Posts Tagged ‘ Peace ’

India and Pakistan, Talking

As reported by The New York Times

With a relationship as combustible as that between India and Pakistan, it’s progress just to get the two sides in a room. Last week’s meeting was better. Their foreign ministers announced modest, but very welcome, agreements concerning the bitterly disputed region of Kashmir.

They promised to double the number of days when cross-border trade between the two parts of Kashmir — one controlled by India, the other by Pakistan — is allowed and to expand and expedite travel permits for Kashmiris who want to cross the border for family visits, tourism and religious purposes. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two over Kashmir. Even these small steps could help chip away at their visceral mistrust.

Three weeks ago, some doubted the meeting would even happen after three explosions ripped through Mumbai, killing 24 people. The Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 160 people were blamed on Pakistani terrorists and sent relations with India into the deep freeze. So far, suspicion for the recent attacks has fallen on Indian terrorists.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India deserves huge credit for staying engaged despite Pakistan’s failure to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 horrors. And he deserves credit for not shooting first and asking questions later after the recent attacks.

We wish we could say the same of Pakistan’s leaders. Before there can be a true reconciliation, and stability in the region, Pakistan’s Army must realize that using militants to try to counter Indian influence in Kashmir and Afghanistan is self-destructive — and that homegrown extremism, not India, is the real threat to Pakistan’s survival.

India and Pakistan have more to talk about, including cooperation on water, expanded trade and their joint stake in a stable Afghanistan. President Obama’s drawdown of American troops will go easier if India and Pakistan are part of the solution, not fighting over the spoils. New Delhi insists that it will accept no outside mediation. Washington needs to keep pressing the two to work together.

The United States and its allies are planning a conference in Bonn in December and hope to rally international support for a broad regional strategy that includes a peace deal for Afghanistan, trade agreements and ambitious energy projects. India and Pakistan need to be full participants. The payoff could be huge if their leaders muster the courage to resolve their differences.

John Lennon- Imagine

India Continues to Dominate Pakistan’s Strategic Thinking: US

As Reoported By The Times of India

Pakistan’s efforts to launch a comprehensive fight against terrorism are greatly hampered by its perceived threat perception against India, US President Barack Obama has said in a new report to Congress.

“As India continues to dominate their strategic threat perception, large elements of Pakistan’s military remain committed to maintaining a ratio of Pakistani to Indian forces along the eastern border,” Obama said in the third-quarterly report to the Congress on Afghanistan and Pakistan sent yesterday.

“This deprives the Pakistani COIN (counter-insurgency) fight of sufficient forces to achieve its ‘clear’ objectives and support the ‘hold’ efforts and causing available Army forces to be bogged down with ‘hold’ activities because there are insufficient trained civilian law enforcement personnel to assume that responsibility,” Obama said in his 38-page unclassified (rpt) unclassified version of the report.

Due to flood in Pakistan last year the offensive military operations Pakistan had envisioned for KP (Khaibar Pakhtoonwah) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the second half of 2010 were overtaken by events, he said.

“Militants were impacted by the floods as well, so we did not observe significant offensive actions on their side, but as Pakistani forces ceased offensive operations, extremists extended their control to areas without sufficient Pakistani central government-provided security and governance,” he wrote.

Between October 1 and December 31, 2010, Obama said Pakistani security forces remained largely static, generally focusing on maintaining the security of previously cleared areas in the FATA and KP and continuing to support flood relief operations.

There were small but notable security operations in November and December in Orakzai Agency and Dir District, but no major operations.

National attention during the reporting period focused on the need for continued flood relief and the start of early recovery efforts, he said.

“The military served as a force of stability during the monsoons, ensuring that Pakistani and international emergency resources were available for rescue and relief operations. The Pakistan Army, Air Force, and Navy committed large numbers of personnel and resources to the flood relief operations throughout October and November,” he said.

The civilian government’s response suffered from a lack of coordination and reflected broader shortcomings in the government’s ability to execute the civilian “hold” and “build” phases of COIN.

The last quarter of 2010 saw no progress on effectively executing the COIN cycle in KP and the FATA.

India, Pakistan back to bickering after Mohali bonhomie

As Reported by IBN Live

India and Pakistan had a brief bout of acrimony with both complaining that a staffer each posted at their diplomatic missions in Islamabad and New Delhi respectively were detained by the host country and later let off.

While Pakistan today claimed that a driver of its mission in New Delhi was “arrested” for unspecified reasons on Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs took up the matter of a ‘missing’ Indian High Commission official in Islamabad. “A driver from the High Commission was arrested. (He) has been released. We have protested,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua told PTI in Islamabad, without giving details.

However, sources in New Delhi said that on Wednesday evening a Pakistani High Commission driver was seen near the Chandigarh cantonment area and when confronted, he tried to escape. “In the process, he sustained some bruises/injury on his knee and back. He was questioned and thereafter released.Before being released, a medical check-up was conducted which showed him in good health,” sources told PTI.

Just hours after the incident, an official in Indian High Commission went ‘missing’ in Islamabad, sources said, adding there was no immediate official confirmation on his whereabouts from the Pakistan side. However, the media reported detention of the Indian official, prompting Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to take up the matter with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir. “Apart from Indian High Commission raising the issue with Pakistan Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi took up the issue with Pakistan High Commission seeking the safety, security and well-being of the Indian official,” sources said.

The official was later handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, sources said. Though the sources did not divulge the name of the Indian official, some reports identified him as Anand Sharma, working in the consular section of the High Commission.

The incident involving the Pakistani driver occurred at a time when the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan were in Mohali, holding “extremely positive” conversation on the sidelines of the pulsating cricket World Cup semi-final between the two countries. The incident of the Indian official was being seen as a tit-for-tat to the Chandigarh incident.

