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Modi says necessary decisions in the past would have avoided discomfort

Pune: In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.

“In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

“Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves.

“Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said.

“There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.

The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetisation decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 percent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues.

Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities.

“Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.

Modi said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focusses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city.

“Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.

Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times.

“Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.

Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a
lot of work for me to do,” Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 22:45 IST

India, Kyrgyzstan to work against terrorism and extremism: PM Modi

New Delhi: India and Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday pledged to work together to prevent youths from falling prey to the common challenges of terrorism and extremism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Modi was addressing a joint media conference with visiting Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, who arrived in India on Sunday, leading a high-level delegation comprising of ministers, officials and business leaders.

Modi and Atambayev held talks at the Hyderabad House as the two countries signed a number of agreements to enhance their defence and economic ties.

PM Modi. PTIPM Modi. PTI

PM Modi. PTI

“We discussed how we could work together to secure our youth and society from common challenges of terrorism, extremism and radicalism,” Modi said.

“We agreed on the need to overcome these challenges for the common benefit” of the two countries, Modi said.

Modi described Kyrgyzstan “a valuable partner in our common pursuit of making Central Asia a region of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity”.

The Prime Minister said the two countries would encourage better engagement in healthcare, tourism, IT and agriculture, mining and energy and build on bilateral cooperation, including “capacity building and training”.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:16 IST

Address support to terror from outside Afghanistan: India to United Nations

United Nations: In a clear reference to Pakistan providing safe havens to terror groups, India has told the UN that the international community must urgently address the issue of backing to outfits like LeT, JeM and the Haqqani Network by “shadowy supporters” outside Afghanistan.

“Experience, as well as academic research, provides ample support for the assertion that conflicts in which foreign assistance is available to shadowy entities that fight legitimate state authorities tend to be more severe and last longer than other types of conflict,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in a Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan.

Without naming Pakistan, Akbaruddin said sustainable peace in Afghanistan is contingent upon terror groups and individuals being denied safe havens in the country’s neighbourhood and the international community must address the issue of the support that terror outfits like the Taliban and al-Qaeda get from their supporters outside Afghanistan.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“If we are to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups and individuals that perpetrate violence against the people and the government of Afghanistan must be denied safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood,” he said.

“We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” Akbaruddin said at the United Nations on Monday.

He pointed out to the meeting in the 15-nation Council that it is apparent that efforts by nations for rebuilding institutions, infrastructure and networks in Afghanistan are being “undermined, schools are being destroyed, mosques bombarded and religious gatherings targeted”.

“It is also evident that those who perpetrate these heinous crimes have survived and thrived only with support and sanctuaries on the outside,” he said, in a veiled but strong reference to Pakistan.

Akbaruddin noted with concern that while the international community recommits to standing by the Afghan people each time the UN members discuss the situation in the war-torn country, the number of Afghan civilian and security forces casualties keeps rising.

“While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory. Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism,” he said.

The Indian envoy emphasised that the international community must introspect about the way it is approaching the situation in Afghanistan and whether there is need for course correction.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 13:11 IST

Anantnag encounter: Kashmir civilians’ efforts to assist militants are severely hampering security ops

A few hundred metres from the site of an encounter with suspected militants in south Kashmir, a mob of at least 1,000 — including children — gathered in Arwani village and tried to break the cordon laid by security forces. The encounter took place in the Hassanpora locality of Bijbehara in Anantnag district.

Security forces during the encounter in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Like dozens of previous attempts made by local residents to provide safe passage to the militants caught in encounters with government forces, the mob pelted stones and tried to come to the rescue of “our heroes”. It is the new normal in Kashmir, which has the security establishment worried.

In the retaliatory action, Arif Ahmad Shah was killed while at least three dozen protesters suffered injuries; one of them was referred to Srinagar’s SKIMS Hospital in a critical state. According to police and witnesses, at least two dozen protesters suffered pellet injuries.

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Security forces during the encounter in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

It won’t be wrong to suggest that Shah, a resident of Sangam area in Anantnag, at least 10 kilometres from the encounter site, was part of the group that was trying to divert the attention of forces to facilitate the escape of the militants — a trend that has picked up recently in Kashmir.

On Thursday evening, after Shah was killed, according to officials by a stray bullet, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, once again, appealed to people not to assemble or come close to the encounter sites “as there is every chance that stray bullets may hit them and they make get injured (sic)”.

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Security forces during the encounter in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

According to witnesses, the protesters, who tried to break the cordon around Hassanpora locality, danced with joy, apparently to celebrate the escape of militants from the area, before they were intercepted by the police in Arwani. At the time of writing, no bodies had been recovered from the encounter site.

Although many news outlets reported that three militants have been killed, there was no conformation on that from the police till midnight on Thursday. The Hassanpora village was cordoned off late on Wednesday evening following inputs of militants in the area. After getting no response to few warning shots, the forces suspended the operation for the night “owing to darkness”.

A member of the security force conducts a search during the encounter. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

A member of the security force conducts a search during the encounter. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

On Thursday morning, the operation was resumed but soon fresh clashes broke out. Witnesses and police said there was intermittent firing going on at the site. Sources said the forces, a joint team of the police and Indian Army, tried to start a mopping-up operation in the evening, but they came under fresh fire due to which the operation was put off till Friday.

As if the happenings in Arwani were not enough, protests broke out in different parts of south Kashmir as rumours of two militants getting killed in the encounter started gaining currency, a harsh reminder that all is not well in the Valley. According to police sources, people from villages adjoining Hassanpora tried to march to the encounter site, sparking clashes.

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A police convoy seen during the encounter. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

In February this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Police was forced to issue an advisory, asking people to stay away from encounter sites to ensure “smooth anti-militancy operations and no civilian casualties”. “We have issued the advisory in the interest of people. We request people to follow it. It’s for their safety,” Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani said.

Given the fragile peace prevailing in the Valley, the violence in Arwani is just a tip of the churning taking place in south Kashmir which has been the epicentre of anti-India and pro-freedom clashes following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

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Army patrols operate during the encounter in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

The massive outpouring of residents is a small window into what is going to be happen in coming days in the Valley, especially since many youths, who have joined the militancy in south Kashmir, are often seen roaming in and around their localities. When they get trapped, locals come to engage security forces and provide them a safe passage, which was what happened on Thursday evening.

“We will do it till the time we are alive. We will continue to save militants from forces. We will end this tyranny,” Shabir, who only gave his first name in Arwani where protesters were trying to break the cordon around the encounter site, said.

A soldier on patrol during the operation in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

A soldier on patrol during the operation in Anantnag. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Earlier this year, after the rise in incidents of people thronging encounter sites, the then commander of the Army’s Northern Command, Lieutenant-General DS Hooda, had told AP that it was a major concern and a challenge to conduct anti-militant operations.

“Frankly speaking, I’m not comfortable anymore conducting operations if large crowds are around,” Hooda told AP.

“Even if I get killed, I don’t care. We are fighting for freedom. If we have to spill more blood, so be it,” Shabir, the protester in Arwani, said.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 13:26 IST

After Ghani raps Pak on terror, Sartaj Aziz says Afghanistan’s comments meant to please India

Islamabad: India’s efforts to “spoil” Pak-Afghan ties will not succeed, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said as he downplayed Afghan President’s criticism of Pakistan’s support to terrorism, saying it was meant to “please” India.

“Ashraf Ghani’s (Afghan President) statement is regrettable. It shows anxiety in Kabul and is understandable due to deteriorating law and order situation,” Aziz said, adding that Ghani’s “statements were meant to please India”.

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. ReutersSartaj Aziz. File photo. Reuters

Sartaj Aziz. File photo. Reuters

He said India’s efforts to divide Afghanistan and Pakistan will not go far as “we are next-door neighbours”.

“Indian efforts will not succeed to spoil Pakistan ties with Afghanistan, as our ties are religious and cultural. That is why we want that terrorism should end in Afghanistan,” he said on returning home after attending the Heart of Asia meeting in Amritsar.

“But our ties with Afghanistan are independent and we need to cooperate on several issues,” Aziz said. He claimed that India was trying to use Afghanistan for its own advantage “but it will not succeed”.

Aziz also accused India of not treating the Pakistani media properly at the Heart of Asia meeting and said he was not allowed to have a press conference.

“The attitude towards media was not good. I wanted to have press interaction with our own media. But we were not allowed,” he alleged. Afghan President Ghani had accused Pakistan of launching an “undeclared war” against his country by covertly supporting terror networks including the Taliban, and asked it to use its $500 million aid to check extremism on its soil.

He had also demanded an Asian or international regime to verify Pakistan-sponsored terror operations. Aziz said Pakistan had reassured Ghani that its territory will not be used against Kabul.

“I reassured Ghani that we will not allow out territory to be used against Afghanistan. But also emphasised better border management,” said Aziz.

Aziz said the Afghan leader had a different idea about USD 500 million assistance pledged by Pakistan and proposed a trilateral commission with China to utilise the amount for welfare of Afghanistan.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 15:14 IST

Heart of Asia: Amritsar Declaration calls for dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens

<!– /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.Addressing a press conference, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who headed the Indian delegation, said the declaration recognises terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and stability and demands immediate end to all forms of terrorism and all support, financing, safe havens and sanctuaries to it. “For the first time, a Heart of Asia Declaration expressed concern at the violence caused in Afghanistan and the region by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Daesh, LeT and JeM etc,” Jaitley said. Incidentally, HOA’s Islamabad declaration had mentioned Al Qaeda and Daesh.Apart from calling for concerted cooperation to combat the terror groups, the declaration sought early finalization of the a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. It also favoured an early meeting of experts to discuss a draft Regional Counter-Terrorism Framework, recently prepared by Afghanistan, for its early finalization. Afghanistan had pushed hard for adoption of the framework but as many countries had not given their inputs, it could not be firmed up.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani slammed Pakistan for providing support and safe sanctuaries to terror groups including Taliban, accusing it of engaging in an “undeclared war” while many other leaders sought firm and decisive action to deal with the challenge. Jaitley said three major issues deliberated upon at the conference were countering terrorism to create stability and security in Afghanistan, providing it with connectivity and ensure the war-ravaged country s development.”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,” said the declaration. 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 finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus,” said the declaration. In an indirect reference to Pakistan, the declaration said the HoA acknowledged the support that terrorism derives in the region and demands an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism.The declaration, which also mentioned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and East Turkistan Islamic Movement, said it was “recognising 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” 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,” the declaration said.It said the countries recognised the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youths to extremist and terrorist networks and underlined the need for effective de-radicalization and counter-radicalization strategies. The HoA felt combating terror will not succeed without a concerted and coherent regional approach and decided to develop such a regional approach by tasking experts to meet in the first half of 2017 to identify key areas for such initiative.The experts will give recommendation to the HoA in the first half of 2017 for further action. Calling for dismantling nexus between revenue and its financial support for terrorist entities in the region, it said dialogue between relevant ministries and agencies of the HoA countries were necessary to tackle the menace. The Conference was attended by delegations from practically every participating country, supporting countries and international organizations 45 in all.The delegations of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan, and of the European Union were led by the respective Ministers. The Conference also saw the presence and participation of guest countries Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Uzbekistan.Jaitley said the discussions and the declaration reiterated the strong support from the Heart of Asia countries for Afghanistan’s efforts to use its geographic location to enhance wider regional economic cooperation. Specific initiatives in this regard including the India-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Agreement on developing Chabahar were acknowledged. He said during the Conference various delegations expressed appreciation for the constructive role that India has been playing in supporting Afghanistan and its people in the past decade and a half. In the press conference, Jaitley said terrorism was at the “core” of the deliberations and that it took the centre-stage with tone being set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Stressing on the connectivity projects, he said India was considering a number of road and rail projects to establish direct link between the two countries. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai termed the deliberations “extremely productive” and said his country was looking to enhance connectivity with India via land routes.In the declaration, the HoA also commended the Afghan government for 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”. It also appreciated Iran and Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades.The HoA countries also urged all Afghan Taliban groups and other armed groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghanistan government. “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,” the declaration read.It also welcomed the MoU on jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the China and Afghanistan. “All these will lay the foundations for a successful Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) planned for November 2017 in Ashgabat,” it said. Next year, the Heart of Asia conference will be held in Azerbaijan.

Raheel Sharif may command international Islamic anti-terror force: Pakistan media

Islamabad: Pakistan’s former army chief, General Raheel Sharif (retd.) has agreed to command a multinational Islamic anti-terror force, on certain terms and conditions, including being allowed to arbitrate between belligerents, a media report said.

Raheel Sharif in this file photo. AFPRaheel Sharif in this file photo. AFP

Raheel Sharif in this file photo. AFP

Daily Pakistan, citing sources, reported that Sharif, who relinquished office of the army chief command last week, was willing to command the 39-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) set up under Saudi Arabia’s auspices in December last year.

The report said that Iran has also assured to accept Pakistan’s role in mediating Yemen crisis if Sharif becomes IMAFT chief with an authority of arbitrator, and would use its influence on the Houthi rebels to bring them to the negotiating table.

It quoted the sources as saying that Sharif had expressed his willingness for the arbitration during his meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.

The creation of IMAFT, with a joint command centre in Riyadh, was announced by Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud on December 15, 2015.

Initially with 34 members, the military alliance of Muslim countries spanning Nigeria to Malaysia intended to undertake military intervention against IS and other anti-terrorist activities across the Middle East and other countries, had risen to 39 by March 2016.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 22:07 IST

Heart of Asia summit: Afghanistan prez wants intervention on Pakistan; ‘no blame games’

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani called for strong action against terrorists as well as those sheltering, financing and training them on Sunday, while speaking at the inauguration of the ongoing 6th ministerial Heart of Asia conference — Istanbul Process on Afghanistan’ in Amritsar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shake hands during Sixth Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shake hands during Sixth Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday. PTI

While Modi didn’t name any specific country, Ghani categorically mentioned how Pakistan has been providing a safe haven to terrorists, and that it must be prevented.

Quoting a Taliban leader, Ghani said that terror networks like the Taliban movement wouldn’t have lasted a month had Pakistan not been offering a safe haven to terrorists. Ghani said that the response to fight against terror has been fragmented from states as some still “provide sanctuary, support and tolerate these networks”.

Calling for an intense dialogue and engagement, Ghani said, “I propose an Asian and international regime whatever is acceptable, particularly to our neighbour Pakistan to verify cross-frontier activities and terrorist operation. We do not want blame games. We want verification.” Ghani also informed that his government plans to use the $500 million funds that Pakistan has pledged to give Afghanistan for development to fight terrorism in the region. “We need to identify cross-border terrorism and a fund to combat terrorism,” he said.

Ghani also said that Afghanistan has been at the receiving end of terrorism for years now. “Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year. This is unacceptable,” Ghani said, “About 30 terrorist groups, as named by the UN, are trying to establish a base in Afghanistan,” Ghani said while speaking at the inauguration session of the Heart of Asia Summit.

Meanwhile, making an oblique reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged action against those who support and finance terror and endanger peace in the entire South Asian region. “We must demonstrate strong collective will to defeat terror networks. Support for peace alone is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action,” Modi said while addressing the delegates at the inaguration of the Heart of Asia Summit.

“Terrorism and externally induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity. And, the growing arc of terrorist violence endangers our entire region. As such, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough.

With Pakistan being represented at the two-day conference by its de facto foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, Modi said mere action against “forces of terrorism” was not enough and the world also needed to act against “those who support, shelter and finance them”, the PM said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.

Expressing India’s strong commitment to Afghanistan’s transition, Modi said, “On India’s part, our commitment to our brave Afghan brothers and sisters is absolute and unwavering. The welfare of Afghanistan and its people is close to our hearts and minds.”

Modi also called for Afghanistan-led, owned and controlled peace process for bringing peace and stability in the country.

The two leaders had earlier on Sunday held a bilateral meeting before the commencement of the conference. According to sources, CNN-News18 had reported that isolating Pakistan was one of the key agendas of the meeting. Modi and Ghani had also discussed an air connectivity corridor between India and Afghanistan. Pakistan had earlier rejected a road connectivity between the India and Afghanistan via the Wagah border. Even though Ghani had threatened to block Pakistan’s trade access to Central Asian States (CAS), for opposing it.

With inputs from Agencies

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 13:49 IST

Nagrota attack: Stop meaningless debate on surgical strikes and focus on security lapses

The Nagrota attack has expectedly given rise to questions on the efficacy of India’s surgical strikes. The Indian Army, which took another major hit with two of its officers and five soldiers falling to fidayeen bullets, is yet to complete its combing operation, but critics and some political parties have already started suggesting that the operation carried out by India’s elite commandos across the LoC was much hype and little substance.

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at Army camp at Nagrota. PTI

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at Army camp at Nagrota. PTI

The death of 26 Indian soldiers since 29 September is a clear indication, goes the argument, that instead of restraining Pakistan, the strikes seem to have emboldened our neighbour to carry out more terrorist attacks. The contention is that the surgical strikes were more a political confabulation for the Narendra Modi government rather than an effective anti-terror tool.

There is a lot of room for criticism in Modi’s blow hot-blow cold Pakistan policy. Like many of his predecessors, the incumbent prime minister was also driven by an initial urge to author a new chapter in India-Pakistan history. Subsequent developments have perhaps taught him that one cannot rationalise a relationship with a revisionist nation — one that continues to be driven by Ghazwa-e-Hind dreams.

Be that as it may, the haste to label surgical strikes a failure for another terrorist attack on an army base is more than a little problematic. Such an argument is guilty of oversimplification. It is more an exercise of our confirmation bias and strikes at our ideological fault lines than focus energies on a hard-nosed, rational analysis.

Aversion or affinity towards current political dispensation must not cloud our judgement on the efficacy of the strikes, which were carried out by a professional army unit and was the culmination of an extraordinary synchronisation of efforts. It was also a welcome departure from India’s reflexive stoicism towards Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks. The rush to call it “ineffective” stems from a lack of understanding of the operation’s objectives.

As this columnist has argued in the past, the surgical strikes were not meant to prevent Pakistan from abandoning its decades-old terror policy. Nobody in their right minds would assume that one covert operation is enough to persuade Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure and reverse its policy of using terrorism as a foreign policy tool — one that has brought it rich dividends.

