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Pak PM Nawaz Sharif writes to Sushma Swaraj wishing her speedy recovery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has wished speedy recovery to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who underwent a kidney transplant recently.According to official sources, Sharif wrote a letter to Swaraj wishing her quick recovery.The External Affairs Minister had undergone a kidney transplant at AIIMS on December 10 and was discharged on December 19 from the hospital.

Norway ‘child abuse’: India wants child united with natural parents, says Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After an Indian woman from Norway wrote to Sushma Swaraj about her son being taken away by Norwegian authorities, the Minister of External Affairs has said that India will convey to the officials that it wants child’s restoration with its parents. Gurvinderjit Kaur, whose son has been taken away by the Norwegian authorities, had approached the Indian Embassy in Oslo seeking government’s intervention, following which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will now chalk out the future course of action in the case. Kaur had approached the Indian government with the “formal written” request in this regard, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said.”Our Ambassador in Norway is meeting the Norwegian authorities today regarding Aryan. I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents. The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits.”We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents. This is our firm stand and Indian Ambassador will convey this to the Norwegian authorities,” she said.Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their 5-year-old son Aryan, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse. In its response, the Norwegian Embassy had asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.According to Jolly, the Indian Ambassador “is slated to meet highly placed Norwegian officials in Oslo on December 27”. Jolly also maintained that according to the mother, the child is being “daily served porridge and bread while he is fond of Indian food”.This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.With agency inputs.

Will spare no effort to secure Father Tom’s release from IS captivity, says Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that she will spare no effort to secure the release of abducted Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil.Swaraj’s reaction came after the Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.”I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets.Stating that the government managed to secure the release of Father Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza, she added, “We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Father Uzhunnalil’s release from captivity.”In the video, aired by news channels in Kerala, Father Uzhunnalil said, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value.””Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a Father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video.The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from YouTube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in southern Yemeni city of Aden.He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — President and Prime Minister.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts could be established in Yemen.(With agency inputs)

NRI couple in Norway lose child’s curtody: Mother writes to govt; MEA to take action

New Delhi: The Indian woman, whose son has been taken away by the Norwegian authorities, has approached the Indian Embassy in Oslo seeking government’s intervention, following which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will now chalk out the future course of action in the case.

Gurvinderjit Kaur has approached the Indian government with the “formal written” request in this regard, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said.

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFPUnion External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their 5-year-old son Aryan, also a Norwegian national, on a frivoulous complaint of abuse.

Confirming that Kaur has approached the government, MEA officials said they were now “empowered” to pursue the matter with the Norwegian authorities and they will chalk out the future course of action in the case.

The Indian couple had first sought Jolly’s help in getting back the custody of their child, after which he wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who had said that India will provide them help.

In its response, the Norwegian Embassy here had asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.

According to Jolly, the Indian Ambassador “is slated to meet highly placed Norwegian officials in Oslo on 27 December”.

Jolly also maintained that according to the mother, the child is being “daily served porridge and bread while he is fond of Indian food”.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 21:37 IST

Rumours of dead bodies of Indians piling up in Saudi mortuaries is false: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Ministry described as “completely factually misleading” reports that more than 150 bodies of people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were lying in various hospitals and mortuaries in Saudi Arabia. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also asserted that there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”This report is completely factually misleading. The report refers to 150 bodies from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.In reality, there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. And the total number of bodies is nowhere near that number,” he said.He was reacting to a report which said at least 150 bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are piling up at mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year with families unable to bring them back to Hyderabad for last rites and the Indian embassy in Riyadh has been of little help.Noting that there are more than 2 million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia, Swarup said on average, there are 3-4 death cases registered every day on account of natural reasons.Most cases are ‘clear’ cases in which, as per the local norms, it takes around three weeks to send mortal remains even if the documents are in order, the spokesperson added.”In cases of unnatural death, like suicide, murder and industrial accident, and also in those cases wherein the families doubt the circumstances of death, the investigation procedure is very lengthy, causing delay in completion of documentation/transportation of mortal remains,” he said.Swarup further said in some cases, the families demand release of compensation first, before the dispatch of the mortal remains, whereas compensation is a legal process and takes a year.In other cases of delay, DNA samples from the families back home are needed to identify the body and complete the local procedures, he observed.”So at any given time there would be a number of cases, of all categories, being processed. The Embassy proactively follows all death cases on top priority. In fact, NOCs are issued by the Embassy on 24×7 basis.”In the Kafala system (sponsorship) being followed in Saudi Arabia, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to complete the paper-work and dispatch the mortal remains to India. Despite this legal position, the Embassy steps in wherever there are delays in the transportation of mortal remains,” Swarup said.

Sushma Swaraj in Global Thinkers list; PM Modi congratulates her

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday congratulated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on being named in the Global Thinkers of 2016 list compiled by the Foreign Policy magazine.Swaraj was named in the ‘decision makers’ category along with the Democratic Party nominee for US presidential election Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch among others. “Very proud to see our hardworking EAM @SushmaSwaraj part of the @ForeignPolicy Global Thinkers list 2016! Congrats,” Modi tweeted.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also tweeted, “MEA proud to be led by EAM @SushmaSwaraj, who receives yet another recognition for her unique brand of diplomacy.”The magazine complimented Swaraj “for fashioning a novel brand of Twitter diplomacy”. “From evacuating Indians from Yemen to helping replace lost passports, Swaraj has earned the nickname ‘the common tweeple’s leader’ for her aggressive use of Twitter,” the magazine noted.

Sushma Swaraj named in FP’s Global Thinkers 2016 list, PM Modi says ‘very proud’

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who fashioned a novel brand of Twitter diplomacy, was named in the Global Thinkers List of 2016, compiled by Foreign Policy magazine. Swaraj was named in the “decision makers” category along with the Democratic Party’s nominee for US presidential election Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, etc.

In a website posting, the magazine recalled how, when around 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia faced a “food crisis” earlier this year due to job losses, Swaraj tweeted about the issue to six million followers on the social media website.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

“What followed was a weeks-long social media operation in which Swaraj posted information for migrants about rations provided by the Indian embassy, claims for unpaid wages, and government-organised transportation home,” it said.

Saying that this was not the first time Sushma Swaraj used the internet to reach out to people abroad, the posting said, “From evacuating Indians from Yemen to helping replace lost passports, Swaraj has earned the nickname ‘the common tweeple’s leader’ for her aggressive use of Twitter.”

Swaraj, who is recovering from a kidney transplant in New Delhi’s AIIMS, has resolved issues ranging from passport problems to rescuing overseas Indians trapped in conflict-prone conditions. Her popular perception was so positive that many came ahead to donate their kidneys for her transplant surgery. Swaraj has 6.8 million followers on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Swaraj upon being named in the Foreign Policy list.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup also tweeted acknowledgement of the honour.

Senior BJP leaaders, including Venkaiah Naidu and Suresh Prabhu, sent out congratulatory messages for Swaraj. President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the minister as well.

The magazine complimented Swaraj “for fashioning a novel brand of Twitter diplomacy”.

“From evacuating Indians from Yemen to helping replace lost passports, Swaraj has earned the nickname ‘the common tweeple’s leader’ for her aggressive use of Twitter,” the magazine noted.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 18:59 IST

Swaraj undergoes kidney transplant, condition stable: AIIMS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj “successfully” underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS in Delhi on Saturday and her condition is stable. Swaraj, 64, was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit after the nearly six-hour-long surgery by a team of 50.AIIMS sources said the kidney for Swaraj was donated by a woman who is in her 40s and not related to the External Affairs Minister. A team of senior doctors has been monitoring the minister’s condition round-the-clock. “The surgery was successful and uneventful. She is admitted in the ICU and her condition is stable. Her condition is being closely monitored by a team of doctors. The donor voluntarily donated her kidney to the Minister,” AIIMS Director MC Mishra said when contacted.As no suitable donor was available in the immediate family, the transplant was done with the kidney from a living unrelated donor, sources said, adding the clearance for it was obtained from the Authorisation Committee of AIIMS. Mishra said the surgery was carried out at the cardio-thoracic centre by a team of 50 personnel including transplant surgeons, transplant anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and other supporting staff.
ALSO READ Sushma Swaraj undergoes kidney transplant at AIIMSThe team comprised Mishra, surgeons VK Bansal and V Seenu, nephrologist Sandeep Mahajan and Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Surgery (CTVS) chief Dr Balram Airan among others. “The surgery started at around 9 AM and ended at 2.30 PM following which the minister has been shifted to the ICU. First, the organ was harvested from the donor which took one-and-half hours and then it was transplanted,” Mishra said.Living, unrelated donor could be anyone who is emotionally attached to the recipient, such as a friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law. A large number of people including Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit wished Swaraj speedy recovery. “We wish MEA Sushma Swaraj Sahiba speedy and full recovery,” he tweeted.Swaraj has been suffering from diabetes for quite sometime and after it was found that she had renal failure, she was put on maintenance dialysis. On November 16, Swaraj herself had tweeted that she was in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7. After Swaraj made public her health condition on social media, several people offered their kidneys to her.

Admitted in same hospital, Swaraj comes to AIIMS PhD scholar’s rescue

Sun, 4 Dec 2016-08:59pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday assured help to a PhD scholar in AIIMS, where the minister is undergoing treatment for kidney failure.”Geeta – I am also in AIIMS. Pl come and see me here. I will do my best to help you,” Swaraj tweeted.Minister’s response came as she was approached on twitter with a request,”@SushmaSwaraj I am PhD scholar in AIIMS. Can you please help me to get my VISA for AUS (Australia) in order to present a paper?”

Heart of Asia Summit: Amid Indo-Pak tension, Ajit Doval, Sartaj Aziz hold brief interaction

Amritsar: Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and National Security Advisor Ajit
Doval had a brief interaction on Saturday night, amid intense strain in Indo-Pak ties in the wake of Nagrota terror strike and intensified cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Aziz and Doval had a short informal chat after foreign ministers of five countries called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night in a group. The call on by the foreign ministers preceded an official dinner attended by representatives of almost all countries participating in the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference.

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. AFP

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. AFP

While Indian sources said Aziz and Doval “had a stroll for about 100 feet” at the venue of the dinner ‘Sada Pind’, a heritage village, Pakistani officials maintained that they had a “meeting”. However, it is not known what transpired during their conversation.

When asked, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup only said, “There was no meeting”.

Aziz arrived here last night to attend HoA conference amid speculation on whether the two sides will have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conclave to break the ice in ties.

During the dinner, Aziz exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier, in a goodwill gesture, Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday, extending his “sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery” from illness.

Swaraj and Aziz had held a meeting during last year’s HoA meet in Islamabad during which both countries had agreed to start ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ that was to cover all outstanding issues.

The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year and subsequent terror strike involving Pakistan-based terrorists.

Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was willing for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.

India had already made it clear that it will never accept continuing cross border terrorism as the ‘new normal’ in bilateral ties with Pakistan while asserting that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”.

Tensions between the two countries escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota in Jammu.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 16:56 IST

American woman alleges gang-rape, Sushma Swaraj assures action against culprits

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday assured that the government would initiate action against the culprits, who allegedly gang-raped a US woman at a five-star hotel near Connaught Place earlier this year.”I have seen the media reports about gang rape of an American tourist in Delhi in March this year. I have spoken to the Lt Governor Delhi and told him that Police should register a case and bring the guilty to book. I have also asked Indian Ambassador in US to contact the victim and assure her that we will not spare the guilty,” Swaraj tweeted.The External Affairs Minister’s assertion came after the Delhi Police received an e-mail complaint from the woman claiming that she was gang-raped by five men at a five-star hotel. An NGO has alleged that an American tourist was allegedly gangraped by five men in March at a five-star hotel in Connaught Place, police said on Thursday.According to police, they were investigating a complaint from an NGO, through an email, stating that the US citizen was gangraped by five men who entered into her room on the pretext of some tour and travel related work.The woman went back to her country and since she was scared, she didn’t approach police, a senior police official said, adding that the complaint was being investigated and following the inquiry, an FIR will be lodged within a couple of days.

