CPEC route through Kashmir could create tension with India: UN report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

CPEC route through Kashmir could create tension with India: UN report

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s route through Kashmir could fuel geo-political tension with India and more political instability, a UN panel has warned in a report.

WORLD Updated: May 25, 2017 00:29 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

China has said the CPEC is an economic initiative that is “not relevant to disputes over territorial sovereignty”.(Reuters File)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s route through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir could create tensions with India and lead to “further political instability” in the region, a UN body has warned in a new report.The report on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, released on Tuesday by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP), the UN’s regional development arm, said President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project has the potential to position the region as an epicentre for growth and trade.

However, the report prepared at the request of the Chinese government flagged concerns about social and environmental safeguards and the route of the CPEC passing through Kashmir.

“The dispute over Kashmir is also of concern, since the crossing of the (CPEC) in the region might create geo-political tension with India and ignite further political instability,” the 94-page report said.

India has repeatedly voiced its objections to the route of the CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). New Delhi did not send a representative to the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last week because of these concerns.

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China has said the CPEC is an economic initiative that is “not relevant to disputes over territorial sovereignty”. Beijing has also said the project does not affect its position on the Kashmir issue, which should be addressed through negotiations between India and Pakistan.

The ESCAP report also referred to the political instability in Afghanistan and said this could “limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar, as those routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban are most active”.

It was more critical about the implications of the CPEC for Balochistan, Pakistan’s resource-rich province that has been troubled by a long-running insurgency. It referred to the impact of migrants on the ethnic Baloch, who have been demanding a greater say in the use of the province’s abundant natural resources, including gas and minerals.

The CPEC, the report said, “could lead to widespread displacement of local communities”.

“In Balochistan, there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province…In addition, Hazaras are another minority of concern. If the benefits of the proposed (CPEC) are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese or purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalized,” the report said.

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There were also concerns that the CPEC would pass through an “already narrow strip of cultivable land” in mountainous western Pakistan, “destroying farmland and orchards”.

“The resulting resettlements would reduce local population into an ‘economically subservient minority’. Marginalisation of local population groups could re-ignite separatist movements and toughen military response from the Government,” the report said.

ESCAP’s executive secretary Shamshad Akhtar, a former chief of the State Bank of Pakistan, was silent on the concerns related to Kashmir in her foreword to the report but said the “success of an initiative of this scale and ambition will depend on intelligent implementation built on strong analysis”.

“For it to be inclusive, the BRI should be informed by broad consultation of affected communities, including on health, employment and land rights issues,” she wrote.

Modi govt gets high approval rating at three-year mark in Times Of India online poll

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

Modi govt gets high approval rating at three-year mark in TOI online poll

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: May 23, 2017, 07.04 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • In timesofindia.com poll, almost 84% of those surveyed believed that if elections were held today, the government would equal or better its 2014 Lok Sabha performance
  • Demonetisation and the passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill were seen as the two most important decisions of the Modi government

Modi govt gets high approval rating at three-year mark in TOI online poll

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government got a big thumbs-up for its overall performance in the first three years of its tenure, according to an online survey conducted by timesofindia.com and its sister sites.

Over a million readers participated in these polls.

In timesofindia.com’s poll, a total 77% of respondents said they rated the Modi government’s performance as being ‘very good’ and ‘good’. That is, in response to the poll question ‘How would you rate the performance of the Modi government?’, 48% respondents voted ‘very good’ and 28% voted ‘good’.

However, respondents on tamil.samayam.com weren’t as impressed with the BJP government’s performance, with a total of 53% choosing the options ‘Average’ or ‘Poor’.

In timesofindia.com poll, almost 84% of those surveyed believed that if elections were held today, the government would equal or better its 2014 Lok Sabha performance. That is, 61% of those voted believed that if the Lok Sabha elections were held today, the BJP would perform better than it did in 2014. Some 23% of respondents believed the BJP would fare the same as it did in 2014.

To this question too, tamil.samayam.com’s respondents voted differently. Close to 44% respondents here believed the Modi government would fare worse than it did in 2014, if Lok Sabha elections were to be held today.