The Pakistani Army would be a fool to let go of terrorism — its one strategic lever against a much more powerful and prosperous neighbour. What, then, was the point of those surgical strikes? There was never a doubt that the covert op, which was subsequently publicised, was an effort by India to raise the bar for retaliatory attacks while staying below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. For a country that drops the nuclear threat at every possible opportunity, the cross-LoC attacks exposed Pakistan’s nuclear bluff.

It proved to the rest of the world, and also to some in India, that Islamabad’s frequent nuclear threats were meant more as a strategic deterrence against India’s response to terror attacks. Surgical strikes annihilated that deterrence.

But while deriding surgical strikes is pointless, it is important to highlight the grave and repeated security lapses that have contributed towards yet another attack on an Army base. Alarmingly, since 29 September, there have been at least a dozen attacks as terrorist infiltrated the border and launched attacks in different areas of Jammu and Kashmir including Nagrota, Baramulla, Bandipore, Sopore, Shopian and Pampore, among others. Altogether, 26 Indian soldiers including BSF personnel, and army jawans and officers have been killed.

While at one level, it reflects Pakistan’s outgoing chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s desperate attempts to save face after getting bruised in the surgical strikes, at another level it also points to crucial lacunae in India’s security apparatus. Apprehending suicide attackers is tougher since their motivation levels are high but the repeated breaches of heavily-guarded army bases send a worrying signal about our preparedness or lack of it.

As disturbing details emerge of the fidayeen strike on Nagrota where a hostage-like situation involving civilians have luckily been averted, questions must be raised on an apparent lack of standard operating procedure when it comes to blocking or preventing such attacks. Heads must roll if it is found that our security intelligence network isn’t up to scratch or fatigue and complacency played its part.

The 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu is 55 kilometres away from the border. It must be asked how heavily armed terrorists — albeit dressed in police attire — managed to remain undetected before launching the attack.

A report in The Huffington Post claims that the terrorists had infiltrated the border at least a week ago and had done a thorough recce of the camp before launching their mission. Quoting a Ministry of Defence official, the report states that the police uniforms that the terrorists were wearing were stitched in India and couldn’t have been “done in a day, indicating that the terrorists were already in India for some time”. They had also purchased medicines from local pharmacy, added the report.

This, if true, raises several more uncomfortable questions on our intelligence and monitoring system and whether our military bases and security installations are “soft targets”.

A Times of India report points out, quoting defence sources, that there was “very little follow-up action” to the comprehensive recommendations of the tri-service committee, led by former army chief Lieutenant-General Philip Campose (retd), which was constituted after the 2 January terror strike on the Pathankot airbase.

These are damning indications. Discussions must be centred around these loopholes instead of meaningless, politicised debates of one-upmanship over surgical strikes.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 15:27 IST

Pathankot attack: Only four militants had entered the airbase, clarifies govt

New Delhi: Putting to end speculation about the number of terrorists involved in Pathankot attack, the government on Tuesday made it clear that only four militants had entered the airforce station to carry out the strike that left eight people dead.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said “four Pakistan-based terrorists” had carried out the 2 January attack.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village – Akalgarh and attacked airforce station in Pathankot,” he said in a written reply to a question by Congress MP Ravneet Singh, grandson of slain Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The Congress MP had asked about the number of terrorists who entered Punjab for Pathankot attack and the route used by them as well as the details of terrorists killed and arrested along with the weapons recovered from them.

Ahir said all these terrorists were neutralised by the security forces. The security forces recovered 4 AK rifles, 32 AK magazines, 3 pistols, 7 pistol magazines, one under barrel grenade launcher, 40 hand grenades and one dagger from them, he said.

The answer is contrary to a statement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 4 March when he had said that charred remains, apart from four bodies of terrorists, were found at the debris after security forces searched the Pathankot airforce station when the operation ended.

“Charred remains were found and sent for forensic examination. We are awaiting for reports,” had said.

There was speculation that the Home Minister had made this statement on a presentation made by the elite NSG, which was not corroborated either by defence personnel or central security agencies.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar too had said that six terrorists were involved in the attack.

The National Investigation Agency, which was probing the case, has been maintaining that the investigators had found only four bodies.

The Home Ministry has recently given NIA the sanction to file a charge sheet against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others in the Pathankot terror attack.

The Home Ministry has in the past been left red faced over answers to Parliament questions including another Pakistan related controversy where it informed the House that they do not know about whereabouts of most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, forcing the government to retract and clarify that Dawood is in Pakistan.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:28 IST

Malegoan case: ATS files secondary evidence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Anti Terrorism squad (ATS), on Thursday has filed an affidavit before the special court presided over by judge SD Tekale, pleading the court to allow the prosecution to lead with the secondary evidence, in the wake of some documents in the Malegaon 2008 blast case going missing.The agency has relied on the confessional statement of three accused in the case. Special NIA prosecutor Avinash Rasal said, “The papers in this case have traveled to various courts and thus there are certain important documents which have been missing from the file. Thus, to fill those gaps, the agency has pleaded the court to allow them to use the confessional statements of three accused which was recorded under section 164 CrPC. The ATS in its affidavit has mentioned that it is ready to show the court the track record of the confessional statement, so that it informs the court that proper procedures were followed while recording the statements.”This move of the ATS has come after the Bombay High Court had asked the Sessions court to expedite the matter and just to avoid the delay, the ATS has pleaded the court to allow the agency to use the confessional statements as the evidence.Meanwhile, accused Sankaracharya (Sudhakar) Dwivedi has filed for his bail on the grounds of merits of the case. The prosecution is yet to file its reply on the same. According to the prosecution, Lt Col Prasad Purohit had carried out a blast in Malegaon with 11 others, killing seven people.

Farooq Abdullah bats for ‘autonomy to both sides of Kashmir’

Bhaderwah: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said autonomy to both sides of Jammu and Kashmir was the only viable solution to the nearly seven-decade old problem.

“Borders cannot be changed but these can be made irrelevant and soft for people to people exchange and opening new vistas of trade and commerce for overall economic prosperity of the region.”

“We bat for autonomy to both sides of Kashmir and converting LoC-IB as soft border,” the National Conference President said while addressing a public meeting in Bhaderwah.

Farooq Abdullah. AFP

Farooq Abdullah. AFP

Abdullah said that issues between India and Pakistan cannot be resolved by guns or cannons, which have even been proven by four wars, but these can definitely be deliberated upon for amicable solution through a sustained process of dialogue.

He said the reality of LoC and International Border between the two nations cannot be challenged at the strength of military power and therefore the two parts of the state should be granted maximum autonomy.

In the context of Indo-Pak dialogue, he referred to the speech of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Tanghdar, emphasising that friends can be changed but not the neighbours.

He said the intermittent skirmishes on borders have only aggravated the problems of the two sides of Jammu and Kashmir.

The NC President cautioned New Delhi against delaying the resolution of political issue of Kashmir, saying restoration of the commitments made in the Instrument of Accession is the only way forward in wriggling out the state from prevailing crisis.

He said the state of Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communication, which has been re-emphasised by the former Sadr-e-Riyasat, Karan Singh in Parliament recently. He said the genesis of discontent among people in Kashmir was due to breaking of promises and said that mistrust among youth is deep-rooted.

“The alienation is growing among youth, who cannot be won over by brute force or the notes of Rs 500 or Rs 1000,” he said, adding that a meaningful engagement with all the stakeholders had assumed immense significance.

Warning RSS against furthering divisive agenda across the country in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular, Abdullah said that the state had not acceded to Hindu India but a secular nation, a proud abode for all faiths and communities.

“Nobody has right to undermine the sacrifices of Muslims in independence struggle of India,” he said and asked the BJP to refrain from practicing the British legacy of ‘divide and rule’.

Speaking on the occasion, former Chief Minister and National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah said that the state is facing grave challenge from divisive forces that were working overtime to generate hatred among religious communities and drift between the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

“There are political forces that are engaged in furthering communal and caste politics, which is against the essence of pluralistic state like Jammu and Kashmir”, he said and urged the party cadre to stand against them for safeguarding the single entity and secular foundations of the state.

He said the existence of National Conference is due to its secular credentials and the cherished slogan of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah “Hindu Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian Unity” will always remain guiding force for the party.

Omar referred to the polarising politics of the PDP and BJP saying while the former contested 2014 elections in Kashmir by instilling fear among people about the Sangh Parivar and later based its electoral plank on getting rid of Abdullah and Mufti dynasties’.

Narendra Modi vowed during electioneering in the state to free J&K from Abdullahs and Muftis but took no time in allying with PDP after the poll results came out”, he said and decried the opportunistic politics of the two parties.

The former Chief Minister expressed anguish over large scale devastation and destruction in Kashmir Valley during over past four months and claimed 90 youngsters got killed, hundreds were blinded and thousands injured.

“And the irony is that some people in the Centre are under the delusion of youngsters getting killed for Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes”, he added.

He questioned the claims of normalcy dawning after demonetisation, saying the people of Kashmir would not sacrifice their sons for Rs 500 or Rs 1000 notes.

“There has been a widespread discontent among the people, which needs to be addressed by solving the political issues of Kashmir”, he maintained.

Omar Abdullah, who is on a three day tour of Chinab Valley along with his father, Farooq Abdullah and several other senior leaders of the party was addressing a public rally at Dak Bungalow Bhaderwah.

“Our accession with Indian state was conditional and was limited only to currency, defense and foreign affairs but gradually they started draining it.

Then they came with the false promises, be it Narsimha Rao’s ‘Sky is the limit’, or Vajpaye’s confession from Lal Qilla on 15 August and now Narinder Modi’s promises,” said Omar Abdullah.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 08:49 IST

Indian soldier beheaded in Machhil: How the situation at LoC went from bad to worse

The situation at the borders in Jammu and Kashmir seems to worsening with every passing day. On Tuesday, in a cross-Line of Control (LoC) attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed, with the body of one of them being mutilated in second such incident in less than a month, triggering outrage in this country.

PTI reported that the ambush on army patrol took place in Machhil sector of Kashmir, following which the Indian army vowed heavy “retribution”.

“A counter-infiltration patrol party of Indian army was ambushed by terrorists ahead of the fencing along LoC in forest belt in Machhil sector in Kupwara district today,” a senior Army officer said.

A defence spokesman said heavy cross-Line of Control shelling was going on at four places in Machhil sector from 3.30 pm.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Around 1530 hour, heavy cross-LoC shelling has started from both sides at Dana Machhil, Ashni, Ringsar and Ringsar Payeen in Machhil sector of Kupwara district,” he said. He did not give any further details.

A report in Daily Mail also said that the terrorists were allegedly backed by the Pakistan Army because as soon as the encounter between the soldiers and terrorists began, the Pakistan Army posts from across the LoC also began firing in that direction to prevent the Indian Army from sending reinforcements.

This is a second such incident where a jawan’s body was mutilated in the same sector since 28 October. On that day, terrorists, aided by the cover fire by Pakistani Army, had crossed the LoC and killed an Indian army jawan and mutilated his body in the Macchil sector. One attacker was killed in that incident.

In response to the beheading of the Indian soldier on Tuesday, India strongly protested to Pakistan when Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, who was called in by Director General (South Asia and Saarc) Mohammad Faisal, conveyed that Pakistani troops were deliberately targeting the civilian areas, resulting in heavy casualties.

News reports have also said that the Indian Army has begun counter operations and is targeting various Pakistani posts along the LoC.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also condemned the attack.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh also expressed anguish at the attack. Reacting strongly over the killings of soldiers, Singh termed it as a “cowardly act” and the incident reflected the “barbaric attitude” of the forces on the other side.

On the other hand, Pakistan rejected the “Indian media reports” of the mutilation of the soldier’s body and said it was just “a blatant attempt to malign Pakistan”. M Nafees Zakaria, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, also said that it was India which constantly violated the ceasefire.

The Indian Express also reported that terrorists saw a safe passage in Machhil because it was considered to be one of the ‘shortest’ and ‘safest’ infiltration routes into Kupwara across the LoC. The Macchil sector, which is situated at an altitude of over 6,500 feet, is marked by dense forests and weather and terrain which make it inhospitable.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 13:36 IST

Centre may empower NIA to investigate overseas incidents involving Indian casualties

New Delhi: A proposal has been mooted by the government for arming National Investigation Agency (NIA) with a provision to register a case and investigate if an Indian is killed or injured in a terror act overseas.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This information was shared by Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir, while replying to written questions in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. “A proposal to enable the NIA to take up investigation of scheduled offences committed beyond India is being put out for public consultations,” he said in a brief reply to a question asked by BJP member Anurag Thakur whether government is considering to grant powers to NIA to conduct probe on attacks on Indians and properties abroad.

Such a proposal is available with probe agencies like FBI and Scotland Yard and federal agencies of Germany and Israel, who can carry out parallel probes abroad if their nationals are killed in a terror attack.

FBI had registered separate cases in the 1995 kidnapping of foreign tourists in Kashmir, the IC-814 hijacking case and Mumbai terror attack, as its citizens were injured or killed in these terror acts.

According to officials, such a proposal will depend on relations to the particular country where the crime has taken place.

A senior official said once such a provision is included in the NIA Act, it would help the agency in quickly moving a request to the foreign country for allowing its team to carry out a probe.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 18:12 IST

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi governs like a general, but does he have a ‘grip’ on India?

Two of the things that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would bring to Delhi were decisiveness and governance. He has other qualities also of course, and people voted for them just as they did for these two named above. Modi is not a dynast and he has worked his way to where he is based only on merit. He has the reputation of being honest and there are no reports of high-level corruption in the Union Cabinet as there were in the time of Manmohan Singh.

However, these two qualities have been on display recently and we should look at how they have affected India. Decisiveness is the ability to take decisions quickly and firmly. This is often seen as a virtue. Being indecisive is seen as a weakness though often indecision is only another name for thinking something through carefully. And if there is uncertainly or turbulence beyond tolerable limits, one does not decide. On the other hand, the virtue of being decisive can also be seen as certitude, meaning being sure one is right intuitively rather than through knowledge.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIFile image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Sanjay Gandhi was also decisive. He was a barely literate (Class 10) man who was given great power. He wielded it poorly and Indians suffered in unimaginable ways for his arrogance and his confidence that he knew what was right for all of us.

The second ability, governance, can be described by another word used by military historians. That word is ‘grip’. It means the ability of a general to be in total charge of his command. Knowing what his side is capable of and being prepared. Julius Caesar had grip and he had control over his armies in a time when communications was poor and supply lines very long. Though his record in battle is mixed, Gen Montgomery is thought to have had grip. He was not clueless as many other generals on the British side in the Second World War were.

Narendra Modi showed us his decisiveness when he acted to make useless the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes Indians held. This was sold as an act that would end or severely attack black money. We have not yet been told how that will happen except for Modi saying that the corrupt and the wealthy sitting on piles or warehouses of cash would now only have worthless paper.

Those who have run business, and I have owned and run a manufacturing and a services business, know that black money does not work like that. It is used, just like white money is used, as a means to expand business. It is held in goods and in property. In the purely liquid form, as cash, it is not particularly useful. The second reason given was that it would dent terrorist activity because that was being done by counterfeit money. Almost anything today can be sold as a good idea to Indians if it can be attached to terrorism. The media is less likely to question it.

Anyway, so Modi showed a flash of decisiveness. As a result of it we are living through days when the wretched of India, the hundreds of millions of poor who live on cash alone, are being used in an experiment. The opposition is terrified of Modi, with a couple of parties excepted, and that means that the demonetisation has not itself been opposed so far. Because this terrorism issue was stuck to it, Congress is too afraid to demand a rollback. They are not sure of the public mood and believe that there is enthusiasm for the act.

Meanwhile, this act of casual cruelty is bringing suffering and trauma to millions. Watching the Gujarati news channels, I was struck by how the English ones seem to be reporting from another country. Modi has told us the suffering Indians are going through will be justified by the dividend we will reap on 1 January. We shall see.

But meantime, having shown us decisiveness, he now needs to show us governance.

The government has bumbled along since Modi’s triumphant announcement. It has been doing things seemingly in reactive mode. It has been raising and lowering withdrawal limits, relaxing rules for some states arbitrarily, and introducing ad hoc administrative measures like inking of fingers.

Where is the talent and ability needed to bring calm to the chaos that anyone could have anticipated when the government makes a move of this magnitude? It would not be incorrect to say that at the moment it seems to be missing. This is his chance. With the country in a crisis that directly affects not a handful of people (as terrorism does) but hundreds of millions, we will know if Modi has grip.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 09:53 IST

Demonetization will help in reducing gap between rich and poor people: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the Centre’s move to demonetize Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the action will bring probity in political and administrative works besides reducing the gap between rich and poor.There are some hardships being faced by the people following the demonetization but this will continue for a short time only as the government is putting in all efforts with full sensitivity to normalise the situation, he said. “Naturally, this decision will result in curbing economic sources of corrupt and terrorists. It will also increase probity in political and administrative works,” Singh said. This move will also help in reducing the gap between rich and poor people, he said.The Home Minister said the central government decided to demonetize Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes with an aim to rein in corruption, black money and terrorism. “It is a historical and brave decision taken for national interest. Terrorism, extremism and naxalism will come down.Such decisions are taken by people who are doing politics not only for formation of government but also for society and nation building,” he said. Singh said the way people have welcomed the decision of demonetization and provided cooperation and support, it is commendable.

