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Saturday, 27 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Jun 09

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Ties with Pak under stress: Krishna
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Slowly but steadily, the India-Pakistan normalisation process is gaining momentum.

The Foreign Ministers of the two countries today held a formal meeting on the margins of the ‘Outreach’ meeting of the G-8 countries at Trieste in Italy.

However, India again took a strong stand on the issue of terrorism with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna telling his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi that Pakistan must fulfil its commitment of not allowing its territory to be used for terror attacks against India.

The External Affairs Ministry here said Krishna also conveyed to Qureshi that the upcoming meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries was important as it would enable New Delhi to take stock of what Islamabad had done so far to address its concerns on terrorism.

The meeting between the Foreign Ministers came 10 days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Yekaterinburg in Russia.

Krishna also conveyed to the Pakistani leader that the relations between the two countries were still under considerable stress and the primary cause of this was the terrorist attacks on India by elements in Pakistan.

The two ministers agreed during their discussions that there was vast potential that existed in the India-Pakistan relations. “I conveyed the sentiments of our Prime Minister that we stand ready to meet Pakistan more than half way to utilise and harness that potential for our mutual benefit. At the same time, we have to address centrally why our relations come under stress recurrently.’’

The two ministers are understood to have discussed the date for the meeting between the Foreign Secretaries. Though no date has been fixed for such a meeting so far, the two Foreign Secretaries will hold talks before the Indian Prime Minister meets his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Reza Gilani on the margins of the NAM Summit in Egypt in mid-July.

Krishna also met his Afghanistan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and discussed the situation in the war-ravaged nation.

Countering Terrorism
India-US to strengthen ties
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
With the security situation in Af-Pak region remaining worrisome, India and the United States today discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism and broaden their partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues.

Visiting US National Security Adviser James Jones met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, apart from holding wide-ranging talks with his host and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

Jones, who is said to be a key lieutenant of President Barack Obama, is understood to have briefed his Indian interlocutors on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he had visited before reaching New Delhi yesterday.

He reassured the Indian leadership that the US was committed to cooperating with India in dealing with terrorism so that another Mumbai-like attack was not repeated. The two sides also did the groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Delhi in the second half of July.

Jones’ visit comes amid growing regional concern over the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US has already announced its decision to increase aid to Pakistan to fight the terror groups, particularly in the restive Swat valley. However, India’s contention is that Pakistan has in the past always used the aid given by Western powers to bolster its conventional military power against India.

A US Embassy statement said Jones outlined President Obama’s desire to move quickly in the months ahead to make tangible progress on a range of bilateral issues, which affected the futures of the two countries. A broad range of bilateral and regional issues figured during the talks, including the post-election situation in Iran and the Indo-US cooperation in energy, economic and defence fields.

Jones conveyed to the Prime Minister, President Obama’s invitation to visit the White House this fall, which would provide the two leaders an opportunity to continue the discussions they had during the G-20 meeting in London.

Summing up his visit, Jones said, “President Obama views the US-India relationship to be of foremost importance in advancing our common interests. In addition to broadening our partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues, we will work together closely on regional security matters.”

Inside Pakistan
Mehsud’s challenge to army
by Syed Nooruzzaman

THE Pakistan Army suffered a major setback when Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud got a rival Taliban faction leader Qari Zainuddin killed by the latter’s own security guard on Tuesday. The slain Taliban commander was busy organising a new group of militants belonging to the Mehsud tribe with the support of the army.

According to The News (June 24), it is yet to be seen “what impact Zainuddin’s death will have on the efforts to erode the power of Baitullah. In the increasingly vicious power struggle in Waziristan, the latest development will go to strengthen Baitullah and to prove that he remains the main force in Waziristan.”

The defeat of the Taliban in Waziristan appears to be the key to winning the battle against terrorism. There can be no peace in Pakistan until the army succeeds in killing Baitullah, whose private army consists of around 20,000 men even during these difficult times for him.

Dawn (June 24) says, “The truth is though little is known about what exactly
is going on in the South Waziristan Agency (where Baitullah has his major base),
who is fighting whom and why, what is likely to happen in the days and weeks
ahead. What is clear so far is that the security forces are squeezing Baitullah
Mehsud’s strongholds...”

