Archive for ‘PM Narendra Modi’

10/03/2019

India and Pakistan: How the war was fought in TV studios

An Indian man watches live news channels broadcasting images of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returning to India from the India-Pakistan Wagah border in New Delhi on March 1, 2019.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAn Indian man watches the news broadcasting images of the released Indian pilot

As tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following a deadly suicide attack last month, there was another battle being played out on the airwaves. Television stations in both countries were accused of sensationalism and partiality. But how far did they take it? The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan in Delhi and Secunder Kermani in Islamabad take a look.

It was drama that was almost made for television.

The relationship between India and Pakistan – tense at the best of times – came to a head on 26 February when India announced it had launched airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistan’s Balakot region as “retaliation” for a suicide attack that had killed 40 troops in Indian-administered Kashmir almost two weeks earlier.

A day later, on 27 February, Pakistan shot down an Indian jet fighter and captured its pilot.

Abhinandan Varthaman was freed as a “peace gesture”, and Pakistan PM Imran Khan warned that neither country could afford a miscalculation, with a nuclear arsenal on each side.

Suddenly people were hooked, India’s TV journalists included.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "Sankalp" rally in Patna in the Indian eastern state of Bihar on March 3, 2019.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionIndian PM Narendra Modi is accused of exploiting India-Pakistan hostilities for political gain

So were they more patriots than journalists?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: Indian television networks showed no restraint when it came to their breathless coverage of the story. Rolling news was at fever pitch.

The coverage often fell into jingoism and nationalism, with headlines such as “Pakistan teaches India a lesson”, “Dastardly Pakistan”, and “Stay Calm and Back India” prominently displayed on screens.

Some reporters and commentators called for India to use missiles and strike back. One reporter in south India hosted an entire segment dressed in combat fatigues, holding a toy gun.

And while I was reporting on the return of the Indian pilot at the international border between the two countries in the northern city of Amritsar, I saw a woman getting an Indian flag painted on her cheek. “I’m a journalist too,” she said, as she smiled at me in slight embarrassment.

Print journalist Salil Tripathi wrote a scathing critique of the way reporters in both India and Pakistan covered the events, arguing they had lost all sense of impartiality and perspective. “Not one of the fulminating television-news anchors exhibited the criticality demanded of their profession,” she said.

Media captionIndia and Pakistan’s ‘war-mongering’ media

Secunder Kermani: Shortly after shooting down at least one Indian plane last week, the Pakistani military held a press conference.

As it ended, the journalists there began chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” (Long Live Pakistan). It wasn’t the only example of “journalistic patriotism” during the recent crisis.

Two anchors from private channel 92 News donned military uniforms as they presented the news – though other Pakistani journalists criticised their decision.

But on the whole, while Indian TV presenters angrily demanded military action, journalists in Pakistan were more restrained, with many mocking what they called the “war mongering and hysteria” across the border.

In response to Indian media reports about farmers refusing to export tomatoes to Pakistan anymore for instance, one popular presenter tweeted about a “Tomatical strike” – a reference to Indian claims they carried out a “surgical strike” in 2016 during another period of conflict between the countries.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat noted that while the Pakistani media did play a “peace monger as opposed to a warmonger” role, in doing so, it was following the lead of Pakistani officials who warned against the risks of escalation, which “served as a cue for the media.”

What were they reporting?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: As TV networks furiously broadcast bulletins from makeshift “war rooms” complete with virtual reality missiles, questions were raised not just about the reporters but what they were reporting.

Indian channels were quick to swallow the government version of events, rather than question or challenge it, said Shailaja Bajpai, media editor at The Print. “The media has stopped asking any kind of legitimate questions, by and large,” she said. “There’s no pretence of objectiveness.”

In recent years in fact, a handful of commentators have complained about the lack of critical questioning in the Indian media.