Ailing Sushma Swaraj says she is touched by people’s wishes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, undergoing treatment for renal failure, on Thursday said she was touched by people’s wishes and expressed deep sense of gratitude to those who even offered to donate her kidney.64-year-old Swaraj also exuded confidence of being able to come out of the health condition with good wishes of people and blessings of God.”My heartfelt thanks for your kind words and good wishes. Some friends have also offered their kidneys for my transplant. I have no words to express my deep sense of gratitude towards them. “With your good wishes and Lord Krishna’s blessings, I will be able to come out of this situation,” she said in a series of tweets.In a twitter post, Swaraj had yesterday said she was admitted to the AIIMS due to kidney failure and has been undergoing tests for a transplant. Her announcement, which many saw as setting of new standards of transparency, drew a flood of wishes from politicians as well as people from a cross section of society. As soon as Swaraj, known for helping people in distress, tweeted about her health condition, a large number of people on twitter wished her speedy recovery with some even offering to donate kidney to her.

Sushma Swaraj on dialysis at Aiims after kidney failure, awaiting transplant

Sushma Swaraj on dialysis at Aiims after kidney failure, awaiting transplant


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj sent out a health update on Wednesday, tweeting that she is in Aiims Hospital because of a kidney failure. She is currently under dialysis and is undergoing tests for a kidney transplant.

No further details are currently available.

Get well soon wishes poured in for from politicians like Arvind Kejriwal, Vasundhara Raje for the external affairs minister.

Meanwhile, with the Winter Session of Parliament starting on Wednesday, her colleagues in the Narendra Modi government are set to face questions on demonetisation from the Opposition parties.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 10:20 IST

External Affairs Ministry asked to submit details of PM Modi’s foreign visits to CIC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought files related to foreign travels of the Prime Minister from the External Affairs Ministry which had refused an RTI applicant access to these documents citing security concerns. Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh Batra had sought these details to assess the expenditure incurred on foreign travels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had denied citing sections of the RTI related to security and personal safety.Chief Information Commissioner Radha Krishna Mathur directed the MEA to peruse the files to ascertain whether there was any security concerns in the records on the basis of which information can be denied. “The Commission observed that without perusal of the file, it cannot be decided that whether the sought for information contains security related information,” Mathur said, directing the Ministry to produce one representative file before it.Batra stated before the Commission that the case involves substantive public interest as the bailout amount, reported to be in thousands of crores of rupees, being given to Air India is the money of tax payers. He referred to his RTI application and stated that he was seeking information on four points regarding details of expenses incurred on air travel in respect of foreign visits of the incumbent Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers, the laid down instructions, process/procedure/steps involved in charting flights for PM’s foreign visits and later filing ‘flight returns’ and raising bills/invoices and clearing bills on completion of the visit, copy of bills, etc.Batra told the Commission that the PMO website as on September 13, 2016 was showing that the bills are under process for payment or have not been received for journeys undertaken by the PM during the period between June 15, 2014 and September 8, 2016.He said there is a need for reforms by understanding the causes of long delays in payments to Air India. In its response, the Ministry had told Batra that the record pertaining to flights of the PM contain information which has security issues and hence it is exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act.The Ministry said the matter falls under the category where the disclosure of information would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India and security interests of the State and hence, attract the provision of section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act. It said in view of security reasons, the file inspection by the appellant cannot be allowed.

India, Myanmar sign three agreements in sectors of power, banking and insurance

New Delhi: India and Myanmar on Wednesday signed three agreements following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the southeast Asian nation’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

“#IndiaMyanmar: Partners in Progress – The two leaders witness exchange of agreements in sectors of power, banking and insurance,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

One memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on cooperation in the power sector.

A second MoU was signed on banking supervision between the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Myanmar while a third MoU was inked for designing an academic and professional building programme for the insurance industry of Myanmar.

Suu Kyi met Modi on the third and concluding day of her state visit to India.

On Tuesday, she met President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Though Suu Kyi is not the President as Myanmar’s constitution bars her from this post, the Nobel peace laureate is effectively the de facto ruler of the country.

This is the first official visit of Suu Kyi to New Delhi since her National League for Democracy (NLD) assumed power in Myanmar in March this year.

Prior to reaching New Delhi on Monday for the state visit, she attended the BRICS-Bimstec Outreach Summit in Goa on Sunday.

Her visit comes after Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw’s visit to India in August this year.

BRICS 2016: Scuffle between Chinese media, Indian security officials

Sat, 15 Oct 2016-10:35pm , Benaulim , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A scuffle broke out on Saturday between visiting Chinese media and Indian security officials at the Taj Exotica hotel in Goa just before the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping over access.According to an eyewitness, the group of Chinese media was not allowed to enter the hall where the two leaders were expected to hold talks. This agitated them and lead to the scuffle.Asked about the incident, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “I only comment on substantive issue.”

Sushma Swaraj comes to the rescue of Indian stranded in Washington

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In prompt response to a request by a woman, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj directed Indian Embassy in Washington to give visa to an Indian to attend his father’s last rites despite the the mission being closed for two days for Vijaya Dashmi and Moharram. Swaraj’s directive to the Embassy came after one Sarita Takru, a resident of Karnal, appealed to the External Affairs Minister on twitter to give visa to her US-based son Abhai Kaul so he can attend his father’s cremation.”Our Embassy in US is closed for Vijaya Dashmi and Moharram. I have sent a message. We will open the Embassy and give visa to your son,” Swaraj tweeted. Soon after Swaraj’s instruction, the Indian Embassy asked Takru to share Kaul’s contact details with it so that visa can be granted expeditiously. Takru said her husband died yesterday and she had expressed anguish after knowing that the embassy will be closed today and tomorrow. “…Can’t get Indian visa before Local Thursday. Is this human?””This dreadful wait must end. Please give my son Indian visa in US so his father may be cremated. Please support. Need empathy,” Takru tweeted. To this, Swaraj responded, saying, “I am sorry to know about the sad demise of your husband. Just wait – I will help you.” The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response to Indians in distress abroad.

Sushma Swaraj meets families of Indias held hostage by ISIS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the families of 39 Indians taken hostage by ISIS in June 2014 from Mosul in Iraq and told them that as per information with the government they were “alive”. However, the government does not have any proof in this regard, she conveyed to them. During her 10th meeting with the families since the abduction of the Indians from the war-torn country, she briefed them about the government’s efforts to bring them back. Government has information that Indian nationals captive in Iraq are alive, however, it does not have any proof, she told them, adding that “Maare jaane ki na khabar hai na saboot (there is no information or evidence of their being killed)”. She also asked the families to keep patience as government efforts were on to ensure the safety of the Indians in Iraq.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives in India

New Delhi: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in India on Tuesday on a three-day official visit.

“Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives in New Delhi; he will hold talks with top leaders including PM Narendra Modi,” state broadcaster Doordarshan tweeted.

Wickremensinghe will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi here on Wednesday, according to the External Affairs Ministry.

His visit assumes significance as India, citing Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism in the region, last week pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. AFP

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. AFP

The Indian move came after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.

Following India’s move, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also followed suit, citing the same reason, virtually isolating Pakistan in the region.

Sri Lanka has not pulled out but has said that a Saarc Summit would not be possible without the presence of India.

On Wednesday, Wickremesinghe will also hold meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport and Highways & Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan.

Later in the evening, he will call on President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister will attend the opening plenary of the India Economic Summit on Thursday along with Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman.

Wickremesinghe will leave for Colombo on Thursday evening.

Surgical Strike: India briefs top envoys of 25 countries including US and China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India on Thursday briefed top envoys of 25 countries including the US, China, Russia, the UK and France after the Indian Army said it has carried a “surgical strikes” on seven terror launch pads across the LoC,inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar briefed the envoys in the South Block to convey the “context” of carrying out the strikes, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed.The Foreign Secretary told them that it was “a classic counter-terrorism operation more than a military one” and that it was to neutralise terrorists who were trained to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and other major Indian cities.They were also told that India has no plans for any further operation as of now but added the armed forces will not allow terrorists to carry out any attacks. An all-party meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh was also informed about it. Significantly, earlier in the day American National Security Advisor Susan Rice had spoken to Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and said the US wants Pakistan to “combat and delegitimise” UN-designated terrorist entities, including LeT and JeM. Meanwhile, sources said US Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke over phone on Tuesday as he offered his condolences on the Uri terrorist attack.”There was one phone call between Secretary Kerry and EAM on September 27 in New York. Secretary Kerry welcomed EAM to the US. Conveyed his condolences on the Uri terrorist attack, offered full cooperation, and complemented India for its decision to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement,” sources said. Swaraj attended the 71st UNGA session and delivered a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir.

Message on Jammu and Kashmir should be loud and clear to Pakistan: India

United Nations: The message that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India should be “loud and clear” to Pakistan, India on Monday asserted and asked whether it can clarify how terror safe havens continue to flourish on its soil despite billions of dollars of anti-terrorism aid it gets.

In its ‘Right of Reply’, India also rejected the “fanciful and misleading” remarks by the Pakistani envoy to the UN.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi earlier exercised the Right of Reply to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s UNGA address, saying Swaraj’s remarks were a “litany of falsehoods” about Pakistan and a “travesty of facts and history”.

Lodhi said Jammu and Kashmir can never be an integral part of India and is a “disputed territory”, the final status of which has yet to be determined in accordance with several resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Responding to Pakistan’s RoR, India reaffirmed that Kashmir is and always will be an integral part of India.

“…It appears that the distinguished representative of Pakistan did not hear clearly what our Minister of External Affairs stated during her address earlier today,” First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Eenam Gambhir said, exercising India’s Right of Reply to Lodhi’s remarks.

Quoting from Swaraj’s address, Gambhir said Jammu and Kashmir is India’s integral part and will always remain so.

“We hope that the message is loud and clear,” she said.

Gambhir said India rejects “entirely” Lodhi’s “sermons”, calling her remarks “the views of a dysfunctional state which builds atrocity upon atrocity on its own people, preaching about values of tolerance, democracy and human rights.”

Through the RoR, India slammed Pakistan for making a “fanciful and misleading” presentation on the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, saying Lodhi’s remarks aim to divert the attention from Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror and do not answer questions posed by the world community.

“Can the representative of Pakistan clarify how is it that terror sanctuaries and safe havens in her country continue to flourish despite the Pakistan army’s much-vaunted counter terrorism operations, and the billions of dollars of international counter terrorism aid it obtains?”

“Can the representative of Pakistan confirm that they do not use terrorist proxies and export terrorism as a matter of state policy?” Gambhir said, adding that can the Pakistani envoy deny that her country had assured in 2004 that it would not allow its territories, or territories under its control,to be used for terror attacks against India?

“And can the representative of Pakistan deny that it has failed to honour that assurance given at the highest level?” Gambhir said.

She also questioned whether the Pakistani representative will deny the armed forces of her country committed one of the most extensive and heinous genocides in human history in 1971.

“Will the representative of Pakistan deny that its armed forces have used airstrikes and artillery against its own people repeatedly? Will (she) explain why is it that Pakistan’s civil society is being silenced by the plethora of heavily armed militias that go by names such as ‘Jaish’ or Army, ‘Lashkar’ or Army, ‘Sipah’ or Soldiers and ‘Harkat’ or Armed movement?” Gambhir said.