Dialogue Key to Peace with Pakistan, Says India

By Anjana Pasricha for The Voice of America

As India and Pakistan get ready to restart peace talks after more than two years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says dialogue is the only way to resolve their differences.  The embattled Indian leader is also vowing to tackle inflation and punish those guilty of corruption — two issues which have put his government on the ropes at home.

Speaking to parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Singh said South Asia will not realize its potential unless India-Pakistan relations are normalized. India is willing to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan, he said.

But, striking a cautious note, he expressed hope that Islamabad will give up allowing its territory to be used for terrorist activity directed at India.

“I sincerely hope and believe that the new ruling classes of Pakistan would grasp the hands of our friendship and recognize that whatever our differences, terror as an instrument of state policy, is something no civilized society ought to be using,” he said. “I am not saying that we have today an atmosphere in which negotiations can go forward, but there are hopeful signs.”

Earlier this month, both countries decided to restart a peace process, which New Delhi had put on hold after blaming Pakistan-based Islamic militants for mounting the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet in the Indian capital in March. Their foreign ministers are to meet by July.

Singh’s comments on the peace talks with Pakistan came during an address to parliament, in which he outlined the priorities facing his government.

He pledged to lower inflation from 10 percent to seven percent by the end of the year. Food inflation is even higher and has emerged as a major worry in a country with millions of poor people.

Singh has promised to bring a new food security bill in parliament to ensure that poor people are protected from rising food prices.

Inflation has to be tackled in a manner that it does not hurt the economy, which the prime minister says is growing well.

“If we had a ham-handed [heavy] approach, we could have killed the growth process which is the only source of providing jobs for our youth. So, this delicate balance has to be preserved between control of inflation and protection of employment,” he said.

The Indian leader also vowed to crack down on those guilty of corruption in connection with sale of telecom spectrum, in 2008, and the organization of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, last year. Allegations that officials siphoned off billions of dollars have put the spotlight on corrupt practices in government contracts.

With the two corruption scandals dominating headlines in recent months, Singh expressed fears that the wrong impression may be going out.

“The message should not go out that India is adrift, that India has lost its way, that the enthusiasm for getting this country moving forward is something that is no longer in evidence,” he said.

The Congress-led government was voted back to power in 2009, but is facing a rising wave of discontent both becauseof high food prices and the high-profile graft scandals.

India to Invite Pakistan Home Secretary for March Talks, 26/11 on Agenda

As Reported by The Times of India

With India and Pakistan deciding to resume comprehensive dialogue over various issues, New Delhi will soon extend an invitation to Islamabad for home secretary-level talks on counterterrorism, including progress in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack trial, here in March.

Home secretary Gopal K Pillai said, “I will call my Pakistani counterpart this week inviting him to New Delhi for talks. I will propose two sets of dates to him for a meeting in the second-half of next month.”

This will be the first structured home secretary-level meeting between India and Pakistan on counterterrorism after November 2008. The last such meeting between home secretaries had, incidentally, concluded in Islamabad on November 26, 2008 — the day Lashkar gunmen attacked Mumbai. India had suspended composite dialogue with Pakistan in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.

Home secretaries of both countries had also met on the sidelines of Saarc interior ministers’ conference in Islamabad in June last year.

On the issues to be taken up during the meeting with Pakistani interior secretary Chaudhry Qamar Zaman, Pillai told a news agency, “We will ask for voice transcripts (of perpetrators of 26/11) even though the trial court has said no. We will ask them why they have not gone and appealed. I am sure the high court or the Supreme Court may have said that the voice transcripts can be given.”

Referring to lack of action on the part of Pakistan, the home secretary said, “So far most of the people they have caught are all chaps who have sold outboard engines or… driven a taxi and not any of the main people whose voice has been identified by Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley.”

He added, “I think by now, if they wanted, they could have arrested the main persons behind it (26/11 attacks). No use catching people on the streets… and not the real controllers and those who are behind it (attacks).”

Asked what prevented Pakistan from taking strong action against those responsible for the attack, Pillai said Headley’s own evidence clearly showed that there was support of certain elements in the Pakistan state. So, to that extent, anything which leads back to them, there is “total deniability”, Pillai said.

He rejected the view that investigations into the Samjhauta Express blast, indicating involvement of right-wing extremism, will put pressure on India while talking to Pakistan on terrorism. “It will not put pressure on us. We are open about it. The investigations are open. Our courts are free. We are investigating the same. We had told them in June that the investigations are on and as something crystalizes, we shall share it with them. And now, we have said that as soon as the chargesheet is filed, we will share full details with them because a very large number of Pakistani citizens were killed,” he said.

Pakistan Observes Kashmir Solidarity Day Today

As Reported on Sify News, India

Pakistan is observing the Kashmir Solidarity Day on Saturday (today) to renew its pledge to provide full moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people.

“We would not rest unless the people of Kashmir get their right to self-determination and win freedom from the Indian domination. We regard the Quaid-i-Azam’s dictum as our ideal wherein he said, “Kashmir is our jugular vein”. The day is not far when the Kashmiris would determine their own future,” The Nation quoted Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, as saying in his message on the occasion.

The government and the people of Pakistan join their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in observing the Kashmir Solidarity Day, said Gilani, adding that the whole nation stands united in seeking a just and peaceful solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiris as enshrined in relevant UN resolutions.

It will be a public holiday throughout Pakistan today, and special programmes will be broadcasted on television in this regard.

Apart from mass rallies, symposia, conventions meetings and speech declamations, a unique ceremony will be held at all six bridges linking Pakistan and PoK, where Pakistani and Kashmiri people will form a human chain.

It may be mentioned here that the day is observed every year in Pakistan, in continuation of the first call given by the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1975.

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