Indians celebrated on hearing news of the strikesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIndians celebrated news of the strikes

“For some in the Indian press corps the very thought of challenging the ‘official version’ of events is the equivalent of being anti-national”, said Ms Bajpai. “We know there have been intelligence lapses but nobody is questioning that.”

Senior defence and science reporter Pallava Bagla agreed. “The first casualty in a war is always factual information. Sometimes nationalistic fervour can make facts fade away,” he said.

This critique isn’t unique to India, or even this period in time. During the 2003 Iraq war, western journalists embedded with their country’s militaries were also, on many occasions, simply reporting the official narrative.

Secunder Kermani: In Pakistan, both media and public reacted with scepticism to Indian claims about the damage caused by the airstrikes in Balakot, which India claimed killed a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in a training camp.

Hamid Mir, one of the most influential TV anchors in the country travelled to the area and proclaimed, “We haven’t seen any such (militant) infrastructure… we haven’t seen any bodies, any funerals.”

“Actually,” he paused, “We have found one body… this crow.” The camera panned down to a dead crow, while Mr Mir asked viewers if the crow “looks like a terrorist or not?”

There seems to be no evidence to substantiate Indian claims that a militant training camp was hit, but other journalists working for international outlets, including the BBC, found evidence of a madrassa, linked to JeM, near the site.

A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 4, 2019. Picture taken March 4, 2019.Image copyrightPLANET LABS INC./HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Image captionThe satellite image shows a close-up of a madrassa near Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa

A photo of a signpost giving directions to the madrassa even surfaced on social media. It described the madrassa as being “under the supervision of Masood Azhar”. Mr Azhar is the founder of JeM.

The signpost’s existence was confirmed by a BBC reporter and Al Jazeera, though by the time Reuters visited it had apparently been removed. Despite this, the madrassa and its links received little to no coverage in the Pakistani press.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat told the BBC that “there was no emphasis on investigating independently or thoroughly enough” the status of the madrassa.

In Pakistan, reporting on alleged links between the intelligence services and militant groups is often seen as a “red line”. Journalists fear for their physical safety, whilst editors know their newspapers or TV channels could face severe pressure if they publish anything that could be construed as “anti-state”.

Who did it better: Khan or Modi?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: With a general election due in a few months, PM Narendra Modi continued with his campaign schedule, mentioning the crisis in some of his stump speeches. But he never directly addressed the ongoing tensions through an address to the nation or a press conference.

This was not a surprise. Mr Modi rarely holds news conference or gives interviews to the media. When news of the suicide attack broke, Mr Modi was criticised for continuing with a photo shoot.

Imran KhanImage copyrightAFP
Image captionImran Khan was praised for his measured approach

The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, dubbed him a “Prime Time Minister” claiming the PM had carried on filming for three hours. PM Modi has also been accused of managing his military response as a way to court votes.

At a campaign rally in his home state of Gujarat he seemed unflustered by his critics, quipping “they’re busy with strikes on Modi, and Modi is launching strikes on terror.”

Secunder Kermani: Imran Khan won praise even from many of his critics in Pakistan, for his measured approach to the conflict. In two appearances on state TV, and one in parliament, he appeared firm, but also called for dialogue with India.

His stance helped set the comparatively more measured tone for Pakistani media coverage.

Officials in Islamabad, buoyed by Mr Khan’s decision to release the captured Indian pilot, have portrayed themselves as the more responsible side, which made overtures for peace.

On Twitter, a hashtag calling for Mr Khan to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize was trending for a while. But his lack of specific references to JeM, mean internationally there is likely to be scepticism, at least initially, about his claims that Pakistan will no longer tolerate militant groups targeting India.