By and large, except for tamil.samayam.com’s respondents, it appears the reason people feel the BJP would equal or better its performance if elections were held today is the ‘Modi factor’ – the same one considered responsible for the party’s wins in recent polls.

In timesofindia.com’s poll, 76% believed Modi’s popularity has increased in the last three years. However, respondents on tamil.samayam.com felt differently, with 41% of voters saying the PM’s popularity has decreased.

Demonetisation and the passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill were seen as the two most important decisions of the Modi government, with the former squeaking by the latter to make it to the top spot in timesofindia.com’s poll.

The November 8 decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was seen as the Modi government’s most crucial decision by 37% of those who were surveyed in timesofindia.com’s poll. GST was considered the most crucial by 28% of those who answered the question in the same poll.

Demonetisation, in fact, got a huge thumbs up among those surveyed bynavbharattimes.com , maharashtratimes.com, iamgujarat.com and vijaykarnataka.com. On these sites, more than 50% of respondents said the note ban was the most important move by the Modi government.

Interestingly, even though demonetisation – touted by PM Modi as a move to curb black money – was seen as the most important decision of the BJP government, timesofindia.com’s respondents were not as awed at overall efforts by the government to curb black money.

A majority of respondents were satisfied, yes, but not by as large a margin. Of those who answered the question ‘What do you think of the steps taken by the government to curb black money?’ 56% voted ‘Very Effective’ and ‘Effective’, while the rest believed the steps ‘Need Better Implementation’ or are ‘Ineffective’, on timesofindia.com’s poll.

Navbharattimes.com respondents though were underwhelmed by the Modi government’s efforts to curb black money. Close to a total 60% surveyed said these efforts ‘Need Better Implementation’ or are ‘Ineffective’.

By and large, respondents in most of the polls felt that in its three years in power, the Modi government had been least successful in ‘Employment Generation’ and ‘Tackling Cross-Border Terror.’

However, those surveyed on tamil.samayam.com and telegu.samayam.com believed the Modi government’s biggest failure has been ‘Improving Condition of Farmers’.

As for tangible improvements to their individual lives, more than half of those who voted in timesofindia.com’s and most other polls felt that in the last three years their lives had improved.

Top Comment

no need of such survey …. we all know it ..and it will remain even after 2019 ….. as this Govt. for all is credible …..B S Jha

Of those who answered the question ‘How has life changed for you under the Modi government?’, 58% clicked on ‘Significantly Improved’ and ‘Slightly Improved’. The answer ‘Same as Before’ got 29% of the votes, which the remaining believed their lives have ‘Deteriorated.’

On this issue too, respondents on tamil.samayam.com and telegu.samayam.com differed, with most respondents saying their lives are the ‘Same as Before’.

Pakistan will change legal team that lost Round 1 to India at ICJ

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pakistan will change legal team that lost Round 1 to India at ICJ

The Hague-based court had on Thursday stayed the execution of Jadhav, 46, considered to be a spy by Pakistan.

WORLD Updated: May 19, 2017 23:09 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Kulbhushan Jadhav

A boy watches as television channels that show news about International Court of Justice hearing the case of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.(AP Photo)

Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz has said a new team of lawyers will be formed to present the case against Kulbhushan Jadhav at the International Court of Justice even as opposition parties blasted the government for its handling of the matter.The current legal team was widely criticised after the ICJ ordered Pakistan on Thursday to stay Jadhav’s execution till its final decision on India’s petition to annul his death sentence. Opposition parties sought the team’s immediate removal.

Aziz said a new team of lawyers will be constituted to “present Pakistan’s stance vigorously” at the ICJ. “Pakistan’s security is so important and we have to maintain our fundamental sovereign right,” he told Samaa news channel.

He also defended the existing legal team, saying it had “courageously presented Pakistan’s stance”.

Some senior lawyers said authorities had started sending out feelers about setting up the new legal team. “Some law firms have been approached by the ministry of law to discuss such a possibility,” said a law ministry official in Islamabad.

There was also discussion about hiring a foreign law firm with a record of handling cases at The Hague-based ICJ.

“The consensus emerging in Pakistan is that while the country has a case, it was the legal team that let us down,” said leading analyst Zahid Hussain.