No religion teaches violence: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said no religion teaches violence but much of the violence in the world now take place in the name of religion.Addressing the 17th conference of World Chief Justices in New Delhi, Singh said those who believe in God and religion and also those who are atheists and believe in humanism must keep themselves away from any kind of crime or violence.”However, today much of the violence is surprisingly being created in the name of religion and against the principles of the religion,” he said.Singh said the world is currently facing different kinds of threat and terrorism and separatism are the biggest ones. Singh said no one cannot remain oblivious to different kinds of threats, organised conflicts and serious disturbances that the world is currently facing.”Terrorism, extremism and separatism are the biggest threats the world has to deal with,” he said.The Home Minister said with the advancement of technology, terrorism poses even bigger threats all over the world.”Thousands of innocent people are becoming victims of violence. Since terrorism has engulfed different parts of the world, therefore, there is a need for the world leaders to unite and fight this menace, which is a danger to the humanity,” he said.Singh said India is a victim of various kinds of terrorist activities including cross-border terrorism. He said since the wings of terror are spreading all over, therefore, it has to be firmly and unitedly dealt with.”As I have been saying, a terrorist is a terrorist and there cannot be two different definitions of terrorist like a ‘good terrorist’ and a ‘bad terrorist’. All terrorists are to be dealt with in the strictest possible terms by all the nations of the world,” he said.The Home Minister said cyber crime is another cause of concern which is posing bigger threats with the advancement in information technology.”International disputes of various kinds and dimensions coupled with the everyday increasing stocks of armaments of mass destruction including nuclear weapons are yet other forms of hazards that the world is facing today,” he said.

‘Black money one of the main sources to fund terrorism’: Afghanistan welcomes India’s decision on demonetisation

New Delhi: Underlining that black money is one of the main sources of funding terror activities, Afghanistan on welcomed India’s decision to demonetise high-denomination currency, saying the move will benefit the region.

Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali said the move will help curb economic terrorism by foiling the usage of counterfeit currency for terror activities.

“Black money is one of the main sources of funding for activities related to terrorism. And therefore it will help in fighting against it. Terrorism certainly has no boundary and so India’s move will help the region too,” he said on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ seminar in New Delhi.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The two-day seminar, organised by International Council for World Affairs (ICWA), is being held in the run-up to the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in Amritsar in December, which India will co-chair with Afghanistan. Earlier, speaking at the event, Abdali appreciated the role of ‘Heart of Asia’ in the stabilisation of Afghanistan and the region while pitching for for bold, result-oriented regional leadership.

“The National Unity Government of Afghanistan took unprecedented steps to address the question of terrorism and improve our relations with Pakistan. We have exchanged with Pakistan several delegations, to secure Pakistan’s cooperation in ending war and violence,” he said. “We appreciated the initial gestures of goodwill of the Pakistani government…but we are yet to see tangible steps to be taken towards the peace process,” he said.

He said zero-sum postures must be discarded and win-win strategies adopted to secure Afghanistan against the same threats that undermine the security of every nation in South Asia and Central Asia, and the countries that neighbour these resourceful regions in Asia.

Abdali said a well-defined regional counter-terrorism strategy was a necessity and no longer an option for stabilisation. The seminar is being attended by representative from several member and supporting countries of ‘Heart of Asia’.

There are 13 member countries, which include Afghanistan, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Besides, there are 30 supporting countries which include the US, the UK and Germany.

War on Black Money: 5 key takeaways from PM Modi’s annoucement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations will not be legal tender beginning November 9. Prime Minister also added that all banks will remain closed for public work tomorrow. ‘Terror strikes at the innocent. Who funds these terrorists’ Across the border, our enemy uses fake currency and dodgy funds to sponsor terror – this has been proven repeatedly. The process of cash circulation is directly related to corruption in our country impacting the lower classes of our society. From midnight November 8 today, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes are no longer legal tender,’ Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the nation.‘You have 50 days (From November 10 to December 30) to deposit notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 in any bank or post office. Respite for people for the initial 72 hours. The government hospitals will accept old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes till November 11 midnight,’ he added. Prime Minister Modi said notes of Rs. 2000 and Rs. 500 will be circulated soon. ‘The RBI has decided to limit the notes with higher value. There will be more purification the more we get support from you. Let’s continue the process of cleanliness and work together for successful completion of this initiative. We want to take this fight against corruption even ahead,’ he added. The Prime Minister further said that on November 9 and in some places on November 10, ATMs will not work.Here are some imporant takeaways: Less bang for your black bucks: Those with large amounts of large-denomination black money in cash will be hit hardest, since offloading this cash will become extremely difficult. Exchanging crores of rupees at banks will likely attract the attention of the taxman.Less counterfeiting: These denominations were the most easily and widely counterfeited notes. Taking them out of circulation will eliminate a big source of fake notes. Terrorism funding: A significant amount of terrorism was funded using counterfeit and/or high-denomination notes. This will also be hit badly.Election funding: It is an open secret that elections in India are largely bankrolled by massive amounts of black money, typically in cash that are often used as direct bribes to voters. This spigot will now be shut off, disrupting the electoral system. The UP and Punjab elections will the first to face the brunt of this move.Corruption: Most bribes across the system are typically paid in cash. While smaller amounts will not be affected, large amounts of bribes will now be limited, at least until the new denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 are introduced in large numbers. But again, those will already accumulated cash will be hit hard.

India, UK need to cooperate more on counter-terrorism: President Pranab Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and the United Kingdom need to cooperate more on countering terrorism which is the “biggest menace” to world peace and tranquillity, President Pranab Mukherjee has said. Talking to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who called on him last evening, the President said India sees the UK as a key partner in its growth and economy.”India would encourage more companies from the UK to partner in its national programmes like Make in India, Skill India, Digital India etc,” the President was quoted as saying by the Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesman in a statement today. “Terrorism is the biggest menace to world peace and tranquillity. It is a scourge that knows no territorial or ideological boundaries. “India and UK need to cooperate more on counter-terrorism. The international community must show determination in fighting against terrorism,” he said.The President also stressed that there was an immense scope to further enhance trade exchanges both in goods and services between the two countries. Bilateral trade between India and the UK in goods stood at $14 billion in 2015-16.Welcoming the UK Prime Minister, Mukherjee expressed happiness that she has chosen India for her first bilateral visit outside the European Union and said both the countries share common prospective on many international issues. “There is strong economic and financial engagement, growing defence and international security partnership and close people to people linkages. India appreciates the UK s support for its candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council,” he said.May warmly reciprocated the President’s sentiments and said that her visit reflects the strength of the relationship as well as UK’s keenness to build for the future. There were many existing opportunities in terms of mutual investment and trade. The UK is looking to forge a key bilateral partnership with India which would be to the advantage of both sides, the spokesman said quoting the British Prime Minister.

Take NDTV India off air for a day: I&B ministry says channel revealed ‘strategically sensitive’ data on Pathankot attack

New Delhi: An Inter-ministerial committee of the I and B ministry has recommended that a leading Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.

The ministry has asked the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on 9 November, sources said on Thursday, in what would be the first order against a broadcaster over its coverage of terrorist attacks.

Efforts to reach the channel for its comments could not fructify.

The matter pertains to the coverage of the Pathankot terror attack by the channel where the committee felt that “such crucial information” could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and had the potential to “cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”

Representational image. Screenshot

Representational image. Screenshot

When the operation was on in January this year, it allegedly revealed information on the ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter-planes, rocket-launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel-tanks etc. “which was likely to be used by the terrorists or their handlers to cause massive harm, the sources said.

Official sources said that as the content appeared to be violative of the programming norms, a show cause notice was issued to the channel.

In its reply, the channel replied that it was a case of “subjective interpretation” and the most of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media.

The committee, in its order, however observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.

The panel expressed “grave concern” that this was a matter of national security and that the channel had revealed sensitive details like location of ammunition depot viz-a-viz the space where the terrorists were holed up, location of school and residential areas.

“Such crucial information could have been readily picked by their handlers, which had the potential to cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel,” the committee said disagreeing with the channel’s contention that similar content was carried by newspapers.

The television as an audio visual medium has a far wider and instantaneous impact, the order said.

“The IMC recommends that at least a token penalty of one day’s off-air needed to be awarded to the TV channel so that they do not get away completely for this huge indiscretion and violation of specific rule or guideline relating to national security concerns,” the I and B ministry order in this regard says.

The committee has observed that the violation stood proven beyond doubt, the order said and added that it could even attract a penalty of taking the channel off-air for 30 days.

However, it was factored that a rule in this regard had been introduced in June 2015 and this was the first such case where it was being applied to and not make the penalty harsh, it is learnt.

“The ministry has issued advisories and sensitised channels regarding coverage of anti-terror operations. There have been oral warnings also. It is hoped that strategically sensitive details will not be revealed when such an operation is underway,” a senior official said.

Bhopal jailbreak: MP Home Minister says slain SIMI members were armed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on Wednesday said the SIMI activists who were gunned down in an encounter with police on October 31 after a jail-break were armed, contradicting the state ATS chief’s statement that they had no weapons.”According to the police’s official report to us, the SIMI activists were armed during the encounter and they fired first,” Singh told PTI.When it was pointed out that Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Sanjeev Sami had told a TV channel that the SIMI activists were unarmed, Singh said, “I have been informed officially that they were armed.” Asked if he was going to have a word with Sami over the issue to clear the air, the minister replied in negative.”The SIMI men were dreaded (criminals) and they fired first at the police. Police fired in defence, in which SIMI men were killed,” Singh added. “The SIMI terrorists were expert in making weapons. They slit the throat of a guard in the jail after making a knife out of a plate which they left behind,” the minister said.”They might have procured arms in the jail or outside after fleeing. All this is being thoroughly probed,” Singh said. ATS chief Sami could not be contacted for his reaction.

SIMI encounter aftermath: All suspects of 2014 Pune blast case were killed in shootout

Pune: Three among eight members of SIMI who were killed in an alleged encounter by Madhya Pradesh police after they escaped from Bhopal Central Jail on Monday were the suspects in a 2014 bomb blast case in Pune.

The suspects in the Pune blast case were killed in the SIMI encounter. PTI

The suspects in the Pune blast case were killed in the SIMI encounter. PTI

Ahmed Ramzan Khan, Zakir Hussain alias Sadiq and Shaikh Mehboob alias Guddu alias Ismail who were killed in the encounter were wanted in a case related to the low-intensity blast on 10 July, 2014 in the parking lot of Faraskhana police station here in which five people were injured.

The famous Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh temple is adjacent to this spot.

Two other suspects in this case — Mohammad Aizazuddin and Mohammad Aslam — were killed in an encounter in Telangana last year.

An officer of Anti-Terrorism Squad which is probing the blast case said it was trying to get custody of the three SIMI members, but could not get it as the accused were facing several cases in Madhya Pradesh itself.

“With all five suspects, including the three who were killed on Monday, now killed in encounters, the case is likely to be closed,” said the ATS officer.

“Had we got the custody of these three, we would have been able to establish the local links of these suspects. However, now that all three suspects are dead, it seems the case might be closed,” he said.

1984 ‘biggest examples of destruction’ during Congress: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a scathing attack on Congress, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday termed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as one of the “biggest examples of destruction” the country witnessed during the party’s rule.”I sometimes say when history will be written, 1984 will be known, ‘vinash ka saal’ (year of destruction)… When Congress was in power, the kind the destruction we witnessed, 1984 was one of the biggest examples of that,” he alleged at a function here to mark the Punjabi Suba Golden Jubilee. “Terrorism spread in Punjab because of the mistakes of Congress. Punjab and Punjabis faced the maximum consequences during that time,” Jaitely alleged.”Dismissing governments, terrorism, putting democracy in danger, not allowing other governments to finish their terms, putting people behind bars and putting the 1984 blot on the country, were part of its regime,” he claimed.He lauded Punjab and its people for successfully fighting several kinds of difficulties. “When the country faced the danger of poverty, Punjab was ahead in making contributions toward the Green Revolution.Punjab then faced the (Indo-Pak) 1971 war bravely. There was no such problem that Punjab did not face,” Jaitley said.During the Emergency, when “democracy was in danger”, the biggest ‘Satyagraha’ was done by SAD and Jan Sangh, he claimed. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has given heritage status to Jallianwala Bagh and Amritsar. The city was also selected under the Smart City Mission, the Union Minister said. Congress and its domination is getting weaker, he claimed, adding there is a new confidence in India under the leadership of Modi.”India is now the fastest growing economy. Today no one can play mischief with us. The whole world knows that we have different kind of government,” Jaitley claimed. “If an enemy makes any attempt at the border or if anyone conspires against India, it will get the same reply as it has been getting for the last two-months,” he said. He lauded the Badals for standing like a “rock” when Punjab faced turbulent times during the Emergency, the anti-Sikh riots and terrorism. “All his life, he (Parkash Singh Badal) has kept the BJP and Akali Dal united. The alliance is not just a political one but meant to bring the whole society together,” he said. “The problems which we faced in the last 30-32 years have turned into a black chapter of history. Today the programmes are changing,” Jaitley said.Appreciating the work of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, he said the “map” of the state’s cities and villages are changing because of the state government’s efforts toward welfare and development. “The map of Punjab’s cities, mandis and villages is changing. A new chapter is being written,” he said.”Today, we complete 50 years (of Punjabi Suba). The Centre extends full support to the state. If the next government is of SAD-BJP, the Centre will double its support,” Jaitley said. He said this was a joyous occasion for every Punjabi across the globe as the state is commemorating its golden jubilee, since it was formed on November 1, 1966.”We have formed government two to three times without serving the full tenure as the Centre had dismissed the government. It has happened many times with Punjab,” he said, adding there were not too many occasions when BJP and Akalis were both at the Centre and state.”There were few instances when alliance partners were in power both at state and centre. Because of such relationships Punjab witnessed unparalleled development,” he said, adding the alliance’s rule was far better than that of the Congress regimes. During Emergency the alliance opposed it tooth to nail. The current era would be best remembered as the “years of reconstruction”, the Union minister claimed.”The slur of the 1984 Sikh carnage, frequent dismissal of democratically elected governments, menace of terrorism and several misdeeds of Congress spoke volumes of its dubious character,” he said, adding concerted efforts on part of Badal has resulted in reviving Punjab’s pristine glory. “Punjab has witnessed complete transformation with Badal as Chief Minister and it would be at the pinnacle of all-round progress and lead the country to prosperity if our alliance is voted back to power,” he reiterated.

Situation in Kashmir returning to normalcy after four-month-long strike

Srinagar: Summer capital Srinagar witnessed significant improvement in public transport on Thursday even as normal life elsewhere in the Valley remained affected due to the strike called by separatists.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Many people have started defying the separatist-sponsored strike over the past week, as they are slowly picking up the threads of their lives affected by the nearly four-month-long strike, officials said.

While there is increased movement of private traffic in the summer capital, the city has also witnessed a significant improvement in the public transport, except buses, they said.

The officials said the inter-district transport has also improved as many cabs were plying on the routes connecting Srinagar with other districts like Anantnag and Baramulla.

They said as the traffic in the city has significantly increased, additional traffic police personnel have been deployed at some intersections to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Many shops were also open in the civil lines and the outskirts of the city, while many street vendors set up stalls at many places around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk.

However, normal life continued to remain affected in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike.

While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, the officials said restrictions on assembly of four or more people were in place throughout the Valley for maintaining law and order.

They said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure.

Security forces have also been deployed at many market places to instil a sense of security among the public to carry out their day-to-day activities, the officials said.

Shops, business establishments and fuel stations remained shut and are not expected to open this evening as separatists have not given any relaxation.

The separatists, who are spearheading the agitation have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July. They have extended the strike till 3 November.

The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, apart from business and tourism, has also affected education as schools, colleges and other educational institutions continue to remain shut in the Valley.

As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.

Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

26/11 case: India not responding to request to send witnesses, says prosecution in Pak court

<!– /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.

Narendra Modi-John Key joint statement: India stresses on Pakistan-sponsored terror, New Zealand vows support

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday briefed his Kiwi counterpart John Key about terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the recent Uri attack after which the two sides sought elimination of terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disruption of terrorist networks and their financing, and a halt to cross-border terrorism.

According to official sources, Modi “forcefully” conveyed India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism and last month’s Uri attack which was carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists killing 19 Army soldiers. “Terrorism remains one of the greatest challenges to global peace and security. Today, the financial, logistical and information networks of terror span the entire globe. The barriers of geography do not safeguard against the threat of radicalisation and terrorism. Nations who believe in humanity need to coordinate their actions and policies to counter this threat. Prime Minister Key and I have agreed to strengthen our security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalization, including in the domain of cyber security,” Modi said at a joint media event with Key.

A joint statement issued after the talks said the two Prime Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation, bilaterally as well as in the framework of UN and especially in 1267 Committee, to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations. “They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism. Both sides called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) that would contribute to the further strengthening of the international counter-terrorism legal framework,” it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his New Zealand counterpart Joh  Key in New Delhi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his New Zealand counterpart Joh Key in New Delhi. PTI

The two Prime Ministers also pledged to continue the close coordination between the two countries on issues of mutual interest during and beyond New Zealand’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) term, including terrorism sanctions, peacekeeping policy and UNSC reform, the statement added.

New Zealand also welcomed India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime, which would strengthen global non-proliferation objectives. Asserting that his government was committed to relations with India, Key said the bilateral partnership was growing in several areas including cyber security and trade.

“Both Prime Minister Modi and I underlined a strong intent in advancing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Key added. The two leaders also underlined the fact that India and New Zealand are both maritime nations with a strong interest in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions being stable and prosperous, including by ensuring the safety and security of sea lanes and freedom of navigation.

Accordingly, they agreed to further strengthen the political, defence and security relationship and to drive this enhanced political-security relationship, the two Prime Ministers agreed that the sides establish a Bilateral Ministerial Dialogue through annual meetings, either in India, New Zealand or on the margins of regional or global gatherings.

ADHM row: Venkaiah Naidu says MNS demand for Rs 5 crore is ‘wrong’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday termed as “wrong” the MNS demand of Rs 5 crore from film director Karan Johar for resolving the controversy over his movie ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (ADHM) and said the government had nothing to do with it. “That was a wrong proposal. We don’t agree with their proposal. The Maharashtra Chief Minister has also clarified that he was not a part of the proposal that was made by some other party…,” Naidu told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Delhi.Stressing that the matter was between “some party” and the “producer”, he said the government do not “subscribe to that thinking at all and has no role to play”. The minister was reacting to Raj Thackeray-led MNS asking Johar to donate Rs 5 crore to the army for casting Pakistani actor in his movie ADHM.He also underscored that it was the state government’s duty to provide security as the law and order was a state subject. Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis has taken the initiative to amicably resolve the problem through discussion, he added.The government wants good relations with all including the neighbours but the “neighbour too has to behave like a good neighbour,” he said while hitting out at Pakistan without naming it. “Aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorists is not acceptable at all. They want to subvert the country. Why are you doing this? This will be ruinous for you also. Let us join together…why this kind of activity? Terrorism is the enemy of humanity,” Naidu said.

