The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has cancelled Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of about ever since it came to power in May 2014.
The home ministry, which took the action, has justified it saying these organisations were technically violating various provisions of the Act.
Cancellation of license would mean that these NGOs are no longer eligible to receive foreign funds. It should be noted that several of these NGOs are involved in rights-based advocacy work, especially working in the domain of human rights.
A plethora of civil society organisations have issued statements against this mass cancellation of FCRA licences stating that this is nothing but an ‘abuse of legal procedures’.
A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP
They also “unequivocally condemned the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government”.
Organisations such as Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, TARSHI Delhi and the Centre for Social Justice were all signatories to this statement.
Even the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the home ministry on the issue.
“Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the apex human rights watchdog in the country said in the notice.
The FCRA is an intimidating law, especially since the original Act came into force in 1976 during the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi-led government. The Act, at that time, prohibited MPs, electoral candidates, political parties, judges from accepting foreign contributions.
Even “correspondents, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” were included in the ambit of the definition of candidate under the Act. The objective was certainly to remove all voices of political dissent, though the ostensible legislative intent suggested that the law was to restrain foreign intervention from internal, domestic matters.
The new FCRA, amended by the Finance Bill 2016, has many changes that render it more severe than its predecessor.
For one, the registration under the previous FCRA was permanent; the present law has altered this, mandating that FCRA licences would expire after five years.
A renewal process would mean that prescribed authorities, that is the State, would have arbitrary power to decide whether an NGO can renew its licence afresh.
The new law also puts a 50 percent restriction on the proportion of foreign funds, thereby controlling the way an NGO spends its money.
Another change, and perhaps a significant one, is that the 1976 law targetted political parties. The new law, however, aims at “organisations of a political nature”.
The FCRA Rules, 2011, drafted by the United Progressive Alliance government, defines what “organisations of a political nature” may include – farmers’ organisations, students’ unions, trade unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of political parties, youth organisations based on caste, community, religion, language and “any organisation… which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”. The list is astonishing as it clearly targets people and organisations that want to critique, censure and challenge present political discourse.
It is absolutely appalling that the government would amend the legislation in a way that all “organisations of a political nature” are rendered powerless, while political parties are vindicated for prior violations of the law.
In 2014, the Delhi High Court indicted both the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Congress of receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The verdict came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Jayant Nath asked the government and the Election Commission (EC) to act against the two political parties for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries.
The question, at this juncture, is why is the government apprehensive of NGOs whose work is to democratically interrogate so that constitutional rights and freedoms are not violated. Another question is whether the FCRA is indeed a tool of repression as civil society organisations have declared?
In April 2015, a legal analysis was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.
It stated that FCRA norms and regulations “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”. The FCRA violates the right to freedom of association, an integral freedom incorporated within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.
The right, though not absolute, are amenable to reasonable restriction; however, the analysis suggests that restrictions such as “public interest” and “economic interest” invoked under the FCRA cannot be termed as legitimate restrictions as they are too ambiguous and may give rise to arbitrary and discretionary powers.
Therefore, should the FCRA be repealed? Perhaps not, as regulation of NGO funding is a significant matter. However, curbing the voices in the civil society by way of a colourable legislation is unacceptable and simply put, draconian.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India slammed Pakistan for labelling certain Indian political parties and social organisations as terror outfits, calling it a “desperate attempt” at deflecting international focus from Islamabad’s complicity in “spawning” terrorist groups like LeT, JuD and JeM. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s statement yesterday linking political parties and social organisations to terror was “absurd even by Pakistan’s standards”. “Labelling bonafide Indian political parties and social and cultural organisations as terrorist organisations seems a desperate attempt to deflect international focus from Pakistan’s own complicity in spawning internationally proscribed organisations like LeT, JuD and JeM, which continue to target Pakistan’s neighbours from territory under Pakistan’s control,” he said. Swarup was responding to a query on Pakistan’s comments ysterday on Jammu and Kashmir and allegations against certain political parties and organisations.The official spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign Ministry had yesterday said, “Terrorist organisations such as RSS, Vishwa Hindu Prasad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and other terrorist elements” are engaged in the drive to change demography of Kashmir.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) has said that Indian cannot abolish the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, (IWT) unilaterally.Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told media on Thursday, “Pakistan was closely monitoring the situation and would duly respond when any such situation arose. However, Pakistan was actively pursuing the issue at all appropriate fora, asking for neutral arbitration of the issue.”The News further quoted him, as saying, “We will assess India’s activities within the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty. The Indus Basin Treaty cannot be altered or suspended unilaterally. No country can abrogate the treaty.”He pointed out, “There is an arbitration mechanism to resolve the dispute regarding implementation of the treaty. We resolved many IWT disputes amicably in the past.”He also made a mention of the Kashmir issue, and said that “Pakistan wants to amicably resolve all the outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Maintaining that its strategic capabilities were not targeted against any particular country, India on Tuesday said it abides by all applicable international obligations and expects others do the same, while responding to Chinese reaction to its test-firing of Agni V missile.”India’s strategic capabilities are not targeted against any particular country. India abides by all the applicable international obligations and hopes that all other do the same. “India’s strategic autonomy and growing engagement contributes to strategic stability,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.The Spokesperson’s remarks came after Chinese Foreign Ministry hoped that India’s test-firing of the nuclear-capable Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile that could cover all of China complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance. Even as Beijing maintained that the two nations are “not rivals for competition but partners for cooperation”, it took exception to media reports that the successful test of Agni-V was meant to target China.Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing said,” We have noted reports on India’s test fire of Agni-5 ballistic missile. The UN Security Council has explicit regulations on whether India can develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons”. “China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond.” India had yesterday successfully test-fired Agni-V, the country’s most lethal nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missile with a range of over 5,000 kms that covers entire China which may also pave the way for user trial of the weapons system and its eventual induction into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
BEIJING It was strangely muted when George Michael, as part of the British pop duo Wham!, took the stage at the Workers Gymnasium in Beijing in April 1985, recalled one of those who attended that now legendary first Western pop act in Communist China.Around 15,000 concert-goers watched Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley sing hits such as “Careless Whisper” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” – as police grimly stared at them.”I’d never seen so many police in my life,” Mao Danqing, a now well-known Chinese writer who attended the concert, told Reuters on Monday. The security presence was so intimidating people were too timid to make any noise during the songs, Mao said. “When you see that many police you feel terrified. Everyone sat in separate sections and each section had police lined up in front, facing the crowd,” Mao said.Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist with sometimes sexually provocative lyrics, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was 53.CHINA OPENING UP
China maintained strict controls on Western music and film in the 1980s, just a few years after adopting historic economic reforms in 1978 following the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. The music of Wham! and their contemporaries remained banned and authorities tightly controlled reports of the concert.The group’s manager at the time, Simon Napier-Bell, said it took 18 months to negotiate the two performances on Wham!’s two-week tour – the other concert was in Guangzhou. Napier-Bell said in a book published on the 20th anniversary of the tour, “I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch”, that he undermined Queen’s candidacy for the tour by presenting Michael as a more “wholesome” alternative to Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. The book’s title was a reference to Napier-Bell’s relentless wooing of Chinese authorities with lunch meetings.A film documenting the tour called “Foreign Skies: Wham! in China” is available on YouTube. It shows Michael and Ridgeley getting chased by photographers along the Great Wall, chatting about cricket at a British Embassy cocktail reception, touring a traditional market and playing an impromptu game of soccer. Mao, the Chinese writer, received his concert ticket from his university – one of several that were given allocations of tickets for students studying literature.
“We were like blank pages back then. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life,” said Mao, who said he was seated behind students from North Korea.”In front of me, the foreign students jumped up to dance, the police quickly came and told them to sit down,” Mao said.’HE CHANGED CHINA’
Despite the tense atmosphere, the Beijing concert has since become legendary among China’s rock royalty. “They certainly had an impact on China,” said Kaiser Kuo, the front man of a popular Chinese metal band in the 1980s called the Tang Dynasty. “Everyone knew Wham! songs, even people who would go on to play music that diverged starkly from pop.” Chinese took to social media on Monday to mourn Michael, whose 1984 hit “Careless Whisper” was particularly popular in China. “That performance marked the beginning of China’s opening up its gate (to Western music),” said one user. “He changed China!”Michael said in music video for the release of Wham!’s single “Freedom” in 1985 that “nobody had any idea what to expect from Chinese audiences”.”I did feel that although we were very privileged to actually be put in the position, that we were acting as ambassadors of a sort.” (Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Alex Richardson)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing cash crunch after the cancellation of FCRA licence, Gujarat-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, which was working for Dalit rights for the last 27 years, has sought resignation of its 80-odd employees and said that the three schools run by it shall be closed.Managing Trustee of Navsarjan Trust, Martin Macwan said the NGO was unable to pay for the salaries of its staff after the Centre revoked its licence to get foreign funds under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).”It is impossible for us to pay salaries of our employees after the Centre cancelled our FCRA licence. We are facing acute cash crunch due to that move. Thus, we have asked all our 80-odd employees to tender their resignations,” Macwan told PTI.Macwan founded this NGO in 1989 to fight for the rights of Dalits and to take up issues concerning them, such as manual scavenging and social boycott.According to him, the NGO needs around Rs 2.75 crore annually to meet various expenses.”We are largely dependent on the funds from foreign sources to meet our expenses, which runs into Rs 2.75 crore per annum. About 85% of that comes from foreign countries. Now, as our FCRA licence has been cancelled, it is impossible to run our operations or to pay salaries from what we get from local sources,” said Macwan.Apart from running various awareness programs for the upliftment of Dalits across the state, the NGO also runs three schools, one each in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Patan district. Now, these schools, where 102 students of 5th standard to 9th standard, are enrolled, are on the verge of closure, said Macwan.”These three schools, which impart education to 102 students of extremely poor Dalit and tribal communities, are having 12 teachers. Now, we have to shut these schools too, as we are unable to pay their salaries and meet other operational expenses. These teachers will be asked to leave only after the completion of this academic session,” said Macwan.A week back, seven NGOs, including Navsarjan Trust, were barred by the Centre government from receiving foreign funds after their FCRA licences were cancelled following alleged adverse intelligence reports against them.The decision has been taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted an inquiry into the functioning of the NGOs whose FCRA licences were renewed in the recent past.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Jung made to resign as he wanted to release Shunglu Committee report: CongressDelhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has claimed Najeeb Jung made to resign as he wanted to release Shunglu Committee report. The Congress leader also alleged that there was a ‘deal’ between BJP and AAP on the matter. Read more.2. Malta hijack ends peacefully as Muammar Gaddafi loyalists surrenderLibyan plane hijackers surrender, weapons used in plane hijack appear to be replicas. Read more.3. You can’t make foreign policy based on domestic political issues: Shivshankar MenonFormer National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon shares some of the insights from his first book “Choices-Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy”. Read more.4. Defying pressure, US lets UN denounce Israeli settlementsUN Security Council denounces Israeli settlements, US abstains. Read more.5. Michael Clarke, Piers Morgan question Virat Kohli’s omissionIndia Test captain omitted from ICC 2016 Test team despite scoring over 1,200 runs in Test cricket. Read more.
The Union Home Ministry renewed Greenpeace India’s registration under the Foreign Contributions Registrations Act, (FCRA) 2010 after permanently cancelling its licence in September 2015.
Greenpeace India’s executive director Ravi Chellam, speaking toThe Times of India said that they had applied for the renewal of the licence in March 2016 and it was renewed with effect from 1 November, 2016.
The Islamic Research Foundation’s licence, Zakir Naik’s organisation was also mistakenly renewed in August because the FCRA software doesn’t have a provision to flag pending inquiries or adverse intelligence reports against NGOs under scanner.
Even, the licence of activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP) was renewed, reported The Indian Express. The NGO was under for alleged misuse of grants.
According to CNN-News 18, the MHA has ordered an enquiry and cancelled the renewal.
According to The Times of India, the ministry only noticed the erroneous renewal of Greenpeace India’s licence after 1 November, 2016.
The organisation was under the ministry’s scanner which cited that Greenpeace India was receiving “mixed foreign and domestic funds” and had “not disclosed the movement of funds properly,” according to a report in The Indian Express.
The Times of India report said that Greenpeace India had cancelled the licence on grounds of affecting public interest and economic interest.
The report added that the MHA had suspended the registration of the NGO saying it had violated norms, alleging that Greenpeace India had opened five accounts to use foreign donations without disclosing it to the relevant authorities. The NGOs bank accounts in IDBI, ICICI and Yes Bank were frozen. Greenpeace India had challenged the decision calling it arbitrary and it was granted relief by the court on 27 May, 2016.
The NGO has always maintained that the suspension was government’s way of controlling dissent. Vinuta Gopal quoted in The Indian Express after the suspension said: “The cancelling of our FCRA registration is the government’s latest move in a relentless onslaught against the community’s right to dissent. It is yet another attempt to silence campaigns for a more sustainable future and transparency in public processes.”
Islamabad: Pakistan is encouraged by growing support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for establishing criteria for membership of non-NPT countries, but are wary of “big powers” pressurising smaller countries into granting exemptions for India in the admission process, media reported on Wednesday.
“There are a lot of countries that now recognise the need for a criteria-based approach rather than granting exemptions, but pressures are still being exerted on smaller countries,” Dawn quoted Kamran Akhtar, Director General of Disarmament at the Foreign Office, as saying.
Representational image. AFP
“We are pretty confident that NSG countries would not go down the exemption way, but if they ultimately do so and give exemption to India, there would be serious repercussions not just for Pakistan, but also for other non-nuclear weapon states that may feel being unjustly denied their right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” Akhtar said.
He said it was now up to NSG countries to decide if they wanted the group to be seen as being driven by political and commercial interests or else they would want non-proliferation goals to be strengthened.
The official warned that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistani application was not treated equally with the Indian case.