In her Right of Reply, Lodhi said the Uri attacks were “staged” to “divert” attention from the situation in Kashmir.

“The attack on the Indian Army base in Uri, particularly its timing, has all the hallmarks of an operation designed to divert attention” from the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, she said.

She accused India of “utilising” the Uri incident to blame Pakistan for the current Kashmiri uprising.

“India’s government is delusional if it believes that it can ‘isolate’ any country. It is India itself, which because of its war crimes in Kashmir and elsewhere, and because of its warmongering, is likely to be isolated in the international community,” Lodhi said.

The Pakistani envoy said Swaraj’s statement reflects the “deceit and hostility” of the Indian government towards Pakistan.

In a Right of Reply exercised post Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to the UNGA, India had accused Islamabad of committing war crimes by using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

Lodhi in her Right of Reply said the call for “freedom” of the Kashmiri people has been met with “Indian brutality” and demanded an impartial investigation into the rights violations in Kashmir.

In response to Swaraj’s reference to Pakistani national Bahadur Ali, arrested in Kashmir, Lodhi said the recently captured “Indian spy, an intelligence officer” Kulbhushan Jadhav, has “confessed” to India’s support to such terrorist and subversive activities particularly in Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

“Indeed, it was Kulbhushan, who was financing, arming and supporting individuals and entities listed under the UN sanctions regime,” Lodhi said.

She said India’s “policy of interference” in Pakistan and attempt to destabilise Balochistan are now on record. “This is blatant violation of the principles of the UN Charter.”

Lodhi blamed India for suspending talks with Pakistan more than a year ago, saying New Delhi has refused to resume them despite repeated offers from Pakistan and advice from the international community.

“The latest offer was made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan from the rostrum of this very Assembly. But let us be clear, talks are no favour to Pakistan. They are in the interest of both India and Pakistan and the people of our two countries.

“Let me reiterate that Pakistan is ready and willing for serious and result-oriented talks with India, especially to resolve the longstanding core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, which is imperative for durable peace, stability and development in the region.”

In a second Right of Reply, Pakistan reiterated that Kashmir remains an internationally-recognised disputed territory.

Gambhir responded by saying that Pakistan has yet again “chosen to stay silent” on the tough questions.

“This is what we have come to expect from Pakistan – deception, deceit and denial. The world still waits their response,” Gambhir said.

UNGA: Restrained Sushma cracks Balochistan whip, Pak says ‘litany of falsehoods and baseless allegations’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India firmly Pakistan to abandon its “dream” of obtaining Kashmir through terror attacks and asserted that it is an integral part of the country and will always remain so. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while addressing the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, said, “It (Pakistan) persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets.” “My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” she said in her speech. Countering Pakistan’s claims that India has imposed pre-conditions on talks, Swaraj said India got the terror attacks of Pathankot and Uri “in return” for taking the initiative to resolve issues with Islamabad not on the basis of conditions but on friendship.”We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached,” Swaraj said. “And what did we get in return’ Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror,” she added. Her speech came just over a week after 18 Indian soldiers were killed in a deadly attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists from across the border on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri.Tharoor backs Swaraj’s speech Hailing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the thrust of the message was ‘a good one and Indians can stand behind it’. Speaking to ANI, Tharoor said, ‘Like all MEA-drafted speeches, I think it was a well-drafted and well-crafted speech. There were a couple of interesting aspects to the speech that are worth bearing in mind. The first that by speaking in Hindi, our Foreign Minister was appealing principally it seemed to the Indian audience and secondarily to a Pakistani audience because there would be no one in the hall apart from these two countries would have understood.’He, however, said the direct message on television was clearly intended for the subcontinent. ‘The balance of the speech was striking. It began with all the global issues and India’s role in them and then situated the Pakistan problem in the context of the global challenge of terrorism. In other words, it is not just India’s problem and it is part of the larger problem that the whole world is facing, and that I thought was a good strong message that India needs to give to the rest of the world, listing the various places that have been attacked by terrorists and saying that unfortunately India too, has been a victim of terrorism,’ he said.Speaking on the response which the External Affairs Minister gave, the Congress MP said that it was ‘interesting’. ‘The statement that ‘Kashmir hamara hai’ was a bit unnecessary. It was clearly meant for the Indian audience. The more important message, I thought, was that as long as Pakistan wants to internationalise the Kashmir as a big issue, we have a far bigger issue to internationalise against Pakistan and that’s terrorism. Pakistan’s connection to terrorism is part of the message that I thought was the most useful for us to convey to the world,’ he said.Balochistan is ‘an internal matter’: PakistanIndia raising Pakistan’s “internal matter” Balochistan in the UN General Assembly is a “blatant violation” of international norms, the Pakistani envoy to the UN said as she described Kashmir not as India’s integral part but an “internationally recognised dispute.” “The Indian FM’ speech is a litany of falsehoods and baseless allegations. The biggest falsehood is that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute. It is the oldest item on the UN agenda.The whole world acknowledges this,” Maleeha Lodhi said in a series of tweets after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address during the 71st session of the UNGA. In another tweet, Lodhi said raising Balochistan, “an internal matter”, is a “blatant violation” of the principles of the UN charter and international norms. Lodhi said it is “untrue” that India imposed no preconditions for talks with Pakistan.”India suspended talks more than a year ago, and has refused to resume these despite repeated offers from Pakistan. The latest offer of talks with India was made by Pakistan’s Prime Minister himself from the rostrum of the General Assembly on 21 September,” Lodhi said in the tweets. Lodhi claimed India is in “denial” about the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Meanwhile, Pakistani and separatist Kashmiri groups gathered outside the UN, following Swaraj’s address, to protest against the Indian forces in Kashmir. Holding banners and placards, the protesters shouted slogans demanding “freedom” for Kashmir.With inputs from PTI and ANI

At UNGA, Sushma Swaraj’s stinging rebuke puts meddlesome Pakistan firmly in its place

​External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj delivered some hard truths to Pakistan on Monday by telling Islamabad its trouble-making in Kashmir was not going to change the reality that Jammu and Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swaraj did not indulge in warmongering but was statesmanlike. Modi has already signaled that the cost of war is too high for India’s growing economy and the government will adhere instead to isolating Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Thanks to India’s diplomatic offensive and Pakistan’s duplicity in Afghanistan, countries like the US, Britain, Russia and France are increasingly wary of Pakistan being in league with Muslim jihadists of all stripes. Washington is less willing to write Pakistan blank cheques and provide them with F-16 war jets after its failure to shut out the Taliban (supported covertly by Pakistan) in Afghanistan.

New Delhi is taking the fight to Pakistan when it comes to the war of words after the Uri terrorist attack. Days after India lampooned Pakistan as the “Ivy League” training centre for terrorists, Swaraj said Pakistan’s use of terrorism was not going to change essential truths.

“Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so. My firm advice to Pakistan is stop dreaming about Kashmir,” Swaraj told Pakistan in her highly anticipated address at the UN General Assembly.

India made it clear that Pakistan should not have the audacity to lecture New Delhi on human rights violations in Kashmir. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had talked of the excessive use of force by Indian paramilitary forces after protests linked to the death of 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

“Pakistan would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country,” Swaraj said in a clear reference to the Pakistani province Balochistan.

Until a few months ago, India has been very careful to avoid any reference to Balochistan which has been wracked by a cycle of never ending violence and economic insolvency since India and Pakistan were partitioned. Some Indian commentators have advocated that India should foment trouble for Pakistan in Balochistan as payback for Islamabad’s meddling in Kashmir.

Swaraj made short work of Sharif’s hollow claim that Pakistan has “gone the extra mile and repeatedly offered dialogue.”

“What did we get in return (for talks)? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri,” said Swaraj.

“Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror. But when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan remains in denial. It persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: Abandon this dream,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj slams Pakistan at UNGA: ‘Kashmir was, is and will be part of India’

In a powerful speech at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj slammed Pakistan for being a terrorist haven. Hitting out at the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistani government, Swaraj said that in exchange of friendship with the neighbouring country, India always got terrorism in return — in the form of Pathankot, Uri and Bahadur Ali.

In response to Pakistan’s constant provocation that Kashmir is an international issue, Swaraj said, “Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India and will always remain a part of India.”

In her rebuttal to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UNGA, she used the idiom, “People living in glass houses should not throw stone at others” and said that brutalities against the people of Balochistan represent the worst form of oppression.

Referring to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, she said, “Bahadur Ali is a living example of Pakistan’s cross border terrorism.”

Swaraj appealed to the international community to join the fight against terrorism and said, “Terrorism is the biggest violation of human rights.”

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs for India, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. PTI

“In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account,” she said.

In response to Sharif’s allegation that “India posed unacceptable pre-conditions to engage in dialogue,” Swaraj said, “We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent.” She said despite showing evidence of cross-border terrorism, Pakistan has remained in denial.

Swaraj called for the implementation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and said, “We are unable to develop a norm under which terrorists shall be prosecuted or extradited. Therefore it is my appeal that this General Assembly acts with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt this critical Convention.”

External Affairs Minister arrived in New York on 25 September for the UNGA.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Swaraj “for a firm, effective & fine articulation of a wide range of global issues.”

You can watch her entire speech here:

After Sharif’s vitriolic speech, all eyes were on Swaraj and her rebuttal. “The whole world and the entire nation” is waiting to hear from Swaraj, who will deliver India’s “vision document” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said ahead of her speech, reported PTI.

Earlier, India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin had said that terrorism is the “primary concern” for India as well as for nations across the world.

Earlier this week, while Sharif’s tirade against India under right to reply, the Indian diplomatic mission at the UN was also point-blank and called the neighbouring country “Ivy League of terror”.

Moreover, in a three-minute rebuttal, Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir raised the possibility of Pakistan being guilty of war crimes for sponsoring terrorism as an instrument of state policy and ridiculed the country as the centre for terrorism education.

In his speech at the UN last week, Sharif conveyed to the world community that Pakistan accords martyr status to killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and said, “The men, women and children come out to demand freedom everyday and Pakistan stands with the people of Kashmir.”

The Pakistan prime minister also termed Wani as a symbol of the latest Kashmiri “Intifada.” Playing the victim card, Sharif claimed Pakistan has gone the extra mile to ensure peace with India. However, “India posed unacceptable pre-conditions to engage in dialogue,” he had said.

He also drew attention to the human rights violation in Kashmir and said that Pakistan will share dossier with the UN Secretary General on Indian brutalities in Kashmir and demanded demilitarisation of Kashmir.

Modi on Saturday had said India will totally isolate Pakistan in the international arena for “exporting terror”. He further said that every nation holds one country responsible for terrorism that is providing a safe haven for terrorists.

“Terrorists should hear out clearly that India will never forget the Uri attack…. I want to tell the leadership of Pakistan that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain,” Modi had said while addressing a public meeting in Kozhikode on Saturday.

With inputs from agencies

Sushma Swaraj at UNGA as it happened: Congrats for firm articulation of global issues, says Modi

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With the Kashmir Valley facing one of its worst crises since militancy in the 1990s and the Indian Army facing one of the worst terror attacks in Uri, and after Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s tirade on Kashmir during his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) speech, the world will be watching External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as she addresses the UNGA.

At 7.30 pm IST on Monday, Swaraj is expected to deliver a stinging response to Sharif’s address, who asked the UNGA to take steps to demilitarise the Valley. Sharif’s address, which came soon after rising tensions in Jammu and Kashmir following the Uri attacks, hailed the slain Hizbul commander Burhan Wani as a freedom fighter and claimed that Kashmiris want freedom from India. Sharif reminded the UNGA of its commitment to holding a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir and called Pakistan a ‘victim of terrorism’.