Quetta terror attack: ‘Uncontrollable violence’ shouldn’t be created, says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Citing the example of ‘Bhasmasur’, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed regret over the loss of lives in the deadly attack on a police training academy in Pakistan’s Quetta that left 60 cadets dead, saying such incidents show why one should not create “uncontrollable violence”.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

He also rejected Pakistan’s allegations of India’s involvement in the attack, saying India does not believe in violence, lest such kind of violence. Parrikar clarified that he was not likening any country to any ‘sur’ (demon in Hindu mythology) when asked about the Quetta attack and said there is a saying in India about Bhasmasur.

According to the Hindu mythology, ‘Bhasmasur’ was a demon who was burned to ashes through his own power that he used to terrorise others with. “I express grief for any loss of life. We don’t believe in violence and this kind of violence. My sympathies are with people who lost their lives.

Terrorism anywhere and in any form cannot be justified,” he said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference. The defence minister said the attack shows the importance of not creating uncontrollable violence.

“You need to control anything that the state does. Non-state actors should not be supported by any country. That is crux of our security doctrine. we have said that non-state actors, who are involved in terrorism, should be curtailed. Sometimes it can bounce on you also. I think this is one of such event,” Parrikar said.

In a brazen attack, 60 police cadets were killed and 118 others injured when three militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police training academy in Quetta city in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

Pakistan should set its own house in order and take action against terrorism: India

Geneva: Describing Pakistan as the “epicentre” of global terrorism, India on Monday asked Pakistan to “set its own house in order” and take action against terror groups instead of “ritually” raking up human rights violations elsewhere.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

India, exercising the right of reply after Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue during the general debate at the 135th Assembly Session of IPU, asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so for “eternity”.

“We deeply regret the misuse of this august body by Pakistan to make tendentious references about internal matters pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Lok Sabha MP RK Singh said.

“Let me make it very clear to Pakistan that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so for eternity. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been active participants in the democratic processes at both the central and state levels,” he said.

He said the “fundamental reason” for the situation in Kashmir is the cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.

“Terrorism remains the grossest violation of human rights and Pakistan has the distinction of being the epicentre of global terrorism. In fact, it is the mothership of global terror.”

“Internationally proscribed terrorists and terror groups are freely roaming in Pakistan with impunity while the deep State in Pakistan is busy in diverting billions of dollars received as international aid for spreading terrorism globally,” he said.

Underlining that the human rights violations in entire Pakistan “cry for the world’s attention”, he said, “The people of Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic hardship due to Pakistan’s authoritarian and discriminatory policies in complete disregard of human rights.”

“Given this state of affairs, Pakistan will be well-advised to focus its energies on setting its own house in order and acting against the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on its neighbours instead of ritually raking up alleged human rights violations elsewhere,” Singh said.

“Pakistan has raised the issue of UN Security Council resolutions. We would suggest Pakistan to first fulfil its primary obligation under the resolutions to vacate illegal occupation of Pakistan occupied Kashmir,” he said.

“We call upon Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from meddling in our internal affairs in any matter,” Singh said.

Jammu and Kashmir: De-radicalisation will require planning and a counter-narrative

Speaking at a recent Police Commemoration Day function, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti urged the police to try to bring youths who have fled their homes to join militancy back to the mainstream. “I request the police to try to bring them back to their homes. Instead of being killed in encounters, if it is possible to bring them back, make them a part of the mainstream, give them bats, balls and good education, instead of guns,” she said. According to her, those who have taken up arms are local boys: Didn’t she miss the foreign terrorists? She stressed that ending militancy and restoring peace were a prerequisite for repealing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (Afspa) and to seek the starting of the dialogue process in the state. She said that “black laws” like Afspa would be repealed from the state when the situation improves.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Mehbooba makes it sound so very easy.

All the police needs to do is try and flick the switch that will bring the wayward youths back to the mainstream. So it is the job of the police to do so and then the state authorities can repeal the black laws (read Afspa) and everything will be hunky dory once again. Of course the gullible public will not know that removing Afspa is very much in her power; all she needs to do is to have the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Area Act removed and the army will happily go back to its primary task of defending the borders with Afspa automatically being removed. The catch, of course, is that should she have the Disturbed Area Act removed without creating conditions to do so (bring normalcy back), she and her government — largely ineffective anyway — will be at the mercy of terrorists. Not that she doesn’t know that neither did the army draft or ask for Afspa, nor does the army enjoy deployments in the hinterland against its own public. And yet, Afspa is essential if the army is to control violence in a better manner than police forces.

Militancy is generally associated with politico-socio-economic problems but in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistan factor (now fully backed by China) outweighs other factors. Adoption of the Wahhabi-Salafi culture in Pakistan has been institutionalised in Pakistan over the past several years. Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad wrote in 2008, “The promotion of militarism in Pakistan’s schools, colleges and universities has had a profound effect on young people. Militant jihad has become a part of the culture in college and university campuses, with armed groups inviting students for jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan.”

It is this same Wahhabi-Salafi culture that Pakistan has been able to induce in the Kashmir Valley, gradually but consistently, using clerics and Hurriyat separatist leaders — whose presence is infiltrated by trained terrorists, arms, narcotics and money. The insistence of our intelligence agencies that Hurriyat separatists are “irrelevant” has helped Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. It is an open secret that militants in Jammu and Kashmir are being financed by China, and the Chinese have established huge control over Kashmiri separatist leaders. The recent discovery of Chinese flags from terrorist hideouts in Baramulla provides further evidence of China’s nefarious designs.

Mufti is out of sync saying those that have taken up arms are local youths.

What about the hundreds of foreign terrorists that have been killed over the years?
What about the anti-India venom being broadcast from loudspeakers atop mosques?
Is it the voice of some rabid mullahs or is it others who hold the clerics hostage?
What about the daily separatist diktat in the vernacular dailies?
Are all these again supposed to be righted by the same switch the police is required to flick?
What about subversion of some members of the police force?
How do the conditions compare with that of early 1990s when Pakistan had the upper hand when it came to Jammu and Kashmir militancy?

In his autobiography Gorkha Hat and Maroon Beret, Lietenant-General Chandra Shekhar (former Vice-Chief of Army Staff) describes the period of the early 1990s when Pakistani, Afghan and Arab terrorists were fighting in Jammu and Kashmir, parts of the state police were subverted, one battalion of the armed police had to be disarmed, and in one instance, the state’s home secretary Habib Rehman and then director-general of police BS Bedi were taken hostage in the police control room. The army had to deploy infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) to secure their release, fortunately without firing a shot. In the present situation, weren’t many police stations attacked, abandoned and arms looted?

What exactly is the Jammu and Kashmir government doing to stem the replacement of the Sufi culture by hardliner Wahhabi-Salafi preaching? This is not the job of security forces even if they can assist in information warfare. Speaking about Pakistani designs in Afghanistan, a Pakistani military scholar describes the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban that regards regard all Shias, Ismailis, non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred. Pakistan will plan similarly for Jammu and Kashmir using Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen etc.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The state government’s attitude of just sitting back and letting security forces keep levels of violence down amounts to a sure recipe for disaster. De-radicalisation is no joke. It has to be a well thought-out strategy and in Jammu and Kashmir, must include the hardliner Wahhabi-Salafi preachers and clerics that may need to be tackled through multiple methods. As for the youths, just saying they should return to play with bats and balls is hardly enough.

De-radicalisation must be a strategy that is employed on a continuous basis at the personal level, aided by modern technology as applicable. De-radicalisation programs must have a separate focus for select communities, regions, teachers, youths, children, mothers, apprehended terrorists along with the population at large that could support terrorists. The discourse of Muslim leaders should be part of the de-radicalisation programs. The education system must be integrated into the national mainstream. Ethics and true nationalism should form part of the education system. The introduction of the National Cadet Corps in most schools and colleges will be fruitful. Communities must be kept informed and empowered to challenge radical ideology. Psychological operations should include exposing terrorist abuses, conditions in PoK vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir, and that Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism has brought ridicule to Muslims and Islam globally. Alternatives to expend youth energies and employment opportunities must be part of the program. Finally, the de-radicalisation programs must be periodically reviewed in relation to the ongoing radicalisation, to ensure it is effective and course-corrections are made, where required.

Civil society can contribute greatly in preventing and countering terrorism rather than encourage terrorism especially since it gives voice to the marginalized and vulnerable people and victims of terrorism, generating awareness and providing constructive outlet for redress of grievances. Non-traditional actors like NGOs, foundations, charities, public-private partnerships and private businesses are capable and credible partners in local communities. Despite Pakistan-sponsored propaganda, the public needs to be sensitised that our army respects human rights far more than Pakistan where aerial bombings and artillery barrages are used periodically with scant regard to collateral damage.

Finally, the adoption of a proactive approach in countering proxy wars is imperative for establishing an effective deterrence, and for controlling enemy faultlines instead of the enemy controlling ours. This should include a dynamic information warfare strategy. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir sure needs a national response but the state government has a major role to play in this and can’t simply depend on security forces for the return of normalcy.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

MEA rejects criticism, says BRICS declaration ‘strongest ever’ language against terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Against the backdrop of criticism that it could not secure a reference by BRICS leaders to cross-border terror at their Goa summit, the government on Thursday said the joint declaration by the 5-nation grouping contained “strongest ever” language against terrorism.Rejecting criticism, Spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said terrorism was accorded the “centrality” at the Goa summit in more substantive manner than even the Antalaya G20 Summit which was held in the shadows of the Paris terror attack. “The Goa Declaration contains the strongest-ever language against terrorism among all past BRICS summits. The word terrorism/terror features some 37 times in the declaration,” he said at a media briefing.He said there was “unprecedented condemnation” of terrorism at the summit and that BRICS leaders strongly condemned the recent attacks in India. “BRICS Leaders for the first time called upon all States to prevent terrorist action from their territories. They agreed that religion is no justification for terrorism,” said Swarup, adding “I do not know on what basis it is being said that this was a weak declaration on terrorism.” The Modi government faced intense opposition criticism for its “abject failure” to get a reference to terrorism emanating from Pakistan included in the BRICS declaration.The MEA spokesperson said BRICS leaders, for the first time, called for effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolution on Counter Terrorism and sought enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Counter Terrorism Framework. “They called upon all States to counter terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment, terrorist movement, dismantling of terrorist bases, money laundering, drug trafficking. The leaders also called for expedited adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT),” he said.Swarup said the BRICS leaders also recognised the growing nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. “BRICS as a group (that) focuses on global issues. We are all aware that the current global architecture is not reflected in some of the institutions of global governance.BRICS is one example of a grouping which represents current realities. “G20 is another example. We hope a reformed United Nations Security Council will be another example so that it does not remain mired in the geopolitics of 1945 and reflects and represents the realities of the 21st Century,” he said.

Indian media must expose Pakistan’s hand in terrorism in Afghanistan

Pakistani media and Pakistani bloggers have warned their government and security agencies that Pakistan is on the verge of global isolation. A prominent Pakistani daily in its editorial has blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi behind this move, saying he is sparing no effort in highlighting cross-border terror attacks by Pakistan at every international forum including indirectly calling Pakistan “mothership of terror” during the recent Brics meet. The editorial says, “Modi’s statement shows just how committed New Delhi is when it comes to isolating Pakistan globally. From cancelling SAARC summit to boycotting Pakistani artists, the Modi regime is hell-bent on weakening Pakistan at every international forum. When and if isolated, the impact would be drastic, and Pakistan would never want that.”

Not that the Pakistani government is not worried, as was disclosed by participants of the Heart Security Dialogue held in Afghanistan held recently, who had travelled to Pakistan earlier. The angst of the civil society in Pakistan is obvious as the above mentioned daily mentioned that the Pakistani government and security agencies “should at least have the decency to admit that Pakistan still isn’t 100 per cent sure which non-state actor is good or bad”, adding just days earlier, even a ruling party lawmaker demanded action against non-state actors who happen to be the very ones that New Delhi has alleged Islamabad is using for cross-border terrorist attacks. The paper also mentioned the episode of Dawn reporter Cyril Almeida.

Afghan soldiers inspects the site of suicide attack In Kabul. Image used for representational purpose. APAfghan soldiers inspects the site of suicide attack In Kabul. Image used for representational purpose. AP

Afghan soldiers inspects the site of suicide attack In Kabul. Image used for representational purpose. AP

With reference to Saarc, the summit that was scheduled in Islamabad is ‘postponed’ by Pakistan and not cancelled and to blame PM Modi for the same is wrong as Saarc members are sovereign nations who take their own decisions. For example, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh recently stated a media interview, “It is over the situation in Pakistan that we decided to pull out (from the Saarc summit in Islamabad). Terror from Pakistan has gone everywhere, which is why many of us felt frustrated by Pakistan. India pulled because of the Uri attack, but for Bangladesh the reason is totally different. One of the other main reason of my government for Saarc pullout was hurt felt over Pakistan’s strident criticism of the war crimes process in Bangladesh in which dozen Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, accused of brutalities during the liberation war in 1971, have been hanged or indicted.” As to Pakistani film actors returning to Pakistan, it was of their own volition because they refused to sympathise with victims of Uri attack and condemn propagators of the dastardly attack and the Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPA) who previously had held a condolence meet to sympathise with the victims of Army School, Abbotabad. IMPA indicted these Pakistani artist for making distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists.

But the most significant issue is that the term ‘non-state actor’ with reference to cross-border terrorism by Pakistan must be dropped being misnomer. There are no non-state actors in Pakistan undertaking cross-border terrorist acts. On the contrary, they are all state-supported; not only armed, funded, trained but also are operating mixed with disguised regulars from Pakistani Mujahid battalions and ISI operatives. The leaders of these so called non-state actors have been provided state protection, rabid mullahs like Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood are de-facto foreign policy spokespersons, terrorist organisations have been dovetailed with army establishments and intelligence reports indicate that terrorist along the LoC with India have been put in uniform of Pakistani Rangers post the surgical strikes by India.

While Indian media has been covering news reports about terror attacks in Afghanistan, it is imperative that Pakistan’s proxy war in Afghanistan be highlighted much more prominently, Afghanistan being our strategic partner. Report by UN Assistance Mission Afghanistan (Unama) released in July 2016 shows that 5,166 people were killed or maimed in Afghanistan between January to June 2016 and total civilian casualties as per “conservative estimates” between January 2009 and 30 June 2016 were 64,000 including 23000 killed and 41,000 injured. The UNAMA report goes on to say that majority of these casualties have been caused by the Taliban and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, Islamic State etc. Look at the horrendous horrific human tragedy in Afghanistan mainly because of Pakistan’s export of terrorism.

It may be recalled that Musharraf, former President of Pakistan has been boasting, “Osama-bin-Laden, Ayman-al-Zawahiri, Haqqanis are our heroes ….. We trained the LeT against India.” Now LeT is also being used for proxy war against Afghanistan. Earlier we had Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on Foreign Affairs (then also NSA) to Pakistan Prime Minister telling to BBC in an interview, “Pakistan should not engage in a war with those (insurgents / militants) whose target is not Pakistan.” US intelligence had admitted in February 2016 that Both Taliban (Afghan and Pakistan) have largely coalesced. The link is the Haqqanis that are based in Pakistan past three decades plus and Sirajuddin Haqqani, chief of Haqqani network and protégé of ISI is deputy leader of Afghan Taliban. US intelligence also reveals that Khorasan branch of IS formed is “amalgamation of primarily disaffected and rebranded former Afghan Taliban and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members”. Apparently, they were cobbled together in Peshawar region and have been pushed west into Afghanistan. Also, Voice of America recently reported Afghanistan officially telling Pakistan that Hafiz Saeed, former LeT chief is directing IS operations in Afghanistan.

It would be for the betterment of Pakistan if the Pakistani army returns to barracks and let true democracy flourish.

So the so called Islamic State (IS)  in Afghanistan is obviously mixed with LeT and other Pakistani proxies like JeM etc. The human toll in Afghanistan is mounting at incredible pace. Recently, 33 Muslim worshippers were killed and 82 injured in two separate terror attacks in Kabul and Balkh in Afghanistan. Intelligence now confirms that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, both Pakistan based, are also attacking Afghanistan. There should be little doubt that Pakistan’s military is doing all this with its stated aim of achieving ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan and influence Central Asia. Former Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had admitted that Pakistan does not wish to ‘hold’ the cherished strategic depth but wants to ‘control’ it. In doing so, Pakistan is repeatedly targeting Hazaras in Afghanistan, aiming to create an ethnic divide.

There is also danger that the IS in Iraq-Syria under major attack will be welcomed by Pakistan with open arms and used for cross-border attacks. Pakistan is using JeM to attack both India and Afghanistan but China still continues to put its so-called ‘technical hold’ at the UN to stop Azhar Masood being branded terrorist; ‘technical hold” being an euphuism for abetting Pakistani terrorism. This, despite China being only country that is drilling oil commercially in Afghanistan since 2012 and making huge profits in copper mines extraction.

Not only are India and Afghanistan strategic partners, they are both being subjected to Pakistan’s proxy war. The Pakistani military may have acquired the hide of the rhinoceros but public opinion in Pakistan is important and latter’s concerns have begun to reflect in their media. It should therefore be incumbent on media of both countries, particularly of India, to prominently highlight Pakistan’s proxy war both on India and Afghanistan. A media blitz is warranted to expose the nefarious wrong doings and stranglehold of the Pakistani military on their own country leading them down the vortex of terror. While the youth in Pakistan are being systematically radicalised, they actually need to be exposed to what how and why the Pakistani military lost East Pakistan and 93,000 military personnel surrendered as prisoners of war. It would be for the betterment of Pakistan if the Pakistani army returns to barracks and let true democracy flourish.

