Breather For Nawaz Sharif

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered constituting a Joint Investigation Team to probe into the corruption allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sherif that came into light after Panama Papers leak

Islamabad: Disappointing the opposition parties of Pakistan that have been waiting with their breath abated, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ordered for joint investigation into the charges of corruption against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After the ‘Panama Papers’ named him and family, the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf led by cricketer turned politician took to streets in protest, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case against Nawaz Sharif.

The verdict was split. The Pak PM will now have to appear before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that will probe the family involvement in corruption as alleged in the Panama Papers leak. The court directed the commission to complete the investigation within 60 days and submit its report.

The JIT comprises officials from National Accountability Bureau (NAB), intelligence agencies, Investigation Agency (FIA), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) intelligence, the Supreme Court bench stated. A director- general level FIA officer will head it.

The Panama Papers leaks published by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) last year revealed that Sharif’s family members owned offshore companies worth millions of dollars.

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Nawaz Sharif Received Funds From Osama To Create Trouble In Kashmir: PTI Leader Alleges

The opposition Pakistan Tehreek -e- Insaaf party led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan alleged that Nawaz Sharif took billions of dollars from Osama to create trouble in Kashmir.

Islamabad: Upping the ante against Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the opposition party led by Imran Khan – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf alleged that Sharif took money from Al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden to promote jihad in Kashmir.

Imran Khan and his party are demanding the resignation of Sharif over alleged corruption. Media reported on Monday that Fawad Choudhry leader of PTI party said that he would file a petition in the apex court of Pakistan seeking admission of a case against Sharif for taking funds from a foreigner to undermine and conspire against the country.

Basing on the interviews and excerpts from a book, ‘Kalid Khawaja: Shaheed-e-Aman’, by the wife of a former inter-services intelligence spy Khalid Khawaja, PTI is making its claim. She was brutally murdered by Pakistani Taliban in 2010.

Express Tribune which published a report regarding the issue stated, “Relying on the revelations made in certain and a book, PTI intends to open a shady chapter in the country’s political history from the late 1980s in an apparent bid to further malign Sharif.”

The report added that interviews and book claim that Sharif took money amounting to Rs. 1.5 billion from former al- Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to promote jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan.  The interviews also claim that of the total amount, Rs. 270 million was spent to support a no-confidence move against Benazir Bhutto in 1989, the report added.

But, in 2013, PTI leader Masood Sharif Khan Khattak, who happened to be former director general of the intelligence bureau, submitted a statement before the apex court in a case related to embezzlement of IB funds in 1989.

In his statement, Kattak claimed that the force behind the vote of no confidence against Bhutto in 1989 was not Sharif but former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig, the report said.

However, Chaudhry said that Sharif played an active part in several conspiracies against the elected governments. Last week Imran Khan’s party announced to open another legal battle against Nawaz Sharif.

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Pakistan SC orders probe into graft charges

  • Panel to look into allegations against Sharif’s sons

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into allegations of corruption against family members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as revealed in Panama Papers in April this year.

Known as Panamagate, an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets had published sensational wheelings and dealings allegedly carried out by famous people, including politicians and celebrities, worldwide. The leaks were based on 11.5 million records and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from the internal database of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. The leaks informed the public how the famous and mighty use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets.

According to the papers, Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorize transactions for several companies”. The data leak also revealed the financial deals of over 200 Pakistanis, including the late Benazir Bhutto, prominent politicians and businessmen.

Since the Panama Papers were out, opposition parties, particularly Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), have been after the Prime Minister to probe the graft allegations against his family members. In fact, in recent days, Imran has intensified his agitation and prepared for a showdown with the government.

On the eve of the PTI-sponsored massive protest in the capital, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali heard the petition in the presence of several cabinet ministers, senior PTI leaders and media.

The Supreme Court said it was ready to appoint an inquiry commission headed by a judge, with the panel having all the powers of the apex court. It ordered the Pakistan Muslim League -N (ruling party) and petitioners (PTI) to present their Terms of Reference (ToR) for the probe panel. If both sides fail to come up with agreed terms of reference, the apex court will decide on ToR, the bench said, adding it could hear the case on a daily basis, if the situation warrants. The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Meanwhile, both the PML-N and the protesting PTI said, “There is agreement on the commission.” Reacting to the court’s ruling, Imran Khan said the planned anti-government rally will now be marked as a Day of Thanks giving in Islamabad. PTI had announced the rally in Islamabad on Wednesday to force Sharif to resign for a fair probe into the scandal.

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Sharif versus Sharif: Coup in Pakistan in the offing?

Islamabad/New Delhi/Washington: Reports quoting Pakistani and US sources suggest that there is yet another coup in the making in Pakistan.

A war of wits has been going on between the civilian establishment led by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military establishment led by Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif. The Sharif versus Sharif game has been going on for some time but it surfaced suddenly on October 3 when the civilian leadership asked the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), an agency run by the army, to stop abetting terrorist activity. The army took offence and is understood to have told the civilian administration not to cross its limits.

The Thursday issue of Dawn, the influential and highly respected newspaper in Pakistan, reported a tussle between the political and military bosses. The unprecedented internal crisis followed major differences between Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif on the question of supporting the Jihadist forces.

It is known that the Pakistani army has been standing by these forces which have been responsible for violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Differences between the civilian and military Sharif came into the open when Pakistan PM wanted the ISI to end terrorism and help complete investigations into the 26/11 Mumbai attack, recent terrorist attacks on Pathankot and Uri.

The military establishment, however, argued that doing so would amount to pleading guilty and that kind of attitude would harm Pakistani interests in Kashmir. It was reported that there was a brainstorming session between the civilian officials led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and the ISI representatives led by its chief General Rizwan Akhtar where the differences came to the fore.

It was said that Aizaz had given a ‘blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning to the ISI asking it not to interfere with the law enforcing agencies that are acting against Jihadists in anti-terrorism courts.