The Narendra Modi government came under immense pressure after the Uri attacks as pressure mounted on the Centre to give a befitting reply to Pakistan for brazenly sponsoring terrorism across the border. Despite the clamour, the Modi government held its own and decided to opt out of military offensive and resolved to pursue an active diplomatic offensive route at the UNGA meet where Swaraj addresses the Assembly.

This isn’t Swaraj’s first rodeo and Modi seems to be sending his best to trample on Pakistan’s claims on Kashmir on the world stage. Right after the Uri attacks, at a high-level meeting chaired by the prime minister himself, Modi and his trusted team of ministers (Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar and NSA Ajit Doval) had decided that the end result should be isolating Pakistan on a world stage. And Swaraj will be striking the firmest blow to that effect.

In October 2015, without beating around the bush, Swaraj told Pakistan a ‘one-point’ proposal — give up terrorism and then sit at the negotiating table.

The theme won’t be different at all during this year’s address as well. In her 25-minute speech in Hindi last year, Swaraj set the template for India-Pakistan bilateral relations from New Delhi’s political leadership’s perspective and reminded the Pakistan Prime Minister to go by what was discussed in Ufa in July 2015 and reiterated India’s stand that terror and talks do not go hand in hand.

What to expect in this year’s speech?

It is all speculation till now but Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s role in global terrorism will be the focus of Swaraj’s address. The external affairs minister is expected to seek global help to dub Pakistan as a ‘terror state’. Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s first public speech, post the 18 September Uri attack, on Saturday in Kozhikode, where he openly warned Pakistan of isolating it internationally, Swaraj is likely to take a tough stance, and is likely to be blunt, with the western neighbour.

“Listen, rulers of Pakistan. The sacrifices of our 18 soldiers won’t go in vain. India has been successful in isolating you. We will force you to be left alone in the world. That day is not far when people of Pakistan will take to streets to fight against the rulers and fight terrorism,” Modi had said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in New York on Sunday. Image courtesy: Twitter/MEA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in New York on Sunday. Image courtesy: Twitter/MEA

Speaking to mediapersons, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “the whole world and the entire nation” will be waiting to hear from Swaraj, however, he did not elaborate on elements of Swaraj’s address but said “you can expect a continued focus from India on the theme of terrorism which is today undoubtedly the single biggest challenge to international peace and security.”

India’s strong Right of Reply to Sharif’s speech called Pakistan home to the “Ivy League” of terrorism and a “terrorist state” that commits “war crimes” by using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

With a growing call among the international community to put in place a stronger mechanism to combat terrorism, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said India is considering all options, including “voting” to ensure that the seminal Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is brought into force asserting that the will of the majority cannot be continuously blocked by a limited number of countries.

He said the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, an initiative that India launched in 1996 to fight against terrorism has seen “enormous” forward movement except for what would be the exclusion from the definition of terrorism. “That is the debate. As far we are concerned given the crescendo of support in the General Debate, there is a majority that exists in support of that effort. The issue is only a procedural one of how do we convert that majority into a legal document,” he said.

Why will the world watch Sushma Swaraj speak?

Words spoken by Sushma Swaraj tonight will be India’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir and cross-border terror attacks. The address holds added importance at this juncture because the Kashmir issue has been raised by Sharif at a stage where it could get most international visibility. This aside, the terror attacks in Uri, which killed 18 Indian soldiers, was condemned by countries like the US, Russia, UK and China.

Swaraj is expected to bring up Kashmir as a dominant point in her speech. After India’s fresh and strong posture on Balochistan and Sindh’s demand of cessation from Pakistan, it is anticipated that they will also find a mention in her address.

Monday’s speech by Swaraj, while yet to be delivered, is already being compared with former defence minister VK Krishna Menon’s seven-hour-48-minute-long address at the UN in 1957.

“Why is that we have never heard voice in connection with the freedom of people under the suppression and tyranny of Pakistan authorities on the other side of the cease-fire line. Why is it that we have not heard here that in ten years these people have not seen a ballot paper? With what voice can either the Security Council or anyone coming before it demand a plebiscite for a people on our side who exercise franchise, who have freedom of speech, who function under a hundred local bodies?”

The address was made in response to Pakistan’s speech at the UN on 16 January, 1957, in which they raised the what they claimed was Kashmir’s ‘spurious’ accession to India.

Observers have also said that Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue has failed to resonate with the rest of the world. Akbaruddin said that what is finding resonance among the international community is the terror threat that India is facing and not what Sharif focussed on his speech – the issue of Kashmir.

Akbaruddin pointed out that in the plethora of bilateral meetings and multilateral engagements that Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar held on the sidelines of the General Assembly session, “there was resonance” of India being a victim of terrorism and of solidarity with it. “The resonance of India being a victim of terrorism, India tackling terrorism diligently has gone way beyond distance. In all bilateral meetings, including with Sri Lanka, there has been resonance and immediate response” on the attack on the army base in Uri, he said.

Swaraj, known for her oratory skills, has a lot riding on her second consecutive speech at the 193-nation body. With the Uri attacks still fresh in the memory, the nation is high on nationalist frenzy. Even though, Modi has made it clear India’s will strike with diplomatic offensive, the pressure now is on Swaraj to make the offensive as scathing as possible. As the foreign minister, this is probably one of the biggest challenges that Swaraj might face — she will be watched as hawk by everyone who has a stake in the India-Pakistan strife.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

Sushma Swaraj will giving ‘stinging reply’ to Pakistan in UN speech: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will give a stinging response to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “tirade” on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly and attack the country for using terrorism as an “instrument of state policy”. “The whole world and the entire nation” is waiting to hear from Swaraj, who will deliver India’s “vision document” for the 71st UNGA, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.With a focus on tackling terrorism, India will corner Pakistan, which used the world body forum to talk extensively about Kashmir four days ago, for being a “terrorist state”. India made its sharpest attack on Pakistan on Thursday, calling the country home to the “Ivy League of Terrorism” which carries out “war crimes” and pitches for talks with a “gun in its hand”. Outlining India’s focus for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin had said that terrorism is the “primary concern” for India as well as for nations across the world.Swaraj will address the UN general debate and is expected to give a stinging response to Sharif’s speech. “We are all looking forward to that,” Swarup said. He did not elaborate on elements of Swaraj’s address but said “I think the broad themes that Akbaruddin has outlined are definitely going to be a part of our presentation at this most important forum in the international community”. Swarup said one can also expect “a continued focus from India on the theme of terrorism which is today undoubtedly the single biggest challenge to international peace and security”.Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar earlier said glorification of Burhan Wani, commander of the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, by Sharif at the world forum is an act of “self-incrimination” by Pakistan.He had also said it is “shocking” that a leader of a nation can “glorify a self-declared self-advertised terrorist” at a forum such as the United Nations General Assembly after Sharif hailed Wani – who was killed on July 8 by the Indian forces resulting in tensions in the Valley – as a “young leader” and the “symbol” of the Kashmiris’ freedom movement.First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Eenam Gambhir also made a strong rebuttal to Sharif’s “long tirade” about the situation in Kashmir, saying it is ironical that a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, is preaching human rights and talks about the ostensible support for self-determination.Exercising India’s Right of Reply, she told the UN General Assembly that shortly before Pakistan gave its “hypocritical sermons” in the world body, its envoy in New Delhi was summoned in the context of the most recent of the terror attacks in Uri that claimed 18 Indian lives. Congress batting for Swaraj The Congress on Monday extended support to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s ahead of her address to the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) and expected the latter to give a befitting reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. ‘We hope that she will keep her points forward with powerfully. Sushma is a good orator she will give a befitting reply and will respond on statements made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and will describe how Pakistan has become a centre of terrorism from past 20-25 years,’ Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit told ANI. Congress leader P.L. Punia asserted that a suitable reply is must to counter unrestrained statements of Prime Minister Sharif on Kashmir and hoped Swaraj would reply well. On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi said, “A day will come when the people of Pakistan will go against their own government to fight terrorism. India has been successful in isolating you (Pakistan) globally, and we will intensify our efforts to make sure that you are isolated globally. The people of Pakistan should ask their leaders that India and Pakistan got freedom in the same year, but India exports software and your (Pakistan) leaders are exporting terrorists.” Last week, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Eenam Gambhir, had said that the worst violation of human rights is terrorism. She said Pakistan is home to the “Ivy League of Terrorism” and a terrorist state that commits war crimes by using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.Gambhir said what India and its other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which have spread well beyond the region.She had said India sees Pakistan as a terrorist state which channelises billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terror groups as militant proxies against it neighbours.With inputs PTI and ANI

MJ Akbar to address high-level UNGA summit for refugees, migrants

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar will attend several meetings at the UN, including a high-level summit on refugees and migrants aimed at addressing the unprecedented crisis. Akbar will attend various summits being organised at the high-level segment of the 71st UN General Assembly that opens today. He will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts of different nations on the sidelines of the session. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive here on September 24 to address the General Debate on September 26. Akbar, who arrived here from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela, will address the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which will kick off the high-level week. The India-US-Afghanistan trilateral will also be convened in New York later this week. The summit is the first time that the General Assembly has called for a meeting at the Heads of State and Government level on the topic and “it is a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response”, the world body said.World leaders are expected to adopt a political declaration as an outcome document at the summit, during which the UN will see a new addition to its family a dedicated migration agency. Leaders of the UN and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will sign an agreement to officially make IOM a related agency of the UN system. Akbar is also expected to attend other high-level summits and meetings during the week. On September 21, the Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance, which has become one of the biggest threats to global health and endangers other major priorities, such as human development. On the same day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make a pitch for an early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change by convening a special event at which countries can deposit their ratification instruments with him.On September 22, there will be a high-level segment of the General Assembly to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. A total of 195 leaders including 86 Heads of State, a Crown Prince, five vice presidents and 51 ministers will address the General Debate. About 1,100 requests for bilaterals have been put through, apart from the ones with Ban and 545 meetings have been requested, which include special side events and regularly scheduled meetings. Ban, who will have 124 bilaterals, will participate in 62 events.With Ban’s second five-year term expiring on December 31, this will be his last high-level week as the UN chief. The war in Syria will also take centerstage during the high level week with world leaders taking stock of the cessation of hostilities in the troubled country. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Syria is one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today. Since March 2011, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and over one million have been injured.Another 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally.

Sartaj Aziz alleges India ‘avoiding dialogue’, MEA says ready to talk in terror-free atmosphere

With Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asserting that New Delhi was avoiding dialogue with Islamabad, India on Friday responded strongly saying that it has never shied away from any engagement with the hostile neighbour and is prepared to discuss any issue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.”As far as the comments of Sartaj Aziz are concerned, I would say that India has never ever shied away from any engagement with Pakistan and is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally, in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media here.Asserting that it was India which has repeatedly taken initiatives to engage with Pakistan, Swarup added that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who first invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in 2014.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Thereafter, it was again the External Affairs Minister, who travelled to Pakistan in December 2015 and held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference which led to the decision to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue with Pakistan,’ he said. Adding that it was Prime Minister Modi who yet again took the decision to travel to Lahore on a very short notice on December 25 last year, Swarup stated that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was prepared to go to Pakistan in the first half of January this year to hold initial discussions on the modalities of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, but the Pathankot incident intervened.”After that incident of Pathankot, it was a natural and legitimate acceptation of both the governments and the people of India, that there should be concrete action from Pakistan which has not denied of the involvement of its nationals in the attack,”Swarup added. Following Prime Minister Modi’s statement where he placed the onus of stalled talks on Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz claimed that New Delhi was avoiding dialogue with Islamabad to avoid negotiations on crucial issues such as Kashmir. Quoting Radio Pakistan, the Dawn reported Aziz stressed that it was India and not Pakistan who was backing away from dialogues. He said that Pakistan had plans for extensive talks with India on issues such as Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, economic cooperation, trade, visas and the detainment of fishermen, amongst others.Aziz also alleged that the Indian Army had rejected an earlier agreement regarding Siachen between the two governments, as they had “stakes” in the glacier. In a recent interview to Times Now, Prime Minister Modi had said that due to his diplomatic efforts, India was not reluctant to engage with Pakistan. “Our approach has created difficulties for Pakistan, and they find it hard to respond on the matter in the international community,” he said.The Prime Minister also claimed there are “different types of forces operating in Pakistan”, and asked in a rhetoric fashion if one has to draw a line or set conditions for dialogue, will it be “with the elected government or other actors'” The dialogue between the hostile neighbours hit a major roadblock after the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January.

