Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 7 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 07 Apr 2011

China troops in PoK worry India
They have been developing infrastructure in border region in Tibet and Xinjiang regions Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, April 6 The presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) has been causing anxiety to New Delhi, which has started strengthening infrastructure along the border.  Responding to media reports about the involvement of China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) troops in various infrastructure projects in PoK, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters here today that the government was seized of media reports on the subject.  “The government closely and regularly monitors all developments along our borders, which can have a bearing on our security,” he added. The Minister said India continuously reviewed and took all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of its people, as well as the territorial integrity of the nation.  Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the Defence Ministry has been asked for a detailed report on reports of the presence of Chinese troops in PoK and their alleged transgression into the Indian territory.  “There are transgressions from time to time which occur when Chinese troops come over to our side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). And occasionally, we are told that we are crossing on to their side, so this is going on for some time,” Rao told reporters on the sidelines of a function.  New Delhi’s comments came close on the heels of remarks made by a top Army commander last week on the issue. Northern Command chief Lt Gen KT Parnaik had been quoted as saying that the increasing China-Pakistan military nexus was posing a great threat to India.  Another cause of worry for India is that China has been developing infrastructure in the border region opposite India in the Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions. This includes the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, with proposed extension up to Xigaze and Nyingchi, and development of road and airport facilities.  India has also started paying special attention to the development of infrastructure in the border areas opposite China in order to meet the country’s security requirements and also to facilitate the economic development in these areas. This includes the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.  The Chinese activities in PoK may come up for discussion during a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Sanya Island in China next week. The two leaders are scheduled to attend the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit there.  India is also likely to raise the issue of China issuing stapled visas to Indian residents of Jammu and Kashmir at the meeting. Although China has not issued stapled visa to any J&K national since the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi in December last, it still remains an issue between the two countries.  Meanwhile, Krishna presided over the computerised draw for the selection of pilgrims for the ‘Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2011’, which begins in June. He said the Chinese authorities had informed India that the facilities for the ‘yatra’ would be improved substantially during the current plan period.

Peacekeeping: UN wants India to play bigger role
Ops becoming more complex due to non-state actors in conflict zones, says Army Chief Tribune News Service  New Delhi, April 6 The United Nations today said that it wanted more cooperation from India in bringing peace to conflict zones across the world. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support Anthony Banbury, who is nowadays in the Capital, told reporters that the United Nations was looking “to further strengthen the partnership with India to meet growing challenges around the world” commensurate with the country’s emergent stature.  Even as the UN sought more Indian participation, Army Chief Gen VK Singh did some straight talking as he addressed international policy makers, saying that UN peacekeeping operations were becoming more complex due to threats posed by non-state actors in conflict zones. The problem needs to be addressed “much more seriously”.  The Army Chief was addressing a seminar on ‘Peacekeeping Vision 2015’ organised by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs here today. General Singh said, “It is easy to deal with state players. But, as far as non-state players are concerned, the possibility of what they will do and how they will convert their own capability and their influences on the state to the detriment of the peace-keeping mission needs to be seen much more seriously”.  He went on to add that peacekeeping missions were facing the “unique challenge” of implementing mandates that were either “nebulous” or have aspects that may not be “implementable or enforceable”. He said this issue needed to be addressed by the UN and countries contributing their troops, or it could pose problems on the ground. “More often than not, the UN comes under fire because it is not able to enforce the mandate,” Gen Singh said.  India is the third largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping missions after Bangladesh and Pakistan. It has dispatched around 8,000 troops to places like Congo, Sudan, Lebanon, Liberia and the Golan Heights.  Earlier in the day, Banbury met the Army Chief. He will also hold talks with senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs and Defence.

Giving arms to Koya commandos dangerous: SC
Legal Correspondent  New Delhi, April 6 The Supreme Court today asked the Chhattisgarh Government as to whether Salwa Judum, the state-sponsored people’s movement against Naxalites, had been renamed as Koya Commando after an SC directive for disbanding the extra-judicial outfit.  A Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar directed the state government to file an affidavit by April 15, giving details about the reported functioning and training of such commandos armed with rifles and other weapons.  The Bench also asked the state government about incidents of violence against tribal inhabitants of Dantewada and other districts in the dense forest areas of the state during March 11-26.  “What is this Koya Commando? How are they appointed and how are they given training? Giving them arms to fight is dangerous,” the Bench observed.  The court also wanted to know the investment by the government and private companies in the Naxal-hit districts.

