Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations, says Rajnath Singh

Even as frontier villagers continue the bear the brunt of Pakistani ceasefire violations, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says Islamabad must eventually stop firing at Indian villages.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2017 00:07 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops.
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops. (PTI)

Union home Rajnath Singh on Monday warned Islamabad to mend its ways and stop firing at Indian posts and villages along the 744 km long Line of Control and 198- km long International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh’s warning followed the latest ceasefire violation by the Pakistani army in Shahpur Kerni sector of Poonch district in the morning.

Addressing displaced border villagers at a relief camp in Nowshera town in Rajouri district, Singh said that he had told the BSF DG in 2014 that “we shouldn’t fire first but if they (Pakistani forces) fire even a single bullet then there should be no count of bullets from our side.”

He was accompanied by Union minister Jitendra Singh and Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh.

“The situation has improved from what it was in 2014 after security forces were authorised to retaliate strongly. It will improve further in the days to come. Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations today or tomorrow. I assure all of you that situation will improve in the coming days,” he said.

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Singh said he had told the director general of border-guarding force Pakistan Ranger in 2015 that Pakistan was resorting to firing violating certain protocols which should be respected and followed.

“India today is not a weak country anymore. It is a changed country under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. The world today has started acknowledging India as a force to reckon with. India’s image has changed across the world today,” he asserted.

Nowshera is the place from where the Indian army had launched its surgical strikes on September 29 last year on terror launch pads in Bhimber Gali area across the LoC.

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But since May this year, over 4000 people have been displaced from several villages along the LoC in Nowshera sector following several ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces.

These displaced people have been living in six relief camps. During their interaction with Singh, the migrants demanded that “bunkers” be set up at their homes along the LoC.

“Our first and foremost demand is that the government should set up bunkers in each of the border houses if we have to live again along the LoC. We need bunkers more than food,” Jangarh resident Parshottam Kumar, the president of the Border Migrants Coordination Committee, told Singh.

The home minister heaped praise on the border villagers describing them “strategic assets” of the country.

“Though no amount of money can ever compensate a human life, it was our government that raised the ex-gratia to the next of kin of those who die in Pakistani firing from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Those with more than 50% disability are also entitled for RS 5 lakh compensation,” he said.

Rajnath Singh said that the country was indebted to the border residents. He said he would ensure that 60% posts were kept reserved for the youth of border areas in recruitment drive for various central police and paramilitary forces.

The home minister began a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on September 9 as part of an exercise to find solutions to the problems that the state faces.

(With PTI inputs)

U.N. Criticizes India Over Journalist Murder And Handling Of Rohingya Refugees

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

UN rights commissioner criticises India over Gauri Lankesh murder, handling of Rohingya refugees

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said rights defenders working for India’s most vulnerable groups were being harassed or denied protection by the state instead of being seen as allies in building a more inclusive society.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2017 00:43 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.(REUTERS)

The UN high commissioner for human rights on Monday criticised India for the rise of religious intolerance and attacks on freedom of expression, including the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, as well as its handling of Rohingya refugees.

In unusually frank remarks made while addressing the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said rights defenders working for India’s most vulnerable groups were being harassed or denied protection by the state instead of being seen as allies in building a more inclusive society.

Al Hussein also criticised India and Pakistan for not cooperating with his office to assess the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

There was no official reaction from the Indian government to Al Hussein’s comments.

Al Hussein said he was “dismayed” by the rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India. “The current wave of violent, and often lethal, mob attacks against people under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows is alarming,” he said.

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Referring to attacks on people who speak out for fundamental human rights, he pointed to the murder last week of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who, he said, “tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred”.

Though Al Hussein said he was “heartened” by protests against Lankesh’s killing and other lynchings, he noted that rights defenders working for the most vulnerable groups, including people threatened with displacement by infrastructure projects such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam, were being subjected to harassment and criminal proceedings, or denied protection. Such groups, he added, should be considered allies in creating a more inclusive society.

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Al Hussein, who described the Myanmar government’s handling of the Rohingya issue as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, specifically targeted minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju for his stance on deporting Rohingya refugees.

“I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country,” he said.

“The minister of state for home affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion,” he said, noting that 40,000 Rohingyas had settled in India.

On Saturday, India asked Myanmar to handle the situation in Rakhine state with restraint while focussing on the welfare of both civilians and security forces. It also called for violence in the region to be ended expeditiously.