From Twitter interactions to India’s NSG membership: Watch Sushma Swaraj answer all the questions

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday insisted that China is not blocking India’s entry to the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) but is talking about the criteria and procedures. She also spoke on a host of topics including Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, ISIS, Donald Trump, FDI under NDA. The 39 Indians, kidnapped by the dreaded ISIS in Iraq in June 2014, are still alive, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, dismissing reports about their killing and insisting that efforts to trace them are on.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In her annual press conference, Swaraj said the government was trying its best to ensure safe release of Judith D’Souza, an aid worker and resident of Kolkata, who was abducted by suspected militants in Kabul on June 9.India has received USD 55 billion in FDI in the last two years, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said , noting enhanced economic engagement with countries across the world has been a major priority area of the government’s foreign policy. The External Affairs Minister said government had touched base with 140 countries in the past year and listed India’s growing ties with nations in the African continent, countries of the Gulf region and Pacific islands as major achievements. India will reach out to 65 countries to which it will send its ministers. There have not been any ministerial visits to these countries, Swaraj said.Swaraj said she and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited six SAARC countries, with the government strongly pursuing its “neighbourhood first” policy. She said because of the sustained efforts, India has received USD 55 billion (Rs 3.69 lakh crore) in foreign direct investment in the last two years.Watch the full presser below: With agency inputs

Yechury demands action against BJP-linked group for ‘brazenly misusing’ govt offices

New Delhi: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday demanded that the Cente take action against a BJP-linked outfit for “brazenly misusing” government offices, including that of the External Affairs Ministry, in Malaysia to claim “official” support for its “unofficial” Yoga Day event.

Sitaram Yechury. Photo: Naresh Sharma | Firstpost

Sitaram Yechury. Photo:
Naresh Sharma | Firstpost

Yechury had earlier raised objections to the outfit, Overseas Friends of BJP, Malaysia, making such a declaration through a poster and written to External Affairs Minister Swaraj, who said the flyer was later withdrawn.

In his fresh letter to Swaraj over the issue, the Rajya Sabha MP demanded that she “strongly” conveys to BJP and its affiliates that they should not “misuse” such government initiatives or programmes for their own “partisan propaganda”.

“I appreciate that following your intervention the flyer issued by the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) has been withdrawn.

“Drawing from this episode, I hope you are taking the next logical step to punish, in accordance with law, those who have so brazenly misused the offices of your ministry and mission in Malaysia,” Yechury said in the letter.

He added, “I am sure that you would strongly convey to the BJP and its affiliates that they should not misuse such government initiatives/programmes for their own partisan propaganda.”

In response to Yechury’s first letter, dated 8 June, to her in this regard, Swaraj had said the OFBJP was “keen to contribute” to the International Yoga Day event being organised by Indian High Commission in Malaysia on 19 June at Cheras Indoor Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

“Their (of the OFBJP) enthusiasm, while understandable, has however, made them to inaccurately project the event as being led by them and supported by the High Commission and Government Ministries. The flyer since has been withdrawn,” she had said.

In the initial letter, Yechury had taken strong objections to the organisation’s claim of having Indian government’s support for its “unofficial” Yoga Day event and demanded Swaraj to conduct “proper” probe in the matter.

He had also sought the issue of the outfit making such a declaration through a poster to be discussed during meeting of the Ministry’s Consultative Committee, of which the Marxist leader is a member.

Thailand’s PM to visit India, pay respects at Bodh Gaya

New Delhi: Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will begin his three-day state visit to India from 16 June, during which bilateral engagements will focus on defence, security, education, tourism, business ties and science and technology.

Visiting India on Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s invitation, Chan-o-cha will be accompanied by his wife, his deputy prime minister and five other cabinet ministers, a 46-member business delegation and senior officials.

“He will be given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on the morning of 17 June and thereafter will visit the Rajghat to pay his respects to the Father of the Nation,” Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Preeti Saran said.

File photo of Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. APFile photo of Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. AP

File photo of Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. AP

The Thailand premier will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, followed by a bilateral meeting with Modi.

Modi will host a luncheon in honour of the visiting dignitary and his delegation.

Thailand’s prime minister will also call on Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

On the evening of 17 June, industry bodies Confederation of Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India will hold a business event, where the first India-Thailand business forum will be established.

The event will provide businessmen from both sides an opportunity to hold discussions on sectors like steel, infrastructure, machine tools, banking and food processing.

“After his official engagements on 17 June, he will leave for Bodh Gaya in Bihar and leave for Thailand from there on 18 June. It will be a pilgrimage for him and members of his delegation,” she said.

“We would like to attract more Thai investments in India in general and in Make In India and other flagship programmes of the government of India.

“Apart from high-level political exchange, we expect discussions to take place in defence, security, education, science and technology and people-to-people contacts, which is an important element. Tourism has been important element in building people-to-people contacts,” Saran added.

About 10 lakh Indian tourists visit Thailand every year while about one lakh tourists from Thailand come to India.

“There is a huge potential when it comes to the Buddhist pilgrimage. There is a lot of interest in Thailand to visit all Buddhist sites in India. Certainly, we can do better in attracting them. we have liberalised electronic visas for Thai nationals but no direct flight to Bodh Gaya could certainly be an impediment,” she said.

The MEA Secretary said a CII-led delegation will visit Thailand later this year to showcase the immense tourism potential between the two countries.

Modi visits 38 nations in 2 years, Manmohan visited 23

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited 38 countries (visiting some countries more than once) making 19 international trips till 8 June, 2016, traveling abroad for 97 of 743 days since he assumed office on 26 May, 2014, according to IndiaSpend analysis of Ministry of External Affairs data.

Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh visited 23 countries (visiting some countries more than once) leaving the country 17 times during his second term in office over a similar period, until 8 June, 2011, traveling 76 of 747 days since he assumed office on 22 May, 2009.

During his first term, Singh travelled for 64 days over a similar period, visiting 15 countries making 16 international trips (visiting some countries more than once) between 22 May, 2004 and 8 June, 2006.

Source:Ministry of External Affairs; Note: United Progressive Alliance (UPA).Source:Ministry of External Affairs; Note: United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Source:Ministry of External Affairs; Note: United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Modi recently returned from a five-nation tour—Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, USA and Mexico–which began on 4 June, 2016. This was Modi’s fourth visit to US since he assumed charge as Prime Minister.


This is an updated version of the story ‘Modi vs Manmohan: Both Global Roamers’ published earlier on 16 May, 2015. Read here.

India, Nepal review ties

India and Nepal on Friday reviewed their overall bilateral ties including in areas of connectivity and trade during talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa. In the meeting, Swaraj conveyed to Thapa that development and stability in Nepal were in India’s interest.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said bilateral mechanisms including political exchanges, connectivity and trade were reviewed in the meeting. “The External Affairs Minister reaffirmed India’s interest in development and stability in Nepal,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thapa, also Nepal’s Foreign Minister, is here primarily to attend the convocation of South Asian university, a SAARC project which came into being in 2010. He arrived here today and will leave for Nepal on Sunday.Separately India and Nepal discussed issues relating security at the 12th meeting of their Bilateral Consultative Group (BCG) on security yesterday. The Indian delegation was led by Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary (North), Ministry of External Affairs while the Nepalese delegation was led by Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Joint Secretary (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The delegations on both sides comprised officials from the respective ministries of Defence as well as from several Directorates/Departments of the Indian and the Nepal armies. The programme of the visiting Nepalese delegation included a courtesy call on the Chief of Army Staff Dalbir Suhag. “The BCG discussions covered issues relating to mutual security concerns as well as defence and training requirements, exchange of experts/instructors, cooperation in disaster management, and the 10th Surya Kiran Joint Military Exercises at battalion level to be held in Nepal in October-November 2016,” the MEA said.

Attacks on Africans: Minor scuffle blown up by media, says VK Singh

Union Minister V K Singh on Sunday claimed the attack on African nationals in the national capital was a “minor scuffle” which was “blown up” by the media.”Had detailed discussion with Delhi Police and found that media blowing up minor scuffle as attack on African nationals in Rajpur Khurd,” Singh, who is the junior minister in External Affairs Ministry, said and questioned the media’s “motive”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Why is media doing this? As responsible citizens let us question them and their motives,” he said in a series of tweets.There has been a spate of attacks on African nationals in the last few days including killing of a Congolese youth in national capital and assault on a 23-year-old Nigerian student in Hyderabad.Two women — one from Uganda and the other from South Africa — and at least two Nigerian men in Rajpur Khurd, a village in South Delhi, have also complained about physical assault and criminal intimidation. His remarks came on a day External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj pressed for ensuring safety of Africal nationals as she spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who directed Delhi Police to take strict action against the attackers and step up patrolling in the areas inhabited by the community.Swaraj said a sensitisation campaign will be carried out in the areas where African nationals reside. She also asked V K Singh and Secretary in MEA Amar Sinha to meet the African students who have announced holding of a demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.Meanwhile, four persons were arrested on Sunday and four others detained by Delhi Police in connection with alleged assault on African nationals in South Delhi’s Mehrauli area.

Nigerian student attacked in Hyderabad: Are racial attacks here to stay?

Two days after African envoys boycott ‘Africa Day’ in India over the murder of the Congolese national, Masonda Ketada Oliver, came another brutal attack on a 23-year old Nigerian student in Hyderabad, reports The Times Of India.

File photo of Sushma Swaraj. PTIFile photo of Sushma Swaraj. PTI

File photo of Sushma Swaraj. PTI

The report further says that the Nigerian national Ghazeem got into an argument over parking with a local called Mohammed Ghafoor.

Sub-inspector K Krishnaiah of Banjara Hills — the area where the incident took place —  said that Ghazeem would park his car in Ghaffoor’s parking lot, instead of the parking space that had been allotted to him.

Things got ugly when the argument snowballed into a full-fledged assault, with Ghafoor beating Ghazeem with an iron rod, reports The Hindu.

The third year student, of Nizam College is reported to have suffered minor injuries and a case has been filed against Mohd. Gaffoor.

“The situation in India is no longer safe for us. Even the police are not willing to help us when we approach them,” said Emmanuel Omurunga, chairman of the African Students Association, Telangana said on Wednesday.

While this  instance now becomes the third in a spate of racial attacks carried out against African nationals in the nation, in the past few months, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh on Thursday refused to call the most recent attack on Congolese student in Delhi, a case of racial attack.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to reiterate the government’s resolve of ‘increasing the security and safety of African nationals’ in India.

Swaraj’s addressal, though necessary, came a little too late, said this Firstpost article.