“Pakistan wants to deny India space for war and create a space for peace. Its (Pakistan’s) weapons are for maintaining peace in the region and for deterrence,” said Khalid Banuri, Director General of Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs.
Additional Secretary to Foreign Office Tasneem Aslam said the issue of membership of non-NPT countries was deeply linked to strategic stability in South Asia.
“… the NSG stands at crossroads, once again, as it considers membership for non-NPT states. An even-handed and non-discriminatory approach by the NSG at this juncture would be of far-reaching significance for strategic stability in South Asia and global non-proliferation efforts,” she said and recalled, the NSG had missed in 2008 the opportunity to promote adherence to non-proliferation regime by granting waiver to India.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Enforcement Directorate seized Rs 2.19 crore on Wednesday from here as part of its operation to check hawala trade in the wake of demonetization.Officials said the sleuths of the agency swooped down on the premises of the cloth trader and few other locations here, based on a tip off received by them about huge illegal currency stashing. While the ED said Rs 18 lakh in new notes was recovered, Punjab Police said Rs 69.35 lakh in new currency was recovered during the raid. The action has been taken under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the searches are still on, they said. Chandigarh DSP Ram Gopal said a team led by ED’s Deputy Director Gurnam Singh conducted a raid and seized Rs 1.50 crore in demonetized currency and Rs 69.35 lakh in new currency.The raid was carried out at house of one Inderpal Mahajan. He has been arrested and a case has been registered against him, the DSP said. He said the ED team has seized notes for further verification.The Enforcement Directorate has been carrying out searches and enquiry at various places in the wake of demonetization.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The FCRA licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad has been renewed by the government notwithstanding restrictions imposed on it in receiving foreign donations.The registration of Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, has been renewed, a Home Ministry official said. The renewal of FCRA registration of the CJP done despite it being under the prior permission category. Those NGOs, which are under prior permission category, have to take permission from the government before receiving foreign donations.CJP was under the scanner of Home Ministry for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of 2002 Gujarat riots following which it was put under the prior permission category by Home Ministry in July last year.Teesta is secretary of CJP and her two other NGOs Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd are already under investigations by the CBI and Gujarat police. While Sabrang Trust’s FCRA licence was cancelled by the Home Ministry in June this year, Sabrang Communication is facing a CBI probe for receiving and allegedly misutilising the funds from Ford Foundation.Setalvad had denied all allegations while the Home Ministry has been maintaining that they had inspected the accounts of the CJP following a request from the Gujarat government last year.Interestingly, four Home Ministry officials, including a Joint Secretary, were suspended in August after renewal of an NGO run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Later, the FCRA licence of Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation was cancelled by the Home Ministry for alleged violation of FCRA.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite strong US pressure, India has decided to stick to its decision of keeping Colorado-based child rights donor agency, Compassion International under prior permission watch list.Highly placed government sources said, the government has no plans to remove Compassion International from the prior permission category under which it was put in May this year on Intelligence Bureau’s assessment report for being involved in religious conversions.The tough stand of the government comes a day after US ambassador at-Large for international religious freedom David Saperstein said on Monday that US was hopeful of Indian government “accommodating” their concerns about Compassion international.”We are deeply concerned when civil society organizations who act peacefully are restricted from carrying out their obligations by the government. We really hope that groups like Compassion International, who have indicated they are willing to live by the laws of the land will be allowed to continue their partnership here,” said Saperstein adding the donor agency has communicated that if there have been any violations, though they have seen no documentation, they will fix it.However, the government official said Official said there are no plans to entertain US request and take Compassion International out from the prior permission watch list as, he claimed, there have been cases where people have been given inducements to convert their religion which country’s anti-conversion law does not permit.”The home ministry is only allowing Compassion to given grant to NGOs on case to case basis as per the prior permission category rules. So far we have got request to clear grant for 35 NGOs of which we cleared grant for 10 NGOs last month. We have received report on nine more NGOs and will soon release the grant to them if they are found not involved in religious conversions, “said the source. The home ministry had cleared Compassion’s grant of Rs. 2 crore to 10 NGOs last month.Last week, in what seemed India was softening its stand, additional secretary of foreigner division, Bipin Mallick, who was instrumental in cracking down on several NGOs was transferred to another division.Informed sources, however, believe that the government decided not to soften its stand fearing backlash from strong anti-conversion Hindu lobby back at home. A few days back, top American lawmakers had expressed grave concern over the alleged curbs imposed on a Christian charity organisation, whose representatives appeared before a Congressional hearing seeking change in New Delhi’s policies related to foreign funding of NGOs.”It is my hope that by bringing attention to this issue, as we’re doing here today, the 145,000 children will not be tragically denied the services they desperately need, and that American families… can continue to send the US $38 a month for food and education fees to the poorest of the poor,” Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee had said in his opening remarks.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has sent eight note verbales to Pakistan for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and 42 such communications in case of Nehal Ansari, External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also rejected as “completely baseless” Pakistan’s allegations against Jadhav, an Indian national and a former Indian Navy officer. Asked about media reports quoting Pakistan Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz as saying there was no “conclusive evidence” against Jadhav which were later denied by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, Swarup said, “We have seen conflicting media reports about this issue. This is a pattern we have seen in the past as well.”Even after more than nine months of keeping him “wrongfully and illegally” in custody, Pakistani authorities have not found a shred of evidence against him, he said. “We demand immediate consular access to him in accordance with relevant international conventions and his earliest release from wrongful confinement. We have also sent eight Note Verbales to the Pakistan Foreign Office on this issue,” Swarup added.On another Indian national Ansari, who had reportedly crossed over for his lady love, the spokesperson said Indian Mission is closely following up this matter and has issued more than 42 note verbales to the Pakistan Foreign Office. “In response to our latest Note Verbale dated November 15, Pakistan responded on November 25 stating that concerned authorities in Pakistan are ‘mindful of their responsibilities regarding Ansari who is safe, secure and in good health’.However, it must be noted that Pakistan has yet to provide us consular access to Ansari,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Thursday accused India of being “defiant and intransigent” to resumption of talks and said any bilateral dialogue should be result-oriented leading to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said talks with India should not be for the sake of it but result-oriented and sustainable and regretted that despite a number of gestures by Pakistan, “India remains defiant and intransigent to resumption of dialogue,” according to a Radio Pakistan report. Pakistan believes the international community has a role to play in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and welcomes US Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s statement on mediation on the issue.Pence had told an American network that US President-elect Donald Trump can use his “extraordinary deal-making skills” to lessen tensions and solve problems around the world when he was asked whether Trump can be a mediator in deciding Kashmir. Pakistan has previously welcomed the statements of Trump, the UN secretary-general and friendly countries such as China and Iran, Zakaria said.He said India has so far denied undertaking any fact-finding mission to Kashmir but the international community will have to make New Delhi accept such demands.The Foreign Office spokesperson condemned “blatant human rights violations” by Indian security forces in Kashmir. On a question of India’s focus on purchasing arms for its forces, he said the “consequent conventional asymmetry” due to the action poses threat to regional peace and stability. He said Pakistan does not want to indulge in arms race and believes scarce resources of the region should be devoted to socio-economic uplift of the people.About the recently-concluded Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar, which was attended by Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Zakaria said India resorted to negativity during the meeting to hide its crimes in Kashmir. “This also exposed India’s claims of commitment to the prospects of peace in Afghanistan as it misused a platform meant for promoting peace and stability in the war torn country,” he said.
During his visit to India to attend the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar on Saturday evening, Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit got into a row with a member of security personnel at the Radisson Blue hotel, the venue of the conference.
After security denied permission for Aziz’s interaction with the Pakistani media at the conference venue, Basit got into an argument which was caught on video by a news channel.
Later, the Pakistani High Commission planned the interaction at another hotel but that too was not allowed, the Pakistani High Commission sources said.
Subsequently, Basit spoke to the Pakistani media.
Earlier that same day, Pakistan claimed that its Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani media persons at the hotel where he was staying, even as India said it was done due to security considerations.
Sources in the Pakistani High Commission said Aziz had planned to visit the Golden Temple but was not allowed citing security concerns.
In June 2016, the licence of an NGO run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising — Lawyers’ Collective —was suspended by the Narendra Modi government for a period of six months for the alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The NGO was accused of using funds for rallies and dharnas with a political “hue and colour”, a charge denied by the association which termed it as an act of “vindictiveness”.
Six months later, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the NGO’s FCRA registration permanently, thereby barring the organisation from receiving foreign funds.
File image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaising
In its order, dated 27 November, the ministry alleged that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by Lawyers’ Collective in its returns filed with the MHA, reports The Indian Express. The order also stated that Jaising had violated FCRA norms by receiving foreign funds when she was a government servant.
The following is the response by the Lawyers Collective to the cancellation of its FCRA license:
Lawyers Collective has received an order dated 27 November, 2016 cancelling its registration to receive foreign contribution under Section 14, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, on 29 November, 2016 at its registered office at Mumbai.
The cancellation order is not only mala fide but also incorrect on facts and bad in law. The allegations are basically reiterate what was said in the suspension order dated 31 May, 2016, with no application of mind. It was issued on a Sunday by the undersecretary to the government of India. It is not known who took the decision to cancel the registration. Other organisation in similar circumstances, particularity Greenpeace, have had their registration renewed, whereas our registration has been cancelled and our renewal declined on the basis of unknown “agency and filed reports” indicating clearly that we have been singled out for political reasons by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
LC reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, senior advocates, perpetrated by the government, over last one year. Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful leaders of the present ruling establishment. This is an attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day. It is also a clear attack on the right of free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India. LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order and will take necessary action in an appropriate time.
LC is proud of its work done in the past on advancing women’s rights, access to medicines and rights of people living with HIV and other marginalised groups, with or without foreign contribution and will continue to do so.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The unusual move by a powerful Congressional committee to hold a hearing on restrictions faced by an American NGO in India is unlikely to hold hostage the Indo-US relationship which has seen an upswing over last one decade, sources have said.”Congressional hearing focused on a narrow issue of problems faced by one NGO in India due to noncompliance of rules/regulations will not help resolution of issue. Compassion International needs to ensure due compliance to Indian rules/regulations rather than resort to open hearing route,” an informed Congressional source said here on the condition of anonymity on the eve of the hearing. In its latest blog, Compassion International said in 2011, the Indian government made significant changes to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which is the law that regulates NGOs’ receipt of foreign funds into the country.The Indian Government has denied these allegations and has asserted that its policies initiated in 2011 is not aimed at one particular NGO but is asking them to comply by the rules and regulations of the country.Responding to a question on its impact on India US relationship, sources said it is important to look at the bigger picture of strong bipartisan support enjoyed by India-US relations in US polity and not hold it hostage to one single issue of problem faced by one NGO in India. More than 30,000 NGOs in India are registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) 2010.On violation of FCRA rules, the foreign donor is put under Prior Reference Category, which implies that as and when the foreign donor wants to transfer the money to some recipient association in India, the same needs prior clearance from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), an informed source said.As per available information, until August 2014, Compassion International (CI) was transferring funds to channel partners through two FCRA-registered societies Caruna Bal Vikas (CBV) and Compassion East India (CEI).However, this arrangement was changed after certain taxation issues were raised by IT Department regarding operations of CBV. CI started transferring funds directly to partner organisations and also engaged a consultancy firm Adhane Management Consultants (P) Ltd to oversee its South India operations.On February 19, 2016, CI was placed under Prior Approval Category (PAC) by MHA on the two grounds: First it transferred funds to some associations which are not FCRA-registered and secondly some of the other recipients utilised the funds received for the objectives contrary to the provisions of FCRA 2010. This was done by Compassion International to avoid the tax being levied on their contributions, the source said, adding that the charitable activities of NGOs are exempt from tax whereas religious activities are not.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China called on India on Monday not to do anything to complicate their border dispute after a senior exiled Tibetan religious leader visited a sensitive border region controlled by India but claimed by China. The Karmapa Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s third-most-senior figure who fled into exile in India in 2000, last week went to Tawang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, in the remote eastern Himalayas.China disputes the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during a 1962 war. Asked about the trip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said India was clear about China’s position on the eastern end of their border. “We hope the Indian side can respect the relevant consensus of both sides, and not take any actions that may complicate the border issue,” Lu told a daily news briefing.Maintaining peace and stability on the border and the healthy development of relations was in both parties interests, he added. Leaders of Asia’s two giants pledged last year to cool their festering border dispute, which dates back to their brief 1962 border war.India is home to a large exiled Tibetan community, including spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who China reviles as a separatist. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk says he simply wants genuine autonomy for his homeland.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing security reasons for not allowing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Indian government said that Islamabad has no reason to complain.According to sources, India extended conveniences keeping in mind security requirements, and therefore, Pakistan has no reason to complain.Sources were also of the view that India acted like a good host. Apart from extending tarmac access, giving additional rooms and providing armoured cars (not given to every foreign minister), their arrival was advanced in Amritsar by the more than twelve hours. Also, a fresh flight clearance was provided due to which Pakistan’s envoy could mark his presence at an official dinner on December 3.India even went to the extent of allowing the arrival and departure of Pakistan nationals, by air in Amritsar, which is not a designated airport for entry and exit.Pakistan, yesterday asserted that Aziz was neither allowed to visit the Golden Temple, nor was he allowed to speak to Pakistan media personnel present at the venue of the Heart of Asia Conference. Aziz was in India to participate in the Heart of Asia Summit held On December 4 in Amritsar.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Sunday claimed that its Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani mediapersons at the hotel where he was staying, even as India said it was done due to security considerations.Sources in the Pakistani High Commission said Aziz had planned to visit the Golden Temple but was not allowed citing security concerns. Aziz, who arrived here last evening, wanted to interact with Pakistani mediapersons who accompanied him at the Radisson Blue hotel, the venue of the Heart of Asia conference, but was not given permission by security personnel, the sources said. Indian government sources said the permission was not given considering his security.”Security was very tight. Permission was not given due to security reasons. Security of our guests is paramount. India ensured no untoward incident took place,” they said. There was a tiff between Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and security personnel at the hotel after they denied Pakistani journalists entry to the venue. After security personnel denied permission for Aziz’s interaction with the Pakistani media at the conference venue, the Pakistani High Commission planned the interaction at another hotel but that too was not allowed, the Pakistani High Commission sources said. Later, Basit spoke to the Pakistani media. Aziz left for Pakistan by a special aircraft around 8 PM.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited the Golden Temple yesterday, while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited it today. Apparently, the parents of Hamid Ansari, who is at present lodged in a jail in Pakistan, were waiting for a meeting with Aziz at the Golden Temple.Mumbai-based Fauzia Ansari and her husband Nihal had come here, hoping to request Aziz to release their son from prison, who has already completed his jail term. Hamid, an IT engineer and MBA degree holder, had gone to Kabul on November 4, 2012 from where he reached Pakistan allegedly to meet a Pakistani girl he had been in touch with through e-mails.