Archive for ‘Politics’

27/07/2015

How Police and the Indian Army Are Dealing With Punjab Attack: In Pictures – India Real Time – WSJ

At least three gunmen stormed a police station in northern India near the border with Pakistan Monday, killing six people—including two policemen—and injuring seven others, in a standoff that continued hours later, a senior Indian counterterrorism official said.



It is such terrible news and I always think back to seeing Roger and Hilary at their home and having a picnic in their garden. They are/were such lovely people. I had the greatest repsetc for Roger and I am only sorry that I didn’t stay in touch.

Punjab police fired to counter the attack on Monday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

H.S. Dhillon, head of intelligence for Punjab state police, said the attackers were suspected to have crossed the Indian frontier early Monday.

The deadly incident comes as hostilities between India and Pakistan have worsened in recent weeks, even after a meeting of the countries’ premiers earlier this month sparked hopes of a thaw.

Indian army personnel stood in Dinanagar town, July 27, 2015. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

India has long accused Pakistan of harboring and aiding militant groups that launch attacks on India, particularly in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan denies allegations that it supports militant activities against India.

Army personnel take position in Dinanagar town, July 27, 2015. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

But Monday’s killings were unusual, analysts said, because they occurred in Punjab, where militant attacks have in the past two decades been rare, and could signal an expansion of militancy beyond Kashmir.

Punjab police took position during the attack. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Police personnel took aim during the attack. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The gunmen, who were wearing military uniforms, opened fire on a bus in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district before heading to the local police station, according to Mr. Dhillon and an eyewitness. The attackers exchanged fire with police inside the station and a standoff that continued into Monday afternoon, Mr. Dhillon said.

via How Police and the Indian Army Are Dealing With Punjab Attack: In Pictures – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/07/2015

Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ

Should Britain pay reparations to its former colonies, including India? An articulation of why the former holder of empire should make amends, or at least say sorry, for two centuries of colonial rule, has sent a video of Indian law maker Shashi Tharoor viral and opened up a debate in India.

In a 15 minute speech given during a debate at the Oxford Union in the U.K., telegenic and floppy-haired Mr. Tharoor, who is a former foreign minister and a onetime under-secretary-general at the United Nations, argued that “Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

Speaking in favor of the motion, the opposition Congress party politician said that India’s share of the world economy when the British arrived was 23% but by the time they left it had slipped to 4% because “India had been governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

“In fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialization of India,” he added.

The YouTube clip of the Congress politician’s oration has been watched more than 1.5 million times since it was uploaded last week, making it one of the most-viewed clips from the Oxford Union, a prestigious debate chamber at the University of Oxford.

A video of Jack Gleeson, an actor explaining to the chamber why he left the Game of Thrones, has over two million views as does one of Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, impersonating Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Others to have appeared at in the red-walled debate chamber in the recent past include Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and onetime South African President F.W. De Klerk.

Indian social media lit up with praise for Mr. Tharoor’s eloquence and ability to take on the British establishment: Opposing speakers in the debate included Sir Richard Ottaway, a politician with the United Kingdom’s right-wing Conservative party.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who belongs to Congress’s rival the Bharatiya Janata Party, praised Mr. Tharoor for the speech.

via Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ.

12/07/2015

Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war | South China Morning Post

President Xi Jinping has officially invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a ceremony in September commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

Shinzo Abe speaks at the Japan Summit 2015 on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Beijing had been waiting for a reply since the invitation was made three weeks ago, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said on Friday following a BRICS summit.

Cheng said all leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – had agreed to attend the September 3 ceremony, which includes a military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Abe had told aides he was willing to visit China, the Asahi newspaper reported.

However, fearing a domestic backlash, he was considering a visit either before or after the ceremony, it said.

A Japanese government source said Abe hoped to talk with Xi on repairing the damage caused by territorial disputes and differing perceptions of history.

Jiang Yuechun , a professor at the China Institute of International Studies, said Abe’s hesitation was understandable.

“If Abe decides to attend the ceremony, it would be a good opportunity to help his country get rid of its historical burden [as an invader]. It would also be a chance to [turn back] Sino-Japanese bilateral ties,” he said.

“Of course, it’s impossible for the two countries to remedy the breach even if Abe does meet Xi, because there are so many problems left by history that have hindered the relationship, such as maritime disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and fishing rights. It will take time to solve these by rational communication.”