India’s civilisational fractures of caste, colour and creed, you and me, have gotten worse, and after a handful of diplomatic statements and solemn tweets, the situation is expected to go back to square one.

Govt bars Indians from travelling to Libya

New Delhi: India has banned its nationals from travelling to Libya, irrespective of the purpose of the visit, in view of the prevailing security situation in that country.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuter

Announcing this on Monday, External Affairs Ministry said the decision has been notified to all Immigration authorities.

“In view of prevailing security situation in Libya, security threats and challenges to lives of Indian nationals in Libya, the Government has decided to impose a travel ban on Indian nationals planning to travel to Libya irrespective of the purpose,” the MEA travel advisory said.

Asking Indian nationals for compliance, the ministry said the travel ban is effective from 3 May, 2016 till further orders.

The MEA’s announcement came a day after reports of a Libyan former minister being killed in clashes between unity government forces and fighters of the Islamic State jihadist group in Sirte. Libya is witnessing increased violence due to clashes between them.

Sushma Swaraj discharged from AIIMS

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Sunday discharged from AIIMS nearly three weeks after she was admitted to the hospital with complaints of chest congestion and fever. AIIMS director M C Mishra said Swaraj was discharged after a group of doctors today examined her and found her to be fit. “Swaraj was being treated for pneumonia and the infection had also caused mild renal impairment. She was treated by a group of specialists and was discharged after the doctors declared her fit,” Mishra said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 64-year-old Union minister was admitted to AIIMS on April 25 after she complained of chest congestion and fever. She was undergoing treatment in the Cardio-Neuro Centre of the hospital.The doctors had earlier said that it was likely that she contracted the infection due to extreme temperatures during her travels.

Chandy vs Swaraj: Here’s why the Kerala CM is picking frequent fights with BJP

Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy doesn’t resemble the Amitabh Bachchan of 1970s but he is surely the angriest man in Indian politics these days. When not asking for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he is kicking up a storm with External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

Perhaps it is because of the election season since the state goes to polls on Monday but the latest controversy has erupted over an issue which should never have been the subject of a public spar. There is something nauseating over politicians fighting among themselves to claim credit for evacuating Indian citizens trapped in strife-torn regions abroad.

Kerala CM Oommen Chandy with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTIKerala CM Oommen Chandy with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

File photo of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

What makes Chandy’s case worse is that he is picking fights when facts are not on his side. On the Kerala-Somalia issue, for instance, Firstpost pointed out yesterday how Modi wasn’t the first one to compare the condition of tribals in Kerala’s Attapaddy region with sub-Saharan Africa. Police and governance publication EPW had earlier made such an assessment quoting verifiable data. Former Kerala CM VS Achuthanandan, too, had made a similar comparison in 2013.

On the subject of 29 Indians who flew down to Indian shores from battle-scarred Libya, too, the Kerala CM is on a sticky wicket. But before I delve into why Chandy is picking up frequent fights, it would be pertinent to explain the vote share equation in poll-bound Kerala.

The situation in Kerala is not unlike that of West Bengal where the rise of BJP as a key player in some places has upset the equations of a bilateral fight. Though the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is largely expected to return to power, Chandy’s United Democratic Front (UDF) is hoping that BJP’s punching above weight in the southern state may help it to scrape through in a triangular contest.

Towards that end, the UDF must do two things. One, it must search for a pan-Kerala issue to tide over local disgruntlements of anti-incumbency and two, it must project BJP as its main adversary to avoid fracturing of Muslim votes. This, in fact, also led CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury to comment that the Congress and RSS are stitching up a fixed match in Kerala to keep the Left out.

This is the reason why Chandy has appeared to be so ‘hurt’ by Modi’s comparison and is now focusing on the Libya evacuation controversy to keep the focus firmly on BJP.

Since coming to power, the NDA government has pulled off a number of rescue missions with some amount of success. Last year, India evacuated 6,688 people from Yemen by air and sea routes. The number included 4,741 Indian citizens and 1,947 nationals of 48 countries under ‘Operation Rahaat’.

First, let’s get one thing straight. Politicians do not rescue people. Foreign office obviously plays a key role but it is diplomats, posted in the troubled zones, who go through the rough and tumble to secure exit.

A report in Firstpost mentions how an Indian ambassador to Libya flew into Tripoli from Djerba in Tunisia, where the Indian mission in Libya relocated last year amid the brutal civil war, met the Libyan foreign ministry’s chief of protocol, and over prolonged talks convinced the government to issue exit visas to the 29 Indians.

“Our embassy has constantly followed up the matter with the hospital as well as with the Ministry of Health of Libya… Our ambassador personally flew down to Tripoli on 28 April and met with the Chief of Protocol on 2 May to resolve the matter,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup was quoted, as saying.

“Thanks to the embassy’s intervention that their salaries were paid and their exit visas were issued and they were able to safely return to India today,” he said.

Even as this was going on, Chandy chose to react to a comment made by Modi on Wednesday during an election rally in Kochi that Centre has rescued families stuck in Libya.

“Our government has saved six families and evacuated 29 people. It gives me immense pleasure and happiness to tell you that they are coming back and will be united with their families soon.”
Not willing to let Modi walk away with the credit for the mission, Chandy jumped in on Thursday, claiming that Kerala government bore the cost of bringing them back.

“Sushma Swaraj paid for the earlier evacuations. This time we have paid for their travel,” Chandy told NDTV. “Ask those who have come back, they will tell you the truth.”

This enraged External Affairs minister Swaraj enough to fire off a series of angry tweets from her hospital bed in AIIMS where she is recuperating from an illness.

Under fire, Chandy then said that the state government will now reimburse the amount.

“The state government had tried to buy them the air tickets but we could not owing to foreign exchange issues. We did not want to delay their return, so we asked them to pay up for the air tickets. We will now fully reimburse their airfare,” he told the media in Kochi.

The ugly spat has further lowered public discourse during this polling season and soon may nosedive below the Arabian sea.

CM Tarun Gogoi questions source of BJP’s ‘lavish’ Assam poll campaign

Questioning the source of BJP’s funds for the “lavish” election campaign for the Assembly polls in the state, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday alleged that the saffron party had a “strong corporate backing” and the funding “must have stemmed from black money”.”The BJP just concluded assembly elections in Assam and spent money like water in publicity, chopper driven transportation and the like. Without a strong corporate backing such a lavish election campaign is unimaginable”, Gogoi said in a statement issued today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also alleged that never before had the Union Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister visited Assam and held meeting with members of the business community. “The people of Assam are intelligent enough to understand the fallout of such meetings and it is evident that the huge amount spent on election campaign must have stemmed from black money pumped in by sources best known to the BJP”, he said.”Will anyone give so much money without expecting return benefits… The reason behind giving money can be anybody’s guess”, Gogoi said.

Thirteen Indians have died in Pakistani jails since 2013: Govt

New Delhi: Thirteen Indians have died in Pakistani jails in the last nearly three-and-a-half-years including Kirpal Singh, who died recently in a Lahore jail, prompting India to seek a thorough investigation into it.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Replying to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said India has also reiterated to the Pakistan government that it is their responsibility to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails.

“As per the information available in our missions/posts abroad, 49 Indians died in prisons in various countries during the last three years and the current year. This includes 13 Indians who died in Pakistani jails during this period,” Singh said.

He also said the government has taken up the matter of the death of Kirpal Singh with the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, requesting that a through investigation be undertaken in order to ascertain the reasons for his death and that the probe report be shared with Indian authorities.

The Pakistan government had conveyed that Singh had died of a heart attack, Singh added.

Centre declines to share information on bringing back Kohinoor diamond from UK

The Centre has declined to share details of India’s efforts to get back the famous Kohinoor diamond from the UK, saying the matter was subjudice.”A petition has been filed in Supreme Court of India regarding retrieval of Kohinoor diamond from London, UK. Since the matter is now subjudice, hence no information can be provided,” the Archaeological Survey of India said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An application was filed with the External Affairs Ministry seeking details of steps taken for return of Kohinoor along with copies of letters written to and response received from the United Kingdom in this regard. The query was forwarded to Culture Ministry.
ALSO READ Governmnet to discuss Kohinoor diamond issue in ParliamentThe issue of Kohinoor diamond has been in news for the last few days. In response to a Public Interest Litigation being heard by the apex court, the government had on April 18 said the diamond estimated to cost over US $200 million was neither stolen nor “forcibly” taken by British rulers but gifted to the East India Company by erstwhile rulers of Punjab 167 years back.However, the next day, it had said all efforts will be made to get it back.
ALSO READ In a U-turn Modi government promises to make all efforts to bring back Kohinoor diamondKohinoor, which means mountain of light, is a large, colourless diamond that was found in southern India in early 14th century. The 108-carat gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries including India.Earlier responding to another RTI application, the ASI had said under the provisions of the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972, India takes up the issue of retrieval of only such antiquities as have been illegally exported out of the country.”Since the object referred by you (Kohinoor) has been taken out of the country prior to the Independence, the Archaeological Survey of India is not in a position to process the matter,” it had said.To a question seeking details of items which are in the UK’s custody and India wants to claim them back, the ASI, which functions under the Culture Ministry said: “There is no list available with the Archaeological Survey of India about the items in Britain’s custody”.The apex court is hearing the PIL filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front seeking directions to the High Commissioner of United Kingdom for return of the diamond besides several other treasures.The PIL has made Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, High Commissioners of the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh as parties to the case. It has also sought return of the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan and other treasures of him besides Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Queen of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India.

Sushma Swaraj’s condition improving, likely to be discharged soon: AIIMS

The condition of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is improving fast and she is likely to be discharged soon from AIIMS, where she was admitted after she complained of congestion in the chest.”Her treatment is being supervised by a team of senior specialists. She continues to show rapid improvement and is likely to be discharged soon,” an AIIMS statement said.AIIMS has also set up a medical board for formulating a combined treatment strategy for the minister.Swaraj (64) was admitted to the Cardio-Neuro Centre of AIIMS on April 25.

PM Modi visits ailing Suhma Swaraj at AIIMS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday visited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at AIIMS, where she is recuperating from fever and chest congestion.According to sources, the Prime Minister reached the hospital at 9 PM and left at around 9.25 PM. The condition of Swaraj is showing signs of improvement, the hospital said.”A medical team of specialists is looking after her. Her current condition is stable and she is showing signs of improvement,” a statement issued by AIIMS said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A medical board has been constituted to formulate the combined treatment strategy for the minister. Sixty-four-year-old Swaraj was admitted to the Cardio-Neuro Centre of AIIMS on April 24.

Medical board formed to treat EAM Sushma Swaraj, condition stable

The condition of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who has been admitted to AIIMS after she complained of severe chest congestion, is stable and a medical board has been formed to treat her.”A medical board has been constituted to formulate the combined treatment strategy for the minister suffering from fever, chest congestion with features of pneumonia,” a statement issued by AIIMS said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The team of specialists is looking after the minister whose condition is stable, it said.64-year-old Swaraj was admitted to the old private ward under Pulmonary Medicine Department of the hospital around 5 PM yesterday. She was later shifted to the Cardio-Neuro Centre in the night.

External Affairs Ministry revokes Vijay Mallya’s passport

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has revoked liquor baron Vijay Mallya‘s passport. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Sunday tweeted saying, “After having considered replies by Vijay Mallya, MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) revokes his passport under S.10(3)(c) & (h) of Passports Act.”

The move comes at a time when Mallya, who is currently in Britain and is facing legal proceedings for the alleged default of loans worth over Rs 9,000 crores from various banks, has ignored three summonses issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), seeking time till May to depose before the agency.