Al Hussein also regretted what he described as the “reluctance” of India and Pakistan to cooperate with his office on “human rights concerns”, including a failure to grant access to Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the LoC.

He said his office is remotely monitoring the rights situation in Kashmir in order to make the findings public in the near future.

Face It, China Totally Owns The BRICS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES FOREIGN AFFAIRS)

 

Investing #ForeignAffairs

Face It, China Totally Owns The BRICS

I cover business and investing in emerging markets.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Beijing on Friday, just two days before the opening of the annual BRICS Summit on Sept. 3. China is far and away the most powerful of the five BRICS. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Is it at all humiliating to the Russians, at least a little bit, that the Chinese are far and away the biggest, baddest BRICS nation? Russia used to be a world superpower. It’s a world oil power. A world nuclear power. But beyond that, China is more relevant to the world economy than the Russians.

Brazil. What about them? For years, the commodity bubble made it seem Brazil was on its way to becoming the runaway leader of Latin America, surpassing Mexico, which is basically a U.S. import market. Brazil was, and is, a more diverse economy than Mexico. They weren’t dependent on any one nation, really. Then the commodity bubble burst and Brazil’s purchasing power has dropped, putting it on par with China’s. GDP per capita is also similar. China’s Happy Meal toy making economy has grown up and is home to more new billionaires than anywhere else. And as leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa meet in Xiamen on Sept. 3, it is clear to everyone watching that China is the leader.

Russia needs China because it is in a never-ending feud with the West. They have two things in common, generally: commodities supply and demand, and a desire for a multi-polar world, though this is probably more Vladimir Putin’s thing than Xi Jinping’s. China is at least as dependent on the U.S. as Russia is dependent on Europe.

Brazil needs China because that’s where all of its soybeans and iron ore goes. Brazil’s agribusiness is vital to the economic recovery now just two quarters young. In May, China and Brazil launched a joint investment fund to increase productive capacity. The fund has an initial sum of $20 billion and will reportedly go to finance investment projects in Brazil (not in China) that are of interest to both countries. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, is already in China. He wants to convince them to buy airports and participate in other privatization bids as Brazil tries to trim more fat from its federal government.

Following the recent border skirmish, India can probably do without China. India’s main trading partners are the U.S. and United Arab Emirates. But if you include Hong Kong with China, then China is No. 2. More importantly, India’s imports are heavily dependent on the Chinese. Some $59 billion worth of Chinese imports moved into India in 2015, more than the No. 2 Sweden and No. 3 U.S. combined. Bilateral trade volume between China and India also rose by 21.5% year-on-year to $47.52 billion between January and July 2017, Indian customs data show.

South Africa needs China investment and Chinese buyers for its raw materials. China is its biggest export market, accounting for around $12 billion. That beats South Africa’s No. 2 partner, the U.S., with around $7 billion in exports, both based on 2015 figures.

China is a total beast. South Africa, Russia and Brazil are particularly at its mercy.

See: China-Like Wages Now Part Of U.S. Jobs Boom — Forbes

Rio de Janeiro Is A Complete Mess — Forbes

Trump Already Beat India On H1-B Visa Issue — Forbes

Guess Who Is Growing Sick Of Anti-Russia Sanctions? — Forbes

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Goa, India last year. India and China have agreed to pull back their troops from a face-off in the high Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, signaling a thaw in the months long standoff. It’s a relationship where China has more Aces up its sleeve than India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Although all five of these countries stand to gain from closer commercial ties, China is the one that will gain the most. China has just about enough money sitting in international reserves to equal the economic output of Brazil ($1.7 trillion)Russia ($1.3 trillion) and South Africa ($295 billion). It’s state owned enterprises have the funding to buy strategic assets abroad, like water and oil and gas infrastructure. And its new billionaires like Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, has his eyes set on being the Jeff Bezos of emerging markets. He basically already is.

The upcoming BRICS Summit will end on Sept. 5 with the usual rhetorical messaging and memorandums of understanding about how they will all accelerate trade, investment and technological know-how. China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Friday that China wants to deepen international cooperation in improving industrial capacity. In convincing their emerging market partners that they need to get more productive, China can sell them their new robotic technologies. All those Chinese workers replaced by automation, can work building the screws and attaching the wires and packaging up new robots to ship to Brazil instead.