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Combating terrorism was at the centre-stage of Heart of Asia (HoA) conference which sent a clear message to Pakistan, holding terror and violent extremism as the biggest threat to peace, but could not firm up a regional framework proposed by Afghanistan to effectively deal with the menace.After the two-day deliberations, attended by 40 countries including major regional and global powers and blocs, the HoA, a platform to help Afghanistan in its transition, issued the Amritsar Declaration which called for dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terror networks.Held in the backdrop of number of cross-border terror attacks on India and elsewhere, the HoA expressed serious concern over gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan and in many parts of the region, holding that united efforts are required to contain terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, IS and its affiliates, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist groups.Here is the full text of the Amritsar Declaration:December 04, 20161. We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, joined by high level representatives of the international and regional organizations, have met in Amritsar, the Republic of India, on 4 December 2016 at our Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process (HoA-IP). The Conference was co-chaired by HE Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of the Republic of India and HE Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.2. We express our gratitude to HE Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India for inaugurating the Sixth Ministerial Conference.3. We recall the five Ministerial Conferences in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013), Beijing (2014), and Islamabad (2015) and we reaffirm our commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes enshrined in the Declarations of these Conferences that have defined the ideals for the working of the HoA-IP aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity.4. We reaffirm the importance of the HoA-IP as an important regional platform for political dialogue and close regional cooperation aimed at promoting stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the entire Heart of Asia region, and for enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with the entire Heart of Asia region. We recognize the role of cultural heritage as a catalyst for social and economic development of the Heart of Asia region.5. We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Charter and its enshrined principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as universally recognized principles and norms of international law. Further, we reaffirm our commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reiterate the importance of increased political dialogue and consultations between countries of the Heart of Asia region for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region.6. We remain committed to resolving our differences peacefully, and refraining from threat or use of force against the political independence, territorial integrity, or sovereignty of any state. We will also work towards regional consensus on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, which is critically important for good neighborliness between countries of the region, and for peaceful co-existence as independent and sovereign nations, and re-affirm our commitment to these principles.7. We stress the need for advancing regional cooperation as an effective means to address common challenges and to promote security, stability and socio-economic development in the Heart of Asia region. We, therefore, renew our commitment to strengthening enhanced cooperation among Member States in a sincere and effective manner.8. We reaffirm our appreciation and express strong and unequivocal support for the ongoing constructive efforts of the Government of Afghanistan towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an increasing environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.9. We appreciate the commitment of the international community for supporting the Government and people of Afghanistan and stress the crucial need for continuation of such support for achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.10. We welcome the assumption of full responsibility for security by the ANDSF and for their role in fighting terrorism andviolent extremism in Afghanistan. We welcome the agreements between the International Community and the Government of Afghanistan, and relevant decisions, which allow for continued financial support to the ANDSF until 2020 and assistance to them by the Post-ISAF Mission, in support of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan. We also pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the ANDSF and international forces.11. We commend the European Union and Afghanistan for convening the October 4-5 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, and recognize the importance of the development assistance commitments made by over 100 countries and international organizations, and of the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and its deliverables. We call on the international community to further strengthen international and regional cooperation towards sustained efforts for a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.12. We appreciate the continued efforts by the OIC and Afghanistan to convene the International Ulema Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia with inclusive representation of the Islamic countries and hope a positive outcome would contribute to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.13. We recognize the significance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and its subsequent resolutions on the role of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict processes in the Heart of Asia region.14. We remain concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region and the high level of violence caused by the Taliban, terrorist groups including ISIL / DAISHand its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist fighters. Acknowledging the support that terrorism derives in our region, we demand an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism. We recognize that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace, stability and cooperation in our region. We encourage the international community to continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan. We strongly call for concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. In this regard, we call upon all states to take action against these terroristentities in accordance with their respective national counter terrorism policies, their international obligationsand the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy 2006.Furthermore, we encourage early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.15. We commend the government of Afghanistan in successfully pursuing peace talks with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar resulting in the signature of a peace agreement that sets a good precedent for future peace talks with all other armed groups.16. We commend countries in the region and beyond, particularly Iran and Pakistan, for their hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades. We call on all these countries to continue hosting the Afghan refugees until their sustainable repatriation and reintegration in Afghanistan can take place in a voluntary, safe, gradual and dignified fashion, in accordance with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Communities. We are concerned by the recent spike of Afghan refugee returns and the challenges that this sudden influx presents for returnee re-integration programmes. We therefore urge the international community to provide generous support and targeted assistance for Afghan refugees, returnees and host communities in the region, with emphasis on youth, education and livelihoods. We welcome the Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan-Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on Voluntary Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran and Pakistan, as vital steps in the Solutions Strategy. We support the Final Statement of the UNHCR Executive Committee High Level Segment refocusing the international community’s attention on the Afghan refugee situation in this critical period.Addressing Challenges17. Recognizing once again that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them are the gravest challenges that the Heart of Asia region and the rest of the international community face, and these problems would continue to pose a severe threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development and bilateral and regional cooperation, we renew our strong commitment to strengthening comprehensive cooperation among the Heart of Asia countries and intensify our efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations through solidarity and collective action.18. We reaffirm our recognition made in Islamabad last year that violent extremism facilitates, encourages and justifies acts of terrorism and violence and we undertake to introduce measures to curb the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. We recognize the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to extremist and terrorist networks. We realize that the radicalization of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, can only be prevented by effective de-radicalization and counter-radicalization strategies involving all the HoA countries.19. We, therefore, believe efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism and violent extremism will not succeed without a concerted and coherent regional approach involving all HoA countries. This approach will have to utilize the capacities of men and women throughout the cross section of society of the region that includes political figures, religious leaders, educational institutions, opinion makers, youth, civil society, mass media and social networks. We undertake to develop such a regional approach to counter radicalization by tasking our relevant experts from the fields of security, education and local governance to meet in the first half of 2017 to identify key areas to be addressed for developing this regional approach and provide recommendations to be presented to the Senior Officials Meeting of the HoA-IP in the first half of 2017 for further action on this critical issue. We encourage HoA member countries to share their experiences and best practices in the area of counter radicalization with a view to helping evolve their national counter radicalization strategies.20. We welcome and support Afghanistan’s initiative in taking the lead in exploring a regional counter-terror strategy, in accordance with the established principles of the UN charter, which we agreed was necessary when we last met in Islamabad in December 2015. We note the progress that has been made since the last Ministerial with an Ambassadorial meeting of the CT-CBM participating countries at which a draft framework strategy was shared by Afghanistan for further consideration and development. We call for convening an early meeting of experts to discuss the draft framework strategy with the view to its finalization for consideration by senior security officials.21. We are concerned about the increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the volume of drug trafficking and demand in the HoA Region and beyond. This requires further eradication efforts and poses a threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability not only in Afghanistan, but also in the surrounding region and the world as a whole. We understand that acuteness and global scale of the drug threat requires appropriate international efforts aimed at intensifying measures to fight drugs production and trafficking in Afghanistan and the region of HoA. We also stress the urgent need to respond to the serious challenges posed by the nexus between revenue and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia region and globally. To disrupt these links, the HoA countries intend to increase dialogue between their relevant ministries and agencies to tackle this menace. In this regard, we believe it is essential to integrate a comprehensive approach in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan and the HoA region.22. We recognize that a politically negotiated settlement remains important for durable peace in Afghanistan. We reiterate our support to the Government of Afghanistan in its efforts to advance an Afghan led Afghan owned peace process. We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed groups to enter into peace talks with the Government of Afghanistan. While recognizing the importance of the contributions of neighboring countries and regional partners in this process, we urgeall those countries in the region and beyond who have leverages and influence to help bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.Achieving Prosperity23. We acknowledge the crucial role of Afghanistan as a natural land bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration in the Heart of Asia region, and we reiterate our strong support for Afghanistan’s efforts to use its geographic location to enhance wider regional economic cooperation. We further stress that economic development will contribute to achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, and enhance regional economic integration. In this regard, we welcome the practical implementation of TAPI and completion of the first stage of the Asian International Railway Corridor between Imamnazar, Turkmenistan, and Aqina, Afghanistan — the initial stages of TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Further, we encourage the early implementation of the multinational energy and connectivity projects of CASA-1000, TUTAP, Chabahar Agreement, the Five Nation Railway, TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan by rail, all of which would play a central role in strengthening regional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia and further forge economic connectivity and growth in the region. We welcome the MoU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. All these will lay the foundations for a successful Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) planned for November 2017 in Ashgabat.24. We are encouraged by the continued commitment of regional countries to establish significant North-South and East-West corridors within the Heart of Asia Region with a focus on the development of infrastructure connecting Afghanistan and the region to seaports. We recognize the crucial significance of enhanced and assured sea-land access for Afghanistan to region’s biggest markets. In this context, we note the significant step taken by Afghanistan, Iran and India by signing their trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar. Once implemented, this corridor will provideadditional and dependable access for Afghanistan and Central Asia to regional and global markets.We also welcome the progress made on the Lapis Lazuli corridor, and believe that this will further increase the connectivity of Afghanistan.25. We appreciate the necessity to maximize the speed of movement of goods across the region, and in this context we agree to collaborate more closely in removing the non-tariff barriers to trade, establishing and implementing bilateral and multilateral regional transit-trade framework agreements. In this regard, we stress on the urgent need to integrate, through the land route, South Asia and Central Asia through the expansion of existing bilateral trade and transit agreement both northwards and southwards.26. We recognize the importance of the role of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth of individual countries and the region as a whole. We commit to undertake measures to strengthen the growth of SMEs, including women entrepreneurship, and enable their expansion across borders into other countries of the region. To realize these objectives, we task the members of the Trade, Commerce and Investment Opportunities CBM to explore measures, such as simplifying customs procedures, exchanging information on regional markets and addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers, and submit a report to the Senior Officials Meetings, so as to take these ideas forward for implementation.Confidence Building Measures27. Reiterating our collective support to promote the implementation of six CBMs identified in the HoA-IP, we note with satisfaction that a number of activities under various CMBs that were carried out since we last met in Islamabad in December 2015.28. We request the lead countries of CBMs that did not hold their Regional Technical Group meetings as we stipulated in Beijing (2014) and in Islamabad (2015) to reflect on how they could strengthen their capacity to play a lead role, as per their commitments, in advancing the work of the CBM that they lead. We also call upon participants and supporters to collaborate closely to implement prioritized activities under the CBMs of which they are members. We urge lead countries, participating and supporting countries and organizations to ensure the implementation of the activities prioritized by each CBM.29. We appreciate the valuable support of the international community to the HoA-IP. In this context, we look forward to continued contributions of the supporting countries and organizations to realize the implementation activities prioritized under each CBM. In order to have a more precise picture of the contributions by the international community to the Heart of Asia Process, we request the co-Chairs to provide us with an annual report on the activities of each CBM and the contributions made by the participating countries and supporters of this process. In this context, an assessment of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process from its inception in 2011, including on the CBMs, was carried out by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and presented to the Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in New York. We encourage participant countries and supporters to consider the recommendations of this assessment.Conclusion30. We task our Senior Officials to hold the first 2017 SOM of this process, within three months of this Conference, and engage in substantive discussions on various important subjects in accordance with our commitments in Beijing and Islamabad and also to review the plans submitted by the RTGs.31. We express our sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of India for hosting the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Amritsar. We welcome the willingness of Republic of Azerbaijan to host the next Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as Co-chair in 2017.32. We welcome the presence of guest countries Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Uzbekistan in this Conference and note their interest in the Heart of Asia Istanbul process.33. This Declaration was adopted in Amritsar, India on 4 December 2016, by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations. This Declaration was welcomed and supported by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the supporting countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the high-ranking representatives of the supporting international and regional organizations: Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Royal Kingdom of Denmark, Arab Republic of Egypt, European Union, Republic of Finland, Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Italy, Japan, Republic of Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Collective Security Treaty Organizations (CSTO), Economic Cooperation Organizations (ECO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Simplistic to blame Pakistan for Afghanistan’s troubles: Under-fire Sartaj Aziz at Heart of AsiaUnder severe attack over terrorism emanating from its soil, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz hit back saying it is “simplistic” to blame one country even as he raked up the issue of strain in Indo-Pak ties at the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference on Afghanistan. Read more here.Heart of Asia Conference: Silence, inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters, says PM ModiIn a clear message to Pakistan, Modi called for “resolute action” not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them, saying silence and inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters. Read more here.Mithali Raj helps India pound Pakistan to complete Asia Cup double hattrickIndian women maintained their supremacy in the Asia Cup by beating arch-rivals Pakistan for their sixth title in as many editions in Bangkok on Sunday. Read more here.Full Text: New Rs 20, Rs 50 notes to be issued by the RBIThe Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will issue new Rs 50 and Rs 20 notes, announced the apex bank on its website on Sunday. The new notes for both the denominations will bear the signature of the new governor Urjit Patel along with the year, ‘2016’ printed on the reverse side of the note. Read more here.Bromance Alert: This picture of Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan twinning will make your day!The two are going to be seen together at the Star Screen Awards 2016 for which, they were spotted rehearsing last night. See the picture here.
