issues related to terrorism, reviewing progress on actual decisions made at Ufa i.e. prompt release of fishermen, better arrangements for religious tourism, and activation of mechanisms for restoring peace across the LoC and the international boundary. The third point was intended to explore the modalities for discussions on all other outstanding issues including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen, he said.Pakistani officials were also amazed at the dates of the NSA talks as proposed by India, coinciding with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Egypt. Pakistan in its delegation had also included its foreign secretary, to allow foreign offices also to interact at the higher levels. “”But it seems dates were given deliberately to not allow any discussions beyond the two NSAs,” said an official. Pakistan, they say, was keen to combine NSA talks with an informal consultations between the two foreign offices as well.Indo-Pak deadlock ends: Pakistan calls off NSA talks, India calls it ‘unfortunate’Peacenik and head of think-tank Jinnah Institute Sherry Rahman believes that after a long time, the K-word is back in political mainstream conversation, but not in a good way. She says in Pakistan over the years peace with India had become a majoritarian consensus. Her own party Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) along with Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML) were convinced that peace with New Delhi was the only way to stabilise Pakistan. Journalist-turned politician Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, also Chairman of Senate Defence Committee, says it was a rare moment in Pakistan politics, when military, public opinion and political class have joined together to oppose India’s attempts to shift goal posts on Kashmir. Talking about Pakistan-India relations, he said that the problem was confusion in New Delhi about the Pakistan policy of Narendra Modi. He said both countries should take advantage by re-linking Kashmir with the ancient Silk Road, referring to China’s marshal plans of building road and rail links to Gwadar in Baluchistan. “This will generate an enormous economic activity in the region. There will be a network of pipelines, making the region Pipelinestan. China’s proposed sea and land silk-routes meet at Gwadar,” he said. Mushahid was also confident, that current phase of intransigence will end soon, as Western powers will not allow both countries to keep their hostile postures for too long.Incidentally, Pakistan’s parliamentary dynamics replicates the current Indian Parliament, where Lok Sabha is dominated by the BJP and the Rajya Sabha by opposition. In the lower house, the National Assemby, Nawaz Sharif’s party hold majority but in upper house, the Senate, it is the Pakistan People’s Party which holds the balance. Chairman of Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, also a top PPP leader, while stressing that there was no way but to mend fences with India, as one cannot change neighbours, asked Prime Minister Modi to look at the Pakistan policy away from his domestic politics. He maintained that Islamabad has gone the extra mile to maintain a working relationship, but sentiments had not been reciprocated from the other side. He said that if the issue of Berlin Wall and, more recently, the conflict between Iran and the West could be resolved, why was it that India and Pakistan cannot maintain their relationship, in improving the cultural and economic relationship and also addressing the issue of Kashmir? Rabbani pointed out that one of the reasons for the delay in the resolution of Kashmir issue was the policy of the West, which wavered in pursuit of its own global interests. He said this was also visible in the case of Afghanistan and the Middle East. “India is a huge market and the United States wants to play footsie to counterbalance its relations with China,” Rabbani said.

Failure of NSA-level talks may help Pakistan creep back into Kashmir: Former RAW chief AS Dulat