Read more

Some of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s detractors accused him of “selling out” to the Indian side and opposition parties described the ICJ’s decision as a “setback for Pakistan”.

Some opposition leaders alleged the ICJ’s order was the result of a “covert deal”. They linked it to Sharif’s recent meeting in Murree with Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal.

Shafqat Mehmood, a spokesman for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, demanded that Sharif disclose all details of his “covert meeting” with Jindal. In a statement, he raised critical questions on the matter and sought an explanation from the premier.

Mehmood asked Sharif to come to the National Assembly and explain why Pakistan did not appoint an ad hoc judge at the ICJ because it had a right to do so, and why the Foreign Office did not take legal advice before initiating correspondence on the issue.

There was considerable debate on the performance of Khawar Qureshi, Pakistan’s lead lawyer, at the ICJ hearing on Monday. Qureshi, part of the London-based law firm Serle Court, became the youngest advocate to appear at the ICJ in 1993.

Read more

But opposition leaders questioned why the government had selected a lawyer who had not handled a single international law case at the UK Supreme Court, and why authorities had sent a first year associate from the attorney general’s office to the ICJ instead of the attorney general himself.

The Pakistan People’s Party said the case at the ICJ had been mishandled and demanded the government convene a meeting of the national security committee on the issue of Jadhav.

PPP vice president Sherry Rehman told reporters that Pakistan had failed to plead its case and the counsel completed his arguments within 50 minutes, as against the allocated time of 90 minutes.

Rehman, a former minister, said Pakistan should have appointed an ad hoc judge under the ICJ’s rules as an Indian judge was part of the tribunal. She said the opportunity to do this was available till May 10 but was missed out. She added that Jadhav’s issue should have also been raised at the UN General Assembly.

But Aziz told the media the ICJ’s order would not have any bearing on the legal process currently underway in Pakistan against Jadhav. “A stay is granted automatically even in our courts when you file an appeal. But it doesn’t mean that you have lost the case,” he said on Thursday.

The ICJ is yet to adjudicate on the merits of Jadhav’s case, he said. “When that stage comes, Pakistan will forcefully present its case,” he added.

Big guns: Two modern 155 mm artillery guns land in India after the Bofors scandal of 1980’s

(THIS STORY IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

Big guns:

Big guns: Two modern 155 mm artillery guns land in India after the Bofors scandal of 1980s

Rajat Pandit| TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.14 PM IST 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This will be the first induction of modern 155mm artillery guns by the Army since the 1980s.
  • The howitzers will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing
  • The M-777 guns are primarily meant for the front with China

Big guns: Two modern 155 mm artillery guns land in India after the Bofors scandal of 1980s

NEW DELHI: India has now exorcised the ominous Bofors ghost haunting its artillery modernization plans for the last 30 years. In the first modern 155mm artillery guns to be inducted by the Army since the 1980s, two of the 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers ordered from the US touched down here on Thursday morning.

Defence sources on Wednesday said the two howitzers, which came in a chartered aircraft from the UK, will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing and “compilation of the firing tables” for subsequent use. “The firing tables, with the guns being tested for different kinds of Indian ammunition with bi-modular charges, will take some time to be formulated,” said a source.

The delivery schedule for the air-mobile howitzers, being acquired under the $737 million deal inked with the US in a government-to-government deal, will quicken from March 2019 onwards. “Five guns will then be delivered every month till all 145 are inducted by June 2021. While the first 25 guns will be imported, the rest 120 will be assembled in India with artillery-manufacturer BAE Systems selecting Mahindra as its business partner here,” he added.

Read this story in Gujarati

The arrival of the M-777 guns, which are primarily meant for the front with China, comes soon after the government also inked a Rs 4,366 crore contract with engineering conglomerate L&T for the supply of 100 self-propelled howitzers in collaboration with its South Korean technology partner Hanwha Tech Win. These 155mm/52-calibre tracked guns called K-9 Vajra-T, in turn, are to be delivered within 42 months, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The 13-lakh strong Army has not inducted a single 155mm artillery gun since the Bofors scandal brought down the Rajiv Gandhi government, and derailed all plans for technology transfer and indigenous manufacture.