Pakistan Premier’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz along with foreign ministers of four countries on Sunday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who told them that it was important to end terrorism and violence for fostering stability in Afghanistan and the region.
The Foreign Ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Slovakia, which holds the European Union Presidency this month, along with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Aziz called on Modi ahead of the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on Afghanistan.
PM Narendra Modi with Nawaz Sharif. PTI file image
Modi welcomed the Foreign Ministers and stressed it was the collective responsibility of all those in the region to work together to help Afghanistan out of its current difficulties, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The Prime Minister stated that his several interactions with both the common people of Afghanistan and the country’s leadership had convinced him that the Afghan people were tired of the continuing violence and terrorism. Prime Minister Modi stressed on “the need to end terrorism and violence for fostering stability, security and development in Afghanistan and our region,” Swarup said. In this context, the Prime Minister hoped that discussions in the Ministerial Conference tomorrow will produce good results.
Agreeing with the Premier on the need to end violence in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministers shared Prime Minister Modi’s view that Afghanistan’s stability, security and prosperity are integral to the region’s, Swarup said. “They greatly appreciated the continued commitment and engagement of India and its leadership for these ends.
The Foreign Ministers warmly thanked India for hosting the Conference and expressed confidence that all friends of Afghanistan will work together for realising the aspirations for peace and development,” he said.
Terrorism remained one of the important topics discussed at the Sixth Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia in Amritsar on Sunday.
The participating and supporting countries and their ministers on Sunday signed a joined declaration stating the need to work to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and the region and to improve connectivity to it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani shake hands at 6th Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday. PTI
The declaration also sought for peaceful means to achieve its goal including bring an end to any kind of support and shelter to terrorism, and to create a fund to find forces of terror in the region.
Here’s the full text of the declaration:
We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, joined by high-level representatives of the international and regional organisations, have met in Amritsar, the Republic of India, on 4 December 2016 at our Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process (HoA—IP). The Conference was co-chaired by Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of the Republic of India and Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
We express our gratitude to Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India for inaugurating the Sixth Ministerial Conference.
We recall the five Ministerial Conferences in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013), Beijing (2014), and Islamabad (2015) and we reaffirm our commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes enshrined in the Declarations of these Conferences that have defined the ideals for the working of the HoA—IP aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity.
We reaffirm the importance of the HoA-IP as an important regional platform for political dialogue and close regional cooperation aimed at promoting stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the entire Heart of Asia region, and for enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with the entire Heart of Asia region. We recognise the role of cultural heritage as a catalyst for social and economic development of the Heart of Asia region.
We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Charter and its enshrined principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as universally recognised principles and norms of international law. Further, we reaffirm our commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reiterate the importance of increased political dialogue and consultations between countries of the Heart of Asia region for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region.
We remain committed to resolving our differences peacefully, and refraining from threat or use of force against the political independence, territorial integrity, or sovereignty of any state. We will also work towards regional consensus on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, which is critically important for good neighbourliness between countries of the region, and for peaceful co-existence as independent and sovereign nations, and re-affirm our commitment to these principles.
We stress the need for advancing regional cooperation as an effective means to address common challenges and to promote security, stability and socio-economic development in the Heart of Asia region. We, therefore, renew our commitment to strengthening enhanced cooperation among Member States in a sincere and effective manner.
We reaffirm our appreciation and express strong and unequivocal support for the ongoing constructive efforts of the Government of Afghanistan towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an increasing environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.
We appreciate the commitment of the international community for supporting the Government and people of Afghanistan and stress the crucial need for continuation of such support for achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
We welcome the assumption of full responsibility for security by the ANDSF and for their role in fighting terrorism and violent extremism in Afghanistan. We welcome the agreements between the International Community and the Government of Afghanistan, and relevant decisions, which allow for continued financial support to the ANDSF until 2020 and assistance to them by the Post-ISAF Mission, in support of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan. We also pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the ANDSF and international forces.
We commend the European Union and Afghanistan for convening the 4-5 October Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, and recognise the importance of the development assistance commitments made by over 100 countries and international organisations, and of the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and its deliverables. We call on the international community to further strengthen international and regional cooperation towards sustained efforts for a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
We appreciate the continued efforts by the OIC and Afghanistan to convene the International Ulema Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia with inclusive representation of the Islamic countries and hope a positive outcome would contribute to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
We recognise the significance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and its subsequent resolutions on the role of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict processes in the Heart of Asia region.
We remain concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region and the high level of violence caused by the Taliban, terrorist groups including ISIL / DAISHand its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist fighters. Acknowledging the support that terrorism derives in our region, we demand an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism. We recognise that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace, stability and cooperation in our region. We encourage the international community to continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan. We strongly call for concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. In this regard, we call upon all states to take action against these terrorist entities in accordance with their respective national counter terrorism policies, their international obligations and the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy 2006.Furthermore, we encourage early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.
We commend the government of Afghanistan in successfully pursuing peace talks with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar resulting in the signature of a peace agreement that sets a good precedent for future peace talks with all other armed groups.
We commend countries in the region and beyond, particularly Iran and Pakistan, for their hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades. We call on all these countries to continue hosting the Afghan refugees until their sustainable repatriation and reintegration in Afghanistan can take place in a voluntary, safe, gradual and dignified fashion, in accordance with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Communities. We are concerned by the recent spike of Afghan refugee returns and the challenges that this sudden influx presents for returnee re-integration programmes. We, therefore, urge the international community to provide generous support and targeted assistance for Afghan refugees, returnees and host communities in the region, with emphasis on youth, education and livelihoods. We welcome the Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan-Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on Voluntary Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran and Pakistan, as vital steps in the Solutions Strategy. We support the Final Statement of the UNHCR Executive Committee High-Level Segment refocusing the international community’s attention on the Afghan refugee situation in this critical period.
Recognising once again that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them are the gravest challenges that the Heart of Asia region and the rest of the international community face, and these problems would continue to pose a severe threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development and bilateral and regional cooperation, we renew our strong commitment to strengthening comprehensive cooperation among the Heart of Asia countries and intensify our efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations through solidarity and collective action.
We reaffirm our recognition made in Islamabad last year that violent extremism facilitates, encourages and justifies acts of terrorism and violence and we undertake to introduce measures to curb the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. We recognise the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to extremist and terrorist networks. We realise that the radicalisation of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, can only be prevented by effective de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation strategies involving all the HoA countries.
We, therefore, believe efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism and violent extremism will not succeed without a concerted and coherent regional approach involving all HoA countries. This approach will have to utilise the capacities of men and women throughout the cross section of society of the region that includes political figures, religious leaders, educational institutions, opinion makers, youth, civil society, mass media and social networks. We undertake to develop such a regional approach to counter radicalisation by tasking our relevant experts from the fields of security, education and local governance to meet in the first half of 2017 to identify key areas to be addressed for developing this regional approach and provide recommendations to be presented to the Senior Officials Meeting of the HoA-IP in the first half of 2017 for further action on this critical issue. We encourage HoA member countries to share their experiences and best practices in the area of counter radicalisation with a view to helping evolve their national counter radicalisation strategies.
We welcome and support Afghanistan’s initiative in taking the lead in exploring a regional counter-terror strategy, in accordance with the established principles of the UN charter, which we agreed was necessary when we last met in Islamabad in December 2015. We note the progress that has been made since the last Ministerial with an Ambassadorial meeting of the CT-CBM participating countries at which a draft framework strategy was shared by Afghanistan for further consideration and development. We call for convening an early meeting of experts to discuss the draft framework strategy with the view to its finalisation for consideration by senior security officials.
We are concerned about the increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the volume of drug trafficking and demand in the HoA Region and beyond. This requires further eradication efforts and poses a threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability not only in Afghanistan, but also in the surrounding region and the world as a whole. We understand that acuteness and global scale of the drug threat requires appropriate international efforts aimed at intensifying measures to fight drugs production and trafficking in Afghanistan and the region of HoA. We also stress the urgent need to respond to the serious challenges posed by the nexus between revenue and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia region and globally. To disrupt these links, the HoA countries intend to increase dialogue between their relevant ministries and agencies to tackle this menace. In this regard, we believe it is essential to integrate a comprehensive approach in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan and the HoA region.
We recognise that a politically negotiated settlement remains important for durable peace in Afghanistan. We reiterate our support to the Government of Afghanistan in its efforts to advance an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed groups to enter into peace talks with the Government of Afghanistan. While recognising the importance of the contributions of neighbouring countries and regional partners in this process, we urge all those countries in the region and beyond who have leverages and influence to help bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.
We acknowledge the crucial role of Afghanistan as a natural land bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration in the Heart of Asia region, and we reiterate our strong support for Afghanistan’s efforts to use its geographic location to enhance wider regional economic cooperation. We further stress that economic development will contribute to achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, and enhance regional economic integration. In this regard, we welcome the practical implementation of TAPI and completion of the first stage of the Asian International Railway Corridor between Imamnazar, Turkmenistan, and Aqina, Afghanistan — the initial stages of TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Further, we encourage the early implementation of the multinational energy and connectivity projects of CASA-1000, TUTAP, Chabahar Agreement, the Five Nation Railway, TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan by rail, all of which would play a central role in strengthening regional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia and further forge economic connectivity and growth in the region. We welcome the MoU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. All these will lay the foundations for a successful Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) planned for November 2017 in Ashgabat.
We are encouraged by the continued commitment of regional countries to establish significant North-South and East-West corridors within the Heart of Asia Region with a focus on the development of infrastructure connecting Afghanistan and the region to seaports. We recognise the crucial significance of enhanced and assured sea-land access for Afghanistan to region’s biggest markets. In this context, we note the significant step taken by Afghanistan, Iran and India by signing their trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar. Once implemented, this corridor will provide additional and dependable access for Afghanistan and Central Asia to regional and global markets. We also welcome the progress made on the Lapis Lazuli corridor, and believe that this will further increase the connectivity of Afghanistan.
We appreciate the necessity to maximise the speed of movement of goods across the region, and in this context we agree to collaborate more closely in removing the non-tariff barriers to trade, establishing and implementing bilateral and multilateral regional transit-trade framework agreements. In this regard, we stress on the urgent need to integrate, through the land route, South Asia and Central Asia through the expansion of existing bilateral trade and transit agreement both northwards and southwards.
We recognise the importance of the role of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth of individual countries and the region as a whole. We commit to undertake measures to strengthen the growth of SMEs, including women entrepreneurship, and enable their expansion across borders into other countries of the region. To realise these objectives, we task the members of the Trade, Commerce and Investment Opportunities CBM to explore measures, such as simplifying customs procedures, exchanging information on regional markets and addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers, and submit a report to the Senior Officials Meetings, so as to take these ideas forward for implementation.
Confidence Building Measures
Reiterating our collective support to promote the implementation of six CBMs identified in the HoA-IP, we note with satisfaction that a number of activities under various CMBs that were carried out since we last met in Islamabad in December 2015.
We request the lead countries of CBMs that did not hold their Regional Technical Group meetings as we stipulated in Beijing (2014) and in Islamabad (2015) to reflect on how they could strengthen their capacity to play a lead role, as per their commitments, in advancing the work of the CBM that they lead. We also call upon participants and supporters to collaborate closely to implement prioritised activities under the CBMs of which they are members. We urge lead countries, participating and supporting countries and organisations to ensure the implementation of the activities prioritised by each CBM.
We appreciate the valuable support of the international community to the HoA-IP. In this context, we look forward to continued contributions of the supporting countries and organisations to realise the implementation activities prioritised under each CBM. In order to have a more precise picture of the contributions by the international community to the Heart of Asia Process, we request the co-Chairs to provide us with an annual report on the activities of each CBM and the contributions made by the participating countries and supporters of this process. In this context, an assessment of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process from its inception in 2011, including on the CBMs, was carried out by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and presented to the Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in New York. We encourage participant countries and supporters to consider the recommendations of this assessment.
We task our Senior Officials to hold the first 2017 SOM of this process, within three months of this Conference, and engage in substantive discussions on various important subjects in accordance with our commitments in Beijing and Islamabad and also to review the plans submitted by the RTGs.
We express our sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of India for hosting the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Amritsar. We welcome the willingness of Republic of Azerbaijan to host the next Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as Co-chair in 2017.
We welcome the presence of guest countries Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Uzbekistan in this Conference and note their interest in the Heart of Asia Istanbul process.
This Declaration was adopted in Amritsar, India on 4 December 2016, by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations. This Declaration was welcomed and supported by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the supporting countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the high-ranking representatives of the supporting international and regional organisations: Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Royal Kingdom of Denmark, Arab Republic of Egypt, European Union, Republic of Finland, Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Italy, Japan, Republic of Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Collective Security Treaty Organisations (CSTO), Economic Cooperation Organisations (ECO), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Why did Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz arrive in Amritsar fifteen hours before schedule and why was it allowed? It is not even an hour’s flight so there must have been good reason besides the obvious one of putting Indians on the backfoot as the bureaucrats adjusted the accommodate him. Make them scurry around.
That is the operative word. Accommodation.
The Hearts of Asia conference is about Afghanistan and while technically the Foreign Minister of Pakistan is a delegate, weren’t we supposed to get some sort of traction from the other side of the border by way of assurances that terrorism would have to terminate its relationship with state sponsorship. Suddenly we have their Foreign Minster pop in prematurely and that kind of puts paid to all the outrage over Pampore, Uri, Samba, the mutilation of our soldier in Maalchi and our absolute conviction that Pakistan’s authorities were integral to all these acts of unbridled horror.
It was JFK who said we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate.
File image of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters
To that extent one concedes that every opportunity to try and end the 70 years of distrust should be grabbed and an attempt made to work out a truce. But that said, why is it always India that has to be the bigger person. There is a depressing sense of déjà vu about this meeting in Amritsar because in many ways we have closed the chapter on all the incidents that occurred on the border till 4 December, 2016. Today.