Source: The BBC

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02/03/2019

‘One chowkidar has defamed all others’: Rahul Gandhi’s renews attack on PM Modi

Rahul Gandhi renewed his attack on PM Modi over Rafale deal controversy during his public rally in Jharkhand

INDIA Updated: Mar 02, 2019 15:58 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Rahul Gandhi,ranchi,jharkhand
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing a public rally in Jharkhand on Saturday.(Photo: Twitter/INCIndia)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday renewed his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating his charge that he misled the people on the issues of providing corruption-free government, job creation and addressing farm distress. Gandhi said PM Modi’s image has changed from a leader who promised to bring “achchhe din” (better time) to “chowkidar chor hai” (the watchman is a thief).

Speaking at the Congress’s Parivartan Ulgulan Maha Rally at the Morahbad in Jharkhand, Gandhi said, “One chowkidar has defamed all chowkidars of India…All the chowkidars of India are honest…Everyone knows that when someone says chowkidar chor hai, it refers to Narendra Modi.”

The Congress president alleged that PM Modi “snatched” Rs 30,000 crore from the Indian Air Force (IAF), which protects the country, and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and gave it to industrialist Anil Ambani in Rafale deal.

Gandhi has been targeting PM Modi over Rs 58,000-crore Rafale deal with France that India signed in 2016 for the purchase of 36 fighter planes. A similar deal was being negotiated when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power before 0214 for the purchase of 126 Rafale jets.

The Modi government renegotiated the deal with France terming the previous one unworkable. The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged that commercial favouritism was done in Rafale deal.

Gandhi on several occasions has alleged that PM Modi personally ensured that Ambani’s firm, Reliance Defence gets contract in Rafale deal. Both the government and the Reliance Defence have rejected the allegation as baseless. Reliance Defence is an off-set partner of the Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.

Addressing his first rally in Jharkhand since 2014, the Congress president repeated his charge against PM Modi saying, “It is a matter of shame that Indian Air Force protects the country, air force pilots sacrifice their lives but the prime minister steals money from the air force and puts it in Anil Ambani’s pockets.”

He claimed that in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the “chowkidar” will be defeated. He promised that if voted to power the Congress government will implement a minimum income guarantee programme for the poor.

Source: hindustan Times

28/02/2019

Pakistan to release IAF pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman tomorrow

In a major peace gesture, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot, Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistani Army on Wednesday, will be released on Friday.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

In a major peace gesture, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot, Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistani Army on Wednesday, will be released on Friday.
“In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody,” Pak PM Imran Khan said in the country’s parliament.
The Pak PM’s decision came just minutes ahead of a scheduled joint press conference by the three services of the Indian armed forces. The press conference now stands postponed at the time of writing.
The decision came after India said that it will not agree on any deal with Pakistan and demanded his unconditional and immediate release. The press conference now stands postponed at the time of writing.
Speaking about the IAF fighter pilot captured by Pakistan, the Ministry of Defence officials said that he was ill-treated by the Pakistan Army in violation of the Geneva Convention.
“The IAF pilot has to be repatriated unconditionally and immediately. There is no question of any deal,” a source was quoted as saying by PTI.
Government sources said that India has not asked for consular access but the immediate release of the IAF pilot.
Dismissing chances of any talks, the government sources stressed on “immediate, credible and verifiable action against terror is required before any conversation”.

“Imran Khan should now walk the talk on dealing with terrorism,” they added.

The announcement of Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s release came on the day when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a Pakistani news channel that Imran Khan is ready for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone and offer peace.

In an interview to Geo News, Qureshi said that Pakistan is willing to consider returning the Indian pilot if it helps in de-escalation of the current situation between the two nations.

“If there is de-escalation with the return of this [Indian] pilot, Pakistan is willing to consider this. We are ready for all positive engagement,” he said.

Read More | Imran Khan ready to talk to Narendra Modi over telephone: Pak FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi

India had on Wednesday summoned the Pakistani envoy and handed over a demarche demanding the “immediate and safe return” of the pilot. It also strongly objected to Pakistan’s “vulgar display” of the pilot and said Pakistan “would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to him”.

