India: Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

INDIA Updated: Sep 22, 2019 10:28 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (Photo: ANI)

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 04:45 I ST

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)

 

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

WATCH | Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?

Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?
“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.
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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2019 09:52 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times,
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019.
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

Pakistan has submitted to the UNHRC a “joint statement” on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir which it said was supported by some 60 countries that it didn’t publicly identify, triggering questions about the backing for the move.

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

A member of the Pakistani delegation at the UNHRC in Geneva said a list of these countries would be handed over to the Indian delegation but people familiar with developments said this hadn’t happened.

The people cited above said the statement reportedly had the backing of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Pakistan’s all-weather ally China.

However, diplomats from several OIC member states, such as Indonesia, distanced themselves from the move during their interactions with their Indian counterparts, the people said.

“The fact that the list hasn’t been made public means there is something amiss. Pakistan could have sounded out the countries privately but these countries haven’t publicly spoken on the issue,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also watch | ‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet

‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet | J&K-Art 370
India delivered a stinging riposte to Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
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The Indian side is keeping a close eye on Pakistan’s efforts to present a resolution or push for an “urgent debate” on Kashmir at the UNHRC but the prevalent view in New Delhi is that Islamabad won’t be able to muster the numbers to take either of them forward, the people said.

“A simple majority of UNHRC members present and voting is required for a resolution or an urgent debate. Abstentions will reduce it further,” said a person who didn’t want to be named.

The UNHRC has 47 members from across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and Indian diplomats have mounted an extensive outreach programme in New Delhi and key capital to shore up support for the country’s position on the Kashmir issue.

The people said out of the UNHRC’s members, only China and Pakistan had mentioned the Kashmir issue in their national statements while others made no reference to it at all, reflecting greater understanding for India’s position.

Pakistan’s joint statement referred to the “worsening” rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated several of the demands raised by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his speech at the UNHRC on Tuesday.

It said the world community should seek the protection of fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people, immediate ending of the communications shutdown and release of detained people, immediate halt to use of force, access for human rights groups and international media and setting up of a UN commission of inquiry to probe alleged rights violations.

It also sought the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions”.

There was no response to the joint statement from Indian officials. However, the Indian delegation at the UNHRC said on Tuesday that Pakistan is using the Kashmir issue to support jehad and cross-border terrorism. It also said the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganisation of the state were “entirely internal to India”.

Also read | ‘Created a lot of terror’: Lashkar terrorist who shot at Kashmiri toddler killed

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 00:00 IST

India: Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

According to an intelligence input, Pakistan has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks.There are also reports of a Pakistan plan to carry out a “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days.

INDIA Updated: Sep 09, 2019 09:43 IST

Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar(AFP file photo)

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the government about the deployment of additional Pakistani troopers along the border near Rajasthan and said Islamabad has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks, according to two officials aware of the developments. HT has also accessed an input issued in this regard.

According to the input, Pakistan is planning “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days in response to the government’s move to revoke Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir some autonomy and prevented non-residents from buying property and getting government jobs in the state. The input warned that Pakistan has started deploying additional troops near the Rajasthan border as part of the plan.

The input has been conveyed to the respective Border Security Force and army field formations in Jammu and Rajasthan sectors “to avoid any surprises” from the Pakistani army and the troops have been asked to remain alert, the officials cited above said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday threatened “fullest possible response” to India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan added the global community would be responsible for any “catastrophic” aftermath as he continued his rhetoric amid rising tensions with New Delhi since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

The comments by Khan, who last week said there was a risk of India-Pakistan war, came on a day Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said they were prepared to “go till any extent”. Bajwa added they were ready to “give sacrifices for our Kashmiri brothers, fulfil our duty till the last bullet, last soldiers and last breath”.

Amid rising tensions between the two countries, the IB input said Pakistan has “secretly” released Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar to plan terrorist operations while other terror organisations were also working openly. There were uncorroborated reports after the February 14 car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that Pakistani agencies had taken Azhar into protective custody.

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Navy chief reveals intel of Jaish-e-Mohammad training ‘underwater wing’
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, revealed that intelligence alerts suggest that Jaish-e-Mohammad is providing training to its ‘underwater wing’.
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JeM took responsibility for the attack in which 40 paramilitary troopers were killed and prompted India to carry airstrikes on the group’s camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.