Pak-based al Qaeda continues to target US: report
Despite the fact that Pakistan-based al-Qaeda's senior leadership has been depleted, the group continues to plot terror attack against US and its allies, a new Obama Administration report has said.  "Although the global affiliates and allies of al-Qaeda also threaten the US Homeland and interests, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be the operational base for the group that attacked us on 9/11," US President Barack Obama said in the third-quarterly report to the Congress on Afghanistan and Pakistan sent yesterday.
An unclassified portion of the report was provided to the Press Trust of India.  The 2010 Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review includes an evaluation of the progress made during the period of this report, which marked the full deployment of the US troop "surge" to Afghanistan that he announced in December 2009, Obama said in a letter to the Congressional leaders.  While the report says al Qaeda "senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001," it also notes that the group cannot be defeated until there is a sustained denial of the group's safe haven in the region.  "There has been significant progress in disrupting and dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership and cadre of al-Qaeda over the past year. Al-Qaeda's senior leadership has been depleted, the group's safe haven is smaller and less secure, and its ability to prepare and conduct terrorist operations has been degraded in important ways," the report said.  The compounding losses of al-Qaeda's leadership cadre have diminished, but not halted, the group's ability to advance operations against the United States and our allies and partners, or to support and inspire regional affiliates, it said.  Obama Administration believes that core al-Qaeda "continues to view the US Homeland as its principal target", with evidence that some of al-Qaeda's affiliates and allies "also are more aggressively pursuing such attacks."  "Indeed, terrorist plotting continues against the US and our allies and partners," the reports said.  Obama, in his 38-page unclassified portion of the report, said the US remain committed to deepening and broadening its partnerships with Pakistan and Afghanistan in a way that brings us closer to the defeat of al-Qaeda and prevents terrorist groups that pose a strategic threat to "our Homeland, its allies."  America's strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is centered on disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al-Qaeda in the theater and preventing its capacity to threaten America, our citizens, and its allies.  "We remain relentlessly focused on Pakistan-based al-Qaeda because of the strategic nature of the threat posed by its leadership, and in particular the group's continued pursuit of large-scale, catastrophic anti-Western attacks and its influence on global terrorism, Obama said.

Pentagon rules out sending ground troops to Libya
The Pentagon has ruled out sending ground troops to Libya and reiterated that any change in the leadership would be determined by the people of the country and not by any external forces.  "The President from the very outset of this operation had made clear that we were going to conduct this without putting US military boots on the ground. That has been the starting point. It remains the guiding principle here," Geoff Morrell, Pentagon spokesman told reporters.
"The fact of the matter is, US military boots on the ground are prohibited by the President of the US in Libya. That is just the way it is, and I don't foresee that changing.  "Obviously the commander-in-chief is within his right to adjust to situations, but as the (Defense) Secretary told the Congress last week, he does not anticipate that changing," he said.  With regards to whether or not other assistance is being contemplated for the rebels in Libya, no decision has been made yet on arming the rebels.  "I think the (Defense) Secretary made it clear what his preference is with regards to that, that is the course of action that the alliance chooses, the coalition chooses to pursue, that it be done by others, given all that is currently on our plate," he said.  "Right now, the focus, primarily in terms of the interagency discussions on this matter, is what kinds of support we could provide in a nonlethal respect for the rebels in Libya. But that's a complicated discussion. It's an ongoing discussion. But I think that's where the focus is, not on reconsidering the boots-on-the-ground decision," he said.  Morrell said the focus over the past couple of weeks has been on the opening phase of engagement, which has relied heavily on American air power, and naval power for that matter.  "Now we're transitioning into more of a support role that has requirements all its own. We've got a heavy commitment of jamming aircraft; of ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] of all sorts, manned and unmanned; of tankers. So there's a lot that we are contributing to this mission beyond strike sorties and of course, command and control, as well," he said.