The IAF pilot was captured on Wednesday after an aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani fighter planes.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had on Wednesday evening said that the IAF lost a MiG 21 Bison aircraft in an engagement with Pakistani Air Force who had violated Indian airspace on Wednesday. The government had confirmed that a pilot was missing in action.

Pakistani Air Force jets violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri sector on Wednesday morning and attempted to target Indian military installations, but missed their targets. They were immediately pushed back by Indian jets on air patrol, who also shot down a Pakistani F-16 whose wreckage fell on the other side of the LoC.

Following the incident, top Indian security and intelligence officials met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the security situation.

NSA Ajit Doval, senior officials of the Indian Navy, Army and the Air Force and other security officials, besides Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, were present in the meeting.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to chair the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting at his residence later today to take stock of the situation. A Union Cabinet meeting is also slated for 6.30 pm at the Prime Minister’s residence.

Source: The Statesman
25/02/2019

India toughens Kashmir crackdown; five dead in battle with militants, more detained

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a gun battle between members of a Pakistani militant group and Indian security forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday as India intensified a security

Indian authorities have killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack, which also sparked the roundup of separatists which India says is needed to head off trouble ahead of a general election to be held by May.

Most of those rounded up over the last two days were linked to the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

“Since JeI has a wider network across Kashmir and they are mobilising anti-India protests, their arrest could help in curbing such protests ahead of elections,” the senior police officer said.

 

One well-known separatist leader, Abdul Gani Bhat, was placed under house arrest, according to his political party.

Separatists called a strike to protest against the detentions. Many shops, petrol stations, and businesses closed, with few people and vehicles on streets in sensitive areas, except for troop patrols.

In some areas of the main city of Srinagar, the government limited the movement of people and vehicles.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident,” the police said.

FUEL SUPPLIES LOW

 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir said fuel rationing had been introduced in the Kashmir Valley where there was only enough gasoline for one day, diesel for four days and no liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The government said it would seek to increase supplies to the region and that shortages are the result of road blockages after the suicide bomb attack.

Indian paramilitary troops in riot gear arrived in strength at first light, said Shakeel Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in the Srinagar district.

“At places, they have blocked the main roads with steel barricades and concertina wire,” he said.

State Governor Satya Pal Malik called on residents not to believe “rumours of any extreme nature”. The government said an increase in police numbers was to prevent candidates and voters from being intimidated into not standing or voting in the general election.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who chairs the Hurriyat Conference of separatist groups, said arbitrary arrests and jailing of leaders, activists and young people for their political beliefs had happened across Kashmir for 30 years.

“Intimidating activists and leadership will not deter them from their path, nor will it stop people from demanding the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through self-determination,” he said.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the Indian home ministry to seek comment went unanswered.

TENSIONS RAISED

The suicide bomb attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. India blames Pakistan for harbouring militant groups operating in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

After the attack, India dropped trade privileges for Pakistan and prepared to send as many as 10,000 more troops to the contested area, according to a home ministry letter seen by Reuters.

The Indian army said that early on Sunday evening Pakistan violated the two nations’ ceasefire at the Rajouri area of the border, through shelling from mortars and small arms fire. Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the Indian army was “retaliating strongly and effectively”.

Ceasefire violations are not unusual along the border.

A Pakistani security official said Pakistani forces had not initiated any action but had responded to Indian firing.

Kashmir is likely to be a key issue in India’s election, distracting from concerns about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have managed the economy.

Modi has promised a strong response to the attack, saying in a monthly radio broadcast on Sunday that it had caused anguish to all of India.

Modi added that the army had vowed to destroy the militants and those who helped them.

Islamabad has warned it would respond with “full force” if attacked. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India to show restraint or it would put “the entire region’s peace and security at stake”.
India’s Supreme Court will hear a case this week seeking to drop a constitutional provision that bars non-residents from moving to the state of Jammu and Kashmir that encompasses the Muslim-majority region.

 

If passed, it could further escalate tensions.