A few BRIC country companies have big business in China, too. It is not entirely a one way street. Brazil’s Embraer jet manufacturer has a facility in southern China, and builds planes with their Chinese joint venture partner.

Russian investment bank, VTB Capital, set up shop in Shanghai in 2015.

India’s Tata Group family of companies is in China. IT firm Tata Consultancy Services is there, with the usual tie-up with a Chinese firm.  Tata Steel has two steel mills in China. Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has a JV with Chery Automobile to build the luxury cars in Changshu.

South Africa’s Old Mutual financial services firm used to have a foothold there but are now looking to dump their insurance unit, at least.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick snapshot of what China has accomplished, as outlined on Friday by China Daily:

  • Gezhouba Group announced March 30 that it will spend up to $200 million to acquire 100%  stake of Sistema Produtor Sao Lourenco, a water supply company in Brazil, China Daily first reported.
  • China Investment Corp partnered with Brookfield Asset Management in April to take a 90% percent stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste, a natural gas pipeline company owned by Petrobras.
  • Xiaomi enters the Russian smart phone market.
  • Shanghai-listed China Railway Group is building a $2.5 billion high-speed railway in Russia. The deal was announced in June.
  • Alibaba’s Ant Financial Unit opens up Alipay in cahoots with Russia’s VTB Group last month.
  • China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corp. inked a deal with Russia’s Gazprom in April to build an estimated $15 billion natural gas pipeline into China.
  • Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba, plans to build a data center in Mumbai by the end of next March, the company said on June 9.
  • Oil refiner Sinopec signed an agreement to buy 75% of Chevron South Africa’s assets for $900 million in March.

It is clear who is the big buyer and who is staking claim to turf long term. Brazil is selling; China is buying. South Africa is a seller, too. So when Putin and other leaders meet in China on Sunday, they will all know on many levels, that in terms of global finance and trade, they are no longer equals.

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How India and China Have Come to the Brink Over a Remote Mountain Pass

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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On a remote pass through Himalayan peaks, China and India, two nuclear-armed nations, have come near the brink of conflict over an unpaved road. It is one of the worst border disputes between the regional rivals in more than 30 years.

The road stands on territory at the point where ChinaIndia and Bhutanmeet. The standoff began last month when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered Chinese workers trying to extend the road. India responded by sending troops and equipment to halt the construction. China, the more powerful of the two, angrily denounced the move and demanded that India pull back.

Now soldiers from the two powers are squaring off, separated by only a few hundred feet.

The conflict shows no sign of abating, and it reflects the swelling ambition — and nationalism — of both countries. Each is governed by a muscular leader eager to bolster his domestic standing while asserting his country’s place on the world stage as the United States recedes from a leading role.

Jeff M. Smith, a scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council who studies Indian-Chinese relations, said a negotiated settlement was the likeliest outcome. But asked whether he thought the standoff could spiral into war, he said, “Yes I do — and I don’t say that lightly.”

Both sides have taken hard-line positions that make it difficult to back down. “The messaging is eerily similar,” Mr. Smith said, to the countries’ 1962 slide into a war that was also over border disputes.

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Why the Territory Matters

On the surface, the dispute turns on whether the land belongs to China or Bhutan. It is only about 34 square miles, but it is pivotal in the growing competition between China and India over Asia’s future.

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The dispute dates to contradictory phrases in an 1890 border agreementbetween two now-defunct empires, British India and China’s Qing dynasty, that put the border in different places. One gives Bhutan control of the area — the position that India supports — and the other China.

“This comes down to both countries having a reasonable claim,” said Ankit Panda, a senior editor at The Diplomat, an Asian affairs journal.

Bhutan and India say that China, by extending its road, is trying to extend its control over an area known as the Dolam Plateau, part of a larger contested area.

The plateau’s southernmost ridge slopes into a valley that geographers call the Siliguri Corridor but that Indian strategists know as the Chicken Neck.

This narrow strip of Indian territory, at points less than 20 miles wide, connects the country’s central mass to its northeastern states. India has long feared that in a war, China could bisect the corridor, cutting off 45 million Indians and an area the size of the United Kingdom.

India’s Aggressive Response

Few countries have been eager to confront China’s regional ambitions as directly with military forces, which has made India’s response to the construction so striking and, according to analysts from both countries, so fraught with danger.

But in recent months, India’s leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has shown that he is willing to flout China’s wishes — and ignore its threats.

Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Xi Jinping of China in Goa, India, in 2016. The border confrontation has soured relations. Both men attended the recent G-20 meeting in Germany but did not hold a one-on-one meeting that might have defused tensions. CreditManish Swarup/Associated Press

In April, a top Indian official accompanied the Dalai Lama to the border of Tibet, shrugging off China’s public insistence that the journey be halted. In May, India boycotted the inauguration of President Xi Jinping’s signature “One Belt, One Road” project, saying the plan ignored “core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The border skirmish arose even as Mr. Modi visited Washington to court President Trump’s favor as India vies with China for influence in Asia.

“I hope the Indian side knows what it’s doing, because the moment you put your hand in the hornet’s nest, you have to be prepared for whatever consequence there is going to be,” said Shiv Kunal Verma, the author of “1962: The War That Wasn’t,” about the bloody border conflict the two countries fought that year.

Chinese officials say the construction of the road was an internal affair because, they say, it took place within China’s own borders. On Tuesday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, reiterated the country’s warning to India to withdraw as a precondition for any broader talks. “The solution to this issue is also very simple,” he said during a visit to Thailand, addressing the Indians directly. “That is, behave yourself and humbly retreat.”

Bhutan, Caught in the Middle

Photo

Indian migrant workers at a construction near Paro, Bhutan, last year. India contributes nearly $1 billion in economic and military aid to the country’s budget. At the same time, China has sought to woo it with offers of aid, investments and even land swaps to settle border disputes. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Bhutan, which joined the United Nations in 1971, does not have diplomatic relations with China. It has always been closer to India, particularly after fears stemming from China’s annexation of Tibet, another Buddhist kingdom, in the middle of the 20th century.

Since then, India has played a central role in the kingdom’s administration, contributing nearly $1 billion in economic and military aid annually in recent years. China has sought to woo Bhutan with its own offers of aid, investments and land swaps to settle border disputes.

Two weeks after the construction began, Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it violated earlier agreements, and called for a return to the status quo.

“Bhutan has felt uncomfortable from the start,” said Ajai Shukla, a former army colonel and consulting editor for strategic affairs at Business Standard, a daily newspaper in India. “It does not want to be caught in the middle when China and India are taking potshots at each other. Bhutan does not want to be the bone in a fight between two dogs.”

Photo

Chinese and Indian soldiers at a border crossing between the two countries in India’s northeastern Sikkim state, in 2008.CreditDiptendu Dutta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The confrontation, meantime, has soured already tense relations.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi both attended the recent Group of 20 meeting in Germany but did not hold a meeting, one on one, that might have defused tensions. India’s national security adviser is expected to attend a meeting in Beijing this week, which analysts say could signal whether any face-saving compromise is possible.

Mr. Xi is preparing for an important Communist Party congress in the fall that will inaugurate his second five-year term as president and consolidate his political pre-eminence. Given the unbending nature of Chinese statements, few analysts believe he would do anything that would seem weak in response to India’s moves.

“It may be harder to make concessions until after that gathering,” Shashank Joshi, an analyst at the Lowy Institute, wrote in an essay posted on Friday, “while it may even suit Beijing to keep the crisis simmering through this period.”

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India, China Agree To ‘Expeditious Disengagement’ of Doklam Border Dispute

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

India, China agree to ‘expeditious disengagement’ of Doklam border dispute

A border dispute between India and China in the Himalayas appears to be deescalating.

Story highlights

  • Dispute is over territory in the Himalayas
  • Had brought back memories of a deadly 1962 border conflict between India and China

(CNN) India and China have agreed to deescalate a months-long territorial standoff in the Himalayas, ahead of a major economic summit involving both countries.

In a statement Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing.”
China’s official Xinhua news agency said India had withdrawn its personnel and equipment “that had crossed the border back to the Indian side.”
“Chinese personnel verified this at the scene,” Xinhua reported. “China will continue to exercise its sovereign rights and preserve its territorial sovereignty in accordance with historical border agreements.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet at the BRICS summit — alongside leaders from Brazil, Russia and South Africa — in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen later this week.