Once you shake hands and break bread that becomes the latest milestone on this arduous and exhausting Indo-Pak journey and everything else liquefies and turns into water under the bridge.
However unpleasant the current equation we have shifted today from boycotting Pakistan across the board to suddenly playing host, reluctant, but still host. It is no coincidence that the Pakistan Cricket Board uses this very day to announce how it will not cut off ties with India and now we are like the bad guys who aren’t being sporting and largehearted. They always manage to twist the scenario and produce this ‘reasonable, balanced’ rationale while we are saluting martyrs.
And this is where one balks at the idea of giving in without some guarantees. The moment the wheels of the Foreign Secretary’s plane touched down on Indian soil the initiative became his to run with.
Perhaps it would have been churlish to say come back later but someone in authority has to quantify what exactly India has gained from Pakistan before igniting talks if they are an a multi-lateral forum.
One just feels at such times that we take the blows on the chin and create a major wave of promised retaliation that kind of disappears like the morning fog. We will talk, Sartaj will mumble the same stuff about co-operation and mutual trust and TV talk shows will analyse the same old, same old and all those attacks and assaults on our bases and the litany of the dead will be consigned to the history books.
At least get something tangible out of him before he leaves.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parents of Indian national Hamid Ansari, who is lodged in a Pakistani jail, will seek to meet Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz at the two-day Heart of Asia conference which begins here today.Mumbai-based Fauzia Ansari and her husband Nihal arrived in the holy city carrying several placards with the hope of getting back their son, who has already completed his jail term, from the neighbouring country.Fauzia said she had written a letter to Aziz seeking an appointment to request for the release of her 32-year-old son.She said as there was no reply from Aziz’s office, she will now stand near the venue of the conference and display placards.Hamid, an IT engineer and an MBA degree holder, had gone to Kabul on November 4, 2012 from where he wanted to reach Pakistan allegedly to meet a Pakistni girl he had been in touch with through e-mails.There was no whereabouts of him after November 10.The deputy attorney general of Pakistan had informed the court that Hamid was in the custody of Pakistani army and had been awarded three years’ imprisonment.Fauzia had filed a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court seeking release of her son after the completion of his jail term.The petition was dismissed as the court had observed that army would decide on his release since he was in its custody.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Afghanistan faces the resurgence of Taliban, a conference of major regional and global powers began today in this holy city to explore ways to effectively deal with threat of terrorism in the region, its complex security matrix and help the war-ravaged nation in its transition.Being attended by nearly 40 countries and leading groupings like the European Union, the annual conference of the Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process is deliberating on various challenges facing Afghanistan, including revival of a peace process in the conflict-ridden country.Today, senior officials of all 14 countries, including India, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, and representatives of 17 supporting nations were deliberating on a vast range of issues facing the region including its complex security scenario and dealing with threat of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism.Issues like enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with South and Central Asian countries to boost trade were being discussed at the senior officials’ meeting which was co-chaired by India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hikmat Khaleel Karzai.The meeting is finalising the text for tomorrow’s Ministerial Conference and is also deliberating on its Declaration which will have substantial portion on terrorism.Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz is representing Islamabad at the Ministerial conference on Sunday which will be jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.The annual conference is taking place amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the audacious terror attack on Nagrota army base and there was no clarity on an Indo-Pak bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conclave.India had already made it clear that it would never accept continuing cross-border terrorism as the “new normal” in bilateral ties with Pakistan while making it clear that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”.At the senior officials’ meeting, Afghanistan, which has also been facing increased attacks from terror groups operating from Pakistan, pushed for a regional counter-terror framework.Ahead of the conference, both India and Afghanistan had called terror emanating from Pakistan as the “greatest threat” to regional peace and stability, and both the countries are set to press hard for adopting the counter terror framework at tomorrow’s deliberations.The conference, whose theme is security and prosperity, will also deliberate on major connectivity initiatives including Chabahar project, a five-nation railway project.There may be deliberations on TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan-Pakistan India) gas pipeline project. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.The platform was floated to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.The countries which support the initiative are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Finland, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the US.Amritsar, which is not very far from the Indo-Pak border, has been brought under a heavy security cover in view of the conference, a major international event being hosted by the city for the first time in many years.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Friday lashed out at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, after the Income Tax Department filed a prosecution complaint against him in a foreign tax evasion case.”I challenged @arunjaitley to fight by-elections in Amritsar and this is how he responds. So predictable!”, Singh tweeted.Earlier in June, the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to Amarinder’s son Raninder Singh for allegedly violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).Dubbing the summons as “fraud notice”, Amarinder had alleged that Jaitley was behind it. “This is total fraud notice. This issue of income tax and all has been done by Jaitley, he can’t get over his defeat,” Amarinder said.Amarinder, who will lead the Punjab Congress in the upcoming assembly elections eyeing the Chief Minister seat, recently resigned from his Lok Sabha membership in protest against the Supreme Court order on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal issue.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax department has filed a chargesheet against Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh in connection with its probe against him and his son in a case of alleged untaxed foreign assets.Official sources said the department filed the prosecution complaint (equivalent to a police charge sheet) in a competent court in Ludhiana in Punjab on Thursday and the former chief minister has been charged under section 277 of the I-T Act (false statement in verification) and IPC sections 176 (omission to give notice or information to public servant by person legally bound to give it), 177 (furnishing false information), 193 (punishment for false evidence) and 199 (false statement made in declaration which is by law receivable as evidence).Amarinder took to Twitter to accuse Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of complicity. “I challenged Arun Jaitley to fight by-elections in Amritsar and this is how he responds. So predictable!,” he tweeted.According to the complaint, a copy of which was accessed by PTI, the I-T department said during its investigations Singh was “found to be the beneficiary” of a trust and other properties owned and created by his son Raninder in a foreign territory and when questioned about these, the Congress chief ministerial candidate for the state gave a “false statement on oath” about the ownership of these assets. It said Singh was “actively involved” in the creation of these trusts and foreign properties which were not disclosed to the department for tax purposes.The department has already filed a similar complaint against Raninder and has charged him under section 276C of the I-T Act in the case (wilful attempt to evade tax) and the same charges would now apply on the senior Singh. The case came to light when the Income Tax department received information about Raninder allegedly holding the offshore account in Switzerland as part of details received by the Central Board of Direct Taxes from its French counterparts in 2011.The department had also detected movement of funds to Switzerland and creation of a trust and a few subsidiaries in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands allegedly by Raninder. Both Amarinder and Raninder have denied any wrongdoing and termed as “false” the charges.Based on the earlier I-T department charge sheet, the Enforcement Directorate too had registered a case against Raninder under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) sometime back and has also questioned him.Jaitley had lost the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2014 to Amarinder Singh. Only on Thursday Amarinder had dared Jaitley to contest the Amritsar bypoll again, saying let it be a referendum on the Narendra Modi government’s demonetization move.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finance minister Arun Jaitley will lead the Indian delegation at the two-day Sixth Heart of Asia (HoA) conference to be held in Amritsar, Punjab, from Saturday, an external affairs ministry official said.The conference, which will be held in India’s northern Amritsar city, will see the participation of representatives from over 30 countries, including China, United States, Russia, Iran and Pakistan to discuss peace, cooperation and economic development in Afghanistan.Afghanistan is the permanent chair of the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference, while India is its co-chair, and this year is its host.A senior foreign ministry official told reporters on Wednesday (November 30) that Indian finance minister will co-chair the conference with Afghan foreign minister.”This year, the ministerial conference will be co-chaired by Afghan foreign minister (Salahuddin Rabbani) and on our side it will be the finance minister,” said Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretary of PAI (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) division in the ministry.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is undergoing treatment for kidney failure, will not attend the meeting.Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Policy, Sartaj Aziz, will also attend the conference despite strained relations between the two nations. However, it is not clear whether Pakistan will hold any bilateral meeting with India on the sidelines of the summit.”We have not received any request from Pakistan for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of Heart of Asia ministerial conference,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.Relations between Pakistan and India have been strained for several months, while cross-frontier shelling has intensified leading to deaths of civilians and soldiers stationed along the disputed frontier.The latest round of problem between the nuclear-armed neighbours began with civil unrest in Indian Kashmir and Pakistan’s global lobbying against New Delhi’s crackdown on the Kashmiri activists.Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, who was part of the press briefing in New Delhi, condemned the recent militant attack on an army unit in Jammu and Kashmir.”Let me express my heartfelt condolences to the people of India for the tragic terrorist attack on an Indian army base in Nagrota on Wednesday morning which caused the loss of seven brave Indian soldiers. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” said Abdali.The raid in Nagrota town was the deadliest since a September 18 assault on an army base in the state that killed at least 19 Indian soldiers – the worst such assault in 14 years – triggering an escalation in tensions between the two countries.The ‘Heart of Asia’ platform was floated with an aim to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.The main ministerial conference will be inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on December 4.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nalanda University Chancellor George Yeo resigned on Friday, protesting changes made in university management without taking him into confidence.Yeo submitted his resignation letter to the Visitor, President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, reported The Hindu. “I was neither involved in the preparation nor consulted beforehand. With deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Visitor,” Yeo wrote.Yeo also said that when he took over from Professor Amartya Sen last year, he was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. “This appears not to be the case now.,” he added.“The circumstances under which the leadership change in Nalanda University has been suddenly and summarily effected is disturbing and harmful to the University’s development,” Yeo said.Former Foreign Minister of Singapore George Yeo was appointed Chancellor in July 2016, over two months after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen withdrew his candidature to the post for a second term.60-year-old Yeo, who was conferred Padma Bhushan in 2012, was serving as a member of the governing board of the prestigious university at Rajgir area of Bihar.In February, Sen withdrew his candidature as Chancellor for a second term saying that the Narendra Modi government did not want him to continue, a contention which was rejected by the government.Sen, who has long been a critic of Modi, had blamed the absence of government’s approval for his re-nomination for the delay in the nod from President Pranab Mukherjee for his name.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst tensions along the LoC, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan, in an unscheduled hotline interaction, spoke to each other on Wednesday.This conversation between Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and Major General Sahar Shamshad Mirza took place even as reports on Wednesday stated that the Indian Army had launched a massive retribution offensive to avenge the killing of three soldiers in the Machhal sector of Kupwara.Two BSF jawans were injured in cross-border action on Wednesday. Since September 29, when India launched “surgical strikes” inside Pakistani-controlled territory, the country has lost 18 jawans, 13 from the Army and five from the BSF, with many others injured.Sources said that Pakistan had asked for the DGMO talks, which came close after the Pakistan Foreign Office confirmed that Sartaj Aziz, who functions as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, will attend a regional conference in Amritsar early next month. This ignites the hope of easing of tensions.Pakistan DGMO who called his Indian counterpart on Wednesday morning informed him about the civilian casualities. He said a minibus was hit with small and big arms in the town of Lawat in Neelam Valley, killing nine passengers and injuring 11 others. The minibus was on its way to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).Lt Gen. Singh expressed grief at the civilian casualties, but emphatically stated that the retaliatory firing by Indian troops was carried out targeting locations from where Pakistan has initiated ceasefire violations on Indian posts. He also raised the issue of civilians and soldiers being killed on the Indian side, due to unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops.Earlier in the day, from Poonch to Rajouri and from Machil to Keran, the Indian Army has gone on an all-out offensive to target Pakistani posts on the other side of Line of Control across Jammu and Kashmir.”We are carrying out the fire assaults,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman, in Srinagar.Army sources said that massive damage was inflicted on Pakistani posts after the Indian fire assault. They added that the Army used light artillery to target Pakistani posts, decimating several of them on the LoC.On the other side, Pakistani media reports quoting Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) admitted that three Pakistani soldiers—Captain Taimoor Ali Khan, Havaldar Mushtaq Hussain and Lance Naik Ghulam Hussain—were killed.In retaliatory fire, two BSF soldiers were injured when Pakistani shells landed near their post on the LoC in the Keran sector of Kupwara district. Indian Army launched the fire assaults soon after it vowed to avenge the killing of three soldiers saying “retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act.”It was reported that the Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan had badly mutilated the body of one soldier and killed two others when they ambushed a counter infiltration patrol on the Line of Control (LoC) at the Machhal sector of Kupwara district on Tuesday. BAT is a mix of Pakistani Special Forces, which are used as the force multiplier by Pakistan army on the LoC.During the telephone conversation, the Indian DGMO also raised the issue of infiltration attempts by terrorists. He described the mutilation of the body one Indian soldier as “unethical”. Pakistan, however, rejected as “false and baseless” the reports regarding the alleged mutilation of the solider.”These reports are a fabrication and a blatant attempt to malign Pakistan,” said Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakariya.General Singh also asked his Pakistani counterpart to exercise strict control on his troops and to refrain from any nefarious activities. “This will lead to the return of normalcy along the LoC,” he said. He also stated that any case of ceasefire violations or infiltration attempts from Pakistan on Indian territory, would receive an appropriate response from the Indian Army.On the diplomatic front, Pakistan’s Director General (SAARC) Dr. Mohammad Faisal, summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, on Wednesday morning, to protest against the firing.Later in the evening, India also summoned Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah, on Wednesday, to issue a demarche.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz informed the Senate on Tuesday that a high-level committee consisting of senior officials from the ministries of defence, interior and information, the military operations directorate, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), has been formed to formulate ‘a doable and sustainable India-Kashmir policy.’Aziz said that Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry is heading the committee and could co-opt other members if required.He said that the committee would regularly brief the two committees which Senate had originally recommended including chairpersons of the defence and foreign affairs committees.The Dawn quoted Aziz as saying that a committee, chaired by the information secretary, and representatives from the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and information technology, as well as members of the Military Operations Directorate, ISI and IB had been formed to prepare fact sheets, counter India’s propaganda campaign and design a media strategy to continuously highlight the Kashmiri freedom struggle.Ministry of Information Technology had been asked by Aziz to prepare a comprehensive strategy to highlight the Jammu and Kashmir issue by means of social media.”This dossier has been shared with other key countries and international organisations. Another dossier on the activities of Kulbhushan Jadhav will also be finalised in the near future,” Aziz said while referring to the dossier on India’s interference in Pakistan, presented to the UN secretary general by the prime minister in September.Asserting that Pakistan was supportive of all initiatives for peace and stability in the region, he said that this commitment to regional peace and stability was evident from the decision to participate in the Heart of Asia ministerial conference in Amritsar, despite the postponement of SAARC summit in Islamabad because of India.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi returned to India and was questioned at length by the ED in Delhi on Tuesday in a money laundering and alleged hawala dealings case. Officials said Qureshi, who arrived in Delhi from London on Monday, was grilled for over seven hours at the agency’s office, even as he was confronted with various documents seized by the agency and those obtained from the Income Tax department.The agency had also asked him to join the probe citing a court-issued directive in this regard. They said while he was questioned about a number of transactions, the businessman is also understood to have submitted some financial documents to the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.The Delhi High Court, while hearing a plea filed by Qureshi, had last month directed him to return to India by mid-November and appear before the agency for questioning in this case. The meat exporter is facing probes by ED as well as the I-T department for alleged tax evasion, money laundering and hawala-like deals among others.