Pakistan, India want to normalise relations: Rao
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao speaks with CNBC TV 18’s Karan Thapar about Pakistan-India relations. Here are the excerpts of the interview:    Interviewer (Shri Karan Thapar): Hello and welcome to India Tonight. Have Indo-Pakistan relations turned a page and opened a new chapter, or is that the triumph of euphoria and sentiment over substance? That in a sense is the key issue I shall explore today with the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.  Mrs Rao, I want to quote to you something that you said after the two Prime Ministers had met at Mohali. According to The Hindu you said, “This is reengagement. It is about peace, it is about healing wounds, it is about reconciliation. It is a good augury for the future”. Those are not just positive but very strong words. What do you say to critics who say you may be over-egging the pudding?  Foreign Secretary (Shrimati Nirupama Rao): I certainly do not look at it that way. I think the fact that our two Prime Ministers have met in Mohali generated a very positive impact. And I think every such meeting not just builds atmosphere but it also creates a sense of direction, a sense of positive orientation. Now let us look back at Thimphu. They met in Thimphu in April, our two Prime Ministers, and everybody spoke of a Thimphu spirit and the decision to reengage with Pakistan and to create, if I may use a clich├ęd term, a roadmap for the way forward. And what we sought to do at Mohali and what the two Prime Ministers indeed through their meeting were able to convey was that at the leadership level, there is a sense of commitment to looking at the entire process of India-Pakistan relations, stressing the need for sustained, serious and comprehensive dialogue. And what is the goal of this dialogue you may ask. The goal of this dialogue is normalisation of relations, something that has eluded us for the last sixty years.  Interviewer: In that quotation, you spoke about healing wounds. Have the deep wounds of 26/11 been healed; or is it your position that the time has come to move on; or at least to widen the scope of subjects that the two countries discuss with each other? Which of these three is it?  Foreign Secretary: Yes and no. I think my answer would bridge both these concepts. The wounds of 26/11 have not healed as yet. I think we would do wrong to the people who lost their lives and the families who continue to grieve as a result of what happened so tragically in Mumbai, if we were to say that 26/11 is behind us. There is an ongoing trial in Pakistan; there are questions still to be answered; there is evidence to be scrutinised; there is need for agencies in both countries to cooperate better in this regard. The Home Secretary of India and the Interior Secretary of Pakistan have just had a good meeting, a positive meeting. So, we are trying to build on that. Obviously the wounds of 26/11 will not heal easily. I think there is sentiment in this country in India and there is grief still which has not died. Let me put it this way. Our grief cannot die when it comes to 26/11.  Interviewer: You said, ‘Yes and no’. What is the ‘yes’ side of the answer?  You have given me in a sense the ‘no’ side. What is the ‘yes’?  Foreign Secretary: The yes side is that, you mentioned it in your question, we have to engage with each other across a wide range of issues that need to be addressed.  Interviewer: And that has started.  Foreign Secretary: And that is commencing.  Interviewer: So, there is a sense in which India is taking a clear, firm step forward. We are moving on.  Foreign Secretary: Yes. And as our Prime Minister has said very aptly and he said this a few years ago, there is a road that we need to walk down in this process of normalisation and a road is made by walking and we are beginning that process of walking.  Interviewer: Now, the decision to invite the Pakistan Prime Minister to Mohali took everyone by surprise and some newspapers have said that it was a decision taken by the Prime Minister and possibly even the MEA was not onboard when the decision was taken. Is there any truth in that?  Foreign Secretary: The decision was obviously the Prime Minister’s. And we in MEA, since we in a sense are practitioners of the policy that the Government sets down in this regard, are obviously part of this process.  Interviewer: But this was a personal decision of the Prime Minister.  Foreign Secretary: It was a decision of the Prime Minister and I think it was a very good and timely and effective decision.  Interviewer: Did it take you by surprise?  Foreign Secretary: I have always sensed and I have always supported the vision of the Prime Minister about relations with Pakistan, about the need for the two countries to sit down by themselves, India and Pakistan, without assistance from anybody else to have a serious dialogue. So, I think it fitted very well into this process. And it was completely in consonance with the vision that Prime Minister has outlined for India-Pakistan relations.  Interviewer: It is in other words a decision that you and your Ministry totally endorse.  Foreign Secretary: Absolutely.  