Following the request from the ED to bring back Mallya back to the country, the external affairs ministry on Friday had said that it had initiated the deportation of the liquor baron. Speaking to the media, Vikas Swarup, the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs of India on Friday had said that the ministry is in consultation with the legal experts for deportation request of the businessman.

Armed with a non-bailable arrest warrant (NBW) against him, ED on Thursday had approached the External Affairs Ministry seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against liquor baron Vijay Mallya in connection with its money laundering probe against him.

Industrialist Vijay Mallya. Reuters

Industrialist Vijay Mallya. Reuters

The agency had written to MEA and said it would also soon write to the CBI to get an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) issued against the Rajya Sabha MP to get him arrested, based on the NBW directed by a Mumbai court. Only last week, the MEA had suspended Mallya’s diplomatic passport and has sought a reply from him as to why his passport should not be revoked as the ED said the businessman was not cooperating in the probe in the said case under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

According to sources, once the deportation proceedings are initiated, the MEA will seek assistance of their counterparts in the United Kingdom to interdict Mallya and fly him back to India. “The grounds for deportation are primarily two. A non-bailable warrant issued by the Mumbai court and suspension of the passport of the businessman,” they said.

Mallya is understood to be in the UK after he left India on 2 March.

A Hyderabad court on Thursday (21 April) convicted Mallya in a cheque-bouncing case filed against him by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. With the latest request for deportation, the ED has virtually deployed all legal measures in place to bring back Mallya to India and make him join investigations “in person”, which the agency had stated in a Mumbai court was essential to take the probe forward in the case.

The 60-year-old industrialist has skipped three summons issued by ED in this regard in the past. He had also sought time till May to depose before agency investigators.

ED has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI. The agency is not only investigating the financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines but also looking into any payment of kickbacks to secure loans from IDBI and probing laundering of funds to overseas destinations by the group.

The agency had alleged that Mallya had siphoned off Rs 430 crore of the IDBI loan and used this money to acquire properties abroad, a charge denied by Kingfisher.

Dalbir Kaur smells conspiracy in Kirpal Singh’s death, demands probe

With the post-mortem examination revealing that Indian prisoner Kirpal Singh’s vital organs – like the heart and the liver – were missing, Dalbir Kaur on Wednesday said that her doubts have turned out to be true and urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to ensure a thorough investigation into the matter.Dalbir Kaur, the sister of Sarabjit Singh, who died in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail three years ago, said she suspected that the Pakistan jail authorities would remove Kirpal Singh’s heart in the similar manner in which they removed the vital organs of her brother. “I had suspected that they might remove Kirpal Singh’s heart the way they removed Sarabjit’s heart. I had expressed this to Sushma Swaraj too. My doubts turned out to be true. Kirpal’s heart was also removed as it could have been used to test if poison was given,” Kaur told the media.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She further stated that she has asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to form a committee, which should visit the Pakistani jails and probe the matter without the interference of the concerned authorities from the other side of the border. “They tried to show as if Kirpal died of heart attack. It’s their conspiracy. This matter should be thoroughly probed. If the government is not serious with the other prisoners in Lahore and Peshawar jails then they might face the same outcome as Kirpal and Sarabjit,” she added.Kirpal’s body was brought to his hometown in Mustafabad earlier on Wednesday for last rites. His body was handed over to the Indian officials at the Wagah Border on Tuesday.The mystery over his death, however, continues as the post-mortem conducted at Amritsar Medical College could not arrive at a conclusion over the cause of this death. The autopsy, which was conducted by a team of three doctors, says there were no external or internal injury marks on the body. However, the heart and stomach were missing as they had been taken out during the first autopsy conducted at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. Doctors have preserved the viscera and sent it for lab tests to rule out poisoning.The Pakistani officials claimed that he died of a heart attack but Indian authorities suspect that he was murdered. Kirpal Singh’s family members have alleged torture and foul play.India has also vowed to raise Kirpal’s death in Pakistan at the top level.In 1991, Kirpal Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Pakistani authorities for allegedly spying and conducting terrorist activities in Pakistan. Pakistan also alleged that he was involved in a bombing at Faisalabad Railway Station in 1991.As per reports from Pakistan, Kirpal Singh was transferred to a hospital as his health deteriorated after which he succumbed to a heart attack.

After Iran, Sushma Swaraj heads to Moscow

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday headed for Russian capital Moscow for the second leg of her two-nation visit, during which she will attend the annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting of Russia, India and China. “Khuda Hafez Tehran! EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs Iran for Moscow for the 2nd leg of her tour,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.Swaraj’s visit to Moscow will see her attend the annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting of RIC (Russia, India and China). Besides attending the RIC meeting, she is also expected to have a bilateral meet with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the sidelines of RIC, Swaraj is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during which she is likely to raise the issue of China blocking India’s bid at the UN to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.In Iran, she had a wide rage of engagements with several top Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani has assured Swaraj that Iran can be a “reliable partner” for India’s energy needs. Enhancing energy cooperation was the centerpiece of her visit to the powerful Persian Gulf nation.

Iran can be reliable partner for India’s energy needs: Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday assured External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that his country can be a “reliable partner” for India’s energy needs, as the two nations decided to significantly expand engagements in their overall ties, particularly in oil and gas sectors.Swaraj, who arrived in Iran on Saturday, called on Rouhani and held talks with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, besides meeting with Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei’s Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and deliberated on a range of issues.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Iran can be a reliable partner for India’s energy needs,” Rouhani told Swaraj. India has been eying deeper energy ties with Iran following lifting of nuclear sanctions and has already lined up USD 20 billion as investment in oil and gas as well as in petrochemical and fertiliser sectors there.India is also keen to increase oil imports from Iran from current 350,000 barrels a day. Rouhani spoke of Chahbahar port as a “defining partnership which has the potential of connecting the entire region”, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told PTI.Enhancing energy cooperation and development of the Chabahar port were the centerpiece of talks which was mostly dominated by economic issues. Rouhani, whose country shares border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, also hoped for closer consultations with India on regional issues especially Afghanistan and the challenge of terrorism.On her part, Swaraj briefed him on her discussions with Zarif and said that India has always considered Iran as part of its extended neighbourhood, the spokesperson said. She apprised him about India’s keenness in enhancing investment in various sectors including oil and gas in Iran.”Given our natural complementarities we should move beyond a buyer seller relationship to a win-win partnership,” Swaraj told the Iranian president. Rouhani recalled his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, and asked the minister to convey his regards to him, the spokesperson said.The president also called for intensified engagement with India in academic, scientific and technological fields. “India and Iran have had very rich cultural ties through history and this could pave the way for enhanced partnership in tourism and people-to-people ties,” he told Swaraj.Earlier, during her talks with Zarif, the two sides agreed that pending agreements such as Preferential Trade Agreement, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Bilateral Investment Treaty should be concluded on a priority basis to spur trade and investment.”The talks were very successful and would give new energy to our centuries old ties with Iran. In particular, the economic partnership will get considerable fillip as a result of today’s forward looking talks,” Swarup said.

Germany gurudwara explosion: Sikh priest among 3 injured, MEA in touch with local authorities

A Sikh priest was among three persons injured when a “violent” explosion ripped through a gurudwara in Germany’s western city of Essen with police suspecting that the blast was caused deliberately.Eyewitnesses have spoken of “a kind of bomb” that exploded at the entrance of the gurudwara around 7 pm local time on Saturday where a wedding had taken place.Reacting to the incident, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian mission here is following it up with German authorities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Distressed to hear of an explosion in a gurudwara in Essen in Germany. Our Mission is following up with local authorities on ground situation,” he tweeted.A 60-year-old suffered serious injuries and had to be hospitalised while two 47- and 56-year-old men had minor injuries, the Bild newspaper reported, but did not specify if all of them were Sikhs.
ALSO READ Explosion at Sikh Gurdwara injures 3 in western Germany The injured included a priest on whom the whole pane of glass had fallen due to the impact.A police spokesman said that the explosion was probably caused deliberately.A masked man wearing dark clothes fled in an SUV, according to several witnesses from the scene.A part of the wedding party was still in the building, the other part in the adjacent ballroom. The explosion was so violent that windowpanes of adjacent buildings were broken.The building was heavily damaged, the report said.Three men were arrested following the explosion over suspicion that they were in the black SUV, which had previously been seen in the vicinity of the crime scene.

French PM Sarkozy meets PM Modi, urges for global action against terror

New Delhi: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi in pressing for concrete action by the global community against the threat of terrorism against the backdrop of attacks in Paris, Brussels and Pathankot.

“Met the former President of France, Mr. @NicolasSarkozy,” Modi tweeted along with a photograph of shaking hands with the former French President.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office later said that Modi and Sarkozy condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Pathankot, Brussels and other parts of the world, and called for concrete action by the global community against the threat of terrorism.

A file photo of Sarkozy. APA file photo of Sarkozy. AP

A file photo of Sarkozy. AP

Sarkozy congratulated Modi for the positive role played by India for the success of COP-21 Summit in Paris last year, it added.

The Prime Minister also congratulated Sarkozy on the publication and success of his recent book, ‘La France pour lavie’.

Earlier, Sarkozy met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during which they discussed challenge of combating terrorism and reform of UN Security Council.

He conveyed to Swaraj that not making India a permanent member of the UN Security Council would be “an error”.

“Always time for an old friend of India. EAM receives former French Prez @NicolasSarkozy at Hyderabad House,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Sarkozy was President of France from 2007 to 2012 during which ties between the two countries witnessed an upswing.

Malyali techie abducted by militants in Libya; Sushma Swaraj says government making ‘efforts’ to secure his release

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that the government will leave no stone unturned to locate and secure the release of Regi Joseph, a Kerala techie allegedly abducted by militants in Libya.The 43-year-old was abducted from his workplace at Souk al Jumaa near Libya’s capital ,Tripoli, on March 31.”Regi Joseph – an Indian national from Kerala was abducted in Libya few days back. We are making all efforts to secure his release,” Swaraj tweeted.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Regi’s wife Shinuja, a nurse at the Tripoli-based TMC Hospital, had earlier sought the Indian embassy’s help in this matter. The couple have three daughters.Last month, a Malayali nurse and her infant son were killed in a shelling attack in Libya. The incident reportedly occurred when a shell landed in their apartment complex.

Pathankot probe: India yet to receive visa applications of Pakistani SIT members

India is yet to receive visa applications from Pakistan’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) members who are supposed to visit the country to probe the Pathankot terror attack, Indian government sources said.”We have not received any visa application from the Pakistani SIT so far and hence the question of giving them visa does not arise at this moment,” the sources said.They added that the Indian government will process the visa applications expeditiously once they are received.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The remarks came amidst media reports that India has granted visa to the Pakistani SIT.Pakistani Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said he hoped the Pakistani SIT will visit India soon.”Very soon. Insha Allah,” he had said when asked how soon one can expect the SIT in India.The External Affairs Ministry has welcomed Pakistan’s plan to send an SIT to investigate the deadly January 2 attack on the Air Force base in Pathankot.The attack occurred just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore.The incident had led to the postponement of the Foreign Secretary-level talks.The Pathankot attack is one of the issues on the agenda of bilateral talks between External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Aziz.

PM had sought my opinion on Lahore visit: Sushma Swaraj on Rahul’s remarks on Modi’s Pak visit

In a rejoinder to Rahul Gandhi‘s statement on PM Modi’s impromptu Pakistan visit made in Lok Sabha earlier on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the Prime Minister had sought her opinion on his visit to Lahore. She further said that Gandhi is incorrect in saying that the PM did not follow the diplomatic protocol on his visit, as she had suggested PM Modi to go ahead with the visit as it would be an ‘out-of-the-box’ move.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

“I told PM that this will be a very ‘out of the box’ move and that he should go to Lahore. So what Rahul Gandhi has said is incorrect,” Swaraj told ANI.