Whether Abe’s trip goes ahead could depend on the content of a statement he is expected to make regarding the war anniversary and China’s activities to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas. China has urged Abe to include a full apology and note that Japan was engaged in a war of aggression.

Recent speeches by Abe had reflected on Japan’s “wrongdoing” but “offered no apology”, said Sun Cheng, director of the East Asia International Studies Centre at the China University of Political Science and Law.

Sun said the attitude of the US would be key to pushing Japan into an open apology “because Tokyo cares more for Washington’s [approval] than for China’s or South Korea’s”.

To lay the groundwork for Abe’s visit, Shotaro Yachi, the head of Japan’s National Security Council, was planning to travel to China this month to hold talks with Yang Jiechi , the mainland’s top diplomat, a Japanese government source said.

Abe and Xi held talks last November in Beijing and this April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences.

Observers say Beijing hopes to improve its relations with Tokyo before Xi’s visit to the United States in September, while Abe is eager to bolster his domestic support by repairing ties with Beijing amid deliberations on controversial security bills.

Meanwhile, Japan has proposed sending its foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, to Russia from August 31 to September 1. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Japan within the year.

via Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war | South China Morning Post.

12/07/2015

5 Takeaways from Modi and Sharif’s Meet in Ufa – WSJ

Little more than a photo opportunity was expected to come out of the meeting between India’s Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif on Friday.

So, when the two rival nations put out a joint statement after their leaders held long-delayed talks in the Russian city of Ufa, some political commentators were caught by surprise.

Almost a year after his country called off talks with Pakistan, Mr. Modi accepted an invitation to visit Islamabad in 2016 for the upcoming Saarc summit.

Describing Friday’s meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit as a “constructive engagement,” India’s foreign ministry, along with its counterpart in Islamabad, highlighted steps the two sides agreed to take on “issues of bilateral and regional interests.”

Here are five takeaways from the statement.

1 Tackling Terrorism

The current national security advisors of the two nations, will meet to “discuss all issues connected to terrorism,” said the statement. It didn’t give a timeline for the meeting between India’s Ajit Doval and Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz.

India has on several occasions blamed Pakistan for supporting terrorism, a claim Islamabad has repeatedly denied. Last year, after eight soldiers died in a militant attack on an Indian army camp in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed Islamabad for “sheltering” terrorists. “If Pakistan can’t stop these attacks, let it take India’s help,” he said.

2 Military Meeting

The two sides also said meetings will take place between the heads of India’s Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers, followed by discussions between the director generals of military operations from both countries. Mr. Singh said in a statement Friday that this would “help in stabilizing the situation” at the border between India and Pakistan.

The border has recently seen a spate of violence with cross-border firing from both sides, forcing thousands of local people from their homes.

3 Freeing Fishermen

A decision on the release of Indian and Pakistani fishermen in custody in both countries, along with the return of their boats, can be expected in 15 days, according to the statement. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said as of July 1 that there were 355 Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails and 27 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails. The statement did not go as far as to say they would be released however.

4 Religious Tourism

The neighbors agreed to establish a “mechanism for facilitating religious tourism” between the two countries.

5 Mumbai Terror Attack

Six months after Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the devastating attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008, was freed from prison in Pakistan, the two sides announced a decision to “discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.” India alleges that the attackers were backed by Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies—a charge that Pakistan denies.

via 5 Takeaways from Modi and Sharif’s Meet in Ufa – WSJ.

09/07/2015

The Troubled Path to Modi and Sharif’s Meet – India Real Time – WSJ

A little more than a year after they met amid high expectations in New Delhi, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan will hold talks on the sidelines of a summit in Russia on Friday. The mood this time around is decidedly less upbeat.

Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif are scheduled to sit down for a one-on-one in the city of Ufa, where they have both traveled to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a China- and Russia-dominated group that India and Pakistan are a part of as observers. The two South Asian nations aspire to full membership of the organization, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Relations between India and Pakistan over the past year have been strained, with a long catalog of disagreements. New Delhi called off planned talks in August after Pakistan’s ambassador to India met with separatists from the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Tit-for-tat cross-border firing in the fall resulted in civilian casualties and provocative rhetoric from both sides.

The flare-up cast a shadow over a meeting in November of South Asian nations in Nepal, during which Mr. Modi held bilateral talks with some of his counterparts from the region but skipped a one-to-one with Mr. Sharif.