Who do you think was responsible for the failure of NSA talks?When you have a fiasco, it is bad enough, why blame anyone! I don’t think either side has been smart very smart about whatever has happened. Six months later you will again have to begin afresh.We said that ice had been broken in Ufa. But subsequently, the Kashmiris started making noise, more specifically Geelani sahab (Syed Ali Shah Geelani) that Kashmir was no more on the agenda of Pakistan. When a Kashmiri leader, that too, Geelani, says something like that, then it requires a reaction from Pakistan. And they had to come back to their core issue. As rhetoric all this is fine but what happened in practical terms was a fiasco. Our external affairs minister said Hurriyat cannot be a third party. I do not think anybody can even imagine this except Geelani sahab.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Has Sushma Swaraj’s statement put Hurriyat on a higher pedestal than what it actually is?Yes, it has, definitely. I don’t think that the Hurriyat was such a big issue. But it has been made an issue now. It has not been an issue all these years. But if in Delhi’s eyes the Hurriyat has become bigger villains or more unacceptable than ever before, then, I think, that message should be conveyed to Pakistan. Earlier when Nawaz Sharif’ came for Modiji’s swearing in, the same message was conveyed and it was respected.These developments can have an impact on Kashmir in the sense you might be inviting Pakistan back into Kashmir. If you say separatists are a no-no then all you have is one Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and one Farooq Abdullah, both of whom are ageing. What happens afterwards?Did Nawaz Sharif go out of his brief at Ufa by adhering only to talk on terror and ceasefire violations and keeping Kashmir out? Which is the core issue for Pakistan? I don’t think the way Pakistan happens and the way it is run, Nawaz Sharif could have gone too far beyond his brief. I think military establishment was on board, they said try it out and all this was agreed upon. Afterwards, what happened at LoC, in Gurdaspur and Udhampur, may have been provocation by certain people. It is very difficult to pinpoint here who those certain people are. There are always spoilers in Pakistan.You mean there are certain rogue state actors within Pakistan who do not want talks to happen?I don’t know. It is very difficult to say, who are state (actors), who are non-state (actors), who are rogue who are proxy, the lines has become very thin. All we know is that the Godfather of all this, Hamid Gul, is not around now.How we could have had a successful NSA-level talks?Had the two NSAs met quietly in a third country, we might have had productive talks and may not have had this fiasco. They should have met quietly like Brajesh Mishra and Rafiq Aziz did before SAARC Summit in 2004. I was very upbeat about the NSAs’ meeting… almost sure that some good will come out of the meeting as both are very bright and special people. Aziz (Sartaj Aziz) is a very seasoned diplomat and Doval (Ajit Doval) a thorough professional. But when such talks come out in the open domain, then politics, jingoism, media bashing everything comes in and it becomes difficult.Now as red lines have been drawn very stark, do you think there can be a fresh beginning?There has to be. There will be. The cutest way to put it was when Sartaj Aziz said I’ll handover the dossier to Ajit Doval in New York.But whenever a breakthrough occurs in the case of India and Pakistan, it will be only at the highest level. It always requires a summit, there is no other way.What is required for summit-level talks?Confidence and guts! When Vajpayee (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) took the bus to Lahore, it was not that he just got into a bus and went…the whole thing was well-thought out and it came from the heart. Modiji (Narendra Modi) also has to take an aeroplane to Pakistan and there is an excuse for it, asummit is coming up next year. He can build it up from there.How do the failed NSA-level talks impact us?Look, we aspire for a seat on the higher table of UN Security Council and everybody supports us whether it is Americans or Russians. But when it comes to the crunch it does not happen. Why? Because here the question arises is that if you cannot manage your own neighbourhood, if you cannot manage SAARC, then how could you aspire for UNSC seat? Everybody would acknowledge that we are the captain of SAARC, but the vice-captain is Pakistan. You cannot wish it away.How you see the role of Pakistan in Kashmir as of now?Pakistanis won’t like it but the fact is that Pakistan has no interest in Kashmir except to maintain a certain level of irritation for us, so whenever it wants it can up the ante. As long as the relationship between India and Pakistan remains tense, Pakistan will not want an agreement or an understanding on Kashmir that should have happened between Musharraf (Parvez Musharraf) and Dr Manmohan Singh when the former suggesteda four-point formula. That should buy us peace for 15-20 years.If Pakistan creeps back into Kashmir then we have to blame ourselves because there have been various watersheds since 2001. In 2001, 9/11 was a huge watershed, indirectly it helped us because Pakistan was sent a very clear message by George Bush that either you are with us or against us.From there, Pakistan had to pull back and that pullback helped us in Kashmir. That is when it dawned on Musharraf that Pakistan has its limitations, no matter how big the military thinks it is.

India, Pakistan media on failed talks

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

Never the twain shall meet: India, Pakistan and the peace talks facade

Peace talks between India and Pakistan collapsed on Saturday hours before they were scheduled to start, as the nuclear-armed rivals showed that they were unable to overcome deep-rooted mutual mistrust.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif agreed to the talks when they met in Russia last month. But the countries failed at the last minute to agree the agenda for the meeting of their national security advisers (NSAs), due to start on Sunday, with Pakistan accusing India of imposing “preconditions”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. PTIExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

Pakistan pulled out after India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the talks would not take place if Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz did not drop plans to meet separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

Swaraj also said India would only discuss terrorism-related issues, whereas Pakistan wanted a wider agenda that would, among other things, discuss the Kashmir question.

On Hurriyat, for example, while Swaraj said, “Don’t talk to Hurriyat, no place for third party. Respect Simla pact.” Aziz, on the other hand, had a radically opposite view: “Hurriyat represents Kashmiri people. Respect UNSC resolutions.”

The agenda too was a matter of dispute. While Swaraj mentioned that the NSA talks will be only on terrorism, Aziz wanted the talks to be on all outstanding issues, including J&K.

