Posts tagged ‘Islamabad’

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.

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27/04/2015

China plans to cut number of big state firms to 40: state media | Reuters

China will likely cut the number of its central government-owned conglomerates to 40 through massive mergers, as Beijing pushes forward a sweeping plan to overhaul the country’s underperforming state sector, state media reported on Monday.

The consolidation will first take place in commercial sectors, especially in competitive industries, said the official newspaper Economic Information Daily, quoting an anonymous authority.

“Resources will be increasingly concentrated on large enterprises to avoid cut-throat competition, like what CSR Corp Ltd and China CNR Corp Ltd did when competing against each other for projects overseas,” the newspaper said.

The restructuring plan is critical to President Xi Jinping‘s broader push to raise the performance of China’s lumbering state sector, at a time when Beijing struggles to find the right policy mix to support the world’s second-largest economy that grew in the first quarter at its slowest pace in six years.

The policy-directed merger of state-owned CNR and CSR, China’s top two train makers, created a $26 billion company able to win global rail deals from rivals such as Germany’s Siemens AG and Canada’s Bombardier Inc.

SOEs‘ non-core businesses, particularly in tertiary industry, will be sold publicly on the capital market,” the newspaper quoted the authority as saying.

Avoiding the loss of state assets will be “the most important and core requirement” when mergers that involve sensitive assets take place, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Beijing committed to stepping up public scrutiny of state firms’ financial and performance information as well as changes of enterprise leadership, to increase transparency and fight corruption.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the ruling Communist Party’s top graft-buster, is also intensifying its two-year inspections of state firms in strategic sectors.

In recent weeks, China FAW Group Corp Chairman Xu Jianyi, Baosteel Group Vice President Cui Jian, and a general manager at China National Petroleum Corp were put under investigation for corruption.

Currently, the central government owns 112 conglomerates, including 277 public firms listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges with a market capitalization of more than 10 trillion yuan ($1.61 trillion), according to the newspaper.

via China plans to cut number of big state firms to 40: state media | Reuters.

02/04/2015

Pakistan close to buying eight Chinese submarines – FT | Reuters

Pakistan is close to agreeing a multi-billion dollar deal to buy eight submarines from China, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, in what would be one of China’s largest overseas weapons sales.

The decision had been agreed “in principle”, the newspaper said, citing a hearing in the Pakistani parliament‘s defence committee. Pakistani newspaper the Dawn said negotiations with China were at an advanced stage.

Pakistani defence officials could not immediately be reached for comment. China’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.

A former senior Pakistan navy officer with knowledge of the negotiations told the Financial Times the contract could be worth $4 billion to $5 billion.

It was unclear what type of submarine Pakistan was looking to buy but China has poured resources into developing diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines in recent years.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.

President Xi Jinping will travel to Pakistan this month, the government in Islamabad has said. China has said Xi would visit this year but given no timeframe.

China is Pakistan’s top supplier of weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global arms sales, selling 51 percent of the weapons Islamabad imported in 2010-2014.

China has also surpassed Germany to become the world’s third largest arms exporter, SIPRI said in a report last month. Little is known about China’s arms exports because the country does not publish data on such sales.

via Pakistan close to buying eight Chinese submarines – FT | Reuters.

14/02/2015

PM Modi sending top diplomat to Pakistan in thawing of ties | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sending his top diplomat to Pakistan as part of a regional tour, the first top-ranking visit since Modi broke off talks last year over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif (R) during the closing session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 27, 2014.  REUTERS/Niranjan Shrestha/Pool/Files

The sign of a thaw in ties comes weeks after a visit to India by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The United States has long privately encouraged dialogue between India and Pakistan hoping that better ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours could lead to cooperation in other areas such as Afghanistan.

Modi called his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, early on Friday to wish his country luck in the World Cup cricket tournament beginning this weekend and to tell him that new Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar will soon visit Islamabad as well as other regional capitals.

Sharif told Modi he welcomed the proposed visit of the Indian envoy to discuss all issues of common interest, the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department welcomed the move.

via PM Modi sending top diplomat to Pakistan in thawing of ties | Reuters.