Subsequent scandals revolving around other global artillery manufacturers, like South African Denel and Singapore Technology Kinetic‘s, further punched gaping holes in the Army’s long-range, high-volume firepower. Interestingly, the original Swedish Bofors company is now owned by BAE Systems.

Read this story in Marathi

The Army has been demanding 155mm/39-calibre ultra-light howitzers like the M-777s, with a strike range from 24 to 40-km depending on the kind of ammunition used, for almost 15 years now as part of the overall plan to build robust conventional deterrence against China.

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Weighing just over 4-tonne due to the use of titanium, the M-777 can swiftly be airlifted to high-altitudes areas up to 16,000-feet in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with China.

Top Comment

If the Congress Government could not induct a single artillery 155 mm Gun in our Armoury for 30 years of its rule,despite enemies like Pakistan and China breathing down heavily below our neck,it mea… Read MoreAshok Prabhu

The M-777 howitzers will equip the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps, which the Army is raising by cannibalizing its existing reserves, for the China front. With two infantry divisions geared for mountain warfare, and associated artillery, air defence and armoured brigades, the 17 Corps will be fully in place with 90,274 troops by 2021.

Read this story in Bengali

Rajat Pandit| TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.14 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This will be the first induction of modern 155mm artillery guns by the Army since the 1980s.
  • The howitzers will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing
  • The M-777 guns are primarily meant for the front with China

Big guns: Two modern 155 mm artillery guns land in India after the Bofors scandal of 1980s

NEW DELHI: India has now exorcised the ominous Bofors ghost haunting its artillery modernization plans for the last 30 years. In the first modern 155mm artillery guns to be inducted by the Army since the 1980s, two of the 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers ordered from the US touched down here on Thursday morning.

Defence sources on Wednesday said the two howitzers, which came in a chartered aircraft from the UK, will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing and “compilation of the firing tables” for subsequent use. “The firing tables, with the guns being tested for different kinds of Indian ammunition with bi-modular charges, will take some time to be formulated,” said a source.

The delivery schedule for the air-mobile howitzers, being acquired under the $737 million deal inked with the US in a government-to-government deal, will quicken from March 2019 onwards. “Five guns will then be delivered every month till all 145 are inducted by June 2021. While the first 25 guns will be imported, the rest 120 will be assembled in India with artillery-manufacturer BAE Systems selecting Mahindra as its business partner here,” he added.

Read this story in Gujarati

The arrival of the M-777 guns, which are primarily meant for the front with China, comes soon after the government also inked a Rs 4,366 crore contract with engineering conglomerate L&T for the supply of 100 self-propelled howitzers in collaboration with its South Korean technology partner Hanwha Tech Win. These 155mm/52-calibre tracked guns called K-9 Vajra-T, in turn, are to be delivered within 42 months, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The 13-lakh strong Army has not inducted a single 155mm artillery gun since the Bofors scandal brought down the Rajiv Gandhi government, and derailed all plans for technology transfer and indigenous manufacture.

Subsequent scandals revolving around other global artillery manufacturers, like South African Denel and Singapore Technology Kinetic‘s, further punched gaping holes in the Army’s long-range, high-volume firepower. Interestingly, the original Swedish Bofors company is now owned by BAE Systems.

Read this story in Marathi

The Army has been demanding 155mm/39-calibre ultra-light howitzers like the M-777s, with a strike range from 24 to 40-km depending on the kind of ammunition used, for almost 15 years now as part of the overall plan to build robust conventional deterrence against China.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
  • INDIABe vigilant along China border: Rajnath Singh to forces
  • INDIABelow normal monsoon in some regions this year

Weighing just over 4-tonne due to the use of titanium, the M-777 can swiftly be airlifted to high-altitudes areas up to 16,000-feet in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with China.

Top Comment

If the Congress Government could not induct a single artillery 155 mm Gun in our Armoury for 30 years of its rule,despite enemies like Pakistan and China breathing down heavily below our neck,it mea… Read MoreAshok Prabhu

The M-777 howitzers will equip the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps, which the Army is raising by cannibalizing its existing reserves, for the China front. With two infantry divisions geared for mountain warfare, and associated artillery, air defence and armoured brigades, the 17 Corps will be fully in place with 90,274 troops by 2021.