Source: Reuters

25/02/2019

‘Give peace a chance’: After PM Modi’s ‘Pathan’ dare, Imran Khan says he ‘stands by’ his words on Pulwama

PM Modi said that he told him ‘let us fight against poverty and illiteracy’ and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son, ‘but went back on it’.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to “give peace a chance” and assured him that he “stands by” his words and will “immediately act” if New Delhi provides Islamabad with “actionable intelligence” on the Pulwama attack.

 

Khan’s remarks came a day after PM Modi in a rally in Rajasthan, recalled his conversation with the Pakistan PM during a congratulatory call after he became the country’s premier.

PM Modi had told him “let us fight against poverty and illiteracy” and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son “but went back on it”.

“There is consensus in the entire world against terrorism. We are moving ahead with strength to punish the perpetrators of terrorism…The scores will be settled this time, settled for good…This is a changed India, this pain will not be tolerated…We know how to crush terrorism,” PM Modi further said.

A statement released by the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office said, “PM Imran Khan stand by his words that if India gives us actionable intelligence, we will immediately act.”

PM Modi should “give peace a chance”, Khan said in the statement.

In his first statement issued since the February 14 attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Tuesday accused India of blaming his country “without evidence” and warned of retaliation against any military action by India.

However, he assured India that he would act against the perpetrators of the deadly Pulwama terror attack, carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group and said that the issue between the two countries can be solved through dialogue.

India had called Khan’s offer to investigate the attack if provided proof as a “lame excuse”.

The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past few weeks as New Delhi accused Islamabad of the Pulwama attack.

India has accused Islamabad’s spy agency ISI of being involved in the attack and has maintained that the terror group JeM is a “child of the Pakistan Army”.

Following the attack, India immediately withdrew the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status granted to Pakistan and initiated steps to isolate the neighbouring country from the international community.

Earlier, India had also announced its decision to stop the flow of its share of water from the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in many of his public speeches after the attack, said that the security forces have been given full freedom to decide the future course of action regarding the terrorist attack in Pulwama.

India’s neighbours, including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan—and other countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia and Canada came out in strong support of New Delhi following the terror attack.

Over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.

The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying around 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.

Source: The Statesman
23/02/2019

Time to test Pathan’s words: PM Modi on Imran Khan’s promise

At a public rally in Rajasthan, PM Modi said attacks on Kashmiri youths after Pulwama terror attack help the enemies of the country.

INDIA Updated: Feb 23, 2019 19:11 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Tonk, Rajasthan
Narendra Modi,Modi in Tonk,Pulwama terror attack
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting, in Tonk in Rajasthan on Saturday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday denounced reported attacks on Kashmiri youths in some parts of the country following Pulwama terror attack killing at least 40 soldiers on February 14. PM Modi said Kashmiri youths should not be targeted anywhere in the country.

Speaking at a public rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk, PM Modi said, “Our fight is against terror, the enemies of humanity… Our fight is for Kashmir not against Kashmir, not against Kashmiris.”

“What happened to Kashmiri youths in the last few days…It does not matter whether the incident was small or big, such things should not happen. Kashmiri youths are victims of terror. Every child of Kashmir is with India in our fight against terror,” said PM Modi.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed the statement of PM Modi. “Thank you @narendramodi Sahib. Aaj aap ne hamaray dil ki baat keh di (you said what I have in my heart),” wrote Abdullah on Twitter soon after the prime minister made the comment at his rally.

PM Modi referred to his congratulatory phone call to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, when he assumed office after the general elections in Pakistan last year. PM Modi said, “As per protocol, I telephoned Pakistan’s new prime minister. I told him we have fought for long. Let India and Pakistan together fight poverty and illiteracy.”

“Pakistan’s prime minister told me, ‘I am the son of a Pathan. I do what I say.’ It is time to test his words,” PM Modi said at his rally in Rajasthan.