Frosty ties turned openly belligerent again in April when the alleged mastermind of a devastating 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai was freed from prison in Pakistan. India accused Islamabad of not pursuing his prosecution properly, an allegation Pakistan denied.

Inflammatory remarks haven’t made matters easier. India’s cross-border raid on insurgent camps in Myanmar after its soldiers were killed in an ambush near the country’s northeastern frontier–and comments by Mr. Modi’s ministers afterward that the military operation should serve as a warning “to all those who harbor intentions of terror on our country”–irked the government in Islamabad. India has long accused Pakistan of supporting terrorism in India.

India has another growing strategic misgiving: a strengthening China-Pakistan nexus. The two countries, which are longtime allies and each have territorial disputes with India, recently took their relations a step further by inking a $46 billion deal for Chinese investments in building an economic corridor through Pakistan. The pact raised hackles in India, largely because it includes building Chinese-funded infrastructure on disputed territory that is governed by Pakistan but also claimed by India.

All that said, Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif have tried to ease tensions with occasional telephone calls. In February, the two exchanged messages over the then-upcoming Cricket World Cup. In June, Mr. Modi called Mr. Sharif to wish him well ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and gave him the news that, as a gesture of goodwill, India would be releasing some Pakistani fishermen detained by Indian authorities.

The planned meeting Friday is unlikely to result in a major breakthrough in ties. Still, when the leaders of two nuclear-armed rival nations meet, the world watches.

via The Troubled Path to Modi and Sharif’s Meet – India Real Time – WSJ.

06/07/2015

Narendra Modi’s Visit to Central Asia: What to Know – India Real Time – WSJ

India is starting to latch onto the need to forge diplomatic relationships with other countries beyond simple exchange of embassies. However, in the two months of rest between PM Modi’s globe trotting, China formed or reinforced relationship with 28 countries:

  • May:  E U; Japan; Belarus; India; Ireland; Vietnam; Brazil; Colombia, Peru, Chile.
  • June:  Pakistan, Senegal; French Polynesia;  Angola; Sri Lanka; Georgia; Myanmar, Maldives; Uzbekistan; Australia; Czech Republic; Poland; Belgium; USA; Brazil; France.

Some of these were when senior foreign politicians visited China, others when senior Chinese politicians visits abroad.

In 2014, China wooed 167 nations – http://chindia-alert.org/2014/12/31/chinese-diplomacy-2014/ and over 100 in 2013 – http://chindia-alert.org/2013/12/31/who-did-china-woo-in-2013/.  So far 62 in 2015.  Someone in the higher eschelons of Chnese government must have read and espouse Dale Carnegie’s book!

“Less than two months after returning from a journey that took him to China, South Korea and Mongolia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins another whirlwind overseas tour on Monday in which he is slated to visit five Central Asian countries, attend two multilateral summits in Russia and talk about issues ranging from trade to yoga to terrorism.

In a series of short trips, Mr. Modi will touch down in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, covering a cluster of strategically-positioned, resource-rich nations not far from India’s borders where China has established robust trade and investment ties. In between, he’ll visit Russia for the annual Brics summit.

Mr. Modi’s main focus is going to be energy: Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves, for instance, and Kazakhstan’s oil and uranium. In recent years, India’s plans to invest in Kazakhstan’s oil projects have been waylaid by proposals from China, which has a major presence in the country’s oil and gas production.

Efforts to ramp-up the flow of these resources to India have also been complicated by the region’s security risks and geopolitics. A long-pending project with Turkmenistan, for instance, involves constructing a gas pipeline from that country over Taliban-hit Afghanistan and across India’s rival neighbor Pakistan, to India.

The Indian government is looking to kickstart work on the pipeline. In April, during a visit by India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, Turkmenistan pledged to begin construction of it this year, India said. Ahead of Mr. Modi’s departure, Navtej Sarna, an Indian official, said on Friday that the government “will have to explore how we can move this project forward very quickly,” though he didn’t elaborate on how much progress Mr. Modi and his team were expected to make.

It’s not just the pipeline. Mr. Modi is hoping to push other infrastructure projects too that would connect Central Asia to India – regions that are not far apart on the map but have remained inadequately linked by roads, railways and ports, diminishing opportunities for trade and investment.