Even their understanding of the UFA statement widely differs. Pakistan believe ‘outstanding issues’ also includes the K-word while India says ‘outstanding issues’ is the preamble.

And then, of course, there is always terrorism. It is Pakistan’s firm belief that R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing) is responsible for a lot of trouble in Balochistan and other areas. They wanted to give a dossier to India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval or to the UNGA in New York. Swaraj’s riposte was simple: “If they can give dossiers, we can produce a living terrorist from Pakistan.”

The collapse of the talks, though, raises some important questions and prime among them is whether the talk about the talks is always a facade. The trouble started soon after Modi and Sharif agreed to the talks when they met in Ufa last month. By the time, Sharif reached Islamabad, criticism back home was mounting.

At that point, Firstpost editor R Jagannathan had written: “It is premature and wholly illogical to term the decisions announced after the Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif meeting in Ufa, Russia, as either a ‘breakthrough’ or even the breaking of a ‘deadlock’.”

“India is not going to ease up on Kashmir or Siachen, and Pakistan is not going to play ball on any issue of vital interest to India – especially jihadi terror fostered by the Pakistani Deep State (army, ISI), or even the trial of 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi. References to terrorism and the trial are just there for the optics – which may be worth having, but it won’t mean anything on the ground. Modi’s proposed visit to Pakistan next year may be great for photo-ops, but that’s about it.”

And that is exactly what has happened. It is important for both sides to show the international community that they are ‘trying’ to talk; that they are ‘trying’ to sort issues out on their own. If anything, this is a facade that both sides try their hardest to keep up but perhaps they need to ask themselves if it truly is worth it?

Many in Kashmir would ask whether one can talk of terrorism in India without actually talking of Kashmir itself. Isn’t that the bone of contention? Hasn’t it always been? So when India and Pakistan talk about ‘outstanding issues’ shouldn’t they both have been more specific if they were truly serious about the talks. But then again, maybe they wanted this grey area to exist because it gives them an escape route.

There is no way that the Modi government didn’t know that the K-word wouldn’t be mentioned during the talks but they deliberately chose to let it remain vague. It hurt no one and even allowed BJP to claim the UFA talks as a major victory for Modi, after all he went out of his way to contact Sharif.

In India, at least, we know the buck really stops at Modi. So if he wants to adopt a muscular policy then that is what the Army will do. But in Pakistan, Sharif is weakening and whether he can truly push others to agree to his agenda seems more unlikely with every passing month. So increasingly, his words count for less.

According to a report in the Economist, ‘Early in office, Mr Sharif would not consult the army on any policy.’ But that has changed rather radically and there is no way that he agreed to talks at UFA without the blessings of General Raheel Sharif. Still maybe the General wanted to just paint the PM in a bad light.

Both sides also knew that sooner, rather than later, Kashmir was going to enter the argument. Honestly, the grey area was there to account for exactly that.

India made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Aziz was not appropriate, Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the “established past practice” of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders. It almost felt like a set-up and a reason to dismiss any further dialogue between the two countries as a mirage; an optical illusion caused by our wants rather than reality.

This is why it is difficult to trust either side. This is the cloak and dagger stuff that politicians refer to as diplomacy. But as things stand, it isn’t going to help India; it isn’t going to help Pakistan and nor is it going to help the people of Kashmir.

And if there is one question that Modi and Sharif need to truthfully answer, it is this: Is the breakdown of talks what they truly wanted? If it wasn’t, then they needed to do more to ensure that the talks didn’t collapse this easily because in reality all that has happened could easily have been foreseen and accounted for.

— With inputs from Reuters

Row cancels India-Pakistan talks

Planned high-level talks between India and Pakistan are cancelled amid mutual recriminations as both sides disagree over the agenda.

Intelligence agencies have fresh evidence of Dawood’s presence in Pakistan: Report

Documentary evidences available with the Indian Intelligence agencies claims that Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan and also have in possession a recent picture of him, reported Hindustan Times.