This concern expressed by the civilian authorities was on account of the fact that Pakistan has been feeling isolated and it found no supporter except China which is also unhappy with the violence perpetrated by the Jihadists.

Pakistani diplomats feel there is indifference in important capitals around the world towards Pakistan. ISI chief, however, made it clear that changing the tactics at this stage would be seen as buckling down under Indian pressure and abandoning the people of Kashmir.

Pakistan’s special Kashmir envoy in the UN, Mushahid Hussain Syed, had warned in Washington on Wednesday that his government may be forced to move towards China and Russia as the US influence is waning.

It is a fact that the US has been putting a lot of pressure on Pakistan to tone down support to the Jihadists post Uri attack. Mushahid Hussain’s warning is aimed at bluntly telling the US administration that if it continues its pressure Pakistan would have to look up to China and Russia for support. Observers say that Russia had moved very close to Pakistan in recent times. There is even a talk of Pakistan-China-Russia axis.

It is to be seen if the mandate of the crucial meeting that Gen Rizwan Akhtar of ISI and the National Security Advisor Nasser Janjua have to jointly visit four provinces with a message that the intelligence agencies should keep off the anti-terrorist courts would be sincerely implemented.

But Pakistan observers feel that the purported revolt by Prime Minister Sharif cannot last long given the strangle hold of the army on the administrative agencies as well as public opinion. Moreover, Raheel Sharif is to retire soon and he would like to continue to call the shots by toppling the civilian government and declaring martial law, if necessary. He can take advantage of the aggressive posture adopted by the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

Nawaz Sharif commented that the story appeared in ‘Dawn’ is half true. After some time, he described the same story as completely untrue. Once bitten twice shy, Nawaz Sharif whose civilian government was toppled by General Musharaff in the wake of the Kargil war, would think twice before antagonizing General Raheel Sharif.

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పాక్ ను ఉగ్రదేశం అంటే ఒప్పుకోం

  • మరోసారి రంగు బయటపెట్టుకున్న అమెరికా
  • పాక్ పట్ల మా వైఖరిలో మార్పు లేదన్న యూ.ఎస్ విదేశాంగ ప్రతినిధి
  • ఉగ్రవాదం ఒక్క భారత్ సమస్య మాత్రమే కాదని వ్యాఖ్య

(ప్రైమ్ పోస్ట్ బ్యూరో)

న్యూ ఢిల్లీ: ఒక రోజు తేడాలో భారాత్ కు ఒక శుభవార్త. ఒక నిరుత్సాహకర వార్త. పాకిస్తాన్ ఎట్టకేలకు ఉగ్రవాదులపై చర్యకు దిగబోతోందన్నది శుభవార్త అయితే; పాక్ ను ఉగ్రదేశం అనడాన్ని సమర్థించబోమని అమెరికా అనడం నిరాశ కలిగించే వార్త. పాక్ లో మార్పు వస్తోందన్న ఆశ ఏ కొంచెమో మిణుకు మిణుకు మంటుంటే, అమెరికా మాత్రం పాక్ పట్ల తమ వైఖరిలో మార్పు లేదని చెప్పింది. పాకిస్తాన్ ను ఉగ్రవాద దేశంగా ప్రకటించడానికి అమెరికా మద్దతు ఇవ్వదని ఆ దేశ విదేశాంగశాఖ ప్రతినిధి జాన్ కిర్బీ చెప్పేశారు. భారత్-పాకిస్తాన్ లు కాశ్మీర్ తో సహా అన్ని ద్వైపాక్షిక వివాదాలను మాట్లాడుకుని పరిష్కరించుకోవాలన్నారు. ఇప్పటి ఉద్రిక్తతలను వాళ్ళే తగ్గించుకోవాలని సలహా ఇచ్చారు. పైగా పాకిస్తాన్ తన అణ్వాయుధాలను ఉగ్రవాదుల చేతికి అందకుండా జాగ్రత్తగా భద్రపరుస్తుందన్న విశ్వాసాన్ని ప్రకటించారు. పాకిస్తాన్ ను ఉగ్రవాద దేశంగా ప్రకటించాలని కోరుతూ యూ.ఎస్ కాంగ్రెస్ లో పెండింగ్ లో ఉన్న బిల్లును, ఆ మేరకు దాఖలైన ఒక ఆన్ లైన్ పిటీషన్ ను సమర్థిస్తారా అన్న ప్రశ్నకు ఆయన జవాబిస్తూ ప్రత్యేకంగా అలాంటివేవీ తన దృష్టికి రాలేదనీ; అయినా వాటిని సమర్థించబోమనీ చెప్పారు.  మేము పాకిస్తాన్, అఫ్ఘానిస్తాన్ లతో ఎప్పటిలా కలసి పనిచేస్తూనే ఉంటామనీ, ఉగ్రవాదం ఆ ప్రాంతంలో ఒక ఉమ్మడి సమస్య అనీ, ఈ ప్రాంతంలో పలుచోట్ల పడినట్టే దాని ప్రభావం భారత్ మీదా పడిందనీ అన్నారు.

ఆయన మాటలను బట్టి పాకిస్తాన్ కు దూరం జరగడానికి కానీ, కొత్తగా భారత్ కు దగ్గరై ఉగ్రవాద సమస్యపై భారత్ గుండె చప్పుడుతో శృతి కలపడానికి కానీ అమెరికా సిద్ధంగా లేనట్టు అర్థమవుతోంది. అప్ఘానిస్తాన్ నుంచి అమెరికా తన బలగాలను ఉపసంహరించుకున్నాక పాక్ తో దాని సంబంధాలు పలచబారతాయన్న అభిప్రాయం వ్యక్తమవుతూ వచ్చింది. కానీ కిర్బీ మాటలు దానికి భిన్నమైన చిత్రాన్ని చూపిస్తున్నాయి.  పాక్ పట్ల అమెరికా రంగు మారలేదని చెబుతున్నాయి.

ఉగ్రవాదంపై ఉక్కుపాదానికి పాక్ సిద్ధం?