ALSO READ ED tells CBI to probe Moin Qureshi caseThe Income Tax department had sometime back issued notices to Qureshi under the new Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 as probe led it to few foreign assets owned or held by the meat exporter and his family in an alleged illegal manner as they were not declared or reported to Indian tax authorities.The case emerged after tax department first carried out searches against Qureshi and his firm AMQ Group on February 15, 2014. The meat exporter had on October 15 left the country from the IGI airport here despite a Look Out Circular issued by the ED against him. The agency had also asked the CBI to probe the role of public servants in allegedly favouring Qureshi in his deals.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi has returned to India and is expected to join investigations on Tuesday before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing his role in a money laundering case.Officials said Qureshi arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here Monday night after which ED sleuths served him a court-issued directive to present himself before the agency today.They said the businessman is expected to depose before the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, as per directives of the court.The Delhi High court, while hearing a plea filed by Qureshi, had last month directed him to return to India by mid-November and appear before the agency for questioning in this case.The meat exporter is facing probes by ED as well as the I-T department for alleged tax evasion, money laundering among others.The Income Tax department had sometime back issued notices to Qureshi under the new Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 as probe led it to few foreign assets owned or held by the meat exporter and his family in an alleged illegal manner as they were not declared or reported to Indian tax authorities.The case emerged after tax department first carried out searches against Qureshi and his firm AMQ Group on February 15, 2014.The meat exporter had on October 15 left the country from the IGI airport here despite a Look Out Circular issued by the ED against him.The agency had also asked the CBI to probe the role of public servants in allegedly favouring Qureshi in his deals.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistan on Monday summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh and lodged a protest over alleged ceasefire violations by India at the LoC that resulted in the death of four civilians, and also over New Delhi’s refusal of diplomatic flight clearance to Pakistani aircraft.Singh conveyed “strong condemnation of the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces on the LoC in Khuiratta sector on November 19,” the Foreign Office said. The violations resulted in the death of four children, including three girls, and injuries to two other civilians, it said. “The Deputy High Commissioner was told that the deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas was highly deplorable,” it said.India was urged to respect the 2003 ceasefire understanding in letter and spirit; to investigate the continued incidents of ceasefire violations; stop targeting the villages and civilians and maintain peace along the LoC, according to a statement by the Foreign Office. Pakistan also expressed concern over Indian refusal of diplomatic flight clearance to Pakistani aircraft.This action by the India constituted a violation of the 1991 bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India, it said. Pakistan has summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale twice in less than a week – on November 10 and 14 – this month over Indian ceasefire violations at the LoC after the death of seven of its soldiers. Pakistan has also alleged that Indian forces have been using heavy weaponry such as artillery fire at the LoC.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to defreeze an NGO’s account enabling it to use its foreign funds as the Centre claimed the decision not to renew the foreign funding registration under FCRA was taken in “public interest”.”I am not inclined to give any interim relief with regard to defreezing of the petitioner account. I will have to hear it and than decide the issue,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said. It further observed that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in their sealed cover report, which was perused by it, has stated that they have inputs of the intelligence agencies in relation to the renewal of licence and the foreign funding. The court, however, asked the MHA to file its counter affidavit within three weeks asking it to give reasons for refusing to renew registration of the NGO, Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns (CPSC), under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on January 17. Central government standing counsel Anil Soni, appearing for the MHA, defended the decision saying it was done in the “public interest”. “We have right to prohibit foreign contribution which are likely to affect prejudicially the public interest and also the friendly relation with any foreign state,” the MHAs’ counsel said. He also said that the government was exempted from giving reasons for refusing to renew the FCRA registrations.Soni also told the court that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had issued notice to the Home Secretary after taking suo-motu cognisance of the issue, and has sought a report within six weeks. The MHA has been asked by NHRC to provide details of the number of NGOs of Human Rights defenders that have not been allowed renewal of licence and the foreign funds received by them over the past three years, as well as the reason for non-renewal, he said. The lawyer also said how the matter could be taken up by the commission when the high court was dealing with it. The court was hearing the plea of CPSC, better known by its programme unit People’s Watch, which sought setting aside of the government’s October 29 decision refusing to renew its registration. The NGO said restriction of its funds “has caused a great amount of harm and it will result in a complete halt of its charitable activities which will affect a vast number of people”.The central government counsel countered saying the NGO continues to operate and only the foreign contribution has been restricted. The MHA had recently denied FCRA registration to 25 NGOs for being allegedly involved in anti-national activities and derecognised over 11,000 such organisations for failing to apply for renewal. CPSC has contended that the only reason it was given for non-renewal of its registration was — “On the basis of a field agency report, the competent authority has decided to refuse your application for renewal”.It has said in its plea that under the FCRA Rules, its application for renewal was to be decided in 90 days and in case of delay, reasons had to be communicated to it. The NGO has contended that since the prescribed procedures were not followed, its registration would be deemed to have been renewed after expiry of 90 days from March 14, when it had applied for renewal. To this the counsel for the MHA submitted that they are not obliged to inform the NGO about such decision.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Friday described as “ambiguous” India’s ‘No First Use’ policy on nuclear weapons and said it cannot be a substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures, days Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar questioned the doctrine.”Pakistan believes the ambiguous ‘No First Use’ Declaration is not verifiable and amounts to nothing. It can’t be a substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures proposed by Pakistan’s standing offer of Strategic Restraint Regime,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in his weekly briefing. He was responding to the recent remarks by Parrikar in which he asked why India cannot say “we are a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly” instead of affirming a “no first use policy”. Later he had said the remarks were personal in nature.Zakaria said statement by the defence minister of a country that repeatedly and constantly heightens tension and maintains an aggressive posture should be a matter of concern for all. He said signing of nuclear deals by some countries is a matter of concern as it is only reinforcing arrogance and belligerence with which India conducts itself in the region and beyond, in an indirect reference to Indo-Japan nuclear deal.Zakaria also said Pakistan established itself as a serious candidate for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), increasing number of countries were supporting the non-discriminatory approach.”There is also growing recognition of the fact that 2008 exemption to India neither benefited non-proliferation regime nor objective of strategic stability in South Asia,” he said.The spokesman expressed the confidence that members of the NSG would bear in mind the need to prevent further erosion of non-proliferation regime and preserving credibility of the NSG as a rule-based organisation. He said Pakistan has expressed its openness to measures for strengthening non-proliferation objectives to the NSG, which included proposal for binding bilateral agreement with India on non-testing.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Write-off: Will SBI’s play on words help recover loans?At a recent internal meeting of the SBI, it was decided to drop the term “write-off” and instead use the phrase Advance Under Collection Account (AUCA) for all toxic loans pending with industrial houses. But the question here is whether the mere changing of the term will amount to the recovery of the hefty outstanding loans owed to the bank. Read more4.4 magnitude earthquake hits Delhi, Haryana; no loss of life, property reportedA medium intensity earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook the national capital and neighbouring Haryana in the wee hours of Thursday. According to the National Center for Seismology, a unit of Ministry of Earth Sciences, the mild tremor hit Delhi at around 4.30 am and was epicentred near Delhi-Haryana border. Read details DNA Exclusive: CBI probes Mauritius co’s MCX exitThe Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a probe into Multi Commodity Exchange’s IPO held in 2012 that provided an exit to one of the foreign investors — Alexandra Mauritius Ltd — without the requisite approval by Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Read full storyWill TCS move to oust Cyrus Mistry from its board today?As the Tata-Mistry battle rages on, two key board meetings will be held on Thursday, including one to seek removal of the ousted group chairman from the board of crown-jewel Tata Consultancy Services. Read more Indian Army rejects Pakistan claim of killing 11 Indian soldiers at LoCIndian Army on Thursday rejected Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s claim of killing at least 11 Indian soldiers at Line of Control (LoC). On Wednesday, Sharif had claimed that his troops killed at least 11 Indian jawans the day seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in firing by Indian troops across the Line of Control (LoC). Read more
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Three terrorists, involved in the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, were admirers of Zakir Naik, founder of Islamic Research Foundation, which was banned by the government, Rajya Sabha was informed today.”The three terrorists involved in the attack were reportedly admirers of Zakir Naik,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in a written reply. The Minister said as per the available information, although the mandate of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is educational and social, it is also involved in other activities. “Noticing certain violations of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the IRF has been placed under the prior permission category”.The government on Tuesday decided to declare the IRF, an NGO promoted by the controversial Islamic preacher as an outlawed organisation under the anti-terror law for five years for its alleged terror activities. The decision has been taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Cabinet approved a proposal to declare IRF as an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for five years.The move comes after investigation by the Home Ministry found that the NGO was allegedly having dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism. According to the Home Ministry, Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda. Naik came under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik.The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He is popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher who is abroad, has not returned to India ever since the controversy came to light.
Beijing: China, which has been blocking India’s NSG bid, on Tuesday maintained its tough stand on the issue and called for a two-step “non-discriminatory” solution to admit non-NPT members into the 48-member elite grouping.
China’s remarks came as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its meeting in Vienna on 11 November discussed a formula acting on India’s application to join it.
Representational image. AFP
“We maintain that we should follow two-step approach. First, we should find out a solution that is applicable to all non-NPT members applications to the NSG through consultations and discussions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing outlining China’s stand at the Vienna meeting.
The second step is to discuss specific non-NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) members’ admission into the NSG, he said.
“We believe that the solution should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT members and it must not damage the core value of the NSG as well as the authority, effectiveness and integrity of the NPT,” he said.
“We hope that we can enter into the second step after finishing the first step at an early date which is to talk about specific non-NPT members joining the NSG,” he said.
China’s stand for a non-discriminatory criteria is regarded significant as Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing too has applied for the NSG membership along with India. China, which has blocked earlier India’s entry on the ground that India has not signed the NPT, has held two rounds of talks with India and Pakistan about their admission into the group.
India has secured the backing of the US and majority of the NSG members based on its non-proliferation record in comparison to Pakistan which faced serious allegations of nuclear proliferation in the past specially with regard to its nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan.
Geng said at the Vienna meeting of the NSG, members talked about the technical, legal and political matters relating non-NPT members accession to the NSG.
He said this is the first time the group talked about entry of the new members.
Earlier a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “It is the first time a discussion, not only since the Seoul Plenary, but also since the NSG’s inception in 1975, for the Group to formally take up the issue of non-NPT states’ participation in an open and transparent manner.”
Geng said the discussion about the entry of new members is a “good start”.
“We believe it is good start and we will continue to support the NSG in following through on the first step and explore the final solution at an early date,” he said.
India has been maintaining that NPT membership was not essential for joining the NSG, as was the case with France.
Mon, 14 Nov 2016-02:50pm , Paksitan , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan army on Monday said at least seven of its soldiers were killed in firing allegedly by Indian troops across the Line of Control.Seven Pakistani soldiers were killed at the LoC in the Bhimber sector in an alleged ceasefire violation by Indian troops on Sunday night, the army said in a statement.Pakistani troops responded to “unprovoked” Indian firing and targeted Indian posts effectively, it said.So far mostly civilian have been killed in the firing on Pakistani side of the LoC.Pakistan has also summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale to the Foreign Office.Pakistan Foreign Office last week said that the civilian death toll from alleged Indian shelling has risen to at least 25 in the past few weeks.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six Indian High Commission officials, out of the eight accused by Pakistan of being members of Indian intelligence agencies, have left the country, the foreign office said, with three diplomats leaving on Wednesday. “Six out of eight Indian diplomats found involved in subversive activities in Pakistan have left,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters during a briefing.He did not name those who have left. Three Indian officials, accused of working for the Intelligence Bureau, left Pakistan early on Wesnesday said security sources. “Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil left via Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 615,” they said.The name of the third official who left Pakistan today was not know yet. Zakaria had last week identified eight Indian High Commission officials by name and designation. He had alleged that several Indian diplomats and staffers were involved in “coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments”.Those named were Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri (Commercial Counsellor), Anurag Singh (First Secretary Commercial), Amerdeep Singh Bhatti (Attache Visa) and three staffers – Dharmendra Sodhi, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar. Singh, Verma and Kumar left Pakistan on Tuesday.Last month, Pakistan had declared Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh ‘persona non-grata’ after India’s action against Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar following Indian police’s busting of an ISI-run spy ring. On November 2, Pakistan had pulled out six of its officials in the wake of the spy scandal.
New Delhi: India’s refusal to renew foreign funding licences of 25 charities is a violation of their right to freedom of association, and appears to be a move to quell criticism, two rights groups said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s right-wing nationalist government has tightened surveillance on non-profit groups regulated under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) since sweeping to power more than two years ago.