Also read: Centre moves 100 companies of paramilitary forces to Srinagar amid massive crackdown

The prime minister said incidents like these “give power to Bharat ke tukde honge gang” and their supporters. “It is the responsibility of every Indian to protect every laal (child) of Kashmir,” he said.

The prime minister served another warning to Kashmiri separatist leaders, many of whom were stripped of their security cover early this week. The Union home ministry had ordered to review the security provided by the government to the separatist leaders in the wake of Pulwama attack.

PM Modi said, “Action has been taken against separatists and more action will be taken against such people…We can’t keep silent, we know how to crush terror.”

‘Trust Modi Sarkar’

Asserting that the government has moved swiftly to “avenge” Pulwama terror attack, PM Modi said all the major institutions of the world have condemned “the terror attack that was engineered at Pulwama”.

“I am proud that our security forces sent the perpetrators (of Pulwama attack) within 100 hours to where they belong,” he said referring to encounter in Pulwama a day after the terror attack on Jammu-Srinagar highway, where a CRPF convoy carrying more than 2,500 jawans was targeted by a suicide bomber.

Also read:In crackdown in Kashmir, JLKF chief Yasin Malik, Jamaat leaders detained

“Trust the brave soldiers of the country and trust the Modi government…This time, everyone will be taken to justice and complete justice will be served,” said PM Modi adding, “Your pradhan sevak is busy finishing terror…If I am destined to put locks to the factory of terror, so be it.”

He also talked about the steps, the government has taken to put pressure on Pakistan following Pulwama attack. He said, “Pakistan is being accounted for everything that they have done. There is anxiety in Pakistan due to the steps we have taken after the terror attack.”

A day after Pulwama terror attack, the government decided at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to withdraw the most favoured nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan in 1996. The government also hiked tariff on goods to be imported from Pakistan by 200 per cent.

The external affairs ministry reached out to more than a dozen countries to corner Pakistan, which denied its hand behind the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir despite Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group based out of that country, claimed responsibility for the attack on CRPF jawans.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution condemning Pulwama terror attack. The UNSC named Jaish-e-Mohammed in its statement. The UNSC resolution was unanimously approved by all members including China, which has been shielding Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar from being declared as global terrorist by the top UN body.

In the latter half of his public speech, PM Modi sounded poll bugle throwing what appeared as an election slogan, “Modi hai to mumkin hai” (it is possible if Modi is there). He said, “People have faith in the current government because of the work done in last four years. Modi hai to mumkin hai.”

He listed out achievements of his government and talked about schemes such health insurance, One-Rank-One-Pension and electrification among others repeating the same slogan at the end. He also accused the Congress of misleading the people of Rajasthan in last year’s assembly election by making farm loan waiver promise.

Source: Hindustan Times

23/02/2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take holy dip at Kumbh on Sunday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be paying a visit to the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj on Sunday where he will take a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, considered the centre of the earth according to Hindu scriptures.

At Prayagraj, PM Modi will participate in the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar event and interact with the “Safai Karmacharis”.

He will later address a gathering and distribute the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar awards to safai karmacharis, swachhagrahis, police personnel, and naviks.

The Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar event is being organized by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation.

The Kumbh Mela commenced on January 15 (Makar Sankranti) and will conclude on March 4 (Mahashivratri).

Over a period of 49 days of the mega celebration, more than 22 crore devotees have visited the Kumbh Mela.

On Friday, Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh led a delegation of around 200 delegates of more than 185 countries to the Kumbh Mela 2019. The foreign representatives took a holy bath at Sangam and witnessed cultural programmes at Sanskriti Gram.

Singh told reporters that the idea behind the visit was to make “them see that Kumbh is not just confluence of rivers but also of different religions and faiths”.

Earlier on Saturday, PM Modi interacted with foreign delegates from 185 countries at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi where he said that there is a huge potential for tourism in the country.