The author is veteran Lt General of the Indian Army

Mumbai: Drone spotted near International airport

Wed, 19 Oct 2016-12:24am , Mumbai , PTI

Ashish Ranjan, pilot of Indigo Airlines, told authorities that he spotted a drone some 100 metres below the aircraft. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The pilot of a private airline reported on Tuesday seeing a drone while landing at the city airport, leading to a security alert. Ashish Ranjan, pilot of Indigo Airlines flight 6E-755 from Dehradun, told authorities that he spotted a drone some 100 metres below the aircraft on Kurla side, while landing at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at around 7.30 PM.The pilot alerted the Area Traffic Control (ATC), who contacted the police. The information was forwarded to the Intelligence Bureau, Anti-Terrorism Squad, Special Branch of police and Crime Branch, a police officer said. Recent advisories from Intelligence agencies had said that terrorists could use drone-like objects to launch an attack in Mumbai. Drones, remote-operated aircraft, paragliders and balloons are banned in the city skies.

Brics a damp squib: Narendra Modi govt should check its obsession with Pakistan

The Brics summit and the overlapping Bimstec outreach meet of regional powers in Goa over the weekend were hyped up beyond expectation to deliver unrealistic results. “It was a damp squib,” said former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra. While terrorism was part of the Goa Declaration, Pakistan was not named. This had to do with China, and Russia did not try to overrule President Xi Jinping either. In its obsession with Pakistan, India overlooked the obvious: China would play its hand.

Beijing had done so on the issue of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and over Masood Azhar in the UN Security Council. Why did India believe that China would change its views? That is a question both Indian diplomats and the government must answer.

Goa was to play a pivotal part in India’s diplomatic efforts to isolate Pakistan. Terror emanating from Pakistan was to be the main focus at both these meets. Ever since the Uri attack, Indian diplomacy has got stuck on a one point agenda: get the world to side with you and condemn Pakistan. This is all very well, but at a time when Indian ambitions of being a global player under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soaring, the constant focus on Pakistan is bringing the country down to the India-Pakistan sub continental matrix.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy: PIB

This is something successive governments had fought against for decades. Delhi would be piqued, if visiting dignitaries, especially from the US and other western nations, would also visit Pakistan. India wanted to break away from this with its connotations of the South Asian context. After Uri, India’s entire foreign policy seems to be entirely focused on Pakistan.

“The Goa meet is a textbook lesson on how not to conduct India’s diplomacy,” said the former bureaucrat who has a good hold on foreign affairs. He was also India’s ambassador to the US when India conducted its nuclear tests in 1998. Considering that the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa grouping of the emerging economies is more a trade body, it was not a forum to hammer home the point about Pakistan and terror. India’s diplomatic surge in Brics was ill-timed.

Much more important is the fact that with China batting for Pakistan all along, it was to be expected that no anti-Pakistan statement would be reflected in the communiqué at the end of the Summit. Indian diplomats are well aware of the changing relations in world politics. Russia’s ties with the US has reached rock bottom. It is almost as if the Cold War era is back.

On Syria, Russia and US are on opposite sides. Washington has accused President Vladimir Putin’s men of trying to influence the US elections by hacking into sensitive email accounts. Putin is now the villain, much like what Iraq’s Saddam Hussain was before the Iraq invasion. Putin is smarting under the US insults, which are thrown at him every single day. He is coming closer to China and in the equation, China for the moment is calling the shots. At the same time, Moscow cannot but be unaware of India’s growing closeness to the US. Moscow’s overtures to Pakistan, including holding of joint military exercises, may also be due to China’s prodding.

According to Chandra, Russia is keen to be a part of the China-Pakistan economic corridor. This may one day also extend to Afghanistan. In these circumstances India would have been day dreaming if it wanted a strong anti-Pakistan statement. Islamabad will be crowing that the two major powers, China and India’s old friend Russia had refused to turn Brics into a anti-Pakistan platform.

India’s ultra nationalist media has also played into the narrative. Either a country is with India or against India. There are no shades here. Other countries national and strategic interests are of little importance. Condemn Pakistan and make it pay for its sponsorship of terrorism. India is delighted with phrases describing Pakistan as the ivy league of terror, a fountain head of terror. But in the end except for pleasing the domestic audience, what does it achieve? Precious little.

Much was made of a young Indian diplomat being fielded at the UN General Assembly to reply to Nawaz Sharif’s Kashmir-centric speech, but what did that achieve really. Again the domestic constituency was thrilled, but what else. Perhaps this is what the government is hoping to impress ahead of crucial elections in pivotal states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur early next year.

India has been more successful with the Bimstec countries. Bangladesh and Bhutan are with India. So is Sri Lanka, though the government is coming under criticism for pulling out of Saarc, at what is seen as following India’s diktat. Nepal’s Prachanda is also under fire. The smaller regional powers may well be with Delhi but that is neither here or there, when Russia and China have stood by Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj hits at Pakistan, says promoters of terrorism must be made to pay the cost

New Delhi: Amid criticism that India failed to obtain consensus on reference to cross-border terrorism in Brics declaration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said threat of terror featured strongly in the narrative of the Summit and there was a growing recognition that it has become a truly global challenge.

Two days after the Brics Summit in Goa where India forcefully highlighted terror emanating from Pakistan, she said there was no bigger global challenge than “state-sponsored” and “state-protected terrorism, asserting those supporting terror networks must be made to pay the cost.

In clear reference to Pakistan, Swaraj said there is a need to extract costs from those who sponsor and support terrorists and provide them sanctuary and continue to make the “false distinction” between “good and bad terrorists”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTIExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Swaraj was delivering an address at the Brics media forum.

In an obvious reference to Pakistan blocking several pacts on transport and connectivity in Saarc, Swaraj referred to growing cooperation on these issues among Bimstec nations, noting “There cannot be a greater contrast with those who reject even trade and connectivity for political reasons.” On deliberations at the Brics, Swaraj said while the economic engagement and political cooperation remained key factors, there was a sharp realisation that global development and prosperity was very much dependent on continued peace and security.

“Terrorism was universally recognised as a key threat to stability, progress and development. Consequently, it featured strongly in the conference narrative and its eventual outcome. “Indeed, what we saw was not just an understanding of the dangers posed by terrorism to the economic aspirations of the world but a growing recognition that this has now become a truly global challenge that the international community can only ignore at its peril,” she said.

There was criticism of the government after consensus eluded on reference to cross-border terror in Brics declaration. Without naming any country, Swaraj said there has always been an overarching political context for the Brics meetings which essentially underlines that a serious global discourse cannot be the “preserve” of a few countries with a “narrow agenda”.

“There is a developing consensus that it cannot be business as usual. We must be prepared to extract costs for those who sponsor and support terrorists, who provide them sanctuary, and who, despite their own claimed victimhood, continue to make the false distinction between good and bad terrorists.

“Brics has always been global in its approach and today, there is no bigger global challenge than state-sponsored and state-protected terrorism,” she said.

Terror can be contained with strong public support: PM Modi at BRICS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorism can be contained only with strong public support, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said while appreciating the “template” set by the Bangladesh government in this regard after the terror attack in Dhaka in July. The issue came up during bilateral meeting between Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Goa on the sidelines of BRICS and BIMSTEC Summits on Sunday night.Giving details of the talks, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup on Monday told reporters that PM Modi said that “terrorism can be contained only with strong public support.” Modi made the comment after Hasina spelt out the various steps that her government had taken following the Holey Artisan terror attack, how she had contacted all the districts of Bangladesh to be on the same page and unite against terror and how she had taken on board all the Imams to raise their voice against terror, Swarup said.”And she said that the public awareness is very high in Bangladesh against the menace of terrorism,” he added.”PM (Modi) appreciated the very strong stance that the Sheikh Hasina government and Bangladesh had taken against terrorism and how that could set a new template for countries on how to tackle this menace of terrorism,” the spokesman said.Swarup pointed out that entire Bangladesh had rallied behind the Hasina government and it has not had any incident after that attack. Swarup noted that India and Bangladesh have a Joint Working Group on terrorism which is working very effectively. The spokesman said Bangladesh has extradited a number of wanted terrorists to India and therefore from that point of view, it was not an outstanding issue which needs to be addressed.

Brics Summit was actually a huge success for India, despite China’s machinations

Most Indian publications were unanimous in their verdict on the Goa Declaration that consensus over terrorism has eluded Brics nations despite a valiant effort from New Delhi. The Indian media’s consternation over China’s role in the joint statement was explicit, with some going on to accuse Beijing of undercutting India’s attempt to isolate Pakistan from yet another global forum.

These observations, while not entirely inaccurate, nevertheless fail to take into account that absolutism has no place in foreign policy. If we temper down our immature expectation that countries will junk their specific strategic interests and unanimously occupy a hard ideological position on any issue — in this case, the global scourge of terrorism — we may find that the eighth annual Brics Summit has actually been quite successful for India.

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

For a grouping of mostly emerging economies that was founded on the principles of greater economic cooperation and facilitation of better in-house trade relations, the Goa Declaration devoted five meaty, strongly-worded paragraphs that mentioned the word “terrorism” well over 20 times. It also included — for the first time — concern on countries allowing their territories to be used for terrorist activities and called for “dismantling of terrorist bases”. Both of these reflect India’s position on cross-border terrorism.

There were clear references to chemical and biological terrorism — a motif that recently cropped up during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s reference to Pakistan using chemical weapons against its own citizens in Balochistan. The Goa Declaration also called upon “all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay.”

As The Indian Express points out, expediting the adoption of CCIT has returned to the BRICS agenda after getting dropped in 2015 UFA Declaration, signaling that NSA Ajit Doval’s effort has paid off.

The Goa Declaration also mentioned the need for a “comprehensive approach in combating terrorism”, that includes countering “radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including foreign terrorist fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).”

The enormous effort, nuance, bargaining and compromise that goes into the drafting of such joint declarations leave no space for doubt that the text is clearly loaded towards India’s concerns and reflects much of the spirit that Modi sought to forcefully introduce by way of his scathing speeches against Pakistan.

Does this mean that Brics Summit was an unqualified success for India? The answer depends on how we interpret ‘success’.

Firstpost had argued in a recent post that for New Delhi to make anything out of the grouping of five economies at different stages on the growth and ambition scale, it must accept the ground realities and then proceed to focus on areas of convergence.

And the ground reality is that in the medium to short term, the world should get used to the rise of China as a global superpower and its increasingly assertive hegemony.

As career diplomat and former Indian Ambassador to China, Shivshankar Menon writes in his piece for Brookings Institution (What China’s rise means for India):

“China’s economic achievements in the last three decades of 10 percent-plus GDP growth have inspired awe around the world. We all know the consequences—the accumulation of hard power in all its forms… The speed and scale of China’s transformation are astonishing. As a rising power, meanwhile, China is determined to have an independent say in the economic, political, and security order around (it) and in the world.”

If China seeks to bend the geopolitical region around it, there is no reason why it should play ball with India on matter than concerns New Delhi. In fact, keeping alive the border disputes and forcing India to remain engaged with Pakistan on a subversive quid-pro-quo that diverts much of New Delhi’s resources towards defence equipment works out beautifully to China’s advantage.

Although India, at a conservative estimate, is nearly 30 years behind China on the development scale and is belatedly investing in areas and introducing policies that China did in the 1970s and 1980s, there is not a shadow of doubt that the size of Indian economy and its demographic advantage will eventually result in a parity between the two rivaling economies. China understands this more than perhaps India itself does at this point.

Beijing also understands that for India to make up for lost time and belatedly realise its potential, it needs stability and calmness around borders. And through its various actions and manipulations, Beijing is trying to deny India that very stability.

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In this context we must place China’s resolute support towards Pakistan and its ‘non-state actors’ who want to suck India into a vortex of perpetual violence. The recent Chinese technical hold on Masood Azhar, refusal to let India enter the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group or preventing the names of terror groups Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba from cropping up into the joint declaration at Goa are all part of a larger Chinese plan to hold on to the leverage points vis-à-vis India.

These diplomatic moves are complemented by its military presence in Indian Ocean littoral and huge spends in ambitious infrastructural projects — the CPEC and OBOR — that are calibrated towards the twin aims of trade facilitation and military-strategic depth. Its recent largesse towards Bangladesh (a $24-billion line of credit at low interest to develop Dhaka’s logistical prowess) is a blatant attempt to needle New Delhi and put a ring around it.

Within these constraints, for Narendra Modi government to eke out a Brics declaration loaded heavily in its favour and tilted decidedly against Pakistan, a nation that China uses to keep India at bay, is no mean achievement.

Let’s be real about our expectations.

Brics Summit in Goa: The grouping wasn’t tough on terror, nor did it mean to

Terrorism was apparently the focus of the just-concluded Brics Summit in Goa.

And to an extent, it was.

After all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked tough on the awful phenomenon in all his speeches over the course of the weekend, going so far as to refer to Pakistan as ‘the mothership of terrorism‘. It’s almost a certainty that he brought up terrorism, particularly the sort gift-wrapped and sent across the border from our considerate neighbours to the North West, over the course of all his bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Brics and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summits.

TV news channels and news websites ran excerpts from the joint statement — known as the Goa Declaration — issued by the leaders of Brics countries, highlighting this part:

We strongly condemn the recent several attacks, against some Brics countries, including that in India. We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons. We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora.

Other sections of the Goa Declaration went into great detail about specific aspects. The Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and ‘other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council’ received a mention. So too did ‘terrorist activities in Afghanistan’, terrorism in Africa, chemical and biological forms of terror, ‘foreign terrorist fighters’, ‘International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation’ and so on.

It was a lot like a symposium on climate change, where everything under the sun is discussed and noted, except greenhouse gases. And no, it is not the intention of this piece to refer to terrorism emanating from Pakistan as a greenhouse gas.

The intention is, however, to point out that these pronouncements on terror are nothing new and do little to indicate that India has prevailed upon the group to examine — much less seek a crackdown on — the biggest source of terror attacks in India. The intention is also to point out that a failure to get Pakistan, whether in name or in the form of a reference to the Uri/Pathankot attacks, is actually something of a setback from India’s point of view. The simple mention of “recent several attacks, against some Brics countries, including that in India (emphasis added)” is frankly insufficient.

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Here’s one question that will arise at this point: Modi more than made his views clear to all the countries at the Brics and Bimstec summits, so why does India need that to be part of a joint statement — which in itself, is not legally binding?

Let’s address the second part first. A Brics joint statement is largely a set of goals that all five countries will strive to achieve. It is not legally binding. However, what it does project is a sense of unity and agreement on a an issue. It sends the world a message that all five of these countries — that together account for over half the world’s population and more than a quarter of its GDP — stand together on a particular issue. By daintily stepping around a particular issue, the statement betrays the notion that not all members agree on a particular point, in this case, Pakistan’s role in fomenting terror.

But, the statement spoke at great length about terrorism, you may well reiterate. And that is true. But none of these aspects of terrorism are contentious. No one disagrees that the Islamic State must be wiped out. No one disagrees that chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists are a bad thing. No one disagrees that terrorism in Africa — perpetrated by the likes of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and their ilk — must be stamped out. These are truisms.

Benaulim: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma at the press statement during the Brics Summit in Goa on Sunday. PTI

Benaulim: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian president Michel Temer, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Chinese president Xi Jinping and South African president Jacob Zuma at the press statement during the Brics Summit in Goa on Sunday. PTI

It’s instructive, at this point, to look at previous Brics declarations to see how little the grouping’s view of terrorism has truly changed since the first summit.

Yekaterinburg (Russia), 2009

“We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterate that there can be no justification for any act of terrorism anywhere or for whatever reasons. We note that the draft Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism is currently under the consideration of the UN General Assembly and call for its urgent adoption.”

The Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) has only really faced opposition from the US, Israel, a handful of Latin American countries and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation bloc. None of the Brics members are opposed to it and so, this part of the statement didn’t really add all that much.

Brasilia (Brazil), 2010

“We condemn terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations. We note that the fight against international terrorism must be undertaken with due respect to the UN Charter, existing international conventions and protocols, the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions relating to international terrorism, and that the prevention of terrorist acts is as important as the repression of terrorism and its financing. In this context, we urge early conclusion of negotiations in the UN General Assembly of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and its adoption by all Member States.

Brazil and China express their sympathy and solidarity with the people and Governments of Russia and India which suffered from recent barbaric terrorist attacks. Terrorism cannot be justified by any reason.”

A slightly more elaborate section on terrorism found its way into the second ever Bric (South Africa was yet to become a member) joint statement. However, aside from lip service that condemned terror attacks in Russia and India (presumably referring to the Germany Bakery blast in Pune), there was nothing new. The CCIT made a return.

Sanya (China), 2011

“We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism. We believe that the United Nations has a central role in coordinating the international action against terrorism within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with principles and norms of the international law. In this context, we urge early conclusion of negotiations in the UN General Assembly of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and its adoption by all Member States. We are determined to strengthen our cooperation in countering this global threat. We express our commitment to cooperate for strengthening international information security. We will pay special attention to combat cybercrime.”

Information security and cybercrime made their debuts in the 2011 edition of the Brics Summit. Opinion on whether or not Russia and China are the right candidates to speak about ‘combat(ing) cybercrime’ will be reserved. But again, it was much of the same.

Delhi (India), 2012

“We reiterate that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any act of terrorism in any form or manifestation. We reaffirm our determination to strengthen cooperation in countering this menace and believe that the United Nations has a central role in coordinating international action against terrorism, within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with principles and norms of international law. We emphasise the need for an early finalisation of the draft of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly and its adoption by all Member States to provide a comprehensive legal framework to address this global scourge.”

Most notably, the language used in the Delhi Declaration was far more dramatic than the previous joint statements: ‘Emphasise the need’, ‘countering this menace’ and ‘global scourge’. Great copy, no doubt, but what did it really do to push the agenda along?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma shake hands after issuing the press statement. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian president Michel Temer, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Chinese president Xi Jinping and South African president Jacob Zuma shake hands after issuing the press statement. PTI

Durban (South Africa), 2013

“We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism. We believe that the UN has a central role in coordinating international action against terrorism within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with principles and norms of international law. In this context, we support the implementation of the UN General Assembly Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and are determined to strengthen cooperation in countering this global threat. We also reiterate our call for concluding negotiations as soon as possible in the UN General Assembly on the Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism and its adoption by all Member States and agreed to work together towards this objective.”