A North-South transport corridor that would help move cargo through a more straightforward and cheaper route between Russia and Central Asia on the one hand and India on the other has been in the offing for years. While some infrastructure has been built, big gaps remain. Mr. Modi is hoping to recruit more partners to help fill them.

One crucial link country in this plan is Iran, which has been off limits because of Western sanctions aimed at driving Tehran to end its nuclear program. As Iran and its U.S.-led opponents moved toward a deal this year that would end the deadlock, India in May sought to reinvigorate a port project in Iran’s eastern Chabahar region. Once completed, the port would become a central part of the planned corridor.

These questions of connectivity are important for India’s trade prospects, but they also have a geopolitical  significance. China has in recent months stepped up its diplomatic outreach for its new “Silk Road” belt connecting it to Central Asia and Europe. On a visit to Islamabad in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a $46 billion economic corridor that would cut across Pakistan and a disputed territory governed by Pakistan that India also claims. Indian officials have objected to the initiative, both publicly and in meetings with Chinese officials.

At the same time, Mr. Modi is looking to forge closer economic ties with China. This week, he will meet Chinese leaders during the Brics summit in the Russian city of Ufa, where the leaders will discuss, among other regional and global issues, their recently-formed bank. The New Development Bank as it is called is headquartered in Shanghai and will have an Indian banker as its first head. Mr. Modi will also participate in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping led by China and Russia, which India is likely to join shortly as a full member.”

via Narendra Modi’s Visit to Central Asia: What to Know – India Real Time – WSJ.

06/07/2015

Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001.

Photo

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.

“As the influence of the SCO’s development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing.”India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development. It will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

India applied to join the regional security grouping last year and SCO foreign ministers gave a positive recommendation when they met in June. “We await further developments,” said Sujata Mehta, a senior foreign ministry official.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Moscow for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging markets and both he and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, will attend a special SCO “outreach” session as part of the gathering.

Pakistan’s application is being considered, said foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah. “We hope they will support us for full membership,” he added.

The grouping was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Cheng said the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, seek to form their own state, called East Turkestan, and have links with militants in Central Asia, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says Uighur militants, operating as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have also been working with Islamic State.

“It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries,” Cheng said.

via Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters.

02/07/2015

China National Security Law Aims to Create ‘Garrison State,’ Experts Say – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China has adopted a sweeping national-security law that the government says is needed to counter emerging threats but that critics say may be used to quash dissent and exclude foreign investment. As WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports:

Its passage marked the latest signpost in Beijing’s intensifying crackdown on activism and dissent during the past two years, featuring repression of civil-society groups, heightened monitoring of social media, and sharpened warnings against the spread of Western ideas and influences.

The new legislation forms the centerpiece of a series of proposed security laws, including draft laws on counterterrorism and the management of foreign nonprofit groups. Together, experts said, the laws underpin a push by President Xi Jinping to consolidate his and Beijing’s power and promote a notion of rule of law that doesn’t undermine the Communist Party’s authority.

These laws “reflect the party’s determination to create a garrison state,” said Jerome Cohen, a veteran China legal scholar at New York University. The national security law, he said, is “an ideological platform that guides domestic and foreign policies.”

via China National Security Law Aims to Create ‘Garrison State,’ Experts Say – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

01/07/2015

NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu

Fault lines in the NDA over the land bill are visible with three of BJP’s allies – the Shiv Sena, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Swabhimani Paksha — red-flagging a number of provisions of the proposed legislation.

The contentious land acquisition bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament. File photo

The contentious bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week.

While the Shiv Sena has, for quite some time, been on record seeking incorporation of a clause providing for 70 per cent consent of farmers in the bill, the SAD and the Paksha have written to the panel headed by S.S. Ahluwalia that “not an inch” of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

In its written representation to the JPC, five MPs from the SAD — Naresh Gurjal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sher Singh Ghubaiya — said that they firmly believe that land is a priceless asset of the farmers.

“Not even an inch of it should be acquired by the government without the consent of the farmers/land owners.” they said.

The MPs also insisted that land should only be acquired for public sector projects and the “government should not get into acquisition for private entities”.

via NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu.

01/07/2015

China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Quality over quantity. Less is more.

Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”

Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.

In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.

China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.

At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.

The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population.

Yet despite a vow by China’s Politburo leaders to limit the party’s size and purge “unqualified members,” statistics released by the Organization Department show that membership has actually grown over each of the past four years, albeit at an increasingly slower rate.

via China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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