Demonstrators attend a protest organised by India’s ruling BJP. Reuters
“The home ministry’s decision to prevent NGOs from receiving foreign funding without sound justification is mystifying. The ministry has an obligation to show how these restrictions are necessary and proportionate,” said Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India, in a statement.
Home ministry officials were not immediately available to comment.
More than 10,000 civil society groups in India have had their licences to receive overseas donations cancelled or suspended since 2014, impairing their ability to work in areas ranging from health to the environment.
The government has previously said that the groups had violated FCRA by not disclosing donation details or by using foreign funds to engage in “anti-national” activities.
Amnesty International India and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the latest group of charities to be affected included the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns, a prominent human rights group also known as People’s Watch.
A statement on the FCRA website did not give any reason.
This is not the first time People’s Watch has been targeted. In 2012 and 2013, the previous government suspended its FCRA licence three times and froze its bank accounts. People’s Watch challenged the move and the Delhi High Court ruled in its favour.
Other charities, such as the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and Sanchal Foundation, which work in areas including land and housing, health, education and governance, have also not had their FCRA licences renewed, Amnesty and HRW said.
In July, a group of UN experts said they were stunned by the way India was applying the law to stymie its critics, adding that the FCRA was “overly broad” and activities deemed political or against the economic interest of the state were vague.
There is no official number of charities operating in India, but the government estimates at least two million non-profit groups work in areas like the environment, climate change and minority rights. A 2013 home ministry report said some 43,500 groups were registered as charities that received foreign funds, but slightly less than half provided details.
Home ministry officials have said they are enforcing the FCRA to make the non-profit sector compliant and transparent and ensure charities are not engaging in illegal political or anti-national activities.
But Amnesty and HRW urged the government to repeal the FCRA or amend it so that is not misused to restrict charities’ work.
“While India is actively encouraging foreign investment in key industries, it is trying to deny funding for efforts to assist the most vulnerable and marginalised,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director. “The government should engage with those seeking rights reform and empower these groups, instead of treating criticism as a threat to be quashed.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court has allowed an NGO, whose registration to receive foreign funding was not renewed by the government, to continue using the funds already available in its FCRA account.Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva however made it clear that the NGO, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), would not be entitled to receive any fresh foreign contribution till the next date of hearing on November 31.”It is directed that till the next date of hearing, the registration of petitioner shall be deemed to continue for the purposes of withdrawal of money from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Account for utilisation in accordance with the Act.”However, petitioner would not be entitled to receive any fresh contribution in foreign exchange till the next date of hearing,” it said.INSAF is one of the over 11,000 NGOs which recently lost their foreign funding registration under FCRA after the Centre refused to renew them.The government had recently denied FCRA registration to 25 NGOs for being allegedly involved in anti-national activities and derecognised over 11,000 such organisations for failing to apply for renewal.In the instant case, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court that the action of non-renewal was taken based on intelligence inputs.He said he would place the relevant records before the court on the next date of hearing.The NGO in its plea has claimed the only communicated to it said “your application for renewal is refused”.It contended that due to non-renewal of its registration, it would neither be entitled to receive foreign contribution, nor utilise the funds already received and kept in the designated FCRA account and “all the money lying therein, for all practical purposes, would be frozen”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>IRF Educational Trust, promoted by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, has been put under prior permission category, thus preventing it from receiving foreign funds without getting nod from the central government. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said that on the basis of records available and reports received from intelligence agencies, it found that the IRF Education Trust has violated various provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) 2010.”Now, therefore, the central government in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 11 of the FCRA 2010, hereby specifies that the IRF Education Trust shall obtain prior permission of the central government on each occasion before accepting any foreign contribution in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Act and rules made thereunder,” the notification said. The move came after different investigations found Naik to be “involved” in utilising funds meant for his NGOs for alleged radicalisation of youths and “inspiring” them into terror activities, official sources said. Government is also in the process of cancellation of the FCRA registration of Islamic Research Foundation, another NGO promoted Zakir Naik, and a final show cause notice to the organisation has already been issued.Interestingly, the IRF’s registration under the FCRA was renewed in September inadvertently despite multiple probes against Naik, leading to suspension of a Joint Secretary and four other officials in the Home Ministry.Government is also planning to declare IRF as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and a nod from the Union Cabinet is awaited for it. According to a draft note, which is based on the inputs from Maharashtra Police, Naik, who heads the IRF and IRF Educational Trust, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda. Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, a source said. Naik also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” through Peace TV, sources have claimed. Naik came under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik. The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.He had been popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often allegedly demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher is currently abroad and has not returned to India ever since the controversy erupted.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UK’s Opposition Labour party has called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to “come clean” about the role played by Britain in Operation Blue Star before her three-day visit to India starting Sunday.Labour party Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, said on Friday that Britain’s Sikh community deserves to know the truth in the wake of allegations by Sikh Federation UK that the UK Foreign Office had removed files with “new evidence” of British involvement in the military operation on Golden Temple in June 1984. “Before her visit to India, Theresa May must come clean about the role played by the UK in the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984 and subsequent events. There is increasing evidence that Margaret Thatcher s administration worked more closely with the Indian government than was known at the time,” Watson said in a statement.His statement followed claims that the Foreign Office had intentionally removed files referring to the possibility of the Special Air Services (SAS) unit of the British Army being involved after “an Indian request for military assistance in the setting up of a National Guard for internal security duties” during Operation Blue Star. While the Foreign Office said it had merely “borrowed” the files, the Labour party said the fact the files exist raise important questions. Watson added: “David Cameron’s previous inquiry failed to reveal the full facts and we now learn that vital new documents relating to the massacre have been removed from the National Archives by ministers. The revelation that these new documents exist suggest that Parliament may have been inadvertently misled by a former Foreign Secretary. After over 30 years of demanding answers, Britain’s Sikh community deserves to know the truth, no matter how embarrassing it is for the current government. After the failure of the Cabinet Secretary s internal inquiry, there should be a full independent investigation into these matters.”The Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry refers to an official UK government inquiry in 2014 into the exact nature of British involvement in the Indian Army operation at the Golden Temple. The inquiry had been ordered by then British Prime Minister David Cameron after documents released previously under the 30-year declassification rule had implied British SAS commanders had advised the Indian government as it drew up plans for the removal of militants from Golden Temple. “The report concludes that the nature of the UK s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage in their planning,” William Hague, then UK foreign secretary, had told the House of Commons in February 2014.Sikh Federation UK claims the latest note it found, marked confidential, was written on July 3, 1984, a month after the operation, which points to a more prominent British role. The note was written by a civil servant in the Foreign Office s South Asia department and copied to Ministry of Defence officials and the high commissioner in Delhi. Earlier on Friday, their lawyers wrote to UK home secretary Amber Rudd demanding an “independent investigation”. “The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) borrowed some of their files from 1984 that were released to the National Archives so they could read the content following concerns raised by the Sikh Federation. They will return all the files in full shortly,” a UK government spokesperson said.
A Delhi court has issued a non-bailable warrant against controversial business man Vijay Mallya, who owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to a clutch of 17 banks and is now learnt to be in the UK, according to media reports.
Issuing the warrant, the court observed that Mallya has no intention of returning to India and that he has little respect for Indian laws, the reports said.
In July, the court had cancelled the exemption granted to Mallya from personal appearance in the case lodged for allegedly evading summons in connection with a Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violation case.
Vijay Mallya. Reuters
Mallya was directed to personally appear before it on 9 September which he failed to. The exemption from personal appearance was granted to Mallya in December 2000, regarding a complaint filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) for evading the summons issued to him.
The ED had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of $200,000 to a British firm, Benetton Formula Ltd, for displaying the Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
The probe agency had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in violation of FERA norms.
The ED had earlier also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is now in its final stage.
Mallya has various cases against him in India. He managed to fly out of the country on 2 March, the day State Bank of India moved the Supreme Court against him.
Last month, the ED approached the special PMLA court in Mumbai seeking to declare Mallya an absconder and attach his properties as he did not comply with a proclamation order issued against him.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani media on Thursday named at least eight staffers at the Indian High Commission here and accused them of carrying out ‘anti-Pakistan activities’, in the latest tit-for-tit action amid raging Indo-Pak tensions.After Pakistan pulled out six of its officials in the wake of a spy scandal involving staffers of its High Commission in New Delhi, sources in the External Affairs Ministry yesterday said India was considering withdrawing eight of its diplomats as their security has been “completely compromised”.However, Pakistani media identified at least eight Indian staffers and accused them of “anti-Pakistan activities”.The latest tit-for-tit naming of officials coincided with rising tensions between India and Pakistan following the Uri terror attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes across the LoC, both of which have pushed bilateral ties to a new low.Two Indian officials were named yesterday afternoon but that number soared to eight by late night.The Dawn newspaper reported that the alleged Indian intelligence personnel include commercial counsellor Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, first secretary (press and culture) Balbir Singh, first secretary (commercial) Anurag Singh, visa attache Amardeep Singh Bhatti, visa assistants Dharmedra, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar, and assistant (personnel welfare office) Jayabalan Senthil.The media claimed that the officials were working for either R&AW or for the Indian Intelligence Bureau.The names have, however, not been officially confirmed by the Foreign Office.According to the information leaked to the media, the Indian ‘agents’ were found to be involved in “subversive activities’, including attempts to disrupt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and create fear and chaos in the country”.They are also alleged to have been building a network of informants within Pakistan and fabricating evidence for tarnishing the country.The Dawn said these Indian officials could be declared persona non grata by Pakistani authorities in the coming days or that India might withdraw them.Meanwhile, the withdrawn Pakistani officers and staffers reached Lahore on Wednesday.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Theresa May will raise with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi the issue of six former British soldiers lodged in a Tamil Nadu jail during her upcoming visit to India.A UK Foreign Office spokesperson today confirmed to the families of the ex-soldiers sentenced for carrying arms on a commercial ship that the issue will feature in May’s bilateral talks during her three-day visit to New Delhi and Bengaluru starting this Sunday. “We recognise what a difficult time this is for those involved and we have taken significant action on this case.The Prime Minister has been clear that she intends to raise it with Prime Minister Modi during her visit next week,” the spokesperson said. The Foreign Office also highlighted that the Indian-origin Foreign Office minister for Asia, Alok Sharma, had also “pressed for progress” on the issue during his first official visit to India in July, and again last month. Earlier this year, the then-Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire had travelled to India to meet the men personally. The Foreign Office said it continues to provide ongoing support to all six men and their families and is “working to make sure the men’s welfare is protected in prison”.However, Lisa Dunn, the sister of Nick Dunn — one of the jailed men, said May must not “waste” all her time talking about trade deals while in India. “Theresa May has the power to end this now, and that’s what we want her to do. She cannot waste this opportunity face-to-face with Modi, she has six British men at her mercy, and can’t just waste it talking about her trade deals,” Dunn told BBC.”These were six British soldiers who served this country and they need help. It’s an absolute travesty if she fails to raise it. The power is in her hands and we’re begging her for help,” she said. The men were arrested in 2013 among 35 crew members and sentenced by a Tamil Nadu court to five years in prison in January this year for carrying unlicensed firearms. An appeal has been lodged against their sentences, but a judge in Chennai ruled the men cannot be released on bail.They were held while working for an anti-piracy security company protecting commercial ships off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. All six men have consistently maintained their innocence. Joanne Tomlinson, the sister of another jailed ex-soldier — John Armstrong, said that while the men have had consular support from the Foreign Office, “we feel there is so much more they can do”.”They have spent more than 18 months in prison now, and we feel there must be more diplomatic pressure that can be put on (India). Six of our veterans are imprisoned there. They should be speeding the legal process up,” she said.The men – Dunn, Armstrong, Billy Irving, Ray Tindall, Paul Towers, and Nicholas Simpson — have been backed by more than 20 British MPs, including former British Premier David Cameron.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Voicing its concern over India’s nuclear capabilities, Pakistan called on the member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to make a well-considered decision over including India, keeping in view the long-term implications for the global non-proliferation regime as well as strategic stability in the region”This build-up has been facilitated by the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver granted to India, which not only dented the credibility of the non-proliferation regime and undermined its efficacy, but also negatively affected the strategic balance in South Asia,” said Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakariya at a weekly press briefing, reports the Dawn.Pakistan has been asserting that India’s rapidly expanding military nuclear programme poses a grave threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond.The FO spokesman warned that another country-specific exemption by the NSG on the membership question would further exacerbate the ill effects of the 2008 exemption. “It remains our hope that the NSG member states would make a well-considered decision this time keeping in view its long-term implications for the global non-proliferation regime as well as strategic stability in our region,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani forces have been making desperate attempts to retaliate since the surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army last month, which destroyed terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).The Forces have been kept busy over the last month, as on average, two ceasefire violations have taken place every day since the precision operation by the Indian Army. According to official figures, out of the 115 violations along the border this year, 60 have taken place after India’s offensive last month. The Indian Army hit back after 18 armymen were killed in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.”There has not been a single day since the surgical strikes when Pakistani forces have not indulged in shelling and firing. We have hit back each time,” said an intelligence official.Sources say the situation will continue to remain volatile as Pakistani forces are now desperate to hit back across the LoC and International Border. (IB) “According to ground intelligence and chatter picked up from across the border, Pakistani forces are pumping in more fidayeens (suicide bombers) to strike at Indian forces,” said an intelligence official.Intelligence inputs also indicate that after India’s surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army has carried out “precautionary deployment” all along the LoC on their side to fill up the gaps, as they fear another round of strikes from Indian forces.”Soon after our raids, they have increased deployment in areas they consider vulnerable. Precautionary deployment is roughly 25 per cent of full mobilisation,” said an intelligence official.It’s not just in the IB, where security forces are facing a stiff challenge but also in the Kashmir Valley that has been in turmoil over the last three months since the killing of local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces.Taking advantage of the situation, Pakistani terror groups have intensified their efforts to recruit local Kashmiri youth into militancy. It is estimated that around 100 youth have gone missing in the last three months, raising fears of a massive local recruitment drive. According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.Sources also said that around 4,000 people, who were part of the stone- pelting mobs attacking security forces, have been arrested in the last three months. These were mostly from areas in south Kashmir that have the maximum number of local recruits.Figures released by the Army show that 129 terrorists have been killed this year till now. Contrast this to 2015, when the figure for the entire year was 97. Sources say that most of the kills this year have happened near the LoC as infiltrating terrorists were intercepted.Pak blames India for ceasefire violationsDr Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s Director-General (SA & SAARC), summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh on Friday and strongly condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations” on October 27 by Indian forces at the working boundary in Shakargarh sector and on the LoC in Nikial sector, resulting in the martyrdom of six civilians, including two women and injuries to 22 civilians, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a tit-for-tat action, Pakistan on Thursday expelled Surjeet Singh, an official of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, apparently in retaliation against the Indian action of declaring Pakistani High Commission staffer in New Delhi, Mehmood Akhtar, persona non grata. Hours after Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit at South Block to protest against the espionage activities of Akhtar, late in the evening in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry rang up Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale and summoned him to the Pakistan Foreign Office. As expected, the Indian High Commissioner was told that one of his staffers Surjeet Singh was declared persona non grata.