Read this story in Bengali

India Boycotts China Summit Amid Kashmir Concerns

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER)

India Boycotts China Summit Amid Kashmir Concerns

India Boycotts China Summit Amid Kashmir Concerns

India Boycotts China Summit Amid Kashmir Concerns

New Delhi: India signalled it will boycott a summit in Beijing on boosting China’s trade links to the rest of the world, setting off a new dispute between the neighbours.

The two-day summit was attended by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and 26 other leaders.

Without announcing a formal boycott, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman highlighted concerns about China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, a massive undertaking to link the country with Africa, Asia and Europe through a network of ports, railways, roads and industrial zones.

The spokesman also reaffirmed India’s opposition to a Chinese-Pakistani economic corridor that runs through disputed Kashmir.

“Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative,” said foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay in a strongly worded statement released late Saturday.

“We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side.

“Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the… OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan Kashmir, which is claimed by India. The two sides have been at loggerheads over Kashmir since their division in 1947.

India’s is also concerned because the 3,000km corridor ends in the strategic Pakistani port of Gwadar.

India fears the port could become a Chinese naval base facing its navy in Mumbai.

( AFP)

Wal-Mart CEO to be questioned in U.S. lawsuit over Mexican bribery

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Wal-Mart CEO to be questioned in U.S. lawsuit over Mexican bribery

By Jonathan Stempel

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) Chief Executive Douglas McMillon to submit to questioning in a lawsuit by shareholders hoping to learn what he knows about suspected bribery by the world’s largest retailer in Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said McMillon’s “direct and personal involvement” in matters underlying a class-action lawsuit justified requiring him to sit for a deposition by the shareholders’ lawyers.

McMillon had been president of Wal-Mart International during a period when shareholders led by a Michigan pension fund said the retailer concealed suspected bribery by its Wal-Mart de Mexico unit to government officials, to speed up store openings.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer had argued that McMillon lacked the “unique or special knowledge” to justify burdening him with a deposition.

But the judge said McMillon, who became chief executive in February 2014, took part in several meetings, saw dozens of communications, and had certified many public statements by Wal-Mart about the alleged bribery.

“It appears to the court that McMillon has unique knowledge of relevant issues in this litigation that only he can explain,” Hickey wrote. A deposition could last four hours, she added.

Wal-Mart had no immediate comment.

Jason Forge, a lawyer for the lead plaintiff City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System, said in an email: “We’re determined to try this case in court.”

Wal-Mart’s market value slid $17 billion over three days in April 2012 after the New York Times reported the alleged bribery and said it had been first discovered internally in 2005.

Shareholders accused Wal-Mart and Mike Duke, who preceded McMillon as chief executive, of downplaying the scheme even after learning about the Times’ investigation.

The class period runs from Dec. 8, 2011 to April 20, 2012.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg News said Wal-Mart may pay about $300 million to settle a U.S. government probe into suspected bribery in Mexico, India and China, citing people familiar with the matter.

A $300 million payment would represent about one week of profit for Wal-Mart.

The case is City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas, No. 12-05162.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

Pakistan to work with Kabul, Delhi on water management

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN NEWS PAPER ‘DAWN’)

Pakistan to work with Kabul, Delhi on water management

UPDATED ABOUT 15 HOURS AGO

ISLAMABAD: The government is seeking a joint mechanism with India and Afghanistan for joint watershed management and trans-boundary aquifer sharing to minimize the negative impact of development projects of neighbors.

Watershed management relates to the land and water management practices that can help protect and imp­rove the water quality, while aquifer refers to the underground layer of rock or minerals that holds water.

This is part of the National Water Policy, which also seeks to ensure 100pc metering of urban water uses, including drinking and sanitation. The policy finalised by the Centre and the provinces was on the agenda of the Council of Common Interests on Tuesday, but could not be taken up due to the prime minister’s political engagements.

A copy of the policy, seen by Dawn, concedes that the Indus Waters Treaty provided a mechanism for water-sharing with India, but its provisions on hydropower development across the line of control had the potential of threatening Pakistan’s water availability during low-flow periods.