ఉరీ దాడులు, దానికి ప్రతీకారంగా భారత్ జరిపిన సర్జికల్ దాడులు అంతర్జాతీయంగా భారత్ కు మద్దతును పెంచి పాకిస్తాన్ ప్రతిష్టను మరింత దిగజార్చాయి. పాకిస్తాన్ ప్రపంచదేశాల మధ్య ఏకాకిగా మారుతున్న కారణంగా విపరీతమైన ఒత్తిడికి లోనైన నవాజ్ షరీఫ్ ప్రభుత్వం ఏం చేయాలో తోచని పరిస్థితిలో కూరుకు పోయింది. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో ప్రధాని నవాజ్ షరీఫ్ అఖిల సమావేశాన్ని నిర్వహించడం పాకిస్తాన్ ఎదుర్కొంటున్న ఒత్తిడికి అద్దం పట్టింది. పాక్ ప్రతిపక్షాలు ఉగ్రవాదశక్తుల పట్ల ఉపేక్షా భావాన్ని ప్రదర్శిస్తున్న ప్రభుత్వాన్ని కడిగి విడిచి పెట్టాయని వార్తలు సూచించాయి. మరోవైపు ఉగ్రవాద శిబిరాలు ఎత్తివేయాలంటూ పాక్ ఆక్రమిత కాశ్మీర్ లోని ప్రజలు వీధికెక్కి ప్రదర్శనలు నిర్వహించారు. ఇంకో పిడుగుపాటులా చివరికి మిత్రదేశమైన చైనా కూడా తన వ్యవహారసరళిని మార్చుకోవాలని పాకిస్తాన్ కు సలహా ఇచ్చింది. ఇప్పటికీ తన మద్దతు ఉంటుందని అంటూనే పాకిస్తాన్ మారవలసిన అవసరాన్ని నొక్కి చెప్పింది. జైషే మహమ్మద్ నాయకుడు మసూద్ అజర్ పై యూ.ఎన్ చర్య తీసుకునే ప్రయత్నాలను ఇప్పటికీ అడ్డుకుంటూనే ఉంటాము కానీ, పదే పదే ఆ పని చేయడంలోని హేతుబద్ధత ఏమిటని ప్రశ్నించింది.

దీంతో తెలివి తెచ్చుకున్న ప్రభుత్వం ఉగ్రవాదులపై ఉక్కుపాదం మోపడానికి నిర్ణయించుకున్నట్టు డాన్ లాంటి ప్రముఖ పాకిస్తానీ పత్రికలు రాశాయి. ఉగ్రవాదుల ఏరివేతకు అడ్డు రావద్దని పాక్ సైన్యానికి, పాక్ ఇంటెలిజెన్స్ సంస్థ ఐ ఎస్ ఐ కి ప్రభుత్వం గట్టి హెచ్చరికలు చేసినట్టు కూడా తెలియవచ్చింది. అలాగే పఠాన్ కోట్ దాడుల దర్యాప్తును త్వరగా పూర్తిచేయాలనీ, ముంబై దాడుల కేసుల్లో ఆగిపోయిన విచారణను తిరిగి ప్రారంభించాలనీ నిర్ణయించినట్టు సమాచారం. పాక్ విదేశాంగ కార్యదర్శి అజీజ్ చౌదరి ప్రధాని కార్యాలయం జరిగిన ఒక సమావేశంలో పాకిస్తాన్ దౌత్యపరంగా ఎలా ఏకాకి అయిందో, భారత్ తో సంబంధాలు ఏం చేస్తే మెరుగుపడతాయో నిక్కచ్చిగా, నిర్మొహమాటంగా చెప్పారని కూడా తెలిసింది.

పాకిస్తాన్ ప్రభుత్వంలో వచ్చిన ఈ మార్పును నిజమని నమ్మవలసివస్తే ఉగ్రవాదులపై అది పెద్ద ఎత్తున కొరడా ఝళిపించడానికి ముందుకు రావడం దాదాపు ఇదే మొదటిసారి అవుతుంది. అది ఆచరణ రూపం ధరిస్తే నిస్సందేహంగా మోడీ ప్రభుత్వం ప్రస్తుతం అనుసరిస్తున్న  పాక్ విధానాల విజయమే అవుతుంది. పాకిస్తాన్ ప్రభుత్వానికి ఇలా మొదటిసారి ముచ్చెమటలు పోస్తుండడం భారత్ తాజాగా చేపట్టిన ఎదురుదాడి ఫలితమే. అయితే, నవాజ్ షరీఫ్ ప్రభుత్వం చెప్పినట్టు విని బుద్ధి తెచ్చుకుని పాక్ సైన్యం ఉగ్రశక్తుల కోరలు తోమే పనిని విరమిస్తుందా అన్న సందేహం అలాగే ఉంది. పాక్ సైన్యంతో ఘర్షణకు దిగి గతంలో పదవి కోల్పోయిన నవాజ్ షరీఫ్ ఇంకోసారి ఆ మార్గంలో వెడతారా, వెళ్ళినా ఎంత దూరం వెడతారన్న ప్రశ్నలూ అలాగే ఉన్నాయి. అయితే వెనకటి ఇప్పటికీ ఒక ఆశావాహమైన తేడా కూడా కనిపిస్తోంది. ఉగ్రవాదాన్ని ఎరివేయాలన్న డిమాండ్ పాక్ లో అంతర్గతంగా కూడా వెల్లువెత్తుతోంది. దానికితోడు అంతర్జాతీయసమాజం ముందు కూడా వెనకటి కన్నా ఎక్కువగా పాకిస్తాన్ దోషిగా నిలబడి ఉంది. ముందు ముందు ఏం జరుగుతుందో వేచి చూడవలసిందే.

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Pak change of heart? Too early to say

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Madhusudhana Rao S

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken a huge gamble by telling the intelligence and military establishments not to interfere in civilian government’s actions against militants operating with impunity in all the four provinces.