“The Foreign Secretary expressed deep concern over the activities of the Indian official that were in violation of the Vienna Convention and the established diplomatic norms,” said a statement issued by Pakistan Foreign Office.Unlike India, which put out a detailed charge list against Akhtar, who was working as an undercover assistant to the Councillor (Trade), Pakistan’s statement did not mention any charges against Singh.In a typical Cold War style, India and Pakistan have been indulging in the game of diplomatic expulsions to score points. In the past, there had been several acts of intimidation, beating, and even abduction of Indian diplomatic staff in Islamabad. In 1992, New Delhi and Islamabad signed a Code of Conduct for treatment of their diplomats in order to mitigate the allegations from both the sides. This agreement, however, has often been violated, leading to diplomatic expulsions from time to time by the two countries. In the past, the biggest incident of diplomatic action has been the expulsion of Pakistan’s acting High Commissioner Jalil Abbas Jilani in January 2003 in New Delhi for helping Kashmiri separatists. Pakistan retaliated by “boxing in” the flag car of the acting Indian High Commissioner Sudhir Vyas in Islamabad. Later Vyas, along with four other staffers, was expelled.The earliest high-profile expulsion from Indian side was that of Brig Zaheer Abbasi, defence advisor at the Pakistan High Commission, just a few days ahead of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s famous trip to Islamabad to attend the SAARC summit in 1988 and revive dialogue with then counterpart Benazir Bhutto. Delhi Police had caught him at Green Park hotel handing over Rs 25,000 for secret documents.In 1997, Pakistan expelled SK Chaudhury from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and India retaliated by calling for the withdrawal of Murad Baloch from the Pakistani mission in New Delhi. Again in 2000, India expelled three Pakistani diplomats because of “activities incompatible with their official status”. Months after the Agra summit in December 2001, India recalled its ambassador to Pakistan in response to an attack on its Parliament and reduced the size of the staff at its diplomatic mission.In May 2002, India asked Pakistan to follow suit, by reducing the size of its diplomatic staff. It also asked Pakistan’s then envoy Ashraf Jehangir Qazi to leave the country. In January 2003, came the high-profile expulsion of Acting High Commissioner Jalil Abbas Jilani, along with four other members of the mission, on charges of helping Kashmiri separatists.According to diplomatic norms, once a diplomat is declared persona non-grata, he is not allowed to go to that country. Ironically, in 2012, India had to receive Jilani to take forward the peace process — after being stalled by the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks — as he had become foreign secretary.In 2006, Pakistan expelled Deepak Kaul, a Counsellor at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, after accusing him of possessing “sensitive documents”. He was detained and interrogated while driving from Islamabad to Lahore. India retaliated by expelling Syed Muhammad Rafique Ahmed, a Counsellor in the Pakistan mission in New Delhi.But the most curious case has been that of Indian diplomat Madhuri Gupta. Delhi police’s Special Cell arrested Madhuri Gupta on April 22, 2010. She was posted as Second Secretary in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. According to the chargesheet filed by the police in 2010, she was involved in a relationship with Jamshed, an ISI official, whom she planned to marry. She was accused of passing on sensitive information to the ISI agent.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani spy Mehmood Akhtar has confessed that there was a spy ring being run in India to obtain top defence secrets. Akhtar, who was an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, working in the Pakistan High Commission, named 14 others who were working as spies there. The Delhi Police announced the busting of the network on Thursday.Investigators said Akhtar’s confession has been videotaped. In the video, he talks about obtaining top secret files relating to the deployment of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces on the border.Since Akhtar enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was let off but has been asked to leave the country by October 29. Two Indians, Maulana Ramzan Khan and Subash Jangir, who worked for him have also been arrested. They will be grilled over the next 12 days.Police officials have also revealed the role of women in the racket. “These women were used as honeytraps to extract information from officers and other groups,” said a senior police officer.Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official from the Pakistan High Commission, who was involved in espionage and that he was being declared persona non grata.Intelligence sleuths have also seized coded army intelligence maps, details of deployment and military movement. “Documents in his possession have revealed the deployment of the army and paramilitary forces in Rajasthan and Gujarat,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav.Akhtar worked in the visa section at the Pakistan High Commission. He was in touch with another person, identified as Shoaib, who, along with his father, worked for Akhtar. Shoaib, who worked as a visa agent, was detained by the Rajasthan Police in Jodhpur late on Thursday evening. Officials say that he recruited spies for Akhtar. In fact, both Maulana Ramzan Khan alias Hazrat and Subhash Jangir were both recruited by Shoaib.Acting on specific intelligence, the cops nabbed Akhtar, Ramzan and Jangir, just outside Delhi Zoo. The duo was to pass on sensitive documents to Akhtar. When they were apprehended, Akhtar used a fake name and showed a fake Aadhaar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.Ramzan (50) is a school dropout and came to Nagaur, Rajasthan, around 25 years back. He ran a clothes shop and also started working as an Islamic preacher in a local mosque ‘Qureshiyon ki Masjid’ in Jodhpur. In 2015, he came into contact with Shoaib, who asked him to join him in collecting confidential information about the army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan. He was a resident of the border area and familiar with the topography.Jangir (35) ran a grocery shop and their shops were close. Jangir was in heavy debt and Ramzan recommended him to Shoaib and recruited him.Police recovered coded maps of army intelligence from Ramzan and Jangir, revealing force movements. Officials say that the spies were planning to set up a stronghold in north-western India, along the border areas, so that they would be better informed about the location of the various forces guarding the borders.Akhtar was a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO). Ramzan and Jangir had been working for him for a year and a half. They met at least once a month at tourist locations and exchanged sensitive documents. Each time, they received an undisclosed amount of money.In a statement in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the Indian action was accompanied by an extremely negative and orchestrated media campaign. “We reject the Indian allegations and deplore the Indian action, which is indeed a violation of the Vienna Convention as well,” it said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India declared a Pakistan High Commission staffer ‘persona non-grata’ for spying and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours after he was caught by Delhi Police with sensitive defence documents, including those about deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border.”Today morning Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official of the Pakistan High Commission in the pursuit of espionage and that he was being declared persona non-grata,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.”The Pakistan High Commission has been informed that Mehmood Akhtar and his family must return to Pakistan by October 29. The Foreign Secretary also strongly conveyed to the Pak High Commissioner that the Pak High Commission must ensure that none of its members indulge in activities inimical to India, or behave in a manner that is incompatible with their diplomatic status,” Swarup said.He also rejected Pakistani allegations of “mishandling” Akhtar, saying he was treated with “utmost courtesy”. “When he was handed over to the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of a ministry official, Akhtar himself said he was treated well,” he added.Swarup said Akhtar told the police that he had joined the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army in 1997 and came on deputation to the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) in 2013 and posted in September 2013 to the Pakistan High Commission where he is presently working as Assistant to Farukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade).Vikas Swarup slams PakistanAsserting that terror has become the “central motive” in India’s interactions with Pakistan, Swarup said it was important that Pakistan takes action to honour various commitments it has made, including at the highest level, that it will dismantle the terror infrastructure and will not allow its soil to be used for such activities against any country, including India.”The terrorist attack in Uri and continuing attacks with repeated frequency in parts of Jammu and Kashmir are being carried out with the support of Pakistan. It is a matter of great concern that instead of taking action against the cancer, Pakistan takes shelter under denial and abjuration. LeT, JeM are active under various aegis and find support from state organs of Pakistan,” Swarup said.Reacting strongly to Pakistan’s denial of charges as “false and unsubstantiated” and that it was an attempt by India to divert attention from Kashmir issue, Swarup said there was no “rationale” behind the claim as Akhtar was caught “red-handed” committing an illegal act.”We are happy that we nipped the ISI spy ring in the bud,” he said, adding that “denial that has come out from Pakistan is something which has by now become quite characteristic (of that country).”On remarks of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan that India was trying to “implode” Pakistan, the Spokesperson said if today that country is feeling isolated, it is because of “misguided policies”.Mehmood Akhtar produced fake Aadhar cardGiving details of how Akhtar was caught, Swarup said following intelligence inputs for the last six months relating to espionage involving vital installations of army and paramilitary forces, Akhtar was intercepted by Delhi Police in the forenoon yesterday while he was receiving sensitive documents pertaining to national security from two persons.Although initially Akhtar masqueraded as an Indian national and even produced a fake Aadhar card, he later admitted that he worked at the Pakistan High Commission and requested that the mission be informed of the developments.Earlier, at a press conference, Delhi Police said acting on inputs, its crime branch took the staffer identified as Mehmood Akhtar into custody after he was found in possession of certain defence documents. Akhtar was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, police said.The crime branch has also arrested two persons, residents of Rajasthan, for allegedly passing on sensitive information to Akhtar, they said. “The alleged spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan’s ISI. They were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information,” said a senior police officer.Those arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The civil services preliminary examination, to select IAS and IPS officers among others, will be held in June instead of August next year.It is after the gap of three years that Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will be conducting the examination in June, rather than August.The civil services preliminary examination, 2017, is scheduled to be held on June 18, as per the Commissions’ calender for the examination.The preliminary tests for 2016, 2015 and 2014 were held during the month of August, a senior UPSC official said.”The preliminary exam will be held early in June this year. The decision has been taken to ensure that the entire process of the examination is completed in time,” he said.The preliminary exam for 2013 was held on May 26 that year.The civil services examination is conducted annually by the UPSC in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.Thousands of candidates take the test every year at various centres across the country.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday strongly protested the detention of the mission’s staffer for procurement of documents relating to defence deployment.The staffer Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan High Commission, was procuring critical details from two other accomplices who have been arrested in Delhi. Akhtar was released as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, but after prolonged questioning by the police .”Basit strongly protested with Indian Foreign Secretary at the detention and manhandling of Pakistan High Commission staffer yesterday in violation of 1961 Vienna Convention,” sources in Pakistan High Commission said.Sources said that the High Commissioner asked the Indian Government to ensure that such harassment does not happen in future.Strongly rejected and denying the accusations, Basit claimed that Pakistan High Commission never engaged in any activity that was incompatible with its diplomatic status.Meanwhile, India has declared Akhtar as persona non grata for espionage activities. This was conveyed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who had summoned Basit on Thursday.”The accused were involved in espionage activities for over a year-and-a-half. We were watching their activities for past six months. On a specific input, they were held yesterday. Akhtar is a kingpin of the spy ring,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) RS Yadav told a press conference.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has not responded to Pakistan’s request and reminders to send the 24 Indian witnesses in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks case to testify in a Pakistani court, the prosecution today told an anti-terrorism court here conducting the trial.”We are still waiting India’s response on the matter. The Foreign Ministry had written to India several months ago and even sent reminders but the Indian government has not responded to us,” a prosecution official told Islamabad Anti- Terrorism Court hearing the case at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. The official informed the court that Pakistan”s Director General, South Asia, had also taken up the matter with India of sending the 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements so that the trial is completed at the earliest.The court adjourned the proceedings till November 2. The official said the case cannot move forward unless India sends the witnesses here to record their statements. “We are going to send another reminder to India asking it either to send the witnesses or refuse. If India wants early conclusion of the Mumbai case, it will have to send its witnesses here,” he said. According to the prosecution, all Pakistani witnesses have recorded their statements.India has been urging Pakistan to complete the trial at the earliest. It has said enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan to prosecute the accused.The mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attacks. Lakhvi has been hiding since he secured bail in the case 17 months ago. Other suspects are lodged in the Adiala Jail.The case has been going on for more than six years.166 people were killed in the attacks carried out by 10 LeT terrorists. Nine were killed while the lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and later executed.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the second day in a row, Pakistan on Wednesday summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over alleged “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces along the Working Boundary and Line of Control. It was second day in succession that Indian envoy JP Singh was summoned by the Foreign Office over violation of ceasefire.”The Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned by the Director General (South Asia & SAARC) today. A strong protest was lodged against the unprovoked ceasefire violations,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.The protest was lodged over violation of ceasefire agreement at the Working Boundary in Chaprar and Harpal sectors and on the LoC in Bhimber sector on 25-26 October, the statement said. Pakistan said that two civilians were killed and nine others injured in the firing.”It was conveyed to the Indian side that it should investigate the incident and share the findings with Pakistan, instruct its troops to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit, refrain from intentionally targeting the villages and maintain peace on the Working Boundary and the LoC,” FO said.India had on Tuesday said Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire by targeting Indian Army positions with mortar and small arms fire in Noushera sector of Rajouri district, prompting the army to give a “befitting response”.There have been over 40 ceasefire violations from the Pakistani side since the Indian side carried out surgical strikes inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir targeting terror launching pads, post the attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18.