Diplomacy at work

The standoff between India and China, the two largest BRICS economies, comes as Beijing seeks to expand the five nation grouping to include other emerging nations, many of which are seen as sympathetic to China’s interests, according to Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai.
China has invited the leaders of Thailand, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and several other nations to the Xiamen conference.
But the quick deescalation of the situation ahead of the summit shows that Modi has withstood Chinese pressure and forced Beijing to back down, said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi.
The summit will provide a good opportunity to solve the two sides’ differences, he said, “provided the two sides understand that the time for posturing is over and diplomacy should be allowed to work.”
Dhruva Jaishankar, an analyst at Brookings India, said Monday’s announcement was a positive sign that “despite differences both sides can resolve their concerns about each other peacefully and through diplomatic channels.”
But Dan Wang, China analyst at the Economic Intelligence Unit, warned the “risk of both sides getting back to military standoff is not eliminated.”
“We are likely to see more spats and conflicts between China and India,” he said, adding that while outright conflict was unlikely, both countries may seek to punish each other economically by placing restrictions on Chinese and Indian firms accessing their respective markets.

Tense stand-off

The Doklam dispute began in July, over a thin strip of land bordering both countries and Bhutan, in the Himalayas. Though not a part of Indian territory, the area is close to the “chicken’s neck,” a strategic corridor that serves as a vital artery between Delhi and its far northeastern states.
The stand-off was sparked after Bhutan accused China of constructing a road inside its territory in “direct violation” of treaty obligations. China, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan, denied the accusation, contending that Doklam is part of Chinese territory.
India and Bhutan have maintained historically strong relations. Bhutan co-operates closely with India in determining its foreign policy, and the Indian Army is involved in the training of its armed forces.
Beijing accused India of sending troops into Bhutan, further escalating the dispute. In the weeks since, both countries had upped their military presence in the region, China engaged in live fire drills near the border, and a war of words erupted, culminating in a racist video published last month by China’s official Xinhua news agency in which a Chinese actor wearing a turban and fake beard mocked Delhi for “shooting itself in the foot.”

China and India have been engaged in multiple border disputes in recent months.

Long-running tension

The Doklam dispute is the latest in a long-running series of territorial flare-ups between India and China. In 1962, the two countries engaged in a bloody border war, and skirmishes have continued to break out sporadically in the decades since.
Bhutan quick facts

Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a small landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It lies on the border between India and China.

With a population of less than a million people, it is the second least populated country in Asia.

The country is officially a Buddhist kingdom, with the King of Bhutam Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as its head of state in a constitutional monarchy.

Bhutan is popular for being an exotic luxury holiday destination, with most tourists paying a flat rate of between $200 to $250 per day to experience its untouched natural beauty.

On June 26, China accused Indian border guards in the state of Sikkim of crossing into its territory in southwestern Tibet, in an attempt to obstruct the construction of a new mountain road.
India has not denied its troops were present in the area. According to a statement released by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indian personnel “approached the Chinese construction party and urged them to desist from changing the status quo.”
In response, China blocked religious pilgrims from India from visiting the Manasarovar shrine, accessible only via the Himalayan Nathu La that runs alongside the border between the two nations, “out of security concerns.”
The moves come at a time of steadily deteriorating ties between the two countries, say analysts, who point to Chinese investment in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Chinese frustration with India’s unwillingness to join its One Belt One Road (OBOR) development initiative as points of contention.

BSF kills 3 Pakistani Rangers in retaliatory fire in Jammu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

BSF kills 3 Pakistani Rangers in retaliatory fire in Jammu

The Indian border guards retaliated after the Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing in two separate places along the international border, according to a BSF officer.

INDIA Updated: Aug 27, 2017 00:34 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Three Pakistan Rangers were killed in retaliatory fire by the BSF after the Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing in two separate places along the international border in Jammu.
Three Pakistan Rangers were killed in retaliatory fire by the BSF after the Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing in two separate places along the international border in Jammu. (HT File Photo )

The Border Security Force (BSF) killed at least three Pakistani Rangers in retaliatory firing in two separate places along the Indo-Pakistan international border on Saturday.

BSF Jammu Frontier IG Ram Awtar told Hindustan Times over phone that the BSF eliminated a ranger at an area opposite to Arnia of RS Pura sector in Jammu district, where Pakistani forces opened sniper firing on Friday, injuring constable KK Apparao.

Two Rangers were eliminated opposite Dewra village in Sunderbani in a separate retaliatory fire, the IG added.

The Pakistani Rangers sniped Apparao when he was drinking water in BOP Budhwar in RS Pura of Jammu district, said another BSF officer.