Documentary evidences available with the Indian Intelligence agencies claims that Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan and also have in possession a recent picture of him, reported Hindustan Times.According to report, Dawood, wife Mehjabeen Shaikh, son Moeen Nawaz and daughters Mahrukh, Mehreen and Mazia are in Clifton, a suburb located in Karachi. His son Moeen is married to Sania while daughter Mahrukh is married to Junaid, son of former Pakistan cricket captain Javed Miandad.The report also says that the agencies have in possession of an April 2015 telephone bill in the name of Dawood’s wife Mehjabeen with D-13, Block-4, Karachi Development Authority, Sch-5, Clifton, as the installation address.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also: Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India; UPA discussed ‘offer’ two years ago: ReportDawood has three Pakistani passports with two more residential addresses – 6A, Khayaban Tanzeem, Phase 5, Defence Housing Area and Moin Palace, II floor, Near Abdullah Shah Ghazi Dargah, Clifton.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is likely to confront Pakistan over Dawood.Indian security agencies also have images of Dawood’s Pakistani passports, passport numbers and travel details. The report also says that Dawood’s close associates are also based in Pakistan and are frequent visitors to Dubai.Also read: Top 5 locations of Dawood IbrahimIf NSAs of India and Pakistan meet on August 23 in New Delhi, as per the schedule, Indian side could also bring up terror cases related to wanted gangster and mastermind of 1993 Mumbai blasts Dawood Ibrahim during the meeting, which was agreed to at the meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa in Russia last month.Dawood is the prime accused in the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai. The blasts, which Dawood is said to have engineered in cahoots with the ISI and associates like Tiger Memon, saw locations like the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Air India building at Nariman Point, and the fishermens’ colony at Mahim being targeted. The attacks led to 257 people being killed and over 700 injured.The United Nations Security Council has also issued a special notice No.U-65/4-2006 against him.Earlier in May, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, had ruled out New Delhi’s assertion that 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim is in the safe haven of Islamabad.

We will stick to the commitment made by both PMs in Ufa: Rajnath Singh

The Home Minister said India’s intentions are clear to have dialogue with Pakistan, but that should be only on terrorism.
File Photo
PTI photo
India asserted on Friday that it sticks to the commitment between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism.Speaking at an event in Lucknow, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “We are firm on our stand that whatever talks, dialogue are held with Pakistan, that should only and only be on terrorism.” He also said that talks and terrorism can never go together.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Home Minister said India’s intentions are clear to have dialogue with Pakistan, but that should be only on terrorism.”We stick to commitment between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism,” he said, adding, “It is to be seen what our neighbour have to say.” Singh’s remarks came against the backdrop of the upcoming Indo-Pak NSA-level talks appearing to be virtually off with the two countries locked in a confrontation over Kashmiri separatists leading to a blame game.India made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday for the talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, was unacceptable.

Pakistan rejects India’s advice to not hold talks between Sartaj Aziz and Hurriyat leaders

Islamabad: Toughening its stance, Pakistan on Friday rejected India’s “advice” not to hold a meeting between its NSA Sartaj Aziz and Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi, saying it will not “depart from an established practice” of interacting with them.

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. AFP

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. AFP

This was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan in Islamabad by Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, who also made it clear that any pre-conditions for the talks between Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval were not acceptable to Pakistan.

“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,” a Pakistan Foreign Office statement said, adding the decision was taken after Foreign Office consolations.

Significantly, Pakistan’s reaction to Indian advice came after a crucial meeting of civilian and military leadership here chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Earlier in the day, the External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson in New Delhi said Pakistan has been advised yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives.

“Responding to the ‘advice’ of Government of India, conveyed by their High Commissioner that Sartaj Aziz may not meet the Hurriyat leaders during his forthcoming visit to India, the Foreign Secretary conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner that it would not be possible for Pakistan to accept this advice,” the statement added.

The statement said that Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented.

“The Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people of the Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir Dispute,” it said.

The statement said that India’s insistence to introduce conditionalities and restrict the agenda for the dialogue, demonstrates a lack of seriousness on India’s part to meaningfully engage with Pakistan.

It said that for its part, Pakistan remains willing to attend the NSAs meeting without any pre-conditions.

Pakistan has proposed and conveyed to India a comprehensive agenda reflecting the broad understanding reached between the leaders in Ufa, that all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and other disputes, as well as, terrorism issues and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries, the statement said.

The two NSAs are scheduled to meet in New Delhi for talks on terrorism-related issues for the first time on August 23, as decided in a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif last month in Ufa in Russia.

The invitation by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatist leaders including Umar Farooq on Sunday to meet Aziz has upset India.

Last year, India had unilaterally called off Foreign Secretary-level talks after the Pakistan High Commissioner here had held “consultations” with the Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of FS-level meeting in Islamabad.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that ball of talks is now in India’s court.

“We have send the ball of talks in the Indian court. Let us see if it plays with us or runs away with the ball,” he said.

Former foreign minister and senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that it seemed India was not ready for talks with Pakistan.