Zardari may lose powers

President Asif Ali Zardari is set to lose his powers to sack the elected government and dissolve the National and Provincial Assemblies if the move to restore the Pakistan Constitution to its almost original position succeeds. The constitution was adopted in 1973 to provide a parliamentary form of government to Pakistan, but it got its character diluted mainly by the late Gen Zia-ul-Haque and former President Gen Pervez Musharraf.

As Dawn (June 25) says, “Today constitution stands denuded of its parliamentary character. The villain of the piece is Article 58(2)(b), which is part of the MMA-supported 17th Amendment validating virtually all General Musharraf’s actions contained in the Legal Framework Order.”

According to Daily Times (June 26), “The PPP has already circulated its 80-point amendment proposal, based, it says, on the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML (N) and the PPP in 2006. The PML (N)’s ‘amendment committee’ member, Ishaq Dar, says his party will accept joint electorates and minority voting rights of the 17th Amendment plus some other items, but will focus on removing the imbalance of the powers between the President and the elected Prime Minister.”

The angry Baloch

The unrest in Balochistan continues to remain a major headache for Islamabad. The people in this mineral-rich largest province have a long list of grievances against their federal government, which has no time to take care of their problems seriously. Announcements are made for righting the wrongs done to the Baloch but not to be implemented. As The Frontier Post (June 26) says, “There is no perceptible attempt at understanding the problem's complexities in evidence in Islamabad…. It needs hard-boiled thinking, creative thoughts and imaginative planning to address….

“While doing all to give a stab to boiling issues like the cases of disappeared persons, political prisoners and political activists' assassinations to the general satisfaction, it (All-Party Committee) must sit down, think hard, evolve imaginative policies and pragmatic plans, and execute them robustly to address the real Balochistan problem. The focus of this new order should solely be the emancipation, empowerment and enrichment of the huge enslaved humanity being kept caged by the province's privileged elites.” However, there are thinkers in Pakistan who, instead of arguing for giving greater attention to the Baloch, are repeating the theory of foreign forces active to cause instability in Balochistan. See what Majeed Javed writes in The Nation (June 24).

Afghan Army Chief to visit India

New Delhi:

The Afghan Army Chief General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who visits India next month will meet the Army top brass and tour key military installations.

General Mohammadi, Afghan National Army Chief since 2002, will call upon his Indian counterpart, General Deepak Kapoor and visit military installations in Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune during his week-long visit. He is also likely to visit the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. The Academy has trained Afghan cadets in the past.

General Mohammadi’s visit is expected to open a new chapter in the military relationship between the two countries, which at present is restricted to humanitarian projects. The Indian Army doctors run a children’s hospital in Kabul and provide medical aid to locals at several other places. A team from the Indian Army’s Education Corps is in Kabul since last year to teach English language to locals.

‘Pakistan will need army even if Kashmir is resolved’: I got India close to Kashmir settlement, says Musharraf

* Former president says he never asked Nawaz to visit US during Kargil crisis

* Claims Kargil withdrawal decision was Nawaz’s

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Former president Pervez Musharraf has claimed that the issue of Kashmir was near resolution during his government.

In an interview with Daily Times Editor Najam Sethi on Dunya News, Musharraf said during his Agra visit, he and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had even agreed to the draft of a joint declaration under which all issues including Kashmir could have been resolved.

“But the Indian leadership changed their mind at the last minute and did not support the joint declaration, saying that the cabinet had not approved it,” Musharraf said.

He said he held talks with all stakeholders including the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference and the leadership of Azad Kashmir for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute “but no one could guide me in the right direction”.

Musharraf said that accusations the army does not want a resolution to Kashmir are “vicious propaganda”, adding that the need for the army would remain even if the Kashmir issue was resolved.

US visit: Rejecting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that he was kept in the dark on the Kargil issue as “an absolute lie”, Musharraf said he had not asked Nawaz to visit the US and meet then president Bill Clinton to bail out the army. Musharraf said the Defence Committee of the Cabinet met two days before Nawaz left for the US, in which Musharraf gave him a detailed presentation on the Kargil situation.

Decision: Musharraf said Nawaz had repeatedly asked him whether Pakistan should withdraw its forces from Kargil.

“I said I have informed you about the military situation but the withdrawal of forces is a political decision which has to be taken by the political leadership, ” he claimed to have told Nawaz. He said he was ready to stand trial if a case for the murder of Akbar Bugti was filed against him.\06\27\story_27-6-2009_pg7_2

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