A bullet was lodged above the jawan’s ear. He was operated upon last night and his condition is stated to be stable.

The rangers resumed unprovoked firing on Saturday afternoon firing four 51mm and two 81/82 mm mortars. Two mortars exploded in Dewra village in Sunderbani.

The BSF retaliated, killing two rangers, the officer added.

He said the Pakistani forces also resorted to unprovoked firing in Pargwal area of Jammu region around 2.50pm, prompting the BSF to retaliate.

There is no de-escalation in unprovoked firing from across the border even as the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers had “committed” themselves to maintaining peace at a commandant-level flag meeting in Samba sector on July 17.

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In the flag meeting, the two sides had agreed to re- energise instant communication between field commanders, whenever required, to resolve “petty matters”, a BSF official had said.

“They committed to each other to maintain peace and tranquillity at the international border,” the official had added.

Three days ago, senior army commanders of India and Pakistan also held a flag meeting on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector in J&K and agreed to institute mechanisms for durable peace and tranquillity on the border.

There has been a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan this year.

Pakistani forces since May had stepped up ceasefire violation along the LoC at Pir Panjal range in Rajouri and Poonch districts. Now they have opened another front in Jammu district.

Till August 1, there were 285 ceasefire violations by the Pakistani army while the number was significantly less at 228 for the entire year in 2016, according to an Indian army data

Eleven people, including nine soldiers, were killed and 18 injured in ceasefire violations by Pakistani army in July alone.

There were 83 ceasefire violations, one attack on border action team (BAT) and two infiltration bids from the Pakistani side in June in which four people, including three jawans, were killed and 12 injured.

In May, there were 79 ceasefire violations, according to officials.

Minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir visited Chamliyal outpost in Ramgarh area of Samba sector on Thursday to take stock of the prevailing border security scenario.

12 Dead In Riots After Indian Guru’s Rape Conviction

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

 

Vehicles set alight by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members burn in the streets of in Panchkula, India, Friday, Aug 25. —AP
Vehicles set alight by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members burn in the streets of in Panchkula, India, Friday, Aug 25. —AP

Mobs rampaged across a north Indian town, leaving 12 people dead and buildings in flames, after a court declared a quasi-religious sect leader guilty of raping two of his followers, according to police and a hospital doctor.

Police used water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowd. More than 15,000 paramilitary troops and police officers, some on horseback, were deployed in the town of Panchkula.

The violence so far had left 12 dead and more than 100 injured, according to Dr V.K. Bansal, chief medical officer at the state-run Panchkula’s Civil Hospital.

Mobs set fire to government buildings, and attacked police and TV journalists, smashing the windshields of media vans and breaking broadcast equipment.

The special court had announced the guilty verdict Friday after hearing closing arguments in the 15-year-old case against the guru, who calls himself Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan.

Ram Rahim Singh, who had denied the charges of raping the two women at his ashram in 2002, was taken into custody and would be housed in a jailhouse in the nearby town of Rohtak in Haryana state until his August 28 sentencing hearing, prosecutor H.P.S. Verma said.

Panchkula administrators had feared that a guilty verdict would trigger violence among the tens of thousands of followers who had camped overnight awaiting the verdict.

Violence also broke out in several places across the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, police said. Railway stations in the towns of Malout and Balluana were ablaze, and two coaches of an empty train parked in New Delhi’s Anand Vihar station were also set on fire.

Angry mobs also attacked police in the town of Sirsa, where the guru’s ashram is located, according to a local police control room.

The guru’s Dera Sacha Sauda sect claims to have some 50 million followers and campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. It has also taken up social causes such as organising the weddings of poor couples.

Such sects have huge followings in India. It’s not unusual for leaders to have small, heavily armed private militias protecting them.

When the guru left his ashram in Sirsa early Friday for the hearing, he was accompanied by a 100-vehicle convoy.

Police had erected heavy metal barricades topped with barbed wire along main roads in the town, a quiet residential suburb of Chandigarh, which is the common capital of Haryana and Punjab states.

“We are prepared to deal with any situation, but are confident that adequate measures have been put in place,” said B.S. Sandhu, a top Haryana police official, before the verdict was read.

Army soldiers planned to march later on Friday through the streets to garner a sense of security, Sandhu said.

Authorities ordered Internet and cellphone services shut down across both Haryana and Punjab as a security precaution.

Train services were canceled through the area, leading to railway delays across north India. Schools and colleges were closed.