It’s a risk fraught with the danger of being toppled by the powerful Army. But he might have thought that asserting an elected government’s wish is far more sensible than mollycoddle the men in uniform, whatever the consequences may be.

If we go by the detailed report Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper has carried about Monday’s all-party conference and an exclusive presentation made by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry to a select group of civil and military officials at PM’s office, it is clear that the government was left with no choice but to act.

But the action the government has ordered against militant groups is vague. Dawn report doesn’t say specifically whether the crackdown includes terrorist outfits that are trained to wage a proxy war against India from the camps located along the Line of Control in occupied Kashmir. Nevertheless, there is a hint that militants include those wanted by India and the US and the organizations they head like Masood Azhar and Jaish-i-Mohmmad, Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Haqqani network.

It is common knowledge that both the civilian and military establishments in that country draw a fine line between militants and Jihadists. In the name of supporting ‘Kashmir freedom struggle’ Pak government morally, militarily and financially supports the latter. Their anti-India activities, including raids on Army bases and urban terrorist missions, are conducted with official patronage. Often, they are linked to Kashmir unrest.

Earlier too, the Pak government had ordered crackdowns many times on home-grown militants. But such actions had changed the situation little because in reality they were aimed at warding off domestic criticism and satisfying international demands.

Dawn’s sensational report and the timing of the anti-militant move raise several questions: Does Pakistan has a change of heart after it has found itself cornered by India and its blatant lies about surgical strikes were exposed by one of the police officers near the LoC who was an eyewitness to deaths and terrorist camps’ destruction?

Only credible action against people like Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed and halting export of terrorism across the border will tell whether Pakistan wants to chart a new course. More importantly, the Sharif government should be able to translate its words into action without upsetting the apple cart and rein in the radical elements within the military ranks.

Meanwhile, India should not perceive Pakistan’s reported moves as a result of Modi government’s high pressure diplomatic campaign. On the contrary, it should view the ISI chief’s statement that “the timing of action against several groups should not be seen as buckling to Indian pressure or abandoning the Kashmiri people” in proper perspective.

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Pakistan tells its Army to crack down on militants

Primepost Bureau

What can be considered as music to ears of the Indian Government, Pakistan has told its powerful military establishment to act against militants/terrorists in all its four provinces.

Breaking this unprecedented development on its website, on Thursday, the influential Dawn newspaper said:  “In a blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning, the civilian government has informed the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan and sought consensus on several key actions by the state.”

An all-party conference that was held on Monday –the details of which were not known earlier — two sets of actions had emerged, according to Dawn. First, General Rizwan Akhtar, Director General of powerful ISI, and National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, are to visit the four provinces and meet the provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders.

The top men’s mission is to instruct military-led intelligence agencies not to interfere if law enforcement agencies act against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action, Dawn reported from Islamabad.

Second, Nawaz Sharif has directed that fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.

According to Dawn, these decisions were taken after an unusual altercation between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (PM’s brother) and Rizvan Akhtar (ISI DG).

High stakes drama

Revealing some of the dramatic moments that led to the extraordinary decisions by the civilian government, Dawn has reconstructed what transpired at Monday meeting. The account was based on conversations with officials present at the all-party conference. Clarifying its position, the newspaper said, “all declined to speak on the record and none of the attributed statements were confirmed by the individuals mentioned.”

On Monday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry gave a separate presentation in the PM’s Office to an exclusive group comprising civil and military officials. The gist of the briefing was how Pakistan was diplomatically isolated and how indifference had set in world capitals over Pak’s ‘talking points.’

What’s more relevant to India is, Chaudhry’s blunt talk about his assessment of Islamabad’s relations with New Delhi and Washington. The foreign secretary is said to have stated that the completion of the Pathankot investigation and some visible action against Jaish-i-Mohammad are (India’s) principal demands. On ties with the US, he had cautioned they were likely to deteriorate further because of the American demand for action against the Haqqani network.

Then Chaudhry dropped the bomb that must have shell-shocked the Pakistan’s top, including the PM. The all-weather friend China that has reiterated its support for Pakistan has indicated a preference for a change in course by Pakistan. More importantly, while Chinese authorities have conveyed their willingness “to keep putting on technical hold a UN ban on Jaish-i-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar” they have questioned the logic of doing so repeatedly.

Chaudhry’s ground reality readings appear to have woken up the civilian and military brass present in the room from their make-believe world. What followed later was the decision to crack down on militants without military interference.

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Why India can’t win a diplomatic war against Pakistan

Madhusudhana Rao S

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Madhusudhana Rao S

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the sixth President of Pakistan from 1978 to 1988, is remembered for his ruthless rule of his country under martial law he declared in 1977 after a coup in which the civilian government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overthrown. The dictator is also remembered for sending the former head of government to gallows in 1979 on charges –widely believed to be fictitious — of attempted murder and religious fanaticism. He died in a plane crash in 1988. The cause of air crash is still a matter of speculation and a topic for conspiracy theories.

What’s relevant today in Indian context was a joke that used to make rounds when Zia was at the peak of his political-military power. The joke goes something like this: Zia had a big farm which he could not run because of his preoccupation with plots to pull down the Bhutto government. So, he gave it to a farmer to cultivate the land on profit-sharing basis. In the first year, the farmer raised potato crop. When the General went to his farm, he saw sacks of potatoes waiting for shipment to market. Zia told the farmer that under the deal whatever was grown below the ground was his and the rest was farmer’s.

Realizing he was cheated, the farmer had decided to change his strategy. The following year, the farmer sowed corn and when the crop was about to be harvested, the General descended on his farm and congratulated the farmer on growing such a wonderful crop. With a flourish, the strong man offered the farmer that he would reverse the previous year’s decision. This time, whatever was grown below the ground was the farmer’s and the yield above was the General’s.

Thinking he lost twice, the farmer decided to beat the General in his own game. This time, he zeroed in on mango crop and planted many trees. After some years, the farmers’ efforts started yielding rich fruits. When they were ripe, Gen Zia came down and exclaimed at the juicy reap. The military ruler told the farmer that he would have what was hanging in the air as part of his share!