22/11/2014

China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters

The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday. The Chinese companies will be able to operate the projects as profit-making entities, according to the deal signed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to China earlier this month.

At the time, officials provided few details of the projects or the financing for the deal, dubbed the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The deal further cements ties between Pakistan and China at a time when Pakistan is nervous about waning U.S. support as troops pull out of Afghanistan.

Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends. Their ties are underpinned by common wariness of India and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in South Asia.

via China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters.

14/08/2014

War of Words Erupts Between India and Pakistan – India Real Time – WSJ

An all-to-familiar war of words has erupted between India and Pakistan, threatening to undo efforts to bridge the gap between the estranged neighbors, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain 67 years ago.

The latest rhetorical salvo was fired Wednesday by India’s foreign ministry, which said “mere denials or selective approaches toward terrorism” by Pakistan wouldn’t assuage Indian concerns about what it sees as backing from Islamabad for Islamic terror attacks on Indian soil.

This week’s bickering started when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a visit to the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, said Pakistan, too weak to fight a conventional war, was using terror groups to wage a “proxy war against India.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry the next day denounced Mr. Modi’s criticism as “baseless rhetoric.”

“It would be in the larger interest of the regional peace that instead of engaging in a blame game, the two countries should focus on resolving all issues through dialogue,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif to Delhi for his swearing-in ceremony, it ignited hope for better relations between the estranged neighbors.

The two countries’ foreign secretaries are scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Aug. 25 to “look at the way forward” in the bilateral relationship. But the current spat could cast a shadow over the meeting.

That poses a problem. Deep-rooted suspicion between India and Pakistan has stymied attempts at achieving greater economic integration and better connectivity in the region. Relations between India and Pakistan, a close ally of neighbouring China, also have a major impact on regional stability.

via War of Words Erupts Between India and Pakistan – India Real Time – WSJ.

09/08/2014

China builds friendship railway to link Pakistan | The Times

In a park outside Islamabad, fountains tinkle beneath the huge glass façade of the new Pakistan-China Friendship Centre. “Pakistan China friendship is as high as the Himalayas, as deep as the ocean and sweet as honey,” declares a hoarding above an escalator, which grinds to a halt intermittently due to the country’s chronic power shortages.

Nanga Parbat mountain

Next month, China’s President Xi Jinping will arrive here to finalise plans to turn this gushing propaganda into reality by building a 1,800km railway that would, for the first time, directly link Beijing to Islamabad via its eastern province of Xinjiang. Stretching to Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi, and beyond to a Chinese-built deep-sea port at Gwadar on the Gulf of Oman, the railway would bore through some of the world’s highest peaks in the Karakoram sub-range of the Himalayas.

“China has a new focus on this region,” beams Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the chairman of the Pakistan China Institute, who says the railway will be a “game changer” and the most ambitious part of a Chinese plan to reboot the area’s troubled economy and open up its own western flank to development. After years of war and terrorism, Pakistan has suffered an exodus of foreign cash and expertise, but with Beijing now splashing out $32 billion on more than 120 projects in Pakistan over the next seven years, the number of Chinese living and working in the country has leapt to from 3,000 in 2008 to nearly 15,000.

Chinese workers are dredging Karachi’s port complex, and building a giant hydroelectric dam at Bunji on the Indus River, a highway linking Lahore to Karachi, and nuclear and coal-fired power stations, solar power plants and ports.

With Pakistan’s reputation for violence, terrorism and corruption, some westerners are privately raising their eyebrows at the scale of China’s spending spree. However, for China’s former ambassador to India and Pakistan, Zhou Gang, the attractions are clear. “It will promote the economic development of all Asian countries,” he said, pointing out that to reach the Gulf of Oman from Shanghai, Chinese goods must currently travel 15,858km by ship through the Strait of Malacca. A railway, road or pipeline through Pakistan would slash that journey to 4,712km.

Despite the hype, however, tensions exist. India disapproves of the railway, which would run through territory it claims as its own. China also frets about the safety of its citizens in Pakistan, several of whom have been killed. One Pakistani official warned: “If they can’t sort out the terrorism and security then it won’t happen.”

via China builds friendship railway to link Pakistan | The Times.

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