Interviewer: There is a certain amount of speculation particularly when something as important as this is announced and takes everyone by surprise that perhaps there was western, perhaps in particular American pressure on India to take a decisive step forward to push Indo-Pakistan relations down that road, as you are saying they need to walk together. Was there any sense in which the western world was leaning on us?  Foreign Secretary: Not at all. I do not believe there was any leaning on India. Look at it this way. We are not a country that in a sense is influenced by pressure of that sort. I spoke about the conviction that Prime Minister has about this relationship and the path that he would like both countries to take when it comes to normalisation. So, no question of pressure.  Interviewer: Let us then come to the actual talk that the two Prime Ministers had at Mohali. As Foreign Secretary, how would you identify the positives of that conversation?  Foreign Secretary: The positives of that conversation are basically that now that we have a sequence in terms of meetings that we plan to see completed over the next few months, we must keep in mind that there is a goal here, which as I said is normalisation of relations, that we must be prepared to discuss all the outstanding issues, all the complexities that have in a sense complicated the relationship all these years. And how do we do it? The approach that the Government of India has consistently maintained is that we need a graduated approach, we need to take one issue at a time, and at the same time understand that we have to address a trust deficit in the relationship, that we have to build a better atmosphere in relations between the two countries. And how do we do that? More people-to-people contact, address the humanitarian issues, look at trade, look at the play of market forces, build better connectivity, and very importantly, address the issue of terrorism and violent extremism that has been directed against our citizens from across the border because otherwise alienation trumps friendship.  Interviewer: I come to some of the specific subjects that may or may not have been discussed at Mohali but did Pakistan or does Pakistan share your graduated approach? Are they happy with that? Are they reconciled to it, if I can put it like that?  Foreign Secretary: When we say graduated approach we have never at any moment said we are shying away from discussing complex issues.  Interviewer: That must have reassured them hugely.  Foreign Secretary: I think Pakistan understands that position.  Interviewer: All right. Let us then come to certain important specific subjects. Was 26/11 specifically and terror in general discussed? If it was, what did the Pakistani Prime Minister say to Dr. Manmohan Singh?  Foreign Secretary: As I said in my briefing to the media at Mohali, this is a conversation that the two Prime Ministers had while watching the match at Mohali. It was not talks in the orthodox sense of the word. They were able in their conversation to discuss a number of outstanding issues. And the issue of terrorism and the issue of our concerns about violent extremism were raised by our Prime Minister, and they did have a discussion about this issue and the concerns that we have about this.  Interviewer: Did you get reassuring responses on terror and 26/11 from Mr. Gilani?  Foreign Secretary: The Pakistanis have been saying for some time that they are equally concerned about the threat of terrorism, that it affects them very deeply; and I concede that point. It does affect people in Pakistan today also. But as far as our concerns on terrorism are of relevance in this dialogue, and they are very relevant, we have consistently sought to put across to Pakistan that they must understand the depth of the seriousness and our concern on this issue. And I think that point has been driven home through the series of meetings that we have had with Pakistan in recent months including at this particular meeting.  Interviewer: So, you do sense that understanding from the Pakistani side today.  Foreign Secretary: I would say there is much more awareness from Pakistan as far as this issue is concerned.  Interviewer: The second critical issue obviously would have been Kashmir. Did the two Prime Ministers discuss Kashmir? And this time what did our Prime Minister say to the Pakistani Prime Minister on the subject?  Foreign Secretary: Let me put it this way. The issue of Kashmir has triggered conflict between India and Pakistan and we have seen that over the last sixty years. The pages of history have been written on this. And how do we move forward on this? Are we going to be imprisoned by the history of the conflict that has occurred between India Pakistan on this issue, or are we going to see how - despite the dividing lines of history, the political frontiers - we are going to tackle the issue of better relations between the two countries, despite our differences, and even when it comes to Kashmir. Let us look at economic contact, let us look at people-to-people contact, let us look at more confidence building. There was a process that we began before 26/11. And I think the gains from that process, the confidence that we were to build through that dialogue should not be lost sight of.  Interviewer: And did our Prime Minister find that on all these issues related to Kashmir he got warm, encouraging responses from the other side?  