Source: The Statesman

21/02/2019

India withdraws security for Kashmir separatist leaders

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Jammu and Kashmir state withdrew the security details for 18 separatist leaders and 155 other opposition figures on Wednesday after an Islamist suicide bomber killed 40 paramilitary troopers last week.

The restive mountain state is currently administered by India’s federal government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party walked out a coalition with a major Kashmiri party.

The separatist leaders had been allocated security personnel to protect them from militants after they entered talks with the federal government.

In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir state government said it “felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is a wastage of scarce state resources which could be better utilized elsewhere”.

Besides the separatist leaders, the security of 155 political figures and activists – some from mainstream opposition parties – was also withdrawn, the statement said.

“Through this (step), over 1,000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work,” it said.

Both India and Pakistan lay claim to Kashmir and have twice gone to war over it since independence from Britain in 1947. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting decades of sporadic insurgency in its only Muslim-majority state.

Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the Kashmiri people.

Source: Reuters

20/02/2019

Ready to share intelligence, cooperate with India to destroy terrorism: Saudi Crown Prince

MoUs on tourism, cooperation in the field of housing, International Solar Alliance among others were exchanged between the two countries.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

MoUs on tourism, cooperation in the field of housing, International Solar Alliance among others were exchanged between the two countries.

On his first state visit to the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the Saudi Crown Prince saying that Saudi Arabia was India’s “close friend”.

India and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding relationship, PM Modi said adding that in the 21st century, Saudi Arabia was among India’s most important strategic partners.

The Prime Minister, in a joint press conference with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also welcomed Saudi investment in Indian infrastructure.

In a major development, Saudi Arabia also joined the International Solar Alliance, informed PM Modi adding that the two leaders also discussed how to further strengthen the defence cooperation between the two nations.

“We have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the areas of renewable energy. We welcome Saudi Arabia to the International Solar Alliance. The peaceful use of nuclear energy, especially water desalination and health, will be another dimension of our cooperation,” PM Modi said.

Speaking on the Pulwama terror attack that killed at least 44 CRPF personnel, the Prime Minister said the two leaders agreed on the need to destroy the infrastructure of terror and clamp down on countries supporting terror.

“We have also vowed to increase pressure on any country that promotes terror activities,” the Prime Minister said.

This comes after Salman’s high-profile tour of Pakistan on January 17 where he said dialogue was the only way to resolve “outstanding issues” between India and Pakistan.

Addressing the joint press conference, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country shares India’s concerns over terror.

“Terrorism is a common concern. We will cooperate with India in every way, like intelligence sharing. India has played a positive role,” he said.

He also thanked the people of India and the Government for the warm welcome.

“The relationship between India and Saudi Arabia is over thousands of years old. It is even older than history, and this relationship has grown stronger in the last 50 years. Our objectives are similar be it in energy, agriculture or technology,” he added.

Salman also called for common planning between the two nations to tackle various issues and said that “Saudi Arabia has invested $44 billion in India”.

Earlier in the day, PM Modi and Salman held delegation-level talks on key areas of mutual interest such as trade and investment, energy, defence and security, nuclear and space, civil aviation, renewables, counter-terrorism, community welfare and regional challenges.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also met Salman and discussed ways to add further momentum to the strategic ties between the two nations besides deepening engagement in areas of trade and investment.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Saudi Crown Prince was accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Ram Nath Kovind.

After meeting President Ram Nath Kovind, the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince said, “Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India”.

Earlier on Tuesday, in a special gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke the protocol to personally receive the Saudi prince and welcomed him with a warm hug at the Palam airport.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said that the first state visit of the Saudi Crown Prince marks a “new chapter in bilateral relations between the two countries”.

Salman’s visit comes in the backdrop of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group in which at least 44 CRPF personnel were killed.

Saudi Arabia had on Friday said it stood with India’s fight against terrorism and extremism and denounced as “cowardly” the attack.