The story might be apocryphal. But it mirrors the mindset of the Pak military-civil establishment which tries to hoodwink others to suit its agenda and narrative. The ongoing Indo-Pak war of words gives an insight into lies and half-truths being dished out by the civilian-military establishment. Whatever India does on the diplomatic front to prove Pakistan’s culpability in cross-border terrorism, Islamabad confronts New Delhi with Zia-sque arguments.

Ever since the Uri attack on September 18, 2016, the Indian government has launched an all-out war against Pakistan at the diplomatic level with the sole purpose of isolating the hostile neighbour. Indeed, it’s a climb-down for Narendra Modi who had professed action instead of words in tackling Pakistan before being sworn as the Prime Minister.

Why has he chosen a peace offensive when Pakistan is beating war drums and trying to turn the tables on this country? Analyses differ widely: A war is  fraught with risks and it hits the economic development and the chances are a limited-scale conflict or punitive measures such as surgical strikes on militant camps on the other side of the border could escalate into a bigger conflict with the possibility of China indirectly supporting its ‘all-weather friend’ to decelerate India’s growth. As it is often reported in the media, all options are on the table and it is up to the government to pick the right option at the right time. At the moment, the government has opted for an all-out no-holds barred diplomatic offensive against the Nawaz Sharif government.

From Kashmir to Kerala and at the United National General Assembly, from Prime Minister Modi to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had delivered thundering speeches berating Pakistan, its role in training jihadists and sending them across the border to kill civilians and army men and spawn unrest in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

No doubt, Modi’s rhetoric, his attempt to draw a fine line between the people and the government of Pakistan, reiteration of peaceful co-existence, quotable quotes like “blood and water can’t flow together” (on revision of Indus Water Treaty) were impressive. Equally striking were Sushma Swaraj’s  rebuttals of Pak allegations at the UN. They are all music to Indian ears. But are these ‘exposes’ opened anyone’s eyes on the other side of the border? For that matter, how many countries have publicly condemned Pakistan, despite India showing proof of Pak complicity in Uri and Pathankot attacks?

But for a move in US Congress to label Pakistan ‘a state sponsor of terrorism,’ we have not heard denouncements from anywhere else. What this silent attitude signals is since Indo-Pak problems are bilateral, they have to be resolved by themselves.

But Pakistan attributes the prevailing tensions, including the militant activity, to the Kashmir dispute and tries to internationalize the issue at every given opportunity. India, on the other hand, tries to convince the world leaders how the Pakistani state apparatus has been using Kashmir row as a smokescreen to train terrorists and waging a proxy war against India. The gist of Indian leaders and representatives’ speeches at the current UN session points out to this.

With the two countries firming up their respective positions on almost all contentious issues and Modi promising us some unspecified retributive action against Pakistan, it looks the die is cast. In the proverbial carrot-and-stick policy, Modi hasn’t gotten anything in return from his Pak counterpart for offering carrots. Even after a spike in cross-border terrorist raids and blatant attacks on two army bases this year, Modi is hesitant to wield a stick for obvious reasons. So, he is left with no other option but to tighten the screws on the arch enemy. Among the measures being contemplated is a thorough review of Indus Water Treaty which is said to benefit Pakistan more than India. Next to come up for a relook is the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status given to that country a decade ago. Incidentally, Pakistan has not reciprocated even after 10 years.

Such steps may look punitive but in reality they will not hurt Pakistan as China and oil-rich Arab nations can shore up Islamabad with liberal economic aid. International isolation of Pakistan is the main target of the Indian Government and Delhi would like to see it declared as a pariah state. Even if we win our diplomatic battle, which is unlikely, the focus should be more on strengthening our internal and border security, intelligence gathering and launching a multi-pronged strategy to bring peace to the troubled Kashmir Valley. Since Pakistan knows how to bleed us, we should not expose our soft belly to it.

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సింధు: “రద్దు చేస్తే యుద్ధమే”

న్యూ ఢిల్లీ:  సింధు జలాల ఒప్పందం గురించి మనదేశం నుంచి వస్తున్న వార్తలకు పాకిస్తాన్ స్పందించింది. భారత్ కనక సింధు జలాల ఒప్పందాన్ని రద్దు చేస్తే  దానిని యుద్ధ చర్యగా తీసుకుంటామని చెప్పింది. ఐక్యరాజ్యసమితిని, అంతర్జాతీయ న్యాయస్థానాన్నీ ఆశ్రయిస్తామని కూడా చెప్పింది. అంతర్జాతీయ చట్టం ప్రకారం భారత్ ఏకపక్షంగా ఒప్పందం నుంచి తప్పుకోలేదని, ప్రధాని నవాజ్ షరీఫ్ కు విదేశీ వ్యవహారాల సలహాదారుగా ఉన్న సర్తాజ్ అజీజ్ అన్నారు. ఈ మేరకు ఆయన నేషనల్ అసెంబ్లీకి వివరించారు. ఏకపక్షంగా ఒప్పందాన్ని రద్దు చేస్తే అది పాకిస్తాన్ కు, దేశ ఆర్థికవ్యవస్థకు ముప్పు తెస్తుందని అన్నారు. ఆ చర్య అంతర్జాతీయ శాంతికి భంగకరం అవుతుందనీ, భద్రతామండలిని ఆశ్రయించడానికి పాకిస్తాన్ కు తగిన కారణాన్ని అందిస్తుందనీ, దానిని యుద్ధ చర్యగా పరిగణిస్తామనీ బెదిరించారు.