Swaraj added that had she been present in the Lok Sabha, she would have quickly corrected Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress scion had even dragged the 26/11 Mumbai attack to prove his point.

“When 26/11 operations were on, our citizens and soldiers were dying, the government of India begged the then Gujarat CM to not visit Mumbai. But he didn’t listen. Pakistan directly attacked this country in Mumbai. Almost 200 people were murdered and butchered. Did he care? He went there, disturbed entire operations, grabbed headlines when our people died. And what does PM do? Without any thought or vision, the PM decided to go have tea with the Pakistan PM (Nawaz Sharif). PM didn’t consult the armed forces, he didn’t consult the officials, I don’t think he even discussed with Sushma ji,” Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.

“The PM destroyed six years of our work. In one move he let Pakistan out of the cage we had forced them into. He gifted them a status equal to ours. He just went there as if its only his opinion that matters. Without any thought, without any vision he decides to take a detour to Pakistan. We spent thousands of hours of diplomacy to put Pak in a diplomatic cage. We convinced the world that they were the global supporter of terror,” Gandhi said referring to the work done by the then UPA government on the Pakistan front.

Terrorism impinging on economic growth: Sushma Swaraj

Spread of terrorism and violence inspired by “medieval beliefs” as well as threat of use of force by nations in territorial disputes have disrupted connectivity impinging economic growth of the South Asian region, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday.In her address at the inaugural session of Raisina Dialogue, a conclave on geo-economics and geo-politics, Swaraj said modernisation of connectivity besides an environment of trust and confidence were integral to growth and development. Talking about threat of disruption in connectivity, Swaraj said, “In its most radical form, this emanates from the spread of terrorism, which has mutated to keep pace with the march of technology. As a result, we confront the spectre of cyber attacks even as we struggle with violence inspired by medieval beliefs.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Without naming any country, Swaraj said use or threat of use of force by nations in territorial disputes is another source of concern, adding it remains India’s conviction that the logic of larger regional cooperation will prevail over vested interests. India has been pushing for improved connectivity among the SAARC countries. A key pact to ensure better connectivity among the nations of the bloc could not be finalised in SAARC summit in Nepal last year due to opposition by Pakistan.”We bring to bear a cooperative rather than unilateral approach and believe that creating an environment of trust and confidence is the pre-requisite for a more inter-connected world. This is in our DNA; after all, we are the inheritors of two powerful connectivity legacies – the message of Buddha and the Spice Route,” said Swaraj. The inaugural session was attended by former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former President of Seychelles James Mancham, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali besides a host of diplomats, intellectuals and foreign policy experts.The Minister said modernization of connectivity was an integral element of the Asia’s revival. “Where India itself is concerned, whether it is domestic, external or regional, connectivity will determine how we meet our promise of growth, employment and prosperity. Both literally and metaphorically, it is an enabler of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’!” she said.Complimenting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swaraj said there is a widespread impression today that a “decisive, energetic and action oriented” leadership is in charge in India and that since coming to power in May, 2014, the NDA government has brought a “new sense of purpose” to India’s foreign policy. “As a consequence, India has become a natural participant in most important global conversations,” she said.Swaraj said meeting “traditional and non-traditional threats”, contributing to a climate of trust and transparency, ensuring respect for international maritime rules and norms, resolving maritime disputes without threat or “use of force” are key to promote connectivity in maritime sector. “India preaches what it practices and the agreement with Bangladesh on our maritime boundary should stand out as an example to others,” she said.She also gave an account of India’s development assistance and projects being implemented in some of the neighbouring countries. Referring to government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, Swaraj said there has been enhancement of India’s cooperative ties with its our neighbours in the the last year and a half. Underlining importance of security of connectivity, she said the rivalry for influence among nations today is often expressed in terms of their competition in infrastructure connectivity and that there was need to remove hurdles to ensure easy flow of trade.The External Affairs Minister said cyber connectivity was of growing importance. “It is connected to the question of how the contemporary global order should be governed and regulated so that it remains a free medium but yet allows governments to protect their citizens. “India has supported a multi-stakeholder approach aimed at preserving a free and integrated Internet, but has also asked for a more democratic distribution of critical Internet infrastructure and for closer international cooperation on cyber security and cyber crime to build trust and stability among the various stakeholders.”On maritime connectivity, Swaraj said the vast sea space to “our south means that connectivity is as much maritime as it is territorial”. “The oceans around India and the associated blue economy link security and prosperity as strongly in the maritime domain as they do in other spheres. “Our vision was articulated by Prime Minister as SAGAR-Security and Growth for All in the Region. It is a commitment to safe, secure, stable and shared maritime space,” she said.

Missing Dutch woman traced in Rishikesh: Sushma Swaraj

A Dutch woman, who had gone missing in Rishikesh last week, has been found there and is being brought to Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.On Sunday, family of Sabine Harmes, 32, had requested Swaraj to help them locate her, four days after she went missing. “My officers have located the missing Dutch girl Sabine Harmes. She is presently in Swatantra Ashram, Rishikesh. Our Regional Passport Dahradun has met her. She appears to be mentally disturbed,” Swaraj tweeted.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister on Sunday had asked the Uttarakhand government to trace the woman. “She received treatment at the Nirmal and Jolly Grant hospitals for injuries on her legs. We are informing her family/Embassy about this,” said Swaraj.Sabine’s sister Suzanne Lugano, in a tweet to Swaraj, had sought her intervention in the case. Responding to a tweet by Sabine on Monday, the External Affairs Minister said Indian Embassy in Netherlands will contact her and give her a visa to visit India.Suzanne, who lives in Nijmegen in The Netherlands, said Sabrina had attended a gathering of a ‘guru’ named Mooji and, when she did not return to the hostel on Wednesday, her roommates contacted the police.

Pakistan’s gratuitous references to Jammu and Kashmir unacceptable: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday condemned its Pakistani counterpart’s statement on Jammu and Kashmir, and said that Islamabad’s gratuitous references are unacceptable.”Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India. Pakistan’s gratuitous references to the Jammu and Kashmir are unacceptable,” Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to reports, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Muhammad Nafees Zakria in Islamabad, while replying to a question about the “arrest of Kashmiri students” at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that Kashmiris never accepted the unfair trial of 2013 parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.While pointing out that Pakistan has adequately and appropriately raised the Kashmir dispute at all international forums, Zakria said that Islamabad has repeatedly voiced concerns and condemned the incidents in which the Kashmiris of occupied valley were subjected to atrocities by the Indian troops.

Pakistan ‘pretending to sleep’ on Pathankot strike probe, says Parrikar

New Delhi: Hitting out at Pakistan for dismissing evidence provided by India in connection with the Pathankot terror attack, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday accused the neighbouring country of “pretending to sleep” and not being serious about the probe.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister also ruled out allowing the Pakistani Special Investigation Team into the Pathankot air base.

Noting it is a matter that concerns the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of External Affairs, Parrikar told
Karan Thapar in his programme ‘To the Point’ on India Today TV channel, “If somebody pretends to fall asleep, it’s difficult to find out.”

He was asked about Pakistan’s claim that the evidence given by India is not concrete enough.

Told that Pakistan has also claimed that Pakistani mobile numbers given by India were “unregistered and had fake
identities”, Parrikar responded, “Fake identity and non-registration indicates connivance of some. You have to
investigate and find out who gave numbers that are not registered.”

He said that the Indian government has been continuously giving evidence relating to so many attacks to Pakistan.

“If someone is serious, he can definitely act,” he said.

Asked whether the Pakistani SIT would be allowed inside the Pathankot base, the minister said he was not aware of any such request from them.

“As far as air bases and defence installations are concerned, no one can enter them without permission of the
defence ministry,” he said.

Asked again, he said whatever information they need, it can be provided by NIA through the External Affairs Ministry.

“The incident has happened here and we will investigate what has happened here. What we are asking them to investigate is the role of their people in their country,” he said.

The Defence Minister also said he is “hurt” by the US’ decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

On the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme, Parrikar said the government will differentiate between voluntary retirement for better prospects and premature retirement in the interest of the army.

He said that a judicial committee has been set up to look into the issue of premature retirement.

On the resentment among armed forces on the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, Parrikar said all
the legitimate concerns of the armed forces would be addressed.

Parrikar also said the ministry plans to cut the ‘slack and flab’ of the military. However, he made it clear that the “effective component of armed forces will not be compromised”.


Two Indian girl students killed in Russian medical academy fire

Two Indian girl students were killed in a fire at a medical university in western Russia and some others injured, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday. “We have lost two Indian girl students (both from Maharashtra) studying at Smolensk Medical Academy in Russia in a fire accident,” Swaraj tweeted late on Monday night. The Minister further said: “Some students are injured. They are out of danger. The place is 400 kms from Moscow. Our team has already reached there.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the Russian investigative committee, the preliminary report showed that fire occurred at the fourth floor of the dormitory of the university on Sunday morning. The two students killed in the dormitory fire were Indian nationals, it added.

India displeased with sale of 8 US F-16s to Pakistan, MEA summons envoy

New Delhi: India expressed disappointment over US administration’s decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying it disagrees that such arms’ transfers will help combat terrorism. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will be summoning US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey India’s “displeasure”.

Representative image. Getty Images.Representative image. Getty Images.

Representative image. Getty Images

“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself. The US Ambassador will be summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs to convey our displeasure,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The Obama administration today notified the US Congress of its decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan worth nearly $700 million, notwithstanding American lawmakers’ demand for stopping the proposed sale.

The estimated cost of the sale is $699.4 million, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency — a wing of the Pentagon -said in a statement, adding that this proposed sale contributes to the US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia.


Nepal PM Oli keen on strengthening relations with India; begins six-day visit on 19 February

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli will embark on a six-day official visit to India, beginning from 19 February, making his first foreign visit since assuming office last October.

A cabinet meeting on Thursday night approved the dates for the prime minister’s India visit and assigned the task to prepare agenda and other necessary ground work to the ministry of foreign affairs, Minister for Information and Communication Sher Dhan Rai, who is also Spokesperson of the Nepal government, said.

It is a goodwill visit and maintaining good relations with India is the key, Bishnu Rimal, chief political adviser to Prime Minister Oli.

He added that the visit will be focused in restoring bilateral ties.

Oli will leave for New Delhi after participating in celebrations of the National Democracy Day — the day Nepali people were freed from clutches of autocratic Rana regime some 66 years back.

Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. AFPNepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. AFP

Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. AFP

At a time when Nepal-India relations reached an all-time low due to protests in southern plain in Nepal and India’s displeasure over the new constitution promulgated in last September, the visit is being viewed with great interest.

The agenda for the visit is yet to be finalised. However, the prime minister himself is holding a series of meetings with former prime ministers, former foreign ministers, diplomats, business community and leaders from various political parties.

The very nature of the visit is expected to be political, seeking Indian acceptance on Nepal’s newly promulgated constitution, economic and technical cooperation, signing accord on utilisation of India’s $1 billion aid and loan for various reconstruction projects in Nepal, implementation of past memoranda of understanding and finding a new framework of cooperation, said officials.

During the visit, the two sides are preparing to sign an agreement for utilisation of $1 billion Indian aid and loan pledged during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction in June by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Out of the pledged amount, $250 million comes as aid and rest $750 million will be a soft loan. The two sides have yet to agree on the modalities of the soft loan, interest rate and project to be financed by Indian loan and aid.

To lay ground for the visit, Nepal’s Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel and Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi travelled to Indian capital early this week, met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.


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