Foreign Secretary: I think the two Prime Ministers have a very good rapport between themselves and the communication flowed easily between the two when they met at Mohali.  Interviewer: They could speak freely and openly to each other.  Foreign Secretary: I believe so.  Interviewer: This is perhaps your third or fourth meeting with Prime Minister Gilani. How do you assess him? What is the view the Indian Government has of Prime Minister Gilani?  Foreign Secretary: Well, he is an elected representative of his people; he is the Head of Government in Pakistan; and he represents the democratic forces, if one can put it that way, in Pakistan. If you look at Pakistan, of course there are many problems that confront that country. There is endemic violence; there is turbulence; there are economic difficulties. But also there is a vocal judiciary, there is a media that debates very vociferously on a number of issues that concern relations with India, and there are professionals who man the Ministries. And we deal with all of them. That is the outlook that we have on relations with Pakistan at this point of time. But we have expressed our concern all along that even within this scenario there are voices, there are groups, there are individuals in that country that have an agenda, a rather destructive agenda, that speaks of violence and extremism directed against India. And these are the voices that need to be curbed, need to be controlled, if our relations are to really make significant progress.  Interviewer: To use the phrase that Dr. Manmohan Singh several years earlier once used to describe General Musharraf, is Mr. Gilani someone you feel in your bones you can do business with?  Foreign Secretary: We are certainly engaging the Government of Pakistan at this point of time, and Prime Minister Gilani and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have a positive relationship, have good rapport between themselves. And I think all this is a sum of positives.  Interviewer: So, that is a yes.  Foreign Secretary: That is a yes.  Interviewer: What about the military in Pakistan? You know and I know that it is a shadow that lurks over the civilian government; the civilian government itself is pretty weak. This time round, when perhaps a new chapter is opening, does the civilian government in Pakistan have the support of General Qayani, General Pasha and the military establishment? Or once again are you a little concerned that there may be differences between these two?  Foreign Secretary: I do not believe we underestimate the complexities involved in the relationship. And there is of course the background, the experience that you build up over the years about dealing with a particular country. Now, what the Government of Pakistan tells us and our interlocutors tell us - and we have to basically judge this on the basis of what they tell us and also our assessment of the environment itself in Pakistan - what is conveyed to us is that the policy of dialogue with India to seek a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues is a policy that is the Government of Pakistan’s policy and it is a policy that is shared or is endorsed by all the institutions of government including the army. This is the message that we are getting consistently in the last few meetings.  Interviewer: So, you believe General Kayani is on board.  Foreign Secretary: Well, we can only go by what the Government of Pakistan is telling us at the moment. We do not have any direct dealings with the army of Pakistan.  Interviewer: But for now, you are prepared to accept what you are being told.  Foreign Secretary: Well, we are preparing to go into a process of dialogue with utmost seriousness and with sincerity.  Interviewer: Two quick questions. Many people feel that maybe the time has come for there to be sporting contacts, for an Indian cricket team to visit Pakistan. The last time when Indian cricket team went in 2004, it sort of changed the atmosphere. The ICC President, a Minister in your own Government Sharad Pawar, has publicly said that the ICC would want cricketing contact. Is the Indian Government now prepared for an Indian cricket team to visit and play in Pakistan?  Foreign Secretary: An Indian cricket team has been invited by Prime Minister Gilani to go and play in Pakistan. But let me talk about the general issue of sporting contacts. It is not as if sporting contacts were completely fractured between India and Pakistan in the last few years. We have had many many requests and we process them in the Ministry of External Affairs for teams from Pakistan to come here and play hockey matches or kabaddi matches.  Interviewer: But we have not gone there.  Foreign Secretary: It is not that we have forbidden our teams from going there. Security is always an issue and we always like to be sure about security when we allow our teams to go there. But when it comes to cricket, I think cricket sometimes becomes an instrument of diplomacy in such situations.  Interviewer: Hence my question.  Foreign Secretary: And therefore, why not promote cricketing contacts? We have seen how cricket matches have been played between India and Pakistan in the past. People in both countries have supported the idea of such contacts.  Interviewer: I am going to take that answer as a positive one. Why not promote cricketing contacts, suggests that you are open to an Indian team visiting Pakistan.  