ప్రధాని నరేంద్ర మోడి సింధు జలాల ఒప్పందాన్ని సమీక్షించడానికి ఉన్నతాధికారులతో సోమవారం సమావేశమైన సంగతి తెలిసినదే. ప్రభుత్వం ఒప్పందాన్ని రద్దు చేయాలని అనుకోవడం లేదనీ, సింధు, దాని పరీవాహకప్రాంతంలోని ఇతర నదుల జలాలను గరిష్టంగా వాడుకునే ఆలోచనలో ఉందని ప్రభుత్వ వర్గాలు అన్నాయి. ఒప్పందం మనకు కల్పించిన హక్కుల రీత్యా జలాశయాలు నిర్మించుకుని నీటి నిల్వ సామర్థ్యాన్ని పెంచుకునే అవకాశం ఉందని విదేశాంగ, జలవనరుల నిపుణులు స్పష్టం చేశారు. ఇందువల్ల కూడా పాకిస్తాన్ కు లభించే నీటి పరిమాణం తగ్గి సమస్యలు సృష్టించే అవకాశం ఉంది.

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Sushma Flays Pakistan

  • Reiterates Kashmir Integral Part of India

New York: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj flayed Pakistan for exporting terrorism. Addressing the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday here, Sushma slammed Pakistan as a terrorist haven. She said India has always been getting terrorism in exchange of friendly gestures.

The External Affairs Minister has reiterated, in response to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UNGA, that Kashmir is an integral part of India and it will forever remain so. She said the Pakistani dream of snatching away Kashmir from India can never be realised. Pakistan which is trying to highlight human rights violations in Kashmir has been perpetrating brutalities in Balochistan, she said. Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Bahadur Ali is a living example if Pakistan’s cross border terrorism. She reminded the international community that terrorism is the biggest violation of human rights.

Responding to Sharif’s allegation that India was posing unreasonable conditions for talks, Sushma said, ‘We took the initiatives to resolve the issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship’. Pakistan has been in a denial mode even after producing strong, impeccable evidence to prove the acts of terrorism.

Emphasising the need to implement the Comprehensive Convention in International Terrorism, the External Affairs Minister said the General Assembly should act with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt the convention to develop norms to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of terrorism.

Sushma’s speech was considered by experts in international relations as forceful, well crafted and excellent. Only one fourth of her total time was spent on rebutting Nawaz Sharif’s charges while Sharif had spent two thirds of his speech to attack India. The majority of the experts opined that Sushma’s was a balanced speech. Some experts, however, said the minister could have been more vehement in her criticism. She should have told the GA that India was running out of options and it might be forced to act if there is no change in Pakistan’s attitude, they said. She was addressing both the UN General Assembly as well as the people back home. There is no point in wailing and lamenting that Pakistan has not been cooperating in establishing peace, the experts remarked.

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Sharif praises Wani

  • Hits self goal
  • Sushma to reply on 26

New York: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears to have scored a self goal when he praised Burhan Wani, the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander of Kashmir valley. Addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Sharif described Wani as a young leader who has ’emerged as the symbol of the latest intifada, a popular and peaceful freedom movement.’ In s video released in August 2015, Wani was seen as an Islami fighter who wanted a global Islamic Caliphate. This attitude resonates with the terrorists fighting for Caliphate but not that of a militant fighting on behalf of Kashmiri community.

The 22-year old Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8. In the video Wani came across as a terrorist who hated pro-India Kashmiris. He threatened that anyone who informs the Indian authorities about their movements would be killed mercilessly. The tapes are available with the intelligence agencies working for western countries. Wani’s sympathies with the violent jihadist movement to make Kashmir a part of the Caliphate reeks religious fundamentalism.

Two leaders in the House of Representatives in the US introduced a resolution demanding that Pakistan be labelled as a State that is sponsoring terrorism.

Nawaz Sheriff denied the charges levelled by Indian government regarding Uri attack.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is sheduled  to address the UNGA on  the 26th when she is expected to mount a scathing attack on Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism.

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Sharif elicits no response from world powers

Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif found no support for his argument over Kashmir when he raised the issue with leaders of several powerful countries., the news reports suggest. Sharif is in New York attending the annual UN General Assembly.

While Pakistan once again stood prominently before international community as a perpetrator of global terror in the back drop of militant attack on an Indian army camp which claimed 18 lives, Sharif made a vain attempt to muster support for his Kashmir bogey.  He sent letters to US, UK, Russia, China and France urging  to intervene, “to halt more than two months of violence in Kashmir “.  He termed it as a threat to the international peace, the Pakistan media reports.

Pakistan media reported about their Prime Minister’s interaction with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the US secretary of state John Kerry, in which Sharif tried to impress them with his Kashmir argument. But in contrast to the other Pakistani leaders interactions with their counterparts, no briefing was given about their Prime Minister’s meet with British PM, and US secretary of state. This indicates how sharif elicited lukewarm response to his Kashmir rantings from US and UK.

Likewise, Sharif’s recent attempts to raise Kashmir at the UN also fallen flat. According to many observers, his Kashmir flogging mainly aimed at domestic compulsions to outdo his army chief or to keep the General in good humour.

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Kashmir issue: No more takers for Pak claims

S.Madhusudhana Rao

The United Nations General Assembly becomes a battleground for India and Pakistan when it meets for the annual session. This year is no exception. Though the Prime Ministers of both countries had stayed in the same hotel in New York, they had not even shaken hands for courtesy sake. They had only a brief eye contact when Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif waved at each other, perfunctorily.

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S.Madhusudhana Rao

Since their meeting was not expected, it was not scheduled, ostensibly because of Modi’s busy schedule in the US, though the real reason was the simmering border tensions and cross-border terrorism. Even their chance-meeting would have had vicious backlash back in India and Pakistan. However, the two rival leaders’ US visit at the same time has turned out to be a study in contrast for Indo-Pak observers.

Modi, shunned by the American administration as long as he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat over his alleged complicity in 2002 riots, was embraced by the US for a second time this year. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, corporate honchos and IT giants chanted NaMo and the prosperous Indian-American community, for a change, saw in him a leader who treats the superpower as an equal and a partner in India’s growth story. Sharif’s visit, on the other hand, was summed up in a tweet: “While he (Pak PM) was meeting grocers from his homeland, Indian PM was interacting with Who’s Who of America.” Of course, Sharif also made news both in Pakistan and India for his UN speech in which he raked up the Kashmir issue.