He told media that he did not believe that Pakistan at Ufa had made any commitment to avoid meeting with the Hurriyat leaders.

“Indian is not ready for talks and that is why it is putting conditions,” he said.

He said talks are the only way to resolve issues between Pakistan and India.

PTI

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.

Back door diplomacy in Kashmir won’t improve Indo-Pak relations: Modi, Sharif need to do much more

By Sujeet Sarkar

The terror strikes in Gurdaspur and Udhampur by suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba, a virtual proxy of ISI, remains the fall out of the Modi-Sharif Ufa (Russia) declaration. The Ufa talks, incidentally, convened on the top of a utterly unwarranted and bizarre threat issued by the Pakistan’s defence minister KhwajaAsif to nuke India.While the Indian media is upbeat about the outcome of the talks, their Pakistani counterpart is hyper critical of the allowances made by Nawaz Sharif to India.

The BJP Government is relentlessly drumming their triumph in compelling Pakistan to explore ways and means to expedite the trial of 26/11 accused in Pakistan. It may be “advantage India” in terms of attracting favorable outcomes aligning with its strategic priority and ready domestic consumption, but India has to bear the brunt of Ufa declaration.

The opposition parties in Pakistan are at swords with the PML led Government amid the conspicuous silence of Kashmir in the joint declaration statement, issued after the much-hyped meet.It has irked the Kashmir centric terrorist network along with their sympathizers within the Pakistan Army establishment.

Within 48 hours, the prosecution team’s chief ChaudharyAzhar said that Pakistan government will not file a fresh petition in an anti-terrorism court requesting for obtaining voice sample of LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi in the Mumbai terror attack case.

This was followed by increased cease-fire violation in northern borders along with a precipitous rise in terrorist attacks in Punjab and Kashmir. It is curtains on the joint declaration and the flip-flop of Indo-Pak ties continues, unabated. Like all previous summit and declaration, the Ufa declaration too would slip into the annals of history. But beyond rhetoric, the outcome of the summit in Ufa is slightly different from all such bilateral discourse in the past. The solitary bright spot is the absence of Kashmir in the joint declaration, which has created a political furor in Pakistan. Kashmir is muted by intention and very much part of a long-term design to address the enduring rivalry between India and Pakistan.

Some time no news is big news in bilateral parleys. Kashmir must have been placed under back channel dialogue, popularly referred as “Back Door” diplomacy, after some serious and calibrated pondering.

PTIPTI

PTI

The political parties in Pakistan, especially opposition have discovered it as a shot in their armory, to vitiate public sentiments against the incumbent government. The political temperature has already soared to a level, whereby the Pakistan Prime Minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz has to assure the opposition that “No dialogue will take place unless Kashmir is on agenda”.The emotional and strategic stake remains exceedingly high and so is the national pride attached to Kashmir, on both side of the border.

Hence the mainstream bi-lateral dialogue wont fit the bill anymore. By toning down the Kashmir reverberation in the joint declaration, the two democratically elected popular government, have taken the first prudent step in resolving the Kashmir imbroglio. The recurrent flip-flop over Kashmir policy has proven beyond doubt that the complex issue cannot be resolved under the glare of 24×7 hyperactive media. The burgeoning and powerful media habitually manipulate public sentiment and opinion around Kashmir suiting their respective audiences. The media further transform the Kashmir dialogue into the popular game of “who blinks first” as and when Indo-Pak leaders convene.

The retired generals, from both side of the border also play their part in spinning this maddening game. This creates an adverse milieu to begin with for solving a problem as complex as Kashmir. There are diverging views on Kashmir in India and Pakistan. Media stifle the political leeway of the leaders to soften their conventional stand on Kashmir, which is largely rigid and untenable. It further choke their political audacity to place fresh set of thinking in the table, with the fear of being judged and defamed in front of their immediate constituency. Hence it is prudent to think that an intense and serious deliberation on Kashmir can happen in the absence of media limelight only.

It was reported that military dictator Musharraf and the democratically elected Manmohan Singh had bet big on peace and almost clinched the Kashmir deal, through such clandestine diplomacy. Both Modi and Sharif must be credited for setting a stage and tone for serious dialogue on Kashmir. However they are still confronted with a plethora of challenges.