The case was tried in a special court run by India’s top agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation. Such cases have prompted public violence in the past.

Clashes in 2007 between the Dera Sacha Sauda followers and members of the Sikh faith left at least three people dead in north India.

In 2014, six people were killed when followers of another religious leader, guru Rampal, fought pitched battles with police who were attempting to arrest him for contempt of court after he repeatedly failed to appear in court in connection with a murder trial.

In a televised appeal on Thursday, Ram Rahim Singh had asked his supporters not to resort to violence, but some said they would not tolerate a verdict that went against their leader.

“I consider guru-ji to be only next to God,” farmer Malkit Singh said as he squatted on the ground in a Panchkula park, saying Ram Rahim Singh had cured him of a decade-long addiction to drugs. “There is a God above,” he said. “Our guru-ji follows the path of truth.”

Indo-Pak commanders meet at LoC; agree to mechanism for durable peace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘STATE TIMES’ NEWS OF JAMMU/KASHMIR)

 

Indo-Pak commanders meet at LoC; agree to mechanism for durable peace

Army Commanders from India, Pakistan exchanging gifts after the meeting at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch Sector.

State Times News
JAMMU: Senior Army commanders of India and Pakistan on Wednesday held a flag meeting on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir against the backdrop of numerous ceasefire violations and agreed to institute mechanisms for durable peace and tranquility on the border.
At the meeting of Battalion Commander-level officers, the Indian side highlighted “abetment and support of the Pakistan Army to cross-border terrorism, sniping actions on the Line of Control and deliberate targeting of civil population during cease fire violations,” a defence ministry spokesman said here.
The two sides agreed to keep the channels of communication open between local commanders at the LoC, he said.
“Indian and Pakistan Army held a Battalion Commander- level flag meeting at Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch Sector at 1100 hours today, in the backdrop of numerous ceasefire violations and casualties to civilian population in the past several months,” the spokesman said
“The meeting lasted for 50 minutes in a cordial atmosphere,” he added. He said that both sides mutually agreed to the importance of exercising restraint on the LoC and keeping the channels of communication open between local commanders.
Both sides also agreed for necessity to institute mechanisms to ensure durable peace and tranquility along the Line of Control, the spokesman added.
Resumption of trade and transit through Chakan-Da-Bagh was also discussed during the flag meeting, he said.
The year 2017 has seen a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
Till August 1, there were 285 such violations by the Pakistan Army while in 2016, the number was significantly less at 228 for the entire year, according to the Army figures.
Eleven people, including nine soldiers, were killed and 18 injured in ceasefire violations by Pakistan Army in the month of July, the Army data says.
There were 83 ceasefire violations, one BAT (border action team) attack and two infiltration bids from the Pakistani side in June in which 4 people, including three jawans, were killed and 12 injured.
In May, there were 79 ceasefire violations, according to officials.

China Playing Indian Separation Card Is A Poor Choice

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GLOBAL TIMES OF CHINA)

 

Playing Indian separation card a poor choice

By Ding Gang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/23 19:28:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

After the border standoff between China and India erupted, some Chinese scholars asked: Since India supports “Tibet independence” forces, why doesn’t China play the card of Indian separation?

This question is premised on a long-standing view that India is a multi-ethnic country, its states retain traditional autonomy, and the forces that led to the partition of India in 1947 could easily rise again. From this point of view, China should seek to use the lever of supporting separatists to influence India.

This viewpoint is too superficial, and lacks understanding of how the internal unity of modern Indian society was formed. Understanding India should start from understanding Hinduism, and understanding today’s Hinduism needs understanding of the influence of the British colonialists on the revival of Hinduism in modern times.

Indian scholar Kavalam Madhava Panikkar wrote in his book A survey of Indian history that “Indian history is of necessity, predominantly the history of the Hindu people, for though other and potent elements have become permanent factors in India, the Hindus still constitute over eighty percent of her population. Besides, what is distinctly Indian has so far been Hindu.”

Traveling in India, one can easily spot scenery that is deeply influenced by Hinduism. Sometimes one would doubt if India is a secular country, as it claims to be. Even behind the border friction between China and India, there is an influence of Hinduism.

The national structure of India is unique. Some states have maintained their inherited autonomous style of governance and some are ruled by minority parties or non-mainstream ethnic groups. These states have a tendency toward separation.