Deploring the world body’s ‘inaction’, Sharif proposed a four-point peace initiative which included “demilitarization” of Kashmir. Hitting back, India called Pakistan “a prime sponsor of terrorism” and asserted that “de-militarizing Kashmir was not the answer for achieving peace but de-terrorizing Pakistan as it uses terror as legitimate instrument of statecraft.” India also called for early vacation of Pak-occupied Kashmir.

India’s response to Sharif’s statement was the strongest so far in the ongoing battle of words which was followed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj a day later in the UN Assembly. She said India was ready for a dialogue with Pakistan provided it gave up terror. She also urged the 193-member UN Assembly to make countries aiding, arming and protecting terrorists pay a heavy price.

Stung by India’s response, Pakistan has re-asserted that Jammu and Kashmir remains the core issue and will always be on top of the agenda of peace talks. Alleging that India is using ‘terrorism bogey’ to stall a dialogue and unleashing terror in Balochistan, Pakistan said it gave a dossier to UN chief on India’s terrorist acts on its territory.

What the tit-for-tat wordy duel shows is Pakistan’s unabated attempts to internationalize the J&K issue and India’s bid to expose that country as a terrorist haven. The world body has been hearing both countries repeating the same allegations and statements year after year for decades. The member-countries must have got tired of listening to the same charges. For most of them, K is a bilateral issue and they are now seized of more pressing and threatening issues like Islamic State’s expansion, Syrian conflict and the global refugee crisis.

Pakistan’s repeated attempts to raise the Kashmir issue at international forums prove the theory of diminished returns. Even its Islamic friends, faced with internal problems and militancy, have left Pakistan to fend for itself. If Islamabad continues to fight for a lost cause, its obvious motive is to keep the J&K pot boiling. If the issue is resolved, nothing will be left for Pakistan to cross swords with India and its existence will be at stake. More importantly, military will lose its say in civilian government.

1 Response

  1. m. r. dua says:

    great, unputdownable, piece.
    thanks, madhu,
    well done indeed.
    thanks, enjoyed a
    matter-of-fact piece.

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A U-turn that puts the clock back

S. Madhusudhana Rao

Even before the euphoria generated by the talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Russia, died down, Islamabad did a U-turn on key points mentioned in an official  joint statement. One is voice samples of the main accused in Mumbai attacks case Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and the other is the PMs’ handshake was not the beginning of a formal dialogue.

First, a re-look at the official statement issued by foreign secretaries of the two countries after the Modi-Sharif meeting held on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa on Friday last.

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S. Madhusudhana Rao

The joint statement, in part, said: “They agreed that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia. They also agreed on …a meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism and ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.”

There is no ambiguity in words and actions proposed to be taken up by the two countries to kick-start a peace dialogue stalled after 2008 Mumbai attack. On the other hand, the statement had raised new hopes for a fresh round of Indo-Pak talks to resolve all outstanding issues, including border firings at LoC.

While the Indian media has widely welcomed the two leaders breaking new ground, the Pak press struck an ominous discordant note, calling Sharif’s talks with Modi “a sell off.” Equally vocal was opposition parties who lambasted Sharif for not mentioning Kashmir dispute and taking a ‘soft’ line in talks with Modi.

As if validating these allegations, Sharif’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Monday that the Modi-Sharif meeting “was not the formal start of any dialogue process” and it was held at the request of the Indian side and served to achieve “one major objective, which was to reduce tension and create an environment for meaningful talks on all issues.”

He told a press briefing in Islamabad, “I can assure you no dialogue will take place (with India) unless Kashmir is on the agenda. Pakistan will make no compromise on the core issue. Kashmir of course tops the list of outstanding issues, but there are also other important issues like Siachen, Sir Creek, interference and water. The Kashmiris’ “right to self-determine their destiny has not been granted and Pakistan will continue to extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren.”

On the trial of the Pakistani suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks, Aziz stressed “Pakistan needs more evidence and information to conclude the trial”. Lakhvi has been repeatedly rejecting to give voice samples and his lawyer says he can’t force Lakhvi under Pak law. Delhi believes it can provide conclusive proof to Islamabad with voice samples since Pakistan has been refusing to try Lakvi citing lack of evidence although India has given tapes of conversations recorded during 26/11.

Although six years have passed since Mumbai siege, its mastermind has remained elusive and roaming freely in Pakistan, campaigning against India, after an anti-terror court granted bail to LeT chief in December last, citing, again “lack of evidence.”India’s all efforts, including moving the UN, have hit a roadblock. Thus Lakvi’s issue continues to be another major irritant, like Kashmir, between India and Pakistan to normalize ties.

Pakistan’s U-turn, just three days after holding out the promise of a dialogue, and Sharif inviting Prime Minister Modi to the 2016 SAARC summit in Pakistan, is an anti-climax to the hyped-up Ufa meeting. It appears that the Sharif government has ‘clarified’ its position under pressure from Army brass through a press briefing by Sharif’s top aide Sartaz Aziz.

Though it was held ostensibly to give details of the two leaders’ talks in Russia, the Pak government’s real intention is to let India and its BJP leaders know –as well as Sharif’s critics – that there is no change in Islamabad’s position on ‘core’ issues and it will continue to maintain that stand whatever gestures India make. This rigid stand, stated umpteen times, brings us back to the basic question, is Pakistan trustworthy? Is it not playing the same card time and again to throw a spanner in the works?

With Pakistan raking up the Kashmir issue once again and linking it to the future of peace talks, chances of an Indo-Pak breakthrough in the near future are bleak. Modi-Sharif meet might have augured well for broader discussions and taking forward the process to break the peace deadlock. But if Pakistan has its own agenda, how can India alone push Modi’s initiative? Another lesson for the government in dealing with Pakistan.