The UN General Assembly’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy found a mention in this particular joint statement, but a clear pattern had already emerged by the fifth Brics Summit: Keep it general and keep pushing for CCIT.

Fortaleza (Brasil), 2014

The Fortaleza Declaration was an interesting change from the norm as it spent around four or five pages on the violent (and verging on, if not directly related to, terrorism) problems in Africa, West Asia (Syria and Iraq) and Afghanistan. And while Al-Qaeda was named, the usual throwaway line — which one assumes is meant to cover India — also made an appearance for good measure:

We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic, or any other justification…

Ufa (Russia), 2015

With the Syria eyeballs-deep in chaos and the purview of the Islamic State having spread to Europe and beyond, this statement appropriately spent a lot of time on the situation in Syria. The Al-Nusrah Front and Islamic State were mentioned by name and several crises in Africa were highlighted. But those hoping to see the insertion of something relating more closely to India in the statement had to make to with the usual:

“We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification-…”

You get the idea.

It’s worth noting here that the number of mentions that ‘terror’ has found in joint statements has gone up over the past three summits, which is encouraging. Unfortunately, a large part of this is linked to the turmoil in West Asia that is spilling over across the world, and the intensification (in intent, if not action) of international condemnation of the Islamic State.

Getting back to Indian interests, while the Goa Declaration was incredibly detailed in its identification of sources of terrorism (37 mentions of ‘terror’ is testament to that), the fact that neither Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad nor Jamaat-ud-Dawah found any mention in the statement should have come as a surprise to no one. China, the country that refuses to recognise Masood Azhar (JeM leader) or Hafiz Saeed (JuD leader) as terrorists, is after all a key member of Brics. Therefore, getting the grouping to agree on anything meaningful regarding the source of terrorism that targets India was always going to be a tough task.

Perhaps the bar of expectations had been set too high — maybe unfairly so — after India’s resounding success of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit boycott, wherein Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka joined India in refusing to go to Islamabad (to protest against Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy) for the annual high-level meet of the grouping. But, Saarc is no Brics. Both groupings must be seen as what they are.

Saarc is a regional grouping where all matters that affect South Asia are discussed. India enjoys a great deal of support within Saarc.

Brics is a non-regional grouping where the primary agenda is to create an alternate financial architecture that seeks to give equal opportunities to developing economies — something, it has been argued, the present Bretton Woods institutions do not. The New Development Bank, launched by Brics, is a step in that direction. Acting on terrorism aimed at India, however, is not part of the grouping’s raison d’être. India enjoys the support of Russia and to an extent, South Africa and Brazil. But China, among whose allies Pakistan features highest, is a different kettle of fish. Competing interests mean New Delhi will never have the backing of Beijing in issues that also relate to Pakistan.

And so, terrorism may well have been the focus of the summit, but terrorism aimed at India will never figure that high on the Brics agenda.

Brics Summit: PM Modi slams Pakistan, calls it the ‘mothership’ of terrorism

The issue of cross-border terrorism remained a focal point in all the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he urged the Brics nations to work together in their fight against the global menace.

“Unfortunately, this country in India’s neighbourhood embraces and radiates the darkness of terrorism. Terrorism has become its favourite child, and the child in turn has come to define the essential nature of its parents,” said Modi at the Brics-Bimstec Outreach Summit. Modi had earlier dubbed Pakistan (without naming it) the “mothership” of terrorism to which terror modules around the world were connected.

Modi at the Brics-Bimstec Outreach Summit also said that a clear message must be sent to those who nurture philosophy of terror and seek to dehumanise mankind; they should either mend their ways or be isolated in a civilised world.

The two-day Brics Summit concluded on Sunday with the heads of the participating countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) pledging stronger business ties and cooperation on fight against terrorism.

Benaulim: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Michel Temer posing for a group photo before the BRICS meeting in Benaulim, Goa on Sunday. PTI

Benaulim: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Michel Temer posing for a group photo before the BRICS meeting in Benaulim, Goa on Sunday. PTI

Modi also urged the member countries to act together against the threat posed by terrorism. “Brics must speak in one voice against this threat. We need to act individually and collectively to defeat terrorism,” he said on Sunday, adding that a selective approach against terrorism will not only be futile but also counter-productive, according to PTI.

Modi also articulated India’s concerns over terrorism emanating from Pakistan during his bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday as well.

The Prime Minister stressed that those supporting terrorism have to be “punished, not rewarded”. “The growing arc of terrorism today threatens Middle East, West Asia, Europe and South Asia,” he said. “Its violent footprint puts at risk the security of our citizens and undercuts our efforts aimed at economic growth,” he added.

In his concluding speech on Sunday, Modi said that the leaders were unanimous in recognising the threat that terror, extremism and radicalisation present to regional and global peace, stability and economic prosperity. “We underscored the need for close coordination on tracking sources of terrorist financing and target the hardware of terrorism, including weapons’ supplies, ammunition, equipment and training,” he said.

The Goa Declaration

The five member countries of Brics also signed a joint declaration on Sunday asking all countries to prevent terrorist actions from their soil. It called for expeditious adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) by the UN to tackle the problem and step up practical cooperation against terrorism.

The member countries also condemned the recent attacks against some Brics countries, including that in India. “We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora,” the Goa Declaration issued at the end of the summit said.

In the declaration, the Brics said it reaffirmed commitment to the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) international standards on combating money laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation. The FATF is an inter-governmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001, the purpose expanded to act on terrorism financing.

It also called for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF on combating terrorist financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan.

Stronger multi-lateral trade

The world leaders also stressed on the need for greater co-operation in business and trade between member states to drive stronger growth back home, and putting the global economy back on track.

On the achievement of Brics, Modi said the footprint of intra-Brics engagement has expanded over time to include large areas of economic activity. “The scope of our partnership today stretches from agriculture to industry and innovation; trade to tourism; environment to energy; films to football; skill development to smart cities; and from fighting corruption and money laundering to securing our societies,” he said on Sunday.

China President Xi Jinping also shared similar views as he stated that innovation holds “the key to leapfrog” development in Brics countries and urged businesses to follow this path for a steady and sustainable economic development.

Admitting that 2008 credit crisis has not only “slowed down Brics economies” but they are still “facing challenges” even after eight years of the worst recession since the 1930s, Jinping stressed that the “potential and the strength” of the grouping is “unchanged” and they continue to remain positive from a long-term perspective.

Jinping also underlined the need for “result-oriented” cooperation among the Brics countries and also asked the Business Council to explore the idea of joint implementation of big projects.

The Chinese leader said the New Development Bank, which began operations in Shanghai last year, is the outcome of a similar result-oriented approach and affirmed Beijing’s commitment to fully back its activities.

Newly-appointed Brazilian President Michel Temer, who came to power after his predecessor Dilma Rouseff’s impeachment a few months back, said his administration will speed up economic reforms by creating more jobs in an anaemic economy and also affirmed his commitment to maintain the ecological concerns.

The largest South American nation will streamline its bureaucracy so that work gets implemented faster, Temer said, and declared that his administration has identified as many as 34 projects in the roads, highways, ports and oil sectors to boost an anaemic economy which has been degrowing of late.

He claimed that the largest Latin American economy, which recently hosted the Rio Olympics, already sees signs of the recovery being underway.

Russian President Vladmir Putin said business plays an important role in both sustainability and accelerating growth and underlined that Brics members are home to some of the most promising consumer markets in the world.

South African President Jacob Zuma said the activities of the Brics Business Council over the past three years have reached a stage where it can play the role of a catalyst for growth.

Zuma also outlined the areas where partnerships are needed, including insurance and re-insurance, a Brics seed bank, infrastructure including power generation and transmission, aviation and large-scale manufacturing so that massive number of jobs can be created. The largest African economy has an official unemployment level of 25 percent while the actual joblessness is much higher.

Modi said there was also a clear need to build norms, create structures and pool capacities to stop tax evasion, and fight against black money and corruption.

NDB to double its commitment in Brics nations

Multi-lateral trade between Brics nations was a major highlight at the Brics Business Council meeting. The New Development Bank (NDB), which was formed by the Brics nations last year, announced its plans to more than double its commitment to support infrastructure projects to the tune of $2.5 billion in 2017. “We are targeting incremental lending of $2.5 billion over next year and we believe it will be largely in the sustainable and green infrastructure,” KV Kamath, the NDB president, said on Sunday.

Keeping the commitments and the actual lending in mind, Kamath also said that the NDB has drawn up a plan to raise $1.5 billion from multiple sources next year. He also urged the Brics leadership to recommend the NDB as an observer at the UN General Assembly.

Russia-India to strengthen tie

Modi’s statement on Saturday, “one old friend is better than two new friends” was not just a sign of India recognising its alliance with long-time partner Russia, but also a commitment to strengthen it. The two countries met for bilateral talks on the sidelines of Brics where India and Russia signed 16 agreements and made three major deals. One of the major wins for both countries was the $5 billion S-400 “Triumf” deal, which will aid India’s security against neighbours, whereas Rusian takeover of Essar oil will help Russia’s ailing oil business. Keeping up with Modi’s Make in India plan, Russia also agreed to domestically manufacture 200 Kamov helicopters in India.

The two sides also signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on developing smart cities, transport logistics, shipbuilding and railways in Andhra Pradesh, and cooperation in oil and gas among others. The two leaders also announced the launch of phase two of the Kudankulam nuclear reactor, done via video conference, as well the foundation stone for phases three and four.

With inputs from PTI

BRICS Summit 2016: Member nations adopt Goa Declaration, to focus on combating terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The five-nation powerful grouping of BRICS on Sunday asked all countries to prevent “terrorist actions” from their territories and called for expeditious adoption of an India-backed global convention by the UN to fight the menace effectively. A declaration adopted at the annual summit of grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa called upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including foreign terrorists and blocking sources of financing terrorism.”We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay,” the Goa declaration issued at the end of the Summit said. It also asked the countries to adopt a “holistic” approach in successfully combating terrorism.Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for decisive action to deal with terrorism and described Pakistan as a mothership of global terrorism. The BRICS said sources of terror funding like organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the internet including through social media by terror entities should be focus areas.”Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter-terrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights,” the declaration said.Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, the BRICS urged all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and reaffirmed its commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework.In the declaration, the BRICS said it reaffirmed commitment to the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) international standards on combating money laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation.The FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 the purpose expanded to act on terrorism financing. It also called for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF on combating terrorist financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan.

Brics summit Day 2: PM Modi refers to Pakistan, calls it ‘mothership of terrorism’

Benaulim: In a clear reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the “mothership of terrorism” was in India’s neighbourhood and linked to terror modules across the world.

Modi’s speech at the restricted Brics leaders’ meet, parts of which were tweeted by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, also said that the neighbouring country sheltered not just terrorists but also “nurtures a mindset” which backs terrorism for political gains.

PM Modi. Courtesy: PIBPM Modi. Courtesy: PIB

PM Modi. Courtesy: PIB

“In our own region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development. Tragically, the mothership of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood. Terror modules around the world are linked to this mothership,” Modi said at the meeting attended by Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Michel Temer of Brazil.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also attended the restricted meeting.

“This country shelters not just terrorists. It nurtures a mindset. A mindset that loudly proclaims that terrorism is justified for political gains. It is a mindset that we strongly condemn,” Modi said, exhorting Brics states to “stand and act together” and speak in one voice against the threat.

Modi also said that the growing arc of terrorism today threatened the Middle East, West Asia, Europe and South Asia and that terrorism’s “violent footprints put at risk the security of our citizens and undercuts our efforts aimed at economic growth”.

Modi called on Brics countries to work together for early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and step up practical cooperation against terrorism.

The Prime Minister also spoke of critical challenges that confront the world and underlined the need for a clear roadmap to revive the global economy.

“Our increasing inter-dependence means that our march towards economic prosperity cannot be separated from the emerging geo-political context. BRICS, therefore, must play an active role in setting a direction that supports our common aspirations and goals.

“I firmly believe that the simultaneous development of Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and India is the best bet for global growth and development,” Modi said.

Modi said the “unhindered flow of skilled talent, ideas, technology, and capital across borders was imperative to kickstart the growth process”.

With inputs from IANS

BRICS 2016: India, China discuss terrorism; push NSG issue for second round

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India made some plain speaking to China on Saturday on the lines that countries cannot afford to have differences on the issue of tackling terror and put forward its concerns over Beijing blocking UN designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.The Indian position was conveyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting in Goa that came against the backdrop of China putting on hold India’s move to get Azhar, the brain behind the Pathankot attack, banned by the UN. The bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held on Sunday saw Xi disclosing that a second round of dialogue between the two countries will be held soon on India’s bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in which New Delhi hopes “differences” will be narrowed down. Xi said the dialogue would be helpful.On the issue of terrorism, Modi told Xi that “Both India and China are victims of terrorism and the region was suffering from the menace. The Prime Minister said no country is immune from terrorism and on this issue, we cannot afford to have any differences,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters after the meeting. “In particular, India and China must increase their coordination in context of UN 1267 committee and look for common ground,” he said.India has been upset with China when it put on technical hold New Delhi’s move to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by UN. Recently, China extended the hold by few months. Swarup said both sides recognised that terrorism as a “key issue” with Xi asserting that the two sides should strengthen the security dialogue and partnership. “Both India and China have been victims of terrorism which was a scourge afflicting the entire region,” Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale quoted Modi as saying while referring to terror incidents in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.Swarup said India was in dialogue with China on enforcing a UN ban on Azhar. “We expect China will see logic in it.” The Prime Minister said India and China must increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism and look for a common ground and a long-term road to tackle the menace.Xi said India and China must step up counter-terrorism efforts and strengthen security dialogue and partnership. It was announced that Yang Jiechi will meet his Indian counterpart NSA Ajit Doval soon. Asked whether China has been provided with any evidence in the pursuit of obtaining China’s support on the Azhar issue, Swarup said “no evidence”.He said Indian side has not spared any effort to convey that to Chinese and it hopes that they “see logic”. To another question, he said China condemns all forms of terrorism and a counter-terrorism dialogue has taken place with it. “This will be discussed in the next round and our expectation is that China will take all steps… (to check the menace).” Replying to questions whether China has softened on its stand on India’s NSG membership, Swarup said, “This shows there is dialogue, a good strategic dialogue. Of course this will narrow differences.”Asked whether China reiterated the position that membership of the NSG was by consensus among parties, he replied “no”. Last month, a Chinese delegation led by Director General of Department of Arms Control Wang Qun had visited India for talks on the issue with Indian officials.In the June Plenary of NSG in Seoul, despite strong American support, China stonewalled India’s bid to get entry into the group on the grounds that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).Swarup said Chinese leader clearly acknowledged increasing threat of terrorism and condemned all forms and manifestations of terrorism. President Xi said terrorism and violent extremism were on the increase and alluded to the threat from ISIL while pitching for stepped up bilateral counter-terrorism efforts, Swarup told reporters.Xi also said the two sides must maintain strategic dialogue on the counter-terrorism. The two leaders also noted the upcoming visit by Chinese State Councillor Yang who will hold talks with National Security Advisor Doval where the dialogue will continue.India and China held their first high level dialogue on counter-terrorism and security in September. “The Chinese side is very well aware of our concerns, need for us to ensure that globally notified terrorists are designated by the UN. There is a close coordination between India and China on this issue and that particular dialogue will continue,” Swarup said.He also said that there was a brief discussion on the NSG issue. On the economic side, both leaders noted the progress made in sector with Xi talking about various to address the trade deficit in favour of China.

Brics summit: India, China recognise terrorism as ‘key issue’ but Beijing mum on Masood Azhar

Benaulim: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday recognised terrorism as a “key issue”, an Indian official said after a meeting between the two leaders here. But Beijing gave no assurance on supporting New Delhi’s bid on a UN ban against Pakistan-based militant leader Masood Azhar.

“Both sides recognised terrorism as a key issue. President Xi said we should strengthen our security dialogue and partnership,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.

Modi and Xi Jinping met at a beach resort here, ahead of the Brics Summit to review bilateral ties and its dimensions.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

“Modi said that both India and China had been victims of terrorism which was a scourge afflicting the entire region,” Swarup said.

Swarup said that Xi underlined that “terrorism and violent extremism were on the increase”, alluding to the threat from the Islamic State terror group.

Asked about China blocking the Indian effort to have Azhar banned, Swarup said it was up to China to consider the move that will safeguard not only the region but the entire world from terrorism.

“The Chinese side is very well aware of our concerns, and the need for us to ensure that globally notified terrorists are designated by the UN,” he said, adding that the two sides are coordinating on the issue and talks would continue over it.

The Spokesperson said that the Modi and Xi also had a “brief discussion on” India’s prospects of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

“PM Modi said we look forward to working with China to realise India’s membership of the NSG,” he said.

Swarup said that one round of dialogue has already been held on this issue and the second would be conducted soon.

This apart, both leaders expressed satisfaction at the increase in high-level visits between the two countries.

Modi and Xi agreed that bilateral investment and economic cooperation has increased.

Xi said that Chinese companies were being encouraged to invest in India, according to Swarup.

Modi also appreciated China’s contributions to the Brics and said the New Development Bank of Brics nations was a symbol of partnership of the member states of the grouping.

US welcomes BRICS effort of constructive engagement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US has welcomed the efforts of BRICS countries to engage constructively in global issues of importance. “US welcomes BRICS effort of constructive engagement,” a State Department spokesman said. The spokesman was responding to a question on the eighth BRICS Summit being hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Goa.BRICS Summit followed by the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit will be held on Saturday in Goa.Ahead of the Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he was looking forward to building bridges to new partnerships and finding common resolve and solutions to entrenched problems of the region.Modi, who will also hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders on the sidelines of the Summits in Goa, said they will discuss ways to address “pressing international and regional challenges that stand in the way of our goals”.The five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – represent over 3.6 billion people, or half of the world population and they have a combined GDP of US $16.6 trillion.India is likely to push for unity among the BRICS members to remove the logjam at the UN on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) for effectively dealing with terror.Initiated by India, the CCIT is stuck at the UN due to lack of agreement among its members about the definition of terrorism.