The treaty also does not provide for minimum environmental flows downstream of the international boundary for the Eastern Rivers — whose waters lie with India — exposing the population living downstream to serious hazards.

It said that regional mechanisms involving more than two neighbours shall be explored for a viable solution to Pakistan’s growing vulnerability to hydro-meteorological disasters, owing to trans-border winter releases and stoppages at critical times of monsoon and during rabi and kharif planting seasons.

A mechanism shall also be worked out for sharing of trans-boundary aquifers and joint watershed management, including sharing of real-time water flow information.

A study would also be conducted to analyse the impact of challenges arising out of developments on the western rivers and examine measures to minimise the impact within the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty and international water laws.

The new policy acknowledged that water was a ‘highly under-priced commodity’ and its prevailing cost recovery through cess (known as ‘abiana’) was hardly able to meet a fraction of the operating and maintenance cost of the irrigation infrastructure.

The policy said that full financial sustainability shall be ensured to provide progressively safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. “This shall be facilitated by effective reduction in wastage, theft and reduction of non-revenue water and 100pc metering” while providing safety nets for impoverished communities.

A mechanism would be put in place by all the federal and provincial governments to charge all types of water use in order to ensure the recovery of the cost of repair and maintenance of water infrastructure.

For the first time, policy-makers seem to have recognised that freshwater is a finite resource, which cannot meet the unlimited demand of numerous users and that increasing population is a key factor for the increase in water demand.

The concept of “More Crop Per Drop” will be pursued to ensure food security through a national plan to improve irrigation methods and practices and introduce new varieties of crops of high yields and lower water consumption, resistant to heat stress, drought tolerant, and less prone to insects and pests.

Ground water tables will be managed to ensure that crop growth is not impeded and prevent land salinity or underground saltwater intrusion. It has been feared that continuous ground water extraction through tubewells could soon lead to the extraction of saltwater.

Rural water supply and sanitation services will be charged at affordable rates and it will be mandatory for the relevant agencies to keep the quality of drinking water, urban or rural, above specified standards.

A plan for flood zoning will be implemented to prevent losses to people living along river banks. For this, respective governments to restrict or prohibit permanent settlements in high and medium flood risk areas on the basis of zoning and mapping of the River Indus and its tributaries — Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Kabul and Swat.

The sources of surface and underground water will be diligently protected from contamination and maintained in a healthy state. Development of hydroelectric power will also be treated as a high priority objective.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2017

 

How Much Longer Until The Pakistani Army Overthrows The Civilian Government?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Dawn Leaks reflects larger problem of Pakistan Army undermining politicians

The standoff over Dawn Leaks Dawn Leaks reflects the larger problem of the Pakistan Army constantly trying to undermine the country’s political leadership.

WORLD Updated: May 02, 2017 20:12 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a ceremony to inaugurate the M9 motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad, in February 2017. (Reuters)

The standoff between the parallel power centres in Pakistan – the political government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military high command led by army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa – seems to have come to a head over the release of the report of the probe into Dawn Leaks.Based on the report, Sharif issued a series of instructions, including the sacking of his special assistant on foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi, and action against principal information officer Rao Tehsin. Within hours of the instructions being released, the army publicly rejected the measures.

More unusual was interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticising the army for using social media to give opinions on what was an internal matter that could have been addressed through proper channels.

It is clear that the army is unhappy with the action taken by the government over the probe into a report last year in the Dawn newspaper on differences between the military and the civilian set-up on tackling terror groups.

The army was represented on the inquiry committee by two representatives – the Inter-Services Intelligence agency nominee and one from Military Intelligence. Both had recommended strong action against journalist Cyril Almeida, who wrote the report in the Dawn, but the Sharif government did not consider this.

More important, the army is incensed over the fact that it considers the prime minister’s secretary, Fawad Hasan Fawad, as part and parcel of the problem. Instead, Fawad was used to issue Sharif’s instructions – which the army high command did not take to very kindly.

Most analysts say Dawn Leaks reflects a larger problem in Pakistan – the constant efforts by the army to undermine the political leadership.