One of the officials cited above said Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had no inkling that the Indian government would revoke Article 370 on August 5. “It is being considered the ISI’s biggest intelligence failure in history and now they are under pressure to act,’’ the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official added while the Pakistani army will try to play mischief, militants like Azhar have been unleashed to carry out terror attacks in India. “Pakistan may try to use the current situation and the Indian government’s focus in Jammu and Kashmir to target somewhere else.”

Azhar, who is wanted in India for several attacks, including the 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, was among four people declared as individual terrorists on August 4 under a new anti-terror law passed in August.

In an interaction with journalists on Saturday, national security adviser Ajit Doval said Pakistan is trying to create trouble and some 230 terrorists have been spotted across the border.

There have been sporadic skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border since August 5. Army chief General Bipin Rawat told HT last week that Pakistan has reopened terror training camps and attempted to push infiltrators. He said that the Indian Army is ready for any eventuality.

Internal security expert Ajay Sahni said Pakistan sees the abrogation of Article 370 as a provocation and has to be seen doing something about it, saying: “Also, Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from the international community over terrorism, failing the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] yardsticks, the economic situation, and others, which are limiting its capacity to respond. It is difficult to predict how Pakistan will respond.” Sahni, however, cautioned against taking all the IB inputs at face value.

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 05:27 IST

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

INDIA Updated: Sep 08, 2019 09:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Singapore
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

With a crucial UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session beginning on Monday, New Delhi’s aim is to ensure that Pakistan does not secure any outcome on Kashmir. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi personally leads the charge against India in Geneva from September 9 to 12.

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

According to diplomats and security officials based here, Geneva and New Delhi, while foreign minister S Jaishankar has personally contacted or visited each and every member of the 47-member UNHRC, national security adviser Ajit Doval has managed the internal situation in Kashmir. The government will stress the fact that not a single life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces. The vital political aspect of Kashmir is being handled by home minister Amit Shah.

The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.

Also Watch | Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move

 

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Hindustan Times’ executive editor Shishir Gupta explains how the trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval orchestrated the move to bring about this landmark decision on Kashmir of revoking the contentious Article 370.
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According to diplomats, Pakistan will first assess the situation before it either calls for an urgent debate or resolution at the UNHRC. If Pakistan moves for an urgent debate by writing a letter to the UNHRC president, then the matter will be put to a simple majority vote with absentees or abstentions not being counted. The other option for Pakistan is to move a resolution citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, but this will also be put to vote. However, the matter is tedious as China and the UK (in the first round) took Pakistan’s side on August 16 at the UNSC. The eventual result, though was a knockout totally in favour of India with the US, France and Russia against the outcome.

Since the August 5-6 resolutions and laws that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar has been on the move, travelling to China, Indonesia, the Maldives, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Hungary explaining the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir. He has engaged Indian Ocean rim countries and others including South Africa, Fiji, Australia and the Philippines over the phone to defeat Pakistani designs. He is currently in Singapore working away the phones as he has been tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince UNHRC members that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.

On Friday, speaking at the HT-MintAsia summit in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries accepted that the Indian move to nullify Article 370 was an internal issue. “They think it’s an Indian issue. They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out,” the minister said.

Doval bears the onerous task of handling the internal security situation in Kashmir and ensure that innocents are not used as cannon fodder by Rawalpindi general headquarters (GHQ) to project alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Interacting with reporters in Delhi, Doval made it clear that more than 230 jihadists were waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate India and spread mayhem in the Valley at the behest of their Pakistani handlers.

Reeling out the figures, Doval, who handled the J&K internal security on the ground till August 15, said that contrary to some reports, medical services in the region haven’t been hit: at least 400,000 people have been treated, 35,000 admitted and 11,000 operated upon for a variety of ailments since August 5, he explained. He said all landline connectivity has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir with some amount of mobile connectivity in Jammu, Ladakh and two districts ( Kupwara and Handwara) in Kashmir. Internet kiosks have been opened in all 10 districts of Kashmir with a minimum five terminals apart from 12 counters with internet access also available at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar. There are eight internet terminals working at the media centre in Srinagar.