Pampore attack: Kashmir supercop Altaf ‘laptop’ was killed just when EDI attackers crossed LoC

Young men, even adolescents, lethally trained as killing machines that would make most commandoes blanche, ready to even die on command… that is the Pakistani attackers’ profile, according to some of those who played key roles to fight the EDI attackers from Monday to Wednesday.

That, in fact, is the typical profile of some of the militants who conducted some of the most daring and dramatic fidayeen attacks in Kashmir since the beginning of this year.

The ravaged Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in Pampore. PTIThe ravaged Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in Pampore. PTI

The ravaged Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in Pampore. PTI

It turns out that the two commandos who were killed in the EDI building were part of a group of eight (possibly nine) militants who infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley through the ranges above Bandipora last October.

The army has identified one of them as Maaz. The other was probably called Waleed, according to one of those involved in the identification. The investigators are not entirely sure about the younger second man. If he is Waleed, his adolescence has progressed from about a year ago. His face has filled out and he looks more like a grown man than the boy in the photograph the investigators have.

This particularly lethal group of eight or nine fidayeen are linked to some of the most high-profile militant encounters of the past year. These include the two attacks on the CRPF on the Anantnag-Srinagar highway and both the attacks on the EDI.

Dramatic welcome

Ironically, the group’s ingress into the Valley was connected with two of the most important men involved in militancy and counter-militancy respectively. One was Abu Qasim, the extraordinarily popular Pakistani militant who was based in south Kashmir until he was killed late last year. This group of eight or nine was so important that Qasim went to Bandipora in northeast Kashmir to receive them.

That’s where the key figure in counterinsurgency entered the picture: sub-inspector Altaf ‘laptop’ got wind of the fact that Qasim was going to Bandipora that day — 7 October last year. A double agent set up Altaf with that information. Qasim was ready for him with an ambush. He killed Altaf at a barricade on the road. Of course, Qasim too was killed a few weeks later, near Kulgam in south Kashmir.

However, the names and pictures of the eight boys who he had gone to receive were now with the police. For, Qasim had dropped his phone at the site of his encounter with Altaf. Passport-sized pictures and names of eight members of the group that crossed the LOC were in that phone.

As the police identified bodies after some of the major encounters of this past year, they discovered again and again that members of the group (which Qasim had gone to receive) had starred in each of those actions. The photographs in Qasim’s phone matched the faces of the fidayeen killed.

By the time the EDI encounter ended on Wednesday, seven of them had been killed. As in the EDI attack, two of those eight were killed in each of three earlier encounters. Only one fidayeen was killed in one encounter. So only one, possibly two, of that extraordinarily lethal group probably remains.

Intelligence reports

According to those involved in countering the EDI attack, the police had intelligence since about last Wednesday that a fidayeen attack was likely in that area. There was a talk of the boys being on a motorcycle. Even a registration number was circulated to the forces.

A top army officer said the men probably wanted to attack a convoy on the highway and then go into the EDI building, which is strategically located right by the highway. He speculated that they must have reversed that plan after a heavy army and paramilitary deployment on the highway prevented them from attacking a convoy on the highway.

The director of the EDI is said to have turned down a proposal that a police or CRPF picket be posted in a room on the ground floor of this second EDI building (a hostel) after the main EDI building was destroyed during an earlier militant encounter in January this year. Much of the equipment that survived that attack had been shifted to the hostel building. It had been used until hartals and stone-pelting demonstrations prevented normal movement after 8 July this year.

Most people in authority, within Kashmir and even more so in New Delhi’s corridors of power, have been clueless about what has been unfolding in Kashmir. No action was taken to secure the place even after the intelligence reports about fidayeen last week.

Smoke gave them away

By last weekend, the fidayeen boys were apparently under pressure from their handlers to act. They may have been ordered to enter the EDI building during the weekend so that they could use it as a base to initiate action. A senior officer said that a message from the fidayeen boys to their handlers across the Line of Control was intercepted early on Monday morning. Watch television, the message said: you will see something by 7.30 am.

Possibly, they planned to emerge from the EDI building to launch an attack on the highway.

However, at 6 am, a guard at the EDI gate noticed some smoke in one of the rooms of the EDI hostel building, which was meant to be vacant that Monday morning. He telephoned the EDI director, who told him to go and check. When he approached, the fidayeen fired.

Some soldiers who were on the road close by heard and reported the firing. That is when the encounter which lasted more than two-and-a-half days began.

The army laid one cordon, then a second. The fidayeen boys were well-prepared. They had set up piles of explosives on certain stairwells, ready to be blown up. And they had food and other stores with them. Early during the encounter, it was reported that three attackers were in the building.

Priority to avoid casualties

The army commanders were under pressure from political authorities, who were distressed that the stand-off dominated the media for such a long time. But the commanders’ had their priorities right: they were determined to avoid casualties, even if it took longer. What the brass feared most was the possibility that the men might slip away. That would have been a huge embarrassment.

A top officer went into the campus in a Caspar armoured vehicle. An IED mine was placed in the compound. Its deafening roar was calculated to disorient the militants.

The firing was stepped up at the windows of two bathrooms, one above the other, from where the militants seemed to be firing. Perhaps fearing that the forces were closing in on their location from within the building too when the barrage of fire on the building was stepped up, two boys jumped from an upper floor.

Evidently highly trained, they both survived the fall. One of them was killed in the fearsome barrage of fire that targeted them on the ground. But the other managed to roll back into the building.

Finally, the attack ended when he too was killed on Wednesday afternoon. It took till late at night, though, to comb the entire building for any remaining militants, explosives or booby-traps.

The big question is: how many of the very many groups that have infiltrated since the beginning of this year comprise such extraordinarily trained commandos as the eight that came when Hamza killed Altaf, almost exactly a year ago.

Ban on Pakistani artists: Vivek Agnihotri on why you cannot separate art from politics

Art, literature, entertainment has no religion and nation. However, artists, authors and entertainers do have religion and nation.”

– Charlie Chaplin.

The other day, I was invited to a panel discussion on Arnab Goswami’s News Hour. Since one hardly gets to speak in that hour-and-a-half, this show gives me lot of time to listen to a lot of arguments and introspect on issues. That night the debate was on the ‘Ban on Pakistani Artists’. I tried to gather all the arguments made by a lot of my colleagues in Bollywood and I found myself disagreeing with almost all of them.

‘Don’t ban Pakistani artists, they aren’t terrorists’

First, none of our governments — Centre or state — have declared such a ban.

Second, we all know that artists are not terrorists.

All of us talk at home, at work, in parties, on TV channels about terrorism and Pakistan, but then we move on with our lives. Very often, we discuss these issues, like we discuss the weather, believing that we have no control over them. I believe a country is not made by its government. It’s a product of its collective vision and collective endeavor. The government is us and not an alien power over us. If we feel we have no control over anything, it’s because the elites who control the narrative have made us believe that we are hapless. This is not true.

File image of Vivek Agnihotri. Image provided by the author

File image of Vivek Agnihotri. Image provided by the author

Isn’t it true that despite Pakistan’s hostility towards us and its consistent efforts to break up Kashmir we have been running campaigns like ‘Aman Ki Asha’? For the past 30 years, they have been funding, training and supporting terrorists to cause mayhem in India. These terrorists, with the backing of Pakistan’s military, Inter-Services Intelligence and the government have attacked Parliament, Mumbai, Pathankot and killed thousands of our innocent citizens and soldiers.

As a result of Pakistan’s sinister designs, we have never been able to single-mindedly focus on development as most of our resources and political currency is wasted in fighting insurgency and separatism in Kashmir. Still, we have created dedicated channel of Pakistani serials and made their artists our heroes. Not because of the government, but due to the collective efforts of each citizen of India.

Since the barbaric Uri attack, where 19 of our soldiers were burnt to death, while sleeping, our government has been trying to isolate Pakistan in the world — politically, militarily and economically. When such efforts are on, then it is an undeclared state of war. In such a situation, how can the citizens of Pakistan be allowed to work in India? When Pakistan is threatening us with nuclear attacks and the splintering of Kashmir, how can we be at peace, doing the business of mutual entertainment? Also, in a war or war-like situation isn’t it a citizen’s duty to support its government’s strategy?

We are Mahatma Gandhi’s country and we have learnt that the most powerful tool to fight for the truth is non-cooperation. It’s India’s turn to assert itself through no-exchange of people, resources and communication. That they happen to be actors is inconsequential.

Terrorism isn’t a political point. It’s a moral issue. A human issue. It’s time we take a stand! Speak. Discuss. Act. It’s high time now!

‘They are on a legal visa’ and ‘Condemning terror is their Freedom of Expression’

It’s a sad commentary that when our forces are fighting Pakistan bred terrorists and losing lives almost every day at the LoC, we are only talking about visas, work permits and money.

Fawad Khan, Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have a mass following. And when they talk, people listen. We should constructively ask them and all the artists from Pakistan who work in our country to take a stand on these issues. Do you support the act? Or don’t you? And if not, what would you like to say to your fellow countrymen? In addition to creating works of art, the artist is also a citizen and a human being. Terrorism isn’t a political point. It’s a moral issue. A human issue. It’s time we take a stand! Speak. Discuss. Act. It’s high time now!

‘Art and artists should be protected from politics’

Should we subject art and artists to political interference or protect art and artists from politics at the cost of isolating the political character of art and its broader and meaningful connection with life? Art does not exist in a vacuum. Artists need the resonance of their work in the society that subscribes to their work. So this very argument doesn’t hold good. Art and artistic expression are very important in forging group solidarity, a sense of belonging and common purpose. They also are means of overcoming fear and anxiety in trying situations.

During the 1965 and 1971 wars, our artists collectively helped boost the morale of our army. This was the era when we were making a lot of anti-establishment, leftist movies but when we got into the war situation, the same artists created a collective and united narrative, articulating who we are, where we came from, what we stood for and what we were against. Art forms part of the text and texture of a society’s politics. In fact, I am of the view that our artists are dangerously isolated from the politics and the society of our times.

‘Our job is to only entertain’

Not really.

Then what’s the difference between circus and art? Our job is to inspire, enlighten and stimulate emotionally or intellectually. To give insights. But this is where most of our Bollywood’s work fails. Being an avid traveller, I have learnt that If you are travelling to a new country, pick up their latest magazines and a few films and you will get a fair idea about their society, politics, food, architecture, fashion and relationships.

Unfortunately, if someone is travelling to India and picks up four or five of our mainstream films, he or she will learn more about London and New York than India. This shows that gradually, Bollywood has not only isolated itself from politics but also from the society to which it caters, and especially from the common man and his concerns. This is why, in this moment of national crisis, whereas the first concern should have been safety of the country, its soldiers and the fellow citizens, the first concern for some was ‘Pakistani artists’. This also justifies the common man’s anger towards Bollywood.

Bollywood doesn’t take our society seriously and society also doesn’t it seriously.

I also have a problem with our media. It attaches too much importance to what some of our artists and Pakistani artists are saying. In such sensitive political matters, we should look for competent comments rather than utter ignorance. It’s time to collectively and unitedly create a narrative that is against terrorism. I am asking all of us to think carefully and clearly.

For if we are all being herded into actions that will make the world even more dangerous than it is now, we will later regret that we went along silently and did not raise our voices as citizens to ask, “How can we get at the roots of this problem? Is it right to groom innocent children to become suicide bombers?” As artists we can all do something: We can speak up.

The author is filmmaker, writer and motivational speaker. He is the founder of#IAmBuddha and School of Creativity. He tweets at @vivekagnihotri

Brics Summit in Goa: What to expect and why India will play a key role this time around

In current times, India is one of the most important players in Brics — a group made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The reason is that India is seen as a bright spot in a bloc whose clout has been undermined by economic woes.

Brics was formed in 2006 with the aim of using its growing economic and political influence to challenge Western hegemony. The nations, with a joint estimated GDP of $16 trillion, set up their own bank in parallel to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank and hold summits rivalling the G7 forum. But the countries, accounting for 53 percent of world population, have been hit by falling global demand and lower commodity prices, while several have also been mired in corruption scandals.

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Image courtesy: @BRICS2016

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Image courtesy: @BRICS2016/Twitter

Russia and Brazil have fallen into recession recently, South Africa only just managed to avoid the same fate last month while China’s economy — the recent engine of world growth — has slowed sharply.

India by contrast is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy in an otherwise gloomy environment and its GDP is expected to grow 7.6 percent in 2016-17.

Here is what we can expect from the 8th Brics Summit on 15 and 16 October in Goa:

According to the Brics 2016 website, the theme of India’s Brics chairmanship is Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.

India has adopted a five-pronged approach for the Summit which is called ‘IIIIC‘ or ‘I4C‘, which stands for Institution building (to improve and institutionalise Brics cooperation), Implementation (of the decisions taken in previous summits), Integrating (integration of current cooperation mechanisms), Innovation (new cooperation mechanisms) and Continuity (keeping up with the existing mechanisms).

IANS also reported that Indian foreign ministry official Amar Sinha said the leaders would debate “global growth prospects, the role of Brics in leading this global growth and our contributions to it”. He also confirmed regional security and climate change were on the agenda while Russia is expecting talks on Syria.

President Vladimir Putin’s office said in a statement that “international terrorism and the Syria peace process” would be discussed as Moscow faces international anger over its airstrikes in support of the Assad regime.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong meanwhile said the leaders would “exchange in-depth views on Brics cooperation and other global and regional issues”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Some of the more substantive talks are expected at bilaterals on the sidelines of the summit in the tourist state of Goa, with Modi expected to separately meet China’s President Xi Jinping and Putin.

Brazil’s new President Michel Temer, who replaced impeached Dilma Rousseff, will look to such meetings to boost trade ties and help drag his country out of its worst recession in half a century.

The summit comes amid some scepticism about the future of Brics, especially given India’s efforts to reach out to the US and Europe since Modi — a one-time pariah of the West — came to power in 2014.

India will also be looking for Brics to condemn recent cross-border attacks blamed on militants in Pakistan that have spiked tensions between the neighbours, according to local media.

Analysts, however, are sceptical of India’s chances of securing a joint condemnation given China’s strong diplomatic support for Pakistan and Russia’s efforts to forge closer defence ties with Islamabad.

“Agenda is drawn in a broad-brush manner. We will be looking at global economic and political situation. Obviously terrorism is very important part of that,” Amar Sinha said.

Though he said the issue of China blocking ban of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar by the UN will not be taken up at Brics because it was a bilateral issue with China and India does not want to bring such issues to the multilateral fora, he asserted that general principles pertaining to terrorism will be forcefully taken up.

And that will include “terrorism which is a global problem. It cannot be tackled individually and has to be tackled collectively. We cannot have a differential policy towards terrorism. There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. So, these are the issues on which there will reiteration of national positions,” Sinha said.

He added that “there would be very strong paragraphs (in the Brics outcome document) on terrorism including how to deal with countries that provide sanctuaries and safe havens… At NSA-level meet, we have also actually shifted the goalpost a little by talking about not only sources of finances but also sources from where they (terrorists) get arms and ammunition. These will be reflected in the Brics discussions.”

Modi will have nearly 10 bilaterals. He will meet Putin on Saturday for the annual summit and the talks with Xi Jinping are expected to be held later that day. His summit with Brazilian president Michel Temer is scheduled for Monday. Bilateral meetings will see India exploring ways to enhance cooperation in key areas of security, defence, energy and investments, officials said.

Modi will also have talks with Prime Ministers of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. He will also have a bilateral with State Counsellor of Myanmar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is arriving in India on October 16 on her first visit to the country after assuming the office.

During the Modi-Putin meeting, key issues of defence, security, civil nuclear cooperation, trade and investment are expected to dominate the talks.

China will also call upon the group to make the bloc a free trade area and initiate measures to liberalise trade. “Observers have focused their eyes on New Delhi and have one question in mind: How much courage will it take for the trade ministers from Brics countries gathering there on Thursday for the summit meeting to promote greater cooperation?” an article in the state-run Global Times had said.

“It seems China is willing to open up its domestic markets to the other four member countries, but they haven’t yet made quite the same commitment,” it said.

However, as this article in Business Standard says, as a result of the fears of Chinese goods flooding the markets, a consensus has not been reached on China’s suggestion for a Brics FTA.

With inputs from agencies

Gujarat ATS nabs two suspected spies working for Pakistan’s ISI in Kutch

Gujarat ATS nabs two suspected spies working for Pakistan’s ISI in Kutch

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Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has nabbed two persons allegedly working as spies for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, police said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Both of them were held tonight from Kutch district, which shares border with the neighbouring country.

“ATS was keeping a close watch on the movement of two residents of Khavda village of Kutch for last one year on the suspicion that they are working as spies of Pakistan’s ISI. Both of them were held by ATS today,” a police official said on the condition of anonymity.

“We have learnt that ATS has recovered one Pakistani SIM card along with a mobile phone during the search of their house,” he added.

The arrest comes amid rising tension between India and Pakistan.

Modi first PM to hold country’s head high at global level: Rajnath Singh

Lucknow: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday hailed Narendra Modi as the first Prime Minister of independent India who has been able to hold country’s head high at the international level and give the message that “we are not a weak nation”.

A file photo of Rajnath Singh. Reuters

A file photo of Rajnath Singh. Reuters

“I want to welcome Modiji here as for the first time in the history of Independent India he has succeeded in holding country’s head high at international level. He has succeeded in giving the message to the world that Bharat is not weak but it’s a ‘damdar‘ (powerful) nation,” Singh said while welcoming Modi’s in his parliamentary constituency.

Singh represents Lucknow in the Lok Sabha.

He said Modi has succeeded in checking “wholesale corruption at the top” and should be congratulated for that.

Giving message of following good values, Singh said Ram had, till the last moment, tried to give message of peace but in the end, killed Ravana, “who was synonymous to terror”.