“The army continues to challenge the government and keep it on the defensive. The whole idea is to keep the civilian government in a state of flux,” said Abid Hussain, an Islamabad-based journalist. Hussain said this is a cycle that keeps repeating in Pakistan: “Whenever civilians are in power, the military wants to show that politicians are corrupt and ineffective.”

As the general elections approach in 2018, there are expectations that Sharif will come back to power with a bigger mandate.

This is what the army high command is afraid of, say observers, who add that a Punjabi prime minister with a bigger mandate is the only political threat that the army high command faces. The last time Sharif had such a mandate, he was removed from power through a military coup. This time it would be more difficult.

What has become increasingly common is for the military to comment on issues outside its domain. Last month, the military spokesman commented that the army would welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict on corruption allegations against Sharif and his family based on the Panama Papers leaks.

This was a clear signal to the public that the military would not be adverse to Sharif stepping down. But the judgment, which it is rumoured came after much back-door lobbying by the ruling PML-N party, gave the prime minister a breather, much to the dismay of many in the corridors of powers.

Soon after, an army-led media campaign was started to condemn the meeting of Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal with the prime minister last week. The military has continued to lead the media in campaigns against the elected government.

Over the past few years, the army has acquired a TV channel and used aggressive advertising through its various commercial enterprises to buy over the rest of the big houses, with a few notable exceptions.

Despite all this, analysts said the army’s high command can see its role being reduced in the coming years. “Short of staging a coup, it is doing all it can to ensure that its military and economic empire continue to grow and its say in national affairs remains unchallenged,” said one analyst.

“What we are seeing are the last desperate acts of an emperor that senses its status as an unquestioned power is coming to an end.”

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New Delhi Makes It Plain: No Third Party Mediation With Pakistan On Kashmir/Jammu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER NEWS PAPER)

New Delhi had conveyed its position in the matter to all its foreign interlocutors in unequivocal terms, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay told reporters here.

His comments came in the wake of an article in the influential Chinese daily Global Times, suggesting that Beijing could consider mediating between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue to protect its economic interests. Notably the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also runs through Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). India has already conveyed its objection in the matter to Beijing.

The spokesperson said he normally did not react to newspaper reports. However, he would advise this segment of the Chinese media which carried the news report to first understand China’s own position on Kashmir clearly. As far as India was concerned, the Chinese position had been that Kashmir was an issue to be resolved by India and Pakistan.

When it was pointed out to him that Turkish President Erdogan had suggested multilateral talks to resolve the Kashmir issue in a television interview on the eve of his India visit, the spokesperson said the Turkish leader did not raise the matter in any way during his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

China Denies Shift In Stand On Kashmir Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR TIMES AND THE TIMES OF INDIA)

China denies shift in stand on Kashmir issue

PTI | May 3, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kashmir is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said
  • The CPEC project has not changed China’s stand on this issue
  • China sincerely wants this dispute to be resolved, he said

BEIJING: China on Wednesday denied that it has plans of mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue due to its investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying the $50 billion-project has not affected its stand that the vexed issue should be settled bilaterally.

China’s clarification came a day after an article in the Global Times said that Beijing now has a “vested interest” in mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue because of its hefty investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK.

“China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told PTI here.

He also said that China will play a “constructive role” for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.

“The building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) does not affect China’s position on this issue,” he said in a written response to a question about the article in the state-run Global Times, a ruling Communist Party of China publication.

“We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability. China is willing to make constructive efforts for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations,” Geng said.

The article yesterday sparked concerns about a shift in China’s stand on the Kashmir issue as India is averse to any third-party mediation.

The article had also sought to justify Chinese intervention in bilateral disputes on the grounds of protecting heavy investments being made by Beijing under its Silk Road initiative, which is officially called the ‘One Belt and One Road’ project.

The article had said China cannot turn a “deaf ear” to protect heavy investments by its firms in the CPEC and the Silk Road projects by continuing with its policy of non- interference.

Top Comment

I don’t see why we should be hostile? INDIA is maintaining what China is saying. “Solve Bilaterally” And that’s what India wants. China is just offering to Mediate but India can refuse. Ind… Read MoreAamir Fawaz

“Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan,” it had said.

This was perhaps the first time that the Chinese official media floated Beijing’s interest in playing a mediator role to resolve the Kashmir issue.

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