But in essence, all the states belong to the big cultural circle of Hinduism. The system established by British colonists has offered opportunities for minority parties and ethnicities to develop under the framework of a united country.

The revival of the Hinduism can be attributed to the support of British colonists. Under British role, Islam was suppressed and the Hinduism began an unprecedented revival movement. But nationalism went along with this process, which eventually became the pillar of thought of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the independence movement against British colonial rule.

When the British withdrew, they divided India and Pakistan due to the regions’ different religious beliefs. This brutal division caused the deaths of at least 1 million, and led to destitution for several million people.

While it reinforced religious confrontation, it consolidated the foundation of nationalism with religion at the core.

India inherited the system established by British colonists, under which all parties can compete for power through the platform of elections. Local parties can develop into national ones, weakening their tendency for separation. Religion and the political system are the reasons why India for decades has remained chaotic but united.

Currently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expanding its influence nationwide. It controls 17 states out of 29, either independently or in the form of a coalition government. In the election in March this year, the BJP won a sweeping victory in the most populous state Uttar Pradesh. The basis of the rise of the BJP is Hindu nationalism.

However, nationalism is a double-edged sword. In addition to the conservative nature of Hinduism and the stability of the system, nationalism has become an obstacle for India to get rid of the constraints of religion and tradition and realize modernity.

Today, the Indian-style stability that is trapped in the contradiction between tradition and modernity and between secularism and religion has become an important starting point for the outside world to understand Modi’s reforms. This Indian-style stability is also embedded in India’s China policy and the Indians’ understanding of China’s rise.

Therefore, dividing India may not be an appropriate strategic option. This may only consolidate the foundation of national awareness that India is built on – religious nationalism.

The author is a senior editor with People’s Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. [email protected]

Posted in: ASIAN REVIEW

Trump has no understanding of the South Asian region,’ Imran says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

PTI Chairman Imran Khan criticizes Trump's South Asia policy in a press conference.─DawnNews
PTI Chairman Imran Khan criticizes Trump’s South Asia policy in a press conference.─DawnNews

US President Donald Trump has no understanding of the South Asian region, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday as he strongly criticised Washington’s recently-revealed South Asia policy.

A day earlier, Trump had announced his long-awaited South Asia policy, calling for greater troop deployment and Indian involvement in Afghanistan. In his speech, the US president had also lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”.

Addressing the press on Wednesday, Imran spoke about various elements of Washington’s new policy.

“Grave allegations have been made against Pakistan,” Khan said, referring to accusations made by Trump.

Khan said that the allegations signalled that Trump has “no understanding of the South Asian region or the dynamics of the ‘war on terror'” as he pointed out the sacrifices Pakistan has made in the fight.

The PTI chairman further questioned the role allotted to India in Afghanistan in the policy.

He said that while Pakistan has made sacrifices and fought a war “that is not ours,” India has been asked to become involved even though it does not share a border with Afghanistan.

“Pakistan got involved in the [war] even though not a single Pakistani was involved in 9/11. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan. It was not necessary for [Pakistan] to get involved in this war [as it was] not at fault,” Khan said.

The PTI chief further questioned why Pakistan was being held responsible for America’s policy failures in Afghanistan.

“Over 150, 000 Nato soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan [by America], billions were spent, thousands of Afghans were killed. The world’s most powerful military machinery could not control [the situation in Afghanistan] and Pakistan is being held responsible for the failures,” Khan said.

He asked what America would accomplish by deploying thousands more troops in Afghanistan when those already stationed there had not been able to win the war.

Khan also referred to Trump’s statement that “billions and billions” of dollars have been spent on Pakistan.

He said that the amount spent by Washington on Pakistan is minuscule in comparison to the losses Pakistan has suffered in the war against terror.

Khan also criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the Foreign Office for not putting out a strong statement in response to Trump’s “serious” allegations against the country.

“There has been no statement from the prime minister or the Foreign Office. Instead, China has come to Pakistan’s defense and issued a statement,” Khan said, calling on Abbasi to “send a strong message to the Americans”.

The Foreign Office had, in fact, put out a statement Tuesday night.

Khan also called on Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership to send a unanimous message to Washington that Trump’s statements are “unacceptable”.

The PTI chief further called for the holding of a special parliament session so that a consensus may be developed by the country’s leadership on the matter.

He said that his party has filed an adjournment motion in the National Assembly for this purpose.