India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

Saudi Arabia is also a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17 per cent or more of crude oil and 32 per cent of LPG requirements of India.

The Crown Prince is expected to travel to China from India.

Source: The Statesman
18/02/2019

Pulwama attack: Four Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir gun battle

Four soldiers have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in a gun battle with militants, police say.

The clash occurred in Pulwama district, where more than 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide attack on Thursday, raising tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

A civilian and two alleged militants were also killed as Indian troops searched for suspects.

Meanwhile Pakistan recalled its ambassador for consultations.

India had already recalled its top diplomat from Pakistan in the wake of Thursday’s attack – in which it said the Pakistani state was complicit.

Pakistan denies any role in the bombing, which was claimed by a group based on its soil – Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

What’s happening in Pulwama?

Police say two militants who were trapped in Pinglena village were killed in Monday’s operation. Both are JeM members and one is a Pakistani national, authorities said.

Heavy gunfire has been heard, and Indian security officials are appealing to villagers to stay indoors.

Police told BBC Urdu that when they fired “warning shots” at the house where the alleged militants were hiding, they fired back. One officer critically injured was taken to hospital.

The owner of the house was killed during the exchange of fire, police added.

Indian security forces have been hunting for militants with suspected links to JeM following Thursday’s bombing, which saw a vehicle packed with explosives ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces.

map

The suicide bomber was identified as a local Kashmiri aged between 19 and 21.

More than 20 people were detained on Sunday, according to police.

How high are tensions?

Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan since independence.

Both countries claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but control only parts of it. They have fought two wars and a limited conflict in the region.

Thursday’s attack was the deadliest attack against Indian forces since an Islamist-led insurgency began in 1989. It sparked anti-Pakistan protests in some Indian cities and angry mobs targeted Kashmiri students and businessmen.

Mobile internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir were cut over the weekend and the Indian government has pulled security normally provided to at least five Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Isolated incidents of students from Kashmir being beaten up or evicted from their accommodation in northern Indian states have also been reported.

India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) offered help to students in need, but also warned of false reports.

In broader terms, there has has been a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir since Indian forces killed a popular militant in 2016. Significant numbers of young men have joined the insurgency in recent years and the funerals of well-known militants draw huge crowds who want to pay respects to “martyrs”.

India has been accused of using excessive force to control protests with thousands of people suffering eye injuries or being blinded by pellet guns.

How might India retaliate?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing an election later this year, has vowed a strong response and says he will give the military free rein.

The last time an attack on Indian forces close to this magnitude occurred in Kashmir was in 2016, when 19 soldiers were killed at a base. In response to that, India carried out “surgical strikes” which involved Indian soldiers crossing the de facto border to hit Pakistani posts.

This time analysts say heavy snow in the region could make that kind of limited ground response impossible. But there are fears that going further, for example with air strikes, could lead to Pakistani retaliation and a significant escalation.

So far India has focused on retaliation by economic and diplomatic means. It has revoked Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation trading status, raised customs duties to 200% and vowed to isolate it in the international community.

Presentational grey line

Despite tensions Pakistan is calm

By Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan correspondent

The threat of Indian military action has not provoked widespread concern amongst the general public in Pakistan. Previous attacks by militants like JeM, believed to have close links to the intelligence services, have been seen as attempts by the Pakistani military to prevent the civilian government developing too friendly a relationship with India.

However, since Imran Khan was elected as prime minister here, many have begun to believe both the army and his administration were united in wanting to improve cross border ties.

Whether Pakistan was involved in the attack or not, it seems unlikely concerted action will now be taken against JeM. Its leader has been in “protective custody” since another attack in 2016, but still regularly releases audio messages to followers.

The group has in the past been a useful tool for Pakistan’s intelligence services wanting to foment unrest across the border, and authorities may now be reluctant to confront them, in case they turn against the Pakistani state as some of their members have done in the past.

Source: The BBC

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