According to the NSA, restrictions on movement have been lifted from 92% of the state and are in place now in only 11 out of 199 police station areas in the region. More than 1.67 metric tons of apples have been transported and ~98 crores disbursed through ATMs in the state to date, he added, listing two other issues that have been highlighted — the status of the apple trade and the availability of cash. Schools too are open, he told reporters.

However, Doval added that Indian agencies have intercepted messages that point to efforts to disrupt the movement of the trucks carrying apples. This is the peak apple season and the trade in Kashmir is worth around Rs 15,000 crore a year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 05:38 IST

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

INDIA Updated: Sep 07, 2019 06:18 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

New Delhi
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”

President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.

Asked if President Kovind during his talks with the leaders there will also brief them on Kashmir, ministry of external affairs secretary (west) A Gitesh Sarma did not give a direct reply and said “when leaders meet, there is a structure in which regional, international, global, multilateral and issues of national concern” are discussed.

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

Briefing reporters on the nine-day visit, Sarma said, “We always use these opportunities to brief each other. Just as we have issues, each of these countries have their own concerns. So this is a very good setting to hear it at the highest level what our perspective is and what is theirs. So, we will certainly use these opportunities as we can to acquaint them of our concerns.”

On J&K, these countries are very sympathetic to India with respect to the terror incidents earlier in this year, he said and added that they all understand that we all need to work together.

“This year also in the context of the Pulwama attack, their sympathies have been with India. Even though they have themselves not faced such challenges as we continue to face, they are nevertheless aware that they need to work closely with india,” he said. There is a very good understanding on most of these issues, he said.

President Kovind will first arrive in Iceland on September 9 and will hold talks with Iceland President Gudni Johannesson and Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdottir. The President’s next stop will Switzerland from September 11-15 where he will meet President Ueli Maurer and members of the Swiss cabinet, Sarma said. He will arrive in Slovenia on September 15. During his visit there, Kovind will hold extensive discussions with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec.

First Published: Sep 07, 2019 05:18 IST

India: ‘J&K move timed to avoid fresh violence, checkmate Pak’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘J&K move timed to avoid fresh violence, checkmate Pak’: Army chief Bipin Rawat

FATF, a multilateral watchdog, placed Pakistan on its “grey list” in June 2018 for failing to counter fund-raising by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

INDIA Updated: Sep 05, 2019 08:21 IST

Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
New Delhi
Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat visited troops on the Line of Control to review prevailing situation and operational readiness of the units of White Knight Corps. The army chief said he was offering a peaceful gesture towards the terrorists and appealed them to stop the bloodshed.
Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat visited troops on the Line of Control to review prevailing situation and operational readiness of the units of White Knight Corps. The army chief said he was offering a peaceful gesture towards the terrorists and appealed them to stop the bloodshed. (ANI Photo)

One month after the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has backed the timing of the move, and called upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the militants to give peace a chance.

“Another phase of violence was going to start and the timing was right because Pakistan was also under pressure of being placed on theblack list by the Financial Action Task Force. I told the government the army would provide the military support it needed to implement the decision,” Rawat said in an interview with Hindustan Times,

FATF, a multilateral watchdog, placed Pakistan on its “grey list” in June 2018 for failing to counter fund-raising by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Following an assessment meeting in June in Florida, it urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan to counter terror financing by October 2019. “Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress,” the watchdog said, indicating it may place the country on its “black list”, which entails harsher financial sanctions.

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched a scathing attack on Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. He said that Kashmir has never been a part of Pakistan and hence it has no locus standi to speak on the issue.
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In the interview, the army chief said the people of Kashmir and the militants should give peace a chance.

“There has been violence for 30 years and you have been through difficult times. Leave the anger behind and give peace a chance,’’ Rawat said.

He said he was offering a “peaceful gesture” to the terrorists. “We are not going after the terrorists because we don’t want a gunfight to vitiate the atmosphere. I don’t want to lay cordons and conduct searches, but we have to clap with both hands. Think about it and drop your guns. This generation has not seen peace,” he said.

The general blamed “some instigators” for continuing restrictions, saying the minute the curbs were relaxed, there is trouble and the Valley is locked down again. “The instigators are not allowing the benefits of the process of integration (through the nullification of Article 370) to come in.”

On August 5 and 6, Parliament effectively revoked Article 370 of the Constitution that conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35A that reserved benefits like government jobs and property ownership for people deemed to be permanent citizens of the state. The state is to be divided into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Pakistan has stepped up re-opening terror training camps and attempting to push infiltrators across the line of control. Asked about Pakistan’s continuing war rhetoric, Rawat said, “I am ready for whatever Pakistan wants. If it wants a BAT (border action team) action, I am ready. If it wants limited action with India, I am ready and if it wants war with India, the Indian army is ready.”

Rawat said that Pakistan has only exposed itself through its rhetoric. It was telling the world that it was not sending terrorists to India but by speaking up now, it is in effect owning up to its support of terror.” You cannot prepare terrorists in 15 days. On the line of control, we remain ever prepared and in the Valley, we remain every deployed,” he said.

Asked if the rising anger in the Valley would lead to more local Kashmiris joining the ranks of militants, he said, “Whether there are 300 or 500, we are concerned with their capacity to strike. If they strike, who will it affect? Violence is detrimental to the local Kashmiri and the loss is not of the Indian establishment.”

Firmly denying allegations of torture and of his men telling Kashmiri women that they would now marry them, Rawat said, “Kashmiris are very good at maligning the forces to the media. Our men do not do this. Give me the name of one of my men and I’ll punish that man. We are running goodwill schools and the attendance is better there than in other schools. If we are so bad, why do you come to us?”

Defending the government’s move to nullify Article 370, Rawat said, “The only way to address the alienation was by removing the Article. We want to embrace the Kashmiri by becoming one integrated nation.”

Asked if the battle for the hearts and minds of Kashmiris was being lost, the general said, “Battles are not lost in one month. The government is looking at easing pressure and removing restrictions gradually.”

First Published: Sep 04, 2019 23:33 IST

Imran Khan hypes Kashmir situation, personally targets PM Modi: Ex-US diplomat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Imran Khan hypes Kashmir situation, personally targets PM Modi: Ex-US diplomat

Former US ambassador Tim Roemer said US policy should remain steady toward strategic relations with India and push Pakistan for real results.

WORLD Updated: Sep 02, 2019 07:57 IST

Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service

Washington/New Delhi
Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (Photo @pid_gov)
Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (Photo @pid_gov)

Tim Roemer, former US ambassador to India who was responsible for broadening and deepening the US-India partnership, has accused Pakistan PM Imran Khan of increasing the volatility of the region and urged that the US policy should “remain steady towards strategic ties with India”, and push Pakistan for “real results” on anti-terror cooperation.

In a tweet, tagging Imran’s opinion piece in the NYT where he has threatened the world with the specter of a nuclear war over Kashmir, Roemer said: “Pakistan PM Imran Khan hypes the Kashmir situation, personally attacks PM Modi, and increases the volatility in the region. US policy should remain steady toward strategic relations with India, emphasize CT cooperation, and push Pakistan for real results.”

A few days ago, Roemer had condoled the passing away of former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He tweeted: “Recent passing of my friend, Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley. He was a bridge builder, brilliant lawyer, and huge cricket fan. The people of India will miss a dedicated public servant.”

He was American ambassador to India from 2009 to 2011 during the Presidentship of Barack Obama. He oversaw the implementation of several key policies and initiatives, including increasing cooperation, technology transfer and commercial sales in the defense and space industries. He also oversaw signing of the Counter terrorism Cooperation Initiative with India to further expand cooperation in areas such as intelligence and homeland security, border security, money laundering and terrorist financing; and working with the United States to assist India on its Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership. He also stressed on commerce and exports, helping move India from America’s 25th-largest trading partner to 12th.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Sep 02, 2019 07:48 IST

India: Center working on a plan to create 50,000 jobs in Jammu and Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Center working on new plan to create 50,000 jobs in Jammu and Kashmir

The measures include a paramilitary and military recruitment drive in the two newly-formed Union territories and efforts to develop the food processing and dairy industries, an official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity.

INDIA Updated: Aug 27, 2019 23:42 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Centre is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development.
The Center is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development. (AP Photo)

The Center is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development.

The measures include a paramilitary and military recruitment drive in the two newly-formed Union territories and efforts to develop the food processing and dairy industries, an official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity. The government is considering recruiting as many as 50,000 young people for the paramilitary forces from Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Tuesday held a high-level inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the measures to be rolled out. “A meeting was held with various departments to access the implementation of central schemes in Jammu and Kashmir and initiatives to be taken to expedite the return of normalcy,” a home ministry spokesperson said without giving details.

The Center stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divided it into two Union territories earlier this month. Restrictions were imposed on people’s movement and telecom connectivity was suspended as a pre-preemptive measure to prevent unrest and protests against the move.

The government has said that curbs are being removed in a phased manner. High schools in areas unlikely to witness agitations will be opened from Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said.

Officials said the proposed development measures will be presented before the Union cabinet soon. The measures to be announced are primarily aimed at achieving fast-paced development, helping the young acquire skills for employment, they added.

Officials said a pilot project is being launched in seven districts of the Kashmir Valley and two in the Jammu region and Ladakh. They added district-level “skill planning” committees will also be formed and will comprise industry representatives, academics and corporate entities. Developing the food-processing and dairy industries will be one of the keys areas of focus, they added.

Officials said the Center was keen that the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh understand the benefits of the removal of Constitution’s Article 370 that gave the erstwhile state special status.

“The Centre is keen that the people understand that removal of special status is not detrimental but on the contrary beneficial for them and the next generation,” said a government official, who is a part of the exercise of rolling out the measures, on condition of anonymity.

The government is also considering opening career counselling centers. And with the help of the corporate sector, it also wants to hold “job melas,” or fairs, in the Union territories.

First Published: Aug 27, 2019 23:28 IST

India: Government to push Aadhaar enrollment in Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Government to push Aadhaar enrollment in Kashmir

The process will accelerate once the bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories is complete on October 31, the officials added.

INDIA Updated: Aug 27, 2019 07:30 IST

Rajeev Jayaswal
Rajeev Jayaswal

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory.
The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

The Center plans to intensify Aadhaar enrollments in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), particularly the Kashmir Valley where the penetration of the unique ID that is the key to government benefits is very low, so as to ensure that benefits of welfare schemes reach to all residents, three government officials said requesting anonymity.

The process will accelerate once the bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories is complete on October 31, the officials added.

“Aadhaar is a successful tool for the transfer of subsidies and implementation of welfare schemes. The government is committed for development of J&K, and Aadhaar will be one of the key tools that will help the Center in fulfilling its commitment,” one of the officials said.

Although Aadhaar coverage in J&K has reached about 78%, there are pockets where its penetration is still very low, the official said referring to the Aadhaar dashboard run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the statutory authority that is mandated to issue the Aadhaar numbers to Indian residents.

The Lok Sabha on August 6 gave its nod to the resolution scrapping special status to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and paved way for the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories – J&K (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature). The Rajya Sabha passed the resolution on August 5. The President, on August 9, gave ascent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The changes will facilitate the complete integration of the region with India and ensure that all welfare programs of the Center apply to the erstwhile state as well, Union home minister Amit Shah said in Parliament.

Also Read| India’s Jammu and Kashmir move historic blunder: Imran Khan

Aadhaar enrollment has been happening in J&K but certain areas, mainly in the Valley, need special attention, which can be done through banks, post offices and Common Services Centers (CSCs), a second official said. The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) is willing to open CSCs at panchayats for this purpose, this person added. About 300,000 CSCs help the Center in implementing its eGovernance programs throughout the country.

“An intensive campaign [for Aadhaar enrollment] is expected after October 31 and CSCs need no more than a week to launch it in the entire J&K,” the first official said. The purpose of the government is to ensure that every household in the Valley must get benefits of Central schemes such as Ujjwala yojana, he explained.

Also Watch: Shehla Rashid defends tweets alleging army excesses in Jammu & Kashmir

 

Shehla Rashid defends tweets alleging army excesses in Jammu & Kashmir
Former JNU student Shehla Rashid has defended her tweets where she accused the Army of torturing people in the Kashmir valley following the abrogation of Article 370.
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Spokespersons of UIDAI and MeitY did not immediately respond to queries seeking comment.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), was launched by the Narendra Modi government on May 1, 2016 to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households especially in rural areas. The deposit-free cooking gas connections have not only helped more than 70 million poor households but also generated tremendous amount of goodwill to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory.

First Published: Aug 27, 2019 05:44 IST