Mayor Dinesh Sharma in his speech tried to refute the Opposition allegation that the event was organised for taking political mileage sating that the theme — ‘Atank ka samool naash ho‘ (Let Terrorism be finished entirely) of this year’s ‘Ravana Dahan’ was decided last year.

“We have decided the theme last year. Every year Ramlila has a different theme and it’s decided a year in advance. The Ramlila Samiti used to invite presidents, prime ministers and chief ministers every year but no one came. This year also we have sent a routine letter to PM and we came to know that PM has accepted it through news channels,” he said.

Let’s protect Sitas of our home: PM Modi appeals to people on Dussehra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday advocated giving equal rights to women from all faiths and appealed to people to stop discriminating between a girl and a boy and protect “Sitas of our homes”.”The discrimination between daughters and sons signifies the Ravan mentality. Be it educated, uneducated, poor, rich, urban, rural, Hindu, Musilm, Sikh, Christian…They can be from different economic or social backgrounds, but daughters should get equal rights,” he said at a Dussehra event in Lucknow.”Today is the World Girl Child Day. On this day, I want people to stop discriminating against the girl child and protect Sita of our home,” the Prime Minister said.Appealing people to save the girl child, he said, “We burn effigies of Ravan, who took away Goddess Sita, every year and the tradition will continue. We should also protect the Sita of our home by stop discriminating between a girl and a boy. How many Sitas we kill in the womb?…We should celebrate more when a girl child is born.”Acknowledging the feat achieved by sportswomen at Olympics, Modi said, “At the Rio Olympics, our daughters made the country proud. Women of the 21st century should get justice.” Terrorism has no boundaries: PM ModiMaking terrorism the centrepoint of his over 20-minute speech, he said terror was the worst enemy of humanity and called upon the world community to speak in one voice against the menace to put an end to it.”Terrorism does not have any boundaries. It is bound to destroy all…a need has arisen to root out those who spread terrorism. Those who help terrorists and provide shelter to them can no longer be spared,” he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan without taking its name.”Terrorism is against humanity. The entire world is being destroyed…if you think that we are insulated against terrorism, then we are wrong. It is a virus affecting our societies. All forces across the world have to talk in one voice and end it. It will not be possible to save humanity without eradicating terrorism,” the Prime Minister said.”The forces of humanism should unite globally to end the menace,” he said.”No one should have this misunderstanding that they are safe from terrorism as terrorism has no boundary, no morality, it can go anywhere and it is bent upon crushing humanity…it is essential for all to come together against terrorism,” Modi said.”The entire world is being harmed. For the last two days we are seeing the picture of a little girl of Syria….and so today, when we are buring Ravana, all human forces as one will have to resolve to fight terrorism as humanity cannot be saved without bringing an end to it,” he said.

Amitabh Bachchan says it is time to express solidarity with our soldiers

Mumbai: Amid the demand for ban on Pakistani actors after the Uri terror attack, megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday said the nation is incensed and it is time to express solidarity with the Indian jawans.

Amitabh Bachchan. GettyImages

Amitabh Bachchan. GettyImages

To a question regarding the issue during a press conference in Mumbai on the occasion of his birthday on Tuesday, Bachchan also said he respects all artistes.

Following the Uri attack, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS had raised objection to Pakistani artistes working in India.

When asked if Bollywood is divided over supporting Pakistani artistes working in India, Bachchan said, “With folded hands, I request you that this is not the time and I don’t think it is right to put forward these questions.”

The megastar, who turned 74 on Tuesday, felt that considering the grave situation at the border one should express solidarity with Indian soldiers.

“Who said what and why, where and how, this is not the time for it. The nation is incensed, the people of this country are very angry by the incidents that are happening at our border,” he said.

“I think it is time to express solidarity with our jawans, armed forces who are sacrificing their life so that you and me can be safe now. That’s what needs to be put in question and nothing else.”

When asked if an artiste from a country should be banned or not, he said, “I have answered this question earlier. I respect all artistes.”

Bachchan refuted reports that he would be singing a song for Uri martyrs.

“This is not correct. I was in New Delhi where a Member of Parliament was acknowledging the Hanuman Chalisa, Ganpati aarti and he said I should sing for this (Uri martyrs). I said yes ok but I need some inputs. I think he went and said I should sing (for Uri martyrs), and from ‘should’ it became ‘will’, you (media) know better how it happens,” he said.

This Dussehra effigies of ‘terrorism’ to go up in flames

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Ravan all set to go up in flames on Tuesday, effigy-makers this time had demands from customers to either make an extra effigy of ‘Terrorism’ or the demon king with anti-terrorism slogans, keeping up with the current mood after the cross-LoC strikes by the Indian army.While taking a walk down Titarpur, the area around Tagore Garden, that becomes home to effigy makers in the months leading to Dussehra, one can see effigies being loaded into trucks and being sent to various places like Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.However, an effigy that immediately catches attention is a black-coloured giant with slogans like ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ and ‘Nawaz Sharif jaisi karni waisi bharni’. “We have made 10-12 Ravan effigies with anti-Pakistan messages. This year, many people who ordered Ravan effigies said that they want to send out a strong message against terrorism.”Many of them have asked us to paint slogans on Ravan condemning terrorism. These effigies have been covered in black paper with messages written in silver,” says Mahendra, who has made the effigy.Every year, the Ravan effigies are made with a theme. “Last year, effigies were given names like Don, Khalnayak and this year, we are seeing the anti-terrorism wave,” says Subhash, another effigy maker. “Many people who wish to avoid any controversy have ordered effigies that are covered in green paper and symbolise Pakistan. They have asked us not to write any messages but they have ordered for green-coloured effigies,” says Kishore, another effigy maker.Effigy makers say that many people have ordered an extra effigy that will be burnt alongside the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath. “In our Ramlila, we have had posters saluting our soldiers who were killed in the Uri attacks and when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited our Ramlila, we had an hour-long programme dedicated to the Indian Army.”Tomorrow when the effigies go up in flames, we will be burning a fourth effigy symbolising terrorism,” said Arjun Kumar, secretary, Lav Kush Ramlila Committee. The Nav Shri Dharmik Lila Committee has opted for a similar way to send a message against terrorism.”We will have a black-coloured effigy that will have anti-terrorism slogans painted on it and it will be burnt along side the effigies of Ravan, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran,” said Rahul Sharma, press secretary, Nav Shri Dharmik Lila Committee.

Kashmiris’ ‘freedom struggle’ cannot be equated with terrorism: Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: Needling India over Kashmir issue, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that India will be “mistaken” if it equates the “freedom struggle” of Kashmiri people with terrorism.

“India is mistaken if it considers that a freedom fight can be equated with terrorism,” Sharif said during a meeting of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s central working party in Islamabad.

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. ReutersFile image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Sharif said Kashmiris were fighting for their right of self-determination and Pakistan would continue to support them. “Pakistan is committed to the Kashmir cause. No power in the world can stop us from supporting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said.

Sharif’s comments came amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after the September 18 Uri terror attack that prompted India to conduct surgical strike on terror launch pads along the LoC.

Sharif in the past week chaired Cabinet meeting, addressed a joint session of the Parliament and attended National Security Committee’s meeting to discuss tensions with India.

Monday’s meeting came amidst wrangling with his party how to deal Imran Khan’s threat to shut down capital Islamabad on 30 October over alleged corruption by Sharif’s family. Sahrif warned Khan not to cross limits while protesting against the government.

“In democracy people can protest but no one can be allowed to cross the limits,” he said. He said some people want to “paralyse” the country through politics of protests but they would not succeed. Sharif also said that economy has been strengthened because of effective policies as government was working to tackle all the challenges including terrorism and energy
shortages.

US calls for ‘meaningfull’ India-Pakistan dialogue on Kashmir, says with India on war against terror

Washington: The US said on Friday that it will continue to work with countries in the region to eliminate safe havens of terrorists which also pose a threat to India but refrained from commenting on a bill in the Congress that America should declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’.

The US also called for a “meaningful” Indo-Pak dialogue to address differences including the Kashmir issue and to bring down recent tensions. State Department spokesperson John Kirby, however, did not comment on a bill in the Congress that the US should declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’.

John Kirby. ReutersJohn Kirby. Reuters

John Kirby. Reuters

Asked if the government would support the bill and a similar online petition, Kirby at his daily press briefing said: “I have not seen anything specifically about the — such a bill, and obviously we don’t – I’m not going to comment on whatever pending legislation may be coming in that regard.”

“What we – what I would say is common threat, common challenge in the region, and we’re going to continue to work with Pakistan, with Afghanistan, and the Secretary (of State) just came back from Brussels and the Afghanistan conference in Brussels. We’re going to continue to work with – and obviously it’s a threat to the Indian people as well.”

“So we’re going to continue to work with the governments in the region to try to address these common threats and challenges, and we’ve always said that more can be done about the safe havens and that’s – we’re going to, again, try to work as cooperatively as we can to that end,” Kirby said.

He added that the US’ position on Kashmir has not changed and it is for India and Pakistan to address the problem.

“On the Kashmir issue, our position has not changed. We want this to be worked out between both sides, the issue of Kashmir. And generally, we obviously want to see the tensions that existright now be brought down and for dialogue to take its place – meaningful dialogue to try to address these issues bilaterally between the countries,” Kirby said.

He said the US wanted India and Pakistan to resolve their differences.

“There are still differences of opinion that exist between them; and as I said earlier, we want them to work through those differences. We have differences with many countries too, and we continue to try to work through them. “That’s all we’re asking, that’s all we’re hoping, that’s all we’re expecting from leaders in India and Pakistan. But we don’t believe for a minute that they don’t take the challenges before them seriously or the lives and security of their children,” he said.

Kirby also said the US had full co nfidence in Pakistan’s nuclear security. “I think we’ve said before we’re confident that Pakistan has the security controls they need to have in place on their arsenal,” he said.

Manohar Parrikar urges Asean countries to ‘cooperate unreservedly’ to destroy terror networks

New Delhi: Terming terrorism as the foremost challenge in the region, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said it should be delegitimised as a State policy and urged Asean countries to “cooperate unreservedly” to locate and destroy terror networks.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Security frameworks in Asean region still do not give enough attention to terrorism. This must change, he said at the 20th AseanRegional Forum Heads of Defence Universities Meet in New Delhi.

“Terrorism remains the foremost challenge to our region.

“We need to oppose terrorism resolutely everywhere, delegitimise it as an instrument of State policy and cooperate unreservedly to locate and destroy terrorist networks,” he said

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam as members.

Parrikar’s remarks came on a day when terrorists launched another attack on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. Three terrorists, believed to be Pakistan backed, were killed in the attack on the army camp north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

19 soliders were killed in a militant attack on an army camp in Uri on 18 September. The Army had launched surgical strikes targeting terror camps located across the LoC on 28 September night.

Pakistan’s support for anti-India terror groups exposed by Pakistani daily

An extremely significant exclusive news report by Pakistani newspaper Dawn has exposed Pakistan’s direct hand in sponsoring terrorism.

According to the report, the Pakistani government has also warned the military leadership of the growing international isolation of the country and has asked the military not to interfere with any action against terrorists.

A file image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AFP

A file image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AFP

The report said that on Tuesday, during an all parties conference, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary gave a presentation in the Prime Minister’s Office to a small group of civil and military officials.

It was decided after the meeting that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) DG General Rizwan Akhtar and National Security Advisor Nasser Janjua would travel to four provinces and tell the provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders to not interfere if action was taken against terrorist groups which were banned or “considered off-limits for civilian action” till now.

The disturbing fact that the news report casually mentions that there were, in fact, terrorist groups which were “considered off-limits for civilian action” exposes the support which Pakistan gave to terrorism.

The most important evidence showing Pakistan’s direct support to terrorism came after Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif complained that whenever action was taken against some terrorist groups, “the security establishment has worked behind the scenes to set the arrested free.”

Foreign Secretary Chaudhry in his presentation also revealed that Pakistan has been isolated on the global stage. Chaudhry said that the country’s ties with the US were deteriorating and the US was demanding action against Jaish-e-Mohammad and completion of the Pathankot probe.

He went to the extent of admitting that even China had indicated that Pakistan should change its course.

This report by a Pakistani newspaper is of utmost relevance because it comes at a time when Pakistan has repeatedly denied supporting terrorists after escalating tension with India following the Uri terror attack.

Pakistan has also denied so far that it is facing international isolation.

That claim is laughable because the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit, which was supposed to be held in Islamabad, collapsed because of the global isolation which Pakistan has been facing.

Five Saarc member-states had sided with India in pulling out of the summit scheduled in Islamabad on 9-10 November. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Myanmar had pulled out of the Saarc Summit.

On 29 September, US NSA Susan Rice had told her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval that US wants Pakistan to “combat and delegitimise” UN-designated terrorist entities, including LeT and JeM.

Rice had called Doval hours before DGMO Let Gen Ranbir Singh held a press conference about the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army against terror launch pads across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

This report by a Pakistani newspaper is of utmost relevance because it comes at a time when Pakistan has repeatedly denied supporting terrorists after escalating tension with India following the Uri terror attack

“Ambassador Rice reiterated our expectation that Pakistan take effective action to combat and delegitimise United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates,” US National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price had said.

She affirmed President (Barack) Obama’s commitment to redouble America’s efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism throughout the world, Price had said.

“Ambassador Rice discussed our shared commitment with India to pursue regional peace and stability and pledged to deepen collaboration on counter-terrorism matters including on UN terrorist designations,” Price had added.

JeM is blamed by India for the Uri attack. Other Pakistan-based terror group LeT has been accused by India of attacking military and civilian targets in the country, including the 2001 Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attack.

India wants UN to impose sanctions on JeM chief Masood Azhar. Hafiz Saeed, a co-founder of LeT and the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, carries a bounty of $10 million on his head for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed.

With inputs from PTI

Surgical strikes: Not trusting the Indian Armed Forces make us look weak

It is an unbelievable hubris that we would doubt our own military and howl for evidence of a surgical strike following the 18 September Uri attack.

That the government and the Indian Armed Forces have to be dragged into petty politics is even worse. It’s almost like it is more exciting to disbelieve them than to accept that the teams went in, dismantled eight terrors camps, and got home.

Representational image.

Representational image.

Occasionally, one gets the feeling that the need to ‘scoop and sell a story’ is so overwhelming that we dredge for doubt. And are dismayed when we don’t find it.

Also, if this is the sort of ‘dog in the manger’ attitude the media is going to display in its quest to corner the government on a single four-hour operation and send off little salvos of ‘shak’ because it is nice and competitive to do so, what will we do during a war?

Days have passed since the ‘surgical strike’ but we seem incapable of moving on. In purely military terms, it is done and dusted, and was, itself, not such a massive action. In tactical terms, it was an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny beautifully timed incision, and it is over.

The strikes were ordered to respond to the blatant attack on an army camp in Uri and to show Pakistan, India means business. Period. It was a message and not a major conflagration. It was neither the Battle of Britain nor the landings in Normandie.

As far as the fight against terrorism goes vis-a-vis Pakistan allowing them refuge on its territory, this is not even a start and a lot more will have to be done to rid ourselves of the menace.

If we cannot accept a singular strategic move on trust without having politicians and others hogging the limelight by scratching doubts on the surface, we are in danger of becoming our worst own enemies.

Frankly, many of us in the media and without, are heartily tired of the browbeating and the time and publicity being given to the naysayers. This phrase ‘surgical strike’ like some heady new wine has become a mantra and it seems we cannot get enough of it.

Danger: we will lose sight of the bigger picture by focusing attention on a corner of this canvas.

Bigger danger: our troops will look at each other in wonderment and say, why are we risking our lives for these people who don’t want to believe us. @#$% them.

If I was one of the guys who had gone in that night, and this is what I was hearing and seeing I’d be thinking: What the bloody hell do I have to do before these ###wipes believe me?

Biggest danger: we are giving Pakistan so much comfort and so much fodder to feed their media cannons and ridicule us.

The nonsense we are witnessing over the blaring TV channels and echoing on websites and blogs and newsprint is largely bed-rocked in ignorance and a false sense of entitlement fueled by pro- and anti-Modi factions.

The Army does not owe us the showing of classified material, contrary to our arrogant conclusion that anything which happens has to be shared with the press instantly, or, you are covering up.

It does not. The government will decide what military matters are to be shared, and when.

Seriously, let this surgical strike become a page in military history. A one-goal lead in a game that has only just begun is not the time to scratch the scab or jump up and down with joy.

The Indian Armed Forces themselves will tell you: Get over it.

India’s operation against terrorists in PoK should be supported: European Parliament official

London: India’s “proactive operation” against terrorists in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir should be “commended” and supported by the international community, a top European Parliament official has said, underlining that New Delhi deserves global support in its fight against terror.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

European Parliament vice-president Ryszard Czarnecki praised India for their approach to the situation.

“India’s cross-border action against terrorists on its borders with Pakistan should be commended and supported by the international community. India has clearly indicated that these attacks were not against the Pakistani state, but focussed against terror groups that threatened peace and stability in the region,” Czarnecki said.

“India deserves global support in its fight against terror emanating from Pakistan, for if left unchecked, these individuals and groups would be attacking Europe and the West, soon. It is also important for the European Union to maintain pressure on Pakistan to eliminate the terror networks that operate within its borders,” the British-born Polish politician said in an article in EP Today, the monthly news magazine for the European Parliament.

The “proactive operation” carried out on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was “probably a first by India” and was in response to the two attacks on Indian defence establishments — the Pathankot airbase in January and the Uri army camp in September, he said.

“The time has come for the world to act decisively against terrorism and ensure that no terror group is assured of a secure haven in any part of the world,” he added.

The close relationship between the Pakistan defence establishment, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network was well known, he added.

“We have witnessed the alarming growth of Pak-linked terror modules in Europe and other parts of the world. The close proximity between the Pak security establishment and terror groups has also given rise to a situation where organisations propagating Islamic militancy in Pakistan enjoy de facto state patronage,” Czarnecki said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan are growing after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on 18 September, killing 19 soldiers.

The terror launch pads across the border were targeted by the Indian Army last week, inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.