Foreign Secretary: We are definitely open. Of course, this has to be discussed between the cricketing fraternities on both sides and taken forward.  Interviewer: What about a visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan? He has had several such invitations. The Business Standard has now in a formal lead has suggested that in fact he should hasten and go quickly. Many people feel that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s reluctance to go in 2006, 2007 is one reason why the back channel which people thought was coming to fruition did not actually achieve success. This time round, is our Prime Minister ready and willing to visit Pakistan?  Foreign Secretary: Our Prime Minister has been invited by Prime Minister Gilani to visit Pakistan. Obviously a visit of this nature has to be very carefully prepared. We will have to do a lot of groundwork between the Foreign Ministries of the two sides, between the two Governments. We have a series of meetings, a timetable of meetings in the next few months which will culminate in the visit of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan to India. So, we have some work to be done. In the meantime, in the interregnum, we will obviously be talking about the possibility of such a high-level visit to Pakistan with the Pakistan side through diplomatic channels. But timing is not decided as yet.  Interviewer: If I understand you correctly, a date has not been set, it may not be anywhere near being set. But from everything else you are saying, it seems to me as if this time round the Indian Prime Minister is keen to go and it is possible he may go, which is why you are trying to see how quickly it could happen.  Foreign Secretary: No, I would put it this way. I think the possibility exists. I do not rule out the possibility of a visit. As far as timing is concerned, it is not decided. Thirdly I would like to say there is a lot of preparatory work that still needs to be completed before we can have such a visit.  Interviewer: But that work is beginning surely, isn’t it?  Foreign Secretary: That work is beginning.  Interviewer: It is not that you are talking about it but not doing the work.  Foreign Secretary: We are doing the work, we are doing the work.  Interviewer: Foreign Secretary, let us come briefly to the dialogue the two Home Secretaries had just before Mohali. They have agreed to exchange Commissions with each other to further investigate 26/11. They have set up a hotline. They are going to meet biannually. And there is also some possibility of cooperation between India’s CBI and NIA and Pakistan’s FIA. How significant is all of that?  Foreign Secretary: Very significant, very positive, very constructive. The meeting of the Home Secretary and the Interior Secretary went very well. India and Pakistan were meeting to discuss these issues after an interregnum of more than two years, it has been a long time, and they were able to discuss a number of issues - the Mumbai trials, they talked about Samjhauta Express, they talked about cooperation as you said between the NIA and the FIA, and also on the drugs and narcotics front what kind of cooperation, the hotline, the visit of the judicial committee looking at the issue of prisoners, and of course as far as the Mumbai trials are concerned, on the principle of comity and reciprocity the exchange of Judicial Commissions.  Interviewer: So, all of this is actually very significant.  Foreign Secretary: Extremely so.  Interviewer: It is a real, genuine, positive meeting.  Foreign Secretary: Yes, and I think it is a very encouraging start to this process of dialogue and reengagement.  Interviewer: Two quick questions. The Hindustan Times has reported that the Indian Commission that will sometime in the near future visit Pakistan, would not have access to suspects and witnesses but will only have access to police investigators. Is that true? And if it is true, is that a cause of concern?  Foreign Secretary: I spoke about the principle of comity and reciprocity. Now their Judicial Commission is to come here. What they tell us is that they would like access to the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Investigating Officer, and possibly to a few doctors who had conducted the post mortems.  Interviewer: And we want reciprocal treatment.  Foreign Secretary: We are guided by the principle of reciprocity and comity and we would expect the same from Pakistan.  Interviewer: So, in fact, the Hindustan Times story may well end up being wrong.  Foreign Secretary: (Smiles) Well, do not be guided by media reports on such issues.  Interviewer: The second area of concern is India’s request for voice samples of the 26/11 accused. Already a lower court in Pakistan has refused it but Pakistan is now appealing to a higher court. That appeal will depend critically on the strength of case a Pakistani prosecutor puts up. How confident are you that the Pakistanis will put up a good, effective case and not fob you off?  Foreign Secretary: We do not want them to fob us off obviously on this. We are very serious about this matter. When the Home Secretary met his counterpart this was reiterated. And as you know, when our Home Minister was in Pakistan last June and when he spoke to Mr. Rahman Mallick this point was emphasised. So, we would like the Pakistanis to treat this with the utmost seriousness.  