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A new step for Indo-Pak dialogue

S. Madhusudhana Rao

The outcome of the much-awaited meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pak counterpart Nawaz Sharif can best be described as seeing the glass half full, or, half empty. It depends on which side the observer is: the ruling BJP or the opposition party Congress.

While the former hailed the one-hour talks between the two leaders in Ufa, Russia, held on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on Friday, the latter slammed it. Are they a “step forward towards normalizing relations between the two countries” as Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted or surrendering India’s interests to the sworn enemy as implied in statements issued by Congress?

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S. Madhusudhana Rao

Obviously, it is hitting back with vengeance in a classic example of political role reversal. BJP, when it was in opposition, had been a fierce critic of UPA’s Pak policy and Delhi’s overtures to Islamabad rapped. Now, Congress is trying to force BJP eat humble pie, saying “… this is the government that made tall claims that they will teach Pakistan a lesson.”

No doubt, Congress barbs help sharpen the opposition knives, particularly at a time when the parliament’s monsoon session is about to begin and the saffron party’s vulnerability quotient is hitting a new high with every passing day. It is fighting its first major crisis on three fronts: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s impropriety in securing British visa for tainted former IPL boss Lalit Modi; Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s untenable position in the same case and mystery deaths in Madhya Pradesh’s government jobs and college admissions scam.

Now, Congress seems to have included the Modi-Sharif Russian rendezvous in its ‘daggers drawn’ list to haul Prime Minister Modi over the coals. The newly-acquired aggressive public posturing may help Congress earn a few brownie points. But, its stand on the latest Modi initiative to restart Pak dialogue is counterproductive and lacks vision. His move should be seen from a broader perspective of forging new relations with the oil and gas rich Central Asian Republics and signing a number of cooperation pacts that will have a bearing on India’s power and energy sectors.

Modi attended the BRICS and SCS summit meetings in Ofa. While India is a founder member of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping, Delhi has only the observer status, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia in SCS. It was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Russia, and the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Earlier, the politico-economic and military grouping, known as Shanghai Five (without Uzbekistan), was set up in 1996. When Uzbeks joined it five years later, it was renamed SCS.

 India and Pakistan are expected to be admitted with full membership status next year as 7th and 8th members of the bloc whose aims include forging cooperation to fight terrorism. Before arriving in Russia, Modi had also visited the Central Asian Republics opening a new chapter in India-Central Asia relations.

Though the Republics are predominantly Muslim, they are not aligned with any particular regional power and their disposition towards India has always been cordial. So, Modi’s visit to these Republics has some special significance and his reach-out foreign policy has included the small but important countries that can play a positive role in India’s geo-political strategy.

When India becomes a full-fledged SCS member, Delhi can forge further economic ties with these countries and press for concerted action against terrorism and its sponsors and perpetrators. This strategy will help us corner Pakistan which is expected to get SCS membership along with India.

Against this background, Modi’s meeting with Sharif  is a step in the right direction. It is also to prove to the world that India has not shut its door on a dialogue with Pakistan despite its ceasefire violations and war rhetoric, including the threat of using nuclear weapons if necessary. If Modi had taken a firm stand against meeting Sharif, which he did during UN session earlier, our Prime Minister would have strengthened Pak position. Of late, Pakistan’s ‘all weather’ friend China has increased its economic aid and sided with Islamabad on issues that are inimical to Indian interests. Our traditional ally Russia too has jumped on to the Chinese bandwagon to express its unhappiness over Delhi moving closer to Washington.

In no way Modi’s bid to break new ground will help push Indo-Pak dialogue to a logical conclusion. This is merely another attempt to restart the stalled dialogue beginning with a meeting of national security advisors of both countries in New Delhi and culminating in Modi’s visit to Pakistan next year for SAARC summit. Among other things that figured at the Modi-Sharif meeting was ways and means to expedite the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial and release of fishermen.

What miffed the Congress and many people was the talks were held just a day after fresh round of firing between Pakistan and India across the Line of Control in which a Border Security Force jawan was killed. In fact, tension has been brewing ever since foreign secretary level talks were called off last August following Pakistani envoy’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders. Unabated truce violations by Pakistan, verbal wars over allegations of sponsoring terrorist acts, row over Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, among others, have further worsened the relations between the two countries. Now, the Ufa meeting has helped India and Pakistan prime ministers break the ice in Russia. Will this step take them down the peace path or will it hit roadblock?

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Kashmir is a bilateral issue, says MEA

  • Disapproves US involvement
  • Prefers two-way street to promote peaceful ties
  • PM’s SAARC schedule is yet to be finalised

(P.Ravi)

New Delhi, November 23: Reacting to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s request to US President Barack Obama to take up the Kashmir issue with the Indian leadership during his visit to India in January next year; the external affairs ministry said that the Kashmir issue can only be discussed under the framework for dialogue agreed with Pakistan. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that there is a simple two-way street to promote peaceful ties between the two neighbours, which is meaningful bilateral dialogue. “The framework for achieving those cooperative and peaceful ties is already specified and agreed to between our two countries as part of the Simla Agreement and reiterated much later during the Lahore declaration between (former) Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee and Sharif.”

This is not the first time that Pakistan government tried to involve the US in Indo-Pak conflict. MEA spokesperson disapproved of any deviationfrom the framework, saying, “It will not lead both the countries to a common destination.” However he was non-committal when asked about any bilateral meeting that may be held between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the 18thSAARC summit in Kathmandu. He only said, “The Prime Minister’s intention is to have meaningful dialogue with as many of our South Asian colleagues as possible. This would mean taking into account all aspects of our relationship.”

“At this stage, the scheduling work is in progress, taking into account the schedules of various leaders and priorities. There will be substantive meetings and we will let you know once the entire architecture is ready,” he added. Meanwhile, replying to a question on whether Pakistan had sought a meeting with Modi, Akbaruddin said he was not aware of any such move.

PM Modi will leave for Kathmandu on November 25 to attend the two-day SAARC summit on November 26 and 27.

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