A considerable segment of strategic experts on both sides of the border remain skeptical that the steps laid out in the joint statement, will be ample to ignite any real momentum in the overall state of India-Pakistan relations. Part of the reasons lay in the fact that Sharif and Pakistan’s civilian leadership don’t hold a controlling stake in Pakistan’s foreign and security policy, especially concerning to India. The division between the civilian government and military forces, on matters related to Kashmir, is in public domain. This is further compounded by the fact that there is an ISI, within the ISI in Pakistan. Historically, such elements of the Pakistan army have worked to foil any budding rapprochement around Kashmir, between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. The military and their jihadi proxies in Pakistan are against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s intention to expedite the normalization of bilateral ties with India. This is largely because a status quo of “no-peace-no-war” suits the Pakistani army establishment. Ultimately, these elites within Pakistan’s military enjoy a lion’s share over the direction of relationship with India, than Sharif’s elected government.

Hence, whether the pronouncements made by the Sharif’s Government in Ufa resonate with the thinking of the powerful Pakistan army is under great deal of suspicion. In absence of any traction on the political overtures made by the PML government, the Pakistan army would resort to increase cease-fire violation, in order to sabotage the talks on Kashmir. Lashkar, the most disciplined non-state actor of ISI may be called upon duty once again to attack Indian interest in the Border States and put a spanner on the growing Indo-Pak ties.

Mounting Indo-Pak tension has traditionally suited the jihadi and extremist forces in Pakistan. It helps them to step up terror recruits and fill their coffers with cash to exacerbate the Kashmir struggle. A closer ties between India and Pakistan would undermine the perception, held by a sizeable Pakistani public, that India poses an existential threat to Pakistan. The jihadi outfit would lose its raison d’être if this were to occur.

The insurgent groups flourish a lot by keeping tensions on the LOC alive to stoke fears about the potential of an armed conflict between two nuclear-armed neighbors. Hence the Pak based jihadi and terrorist sanctuaries would continue with terror strike, with or without guidance of ISI, to deteriorate the already strained Indo-Pak relationship. Beside there are reports of assertive chase by Pakistan army to selectively quell the terror network in Waziristan, after the deadly Peshawar school attack. The aggressive  hunt by the Pak army would loose steam in consequent to any flare up in Indo-Pak tension. Rise in Indo-Pak border skirmishes would necessitate army build up in the LOC and thereby deflect the focus of Pakistan army from the ongoing Waziristan operation. Consequently,the Waziristan based jihadi and terror network will leave no stone unturned to aggravate Indo-Pak tension by attacking Indian interest in the northern borders. By default, it would be a win-win situation for both ISI and its bandwagon of virtual proxies like Lashkar and Jaish. India would continue to bleed and the trust deficit between the two arch rivals expands further.

India has consistently demonstrated that any provocation or serious attack on India interest from insurgents and Pak military proxies is a reason strong enough to freeze dialogue, and resume it unconditionally, later. Pakistan army and Pak based insurgent groups have effectively integrated this reality in their core strategy, while dealing with India.However by pushing the Kashmir dialogue into track II, India in particular has insulated itself from reacting to public pressure in advent of any attack on Indian interest and stall the dialogue. For the first time, it seems that the Sharif Government too has demonstrated strong intent and political grit in resolving the intricate issue, by diluting its conventional stand of “No Kashmir no dialogue”. Nonetheless both the leaders would be piquantly tested to see if they can persist with the new stand and approach towards addressing Kashmir.

Taking Kashmir through back door diplomacy wont be enough to improve the increasingly volatile Indo-Pak relationship. This has to be served with other potential starters. A great deal of cooperative equilibrium could be achieved if both the leaders initiate cooperation around non-securitized issues, which is beyond the ambit of Pak army. There are bunch of low hanging fruits like granting MFN status to India, promotion of religious tourism, trading of energy, sharing river water treaties, and promotion of trade and investment, etc lying in front of these leaders to begin with. This can be further supplemented with neutral but pertinent set of bi-lateral cooperation around disaster response, humanitarian operations, release of all fishermen, climate change, resuming cricketing ties and increasing people to people contact. Deliberation around these issues would bridge trust deficit, normalize ties and open floodgate of additional possibilities for both the nation. This would deflect the attention and obsession from Kashmir, an imperative for finding along-term solution of the vexed and convoluted issue. The more integrated the two nations are, the more secured and prosperous remains the future of its citizen. Enhanced cooperation and integration between the two arch rival nations would also lead to a prosperous, stable and peaceful South Asia. Both the leaders with a popular mandate should not squander the historical opportunity to resolve the old and festering issue of Kashmir.

Sujeet Sarkar is an author and works as an international advisor on governance. He writes columns on international affairs for leading international dailies.

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