Interviewer: But are you confident they will?  Foreign Secretary: We would expect that they should treat it with the utmost seriousness.  Interviewer: So, it is expectation rather than confidence.  Foreign Secretary: Well, it is up to them to act with seriousness and commitment when it comes to acceding to our request.  Interviewer: Foreign Secretary, after the two Prime Ministers met, the Commerce Secretaries will meet, the Defence Secretaries will meet, then the Foreign Secretaries will meet, and finally the Foreign Ministers will meet. Even though India is reluctant to call this the resumption of the full-scale composite dialogue, isn’t that really what it amounts to?  Foreign Secretary: It is reengagement, I called it that. I am not getting stuck on nomenclatures, I have said before. But we are talking of a serious dialogue, a sustained dialogue, a comprehensive dialogue.  Interviewer: Comprehensive is the new word.  Foreign Secretary: A comprehensive dialogue. That is the way we look at it.  Interviewer: Not composite but comprehensive.  Foreign Secretary: Comprehensive and in an uninterrupted manner.  Interviewer: My last question. I began with this in my introduction, let me now put it to you bluntly. Has a new page turned, has a new chapter opened in our relationship?  Foreign Secretary: We are inscribing the pages of history here. I think it is too early to say that we have opened a new chapter. I do not want to get stuck in rhetoric or language of that nature. I think we are making a serious and sincere effort to reduce divergence, differences in our relationship and to build convergence.  Interviewer: And your fingers are crossed.  Foreign Secretary: I hope for the best.  Interviewer: Foreign Secretary, a pleasure talking to you.  Foreign Secretary: Thank you so much.g

MEA seeks report on China presence along LoC
The external affairs ministry on Wednesday sought a detailed report from the defence ministry on Chinese presence along the line of control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. This comes on the heels of concerns flagged by a top army official over Chinese troops being “actually stationed and present on the LoC”.  Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said she had asked for a ‘more detailed report’ from the defence ministry on the issue. She, however, added that incidents of ‘transgressions’ were not a new phenomenon.  “The correct term is transgression and not incursion. There are transgressions from time to time when Chinese troops come over to our side of the line of actual control and occasionally we are told that we cross into their side,” Rao said. She said such issues had to be discussed rationally. “There is no point in trying to raise the temperature and to accentuate tension.”  Lt Gen KT Parnaik, who heads the operationally critical Northern Command, had warned last month that China’s military presence in PoK was too close for India’s comfort. He had said China’s links with Pakistan through PoK facilitated quicker deployment of Pakistani forces to complement its Communist neighbour’s military operations, outflanking India and jeopardising its security.  Foreign minister SM Krishna told reporters, “We have seen media reports on the subject. The government closely and regularly monitors all developments along our borders.”  The possibility of China and Pakistan joining forces in India’s farthest frontiers, would have “direct military implications” for New Delhi, a defence ministry report had warned two years back.

No hurdle in resuming defence ties, says China
Amid indications that a breakthrough is expected in unfreezing the defence ties between China and India, the Chinese Embassy has said that there's "no hurdle" in the resumption of defence cooperation and that dialogue is on between the two sides on this matter.  Chinese Embassy spokesperson Zou Yonghong told The Indian Express: "There is no hurdle in defence cooperation. Dialogue between the two military is going on."  Defence cooperation was paused in August last year after China refused to issue a proper 'pasted' visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, the GOC-in-C. He was the Northern Army Commander in Jammu and Kashmir which China considers "disputed".  While the Chinese side is very keen to resume the defence exchanges between the two countries, New Delhi is insisting that the issue of stapled visas to J&K residents must be resolved first.
In this context, New Delhi has noticed that Beijing has not issued a single "stapled visa" to J&K residents since Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao's visit last December. Government sources confirmed this development — that has taken place quietly — to The Indian Express, although there have been no formal or official communication from Beijing on the issue. The real test, sources said, is whether the Chinese are issuing proper 'pasted' visas to Indian nationals hailing from J&K.  South Block sources, who have been tracking this issue, said New Delhi is not yet celebrating this development, but is "cautiously optimistic". However, the issue of stapled visas, sources added, remained with respect to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal