India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

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

 

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 00:01 IST

HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times
kartarpur corridor,nanaksahib gudwara,guru nanak
India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.(PTI)

India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

The efforts to “promote secessionist tendencies” to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is of “grave concern,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi.

Refused access and prevented from entering the shrines, Indian diplomats returned to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims, the MEA said. This is the third time in a row that Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been harassed and not allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims citing security reasons, it said.

The spat came just a day after New Delhi and Pakistan decided to develop a corridor on their respective sides of the border to let Sikh pilgrims visit the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of river Ravi in Pakistan. The incident is an indication of the fragile relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“It is not surprising that this happened. Pakistan is using Khalistan issue like before. Now, of course, with elements from Canada and the UK, Pakistan is trying to rekindle the issue. Pakistan provides support to these people in the gurdwaras, then prevents our diplomats from getting access to the gurdwaras and pilgrims,” said Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary.

Recently, in Amritsar – another holy site for the Sikh faith – grenades were launched at a religious congregation, killing three people and injuring several others.

Later, investigations by the Punjab police showed the grenades were Pakistani-made. The attack, Punjab police said, had been instigated by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and leftover pro-Khalistan elements sheltered by Pakistan.

Interestingly, among those who prevented Indian diplomats was the controversial figure Gopal Singh Chawla, who has earlier been seen with Hafiz Sayeed of the Jammat-Ud-Dawa who is wanted in India for several terror strikes, including the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror strikes in which 166 people were killed and over 300 were injured.

“India has today lodged a strong protest with the government of Pakistan that despite having been granted prior travel permission by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, the Consular officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad were harassed and denied access on November 21 and 22 at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib and Gurudwara Sacha Sauda,” the MEA said in a statement.

New Delhi also said that “Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999.”.

The Indian pilgrims are visiting Pakistan under a bilateral protocol.

“Pakistan has been reminded that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially as we commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji,” the MEA said.

The MEA called the denial of access an attempt to deflect attention from Pakistan’s violation of international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Pakistan has been reminded that this is in contrast to the treatment meted out to their high commissioner and the consular officials in New Delhi who have been provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims who are currently in India on a pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif, the MEA said.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 23:31 IST

‘Trump-Modi nexus’ could spell disaster for regional peace: AJK president

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER DAWN)

Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan in a statement on Tuesday warned that a “Trump-Modi nexus” could spell disaster to regional peace.

The statement follows a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the run-up to which the US State Department had designated Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist and slapped sanctions on him ─ a move slammed by the Foreign Office today as ‘completely unjustified’.

Read more: Unjust to designate supporters of Kashmiri struggle as terrorists: FO

The White House had called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, a statement from the White House said.

Sardar Khan, who retired from the foreign service of Pakistan as a career diplomat, claimed that the US had always deceived Pakistan and its latest decision was yet another example of it.

“The US has never acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices despite the latter’s being a frontline state in the war against terrorism,” he said.

Khan questioned the justification of the US decision, claiming that the Hizbul Mujahideen had been struggling solely for freedom of India-held Kashmir (IHK), and was neither linked to any terrorist group nor had resorted to any action outside IHK.

“In fact, it’s the Indian army committing terrorism in occupied Kashmir. Ignoring the genocide of Kashmiris by Indian army and declaring freedom fighters as terrorists is a criminal departure from international humanitarian and democratic norms by the US,” he claimed.

Kashmiris protest US move

Hundreds of people from different walks of life staged a rally in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to condemn the US administration’s decision of designating Salahuddin a terrorist.

Demonstrators started the rally from Muzaffarabad’s famous Burhan Wani Chowk, named after a Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed by Indian forces in IHK last year.

Just in front of them, a large Indian tricolour flag was also placed on the ground with two young children standing on it.

Amid loud anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, it was later torched by the demonstrators.

Representatives of separatist groups and political parties took strong exception to the decision which they termed a reprehensible attempt by the Trump administration to please India.

Speaking at the rally, Khawaja Farooq Ahmed, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and a former AJK minister, claimed it was the weak foreign policy of the PML-N led government in Islamabad that had encouraged the Trump administration to take this step during Modi’s visit.

“If you are serious in your avowals of extending diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris, then you should show some strength and as a first step summon the US and Indian envoys in [the] Foreign Office to lodge [a] protest over this unfair decision,” he said, addressing the federal government.

Ahmed also asked the AJK government to give a strike call on both sides of disputed Kashmir, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given for February 28, 1974, to express rejection of the US decision.

“All political parties and mujahideen groups should be taken on board to make this strike a historic one,” he said.

PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir and several others also spoke on the occasion.

Pakistan hopes India will support Saarc Summit, says Pak diplomat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Pakistan hopes India will support Saarc Summit, says Pak diplomat

Pakistan is hopeful that India will attend the Saarc Summit to be held in Islamabad later this year as the two sides need to move beyond their differences.

WORLD Updated: Jun 12, 2017 23:40 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India-Pakistan relations
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay (left) looks on as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (centre) walks past Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Saarc Summit in Kathmandu in 2014. (Reuters)

Pakistan hopes India will attend the Saarc Summit expected to be held in Islamabad later this year, a top Pakistani diplomat said on Monday, adding the two countries need to move beyond differences.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Shangani Cooperation Organisation (SCO) event in Beijing, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the deputy head of the Pakistani mission, said it is important for both countries to strengthen the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

“We really hope that Saarc, which is our regional organisation to move beyond the differences…that India would be able to come to Pakistan for the summit because in the end we are neighbours,” Baloch said.

India pulled out of last year’s Saarch Summit in Pakistan after a string of terror attacks blamed on Pakistan-based militants, leading to a pullout by Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The summit was subsequently cancelled.

It’s still not clear whether the summit will be held at the end of this year either, given India’s position on Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terror.

Baloch, however, indicated that Islamabad is working to holding the summit.

She played down speculation that the inclusion of India and Pakistan in the SCO would lead to disruptions in the Beijing-led security bloc’s agenda.

“It is an important organisation for Pakistan and it is an important organisation for India. This is not an organisation to settle disputes. This is an organisation to work for the region and for common challenges and work for common development,” she said.

Pakistan, she said, hoped the inclusion of the two countries will contribute to our “region’s development and more understanding between all parties in the SCO”.

Talking about possible cooperation within the SCO framework, Baloch said: “Of course, when you work together (in the same organisation), you are in the same organisation, you have opportunities to resolve many of the issues.

“With the increase of the membership with the inclusion of Pakistan and India, we have made this organisation more inclusive and we will be able to work together to fight common challenges.”

Speaking earlier, secretary general Rashid Alimov said the SCO’s convention on “countering extremism has become the collective response of the SCO member-states to the growing threat of this dangerous phenomenon for humanity”.

He added, “The convention is aimed at improving the mechanism for countering extremism in the SCO area (and) developing the provisions of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025.”

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

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Dawn Leaks reflects larger problem of Pakistan Army undermining politicians

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

WORLD Updated: May 02, 2017 20:12 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Islamabad Pakistan: At Least 434 Militants Have Laid Down Their Weapons

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER NEWSPAPER)

Islamabad: At least 434 militants have layed down arms in Quetta, the capital city of Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province on Friday.

The Geo TV said that a ceremony was held in Balochistan assembly to mark the inclusion of the militants in the national mainstream.

Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, senior army officers, provincial ministers and other government officials attended the ceremony, Xinhua news agency reported.

The militants belonged to different groups including Baloch Republican Army, Baloch Liberation Army, and different districts of the province.

Addressing the ceremony, Zehri said that the provincial government will provide all possible support to those laying down arms.

“It is our national and moral obligation,” he said.

He said that extremist elements used innocent people of the province to kill other innocent people.

Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said that so far over 1,500 militants have surrendered

Pakistan sounds alarm over ‘nuclearisation’ of Indian Ocean by India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Pakistan sounds alarm over ‘nuclearisation’ of Indian Ocean by India

WORLD Updated: Feb 13, 2017 08:52 IST

IANS
IANS
Islamabad

Pakistan

Pakistan says Indian Ocean faced challenges to peace due to its militarization, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, increased missile capabilities and power projection by foreign militaries.(AFP File Photo)

Pakistan is determined to counter growing threats to peace in the Indian Ocean, particularly from its “nuclearisation” by India, foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said.Aziz on Saturday said the Indian Ocean faced challenges to peace due to its militarization, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, increased missile capabilities and power projection by foreign militaries, Dawn online reported.The foreign affairs advisor also listed piracy, illegal fishing; human, drugs and arms smuggling; maritime pollution and climate change as major problems.

“This trend is likely to intensify in the coming years,” he warned at the ‘International maritime conference on strategic outlook in Indian Ocean region, 2030 and beyond – evolving challenges and strategies’.

“We are aware of our national interests and every effort will be made to strengthen our capacity to ensure that we remain ready to meet the emerging maritime security challenges. For us, to remain oblivious of the developments taking place in the Indian Ocean region is not an option.”

Aziz said nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean had further destabilised the region.

Read more

It was in Pakistan’s ves­ted interest that the region remai­ned peaceful as 95 per cent of the country’s trade took place through sea and it had over 1,000 km long coastline, an Exclusive Economic Zone of around 300,000 sq km, the Karachi port and the newly built deep-sea port of Gwadar.

He said the Indian Navy’s substantial expansion was a cause of concern for Islamabad. “Pakistan has a strategic stake in the peaceful navigation and security of the Indian Ocean region.”

“We realise the economic potential of the region. As the third-largest ocean providing coastline to more than 30 countries, the Indian Ocean provides connectivity not only to important regions in Asia, particularly South Asia and the Middle East, and Africa, it also connects Australia with Europe. Regular dialogue between stakeholders on security and safety have never been so important.”

He said an estimated 55 per cent of oil reserves of the world and 40 per cent of gas were located in the region.

“Today, some 40 per cent of the global trade passes through the Indian Ocean. With the rise of Asia as the global powerhouse, the region indeed offers the unique platform for the globalised world as an attractive trade route. At present ports in the Indian Ocean handle about 30 per cent global trade and half the world’s container traffic. But the establishment of a new system of routes and ports will further increase the economic importance of this ocean,” he said.

Read more

Aziz said the Indian Ocean region was not all about war.

“It is a catalyst for peace and prosperity, cooperation, collaboration, connectivity and stability and security.”

He suggested that Pakistan, taking advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), should begin working on two supplementary corridors.

“There should be a corridor connecting Pakistan to West Asia and Africa. The West Asian corridor could go by Iran to Central Asia and Moscow and via Iran and Turkey to Europe and a second corridor would pass through or around the Gulf region and penetrate into Africa,” he said, pointing out that Africa in particular was an upcoming continent with lots of potential.

Pakistan: 95% Of Women Didn’t Get To Vote In 17 Districts

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PAKISTAN’S DAWN NEWS AGENCY)

ISLAMABAD: Over 95 per cent of registered women voters in at least 17 National Assembly constituencies did not cast their votes in the 2013 general elections.

A document prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan, available with Dawn, reveals that turnout of women voters was less than one per cent in five of these constituencies.

According to disaggregated voters’ data, only one woman out of the total 138,910 registered in NA-33 (Upper Dir) had exercised her right to vote.

In the constituency adjacent to it, NA-34 (Lower Dir), women’s turnout was 0.11pc as only 231 out of 206,566 women voters had cast their ballots. In NA-37 (Kurram Agency), 459 out of 156,811 women voters had cast their votes or 0.29pc of the total registered women voters. However, the constituency registered an overall low turnout as 2,072 men out of 230,107 male registered voters had cast their ballots.

In NA-34, located in the troubled Bajaur Agency, women’s turnout was at 0.02pc and in NA-46, Khyber Agency, 0.2pc.

The trend wasn’t only limited to the tribal areas where certain cultural norms and the law and order situation could play a prohibitive role in this regard. Low women’s turnout was also reported in some constituencies of large cities in Punjab.

In NA-152 (Multan), the turnout of women voters was as low as 1.92pc as only 75,422 out of 3.9 million women voters had cast their ballots. The turnout for male voters in the constituency was 2.13pc.

The turnout of women voters was 2.13pc in NA-178 (Muzaffargarh), 2.24pc in the adjacent NA-177, 2.34pc in NA-175 (Rajanpur), 2.71pc in NA-174 (Rajanpur), and 2.82pc in NA-145 (Okara). The turnout recorded in NA-61 (Chakwal) was 4.42pc and 9.52pc in NA-64 (Sargodha).

The turnout of women voters in NA-271 (Kharan, Balochistan) was 3.51pc, but higher than the turnout for men, 3.04pc. In NA-31 (Shangla), 4.59pc of registered women voters had cast their ballots.

Interestingly enough, the turnout figures for women outstripped those of men in some constituencies, including NA-48 (Islamabad) where the women voters’ turnout was 61.75pc, compared to 61.01pc of male voters.

Similarly, in NA-51 (Rawalpindi) 53.24pc of registered women voters had cast their ballots compared to 52.31pc men. The difference in Attock’s NA-58 was even higher — the women’s turnout was 64.35pc while 61.81pc of registered male voters had cast their votes.

In NA-62 (Jhelum) 17.71pc women had voted, compared to 16.67pc men. Constituencies where the percentage of women voters was higher than that of male voters included NA-74 (Bhakkar), NA-93 (Toba Tek Singh), NA-101 (Gujranwala), NA-103 (Hafizabad), NA-111 and 112 (Sialkot), NA-115 and 116 (Narowal) and NA-180 (Muzaffargarh).

Areas with low female voters’ registration

The election commission has identified over 26,000 census blocks where the ratio of registered women voters is below 40pc of the total enrolled electorate.

The ECP’s gender affairs wing has shared the data with district election commissioners so that they could send it to district election commissioners. The district election commissioners will be asked to focus on the registration of women voters on priority and submit a progress report in four months.

According to another ECP document available with Dawn, 10,440 of these census blocks are in Punjab alone. Lahore tops in terms of the number of census blocks with low enrollment of women voters. The number of such blocks in provincial capital is 872, followed by Sialkot (755), Rahim Yar Khan (743), Sheikhupura (733), Narowal (620), Kasur (509), Bahawalnagar (501) and Jhang (490).

Sindh has 5,779 census blocks, including 1,575 in Karachi West, 629 in Karachi Central, 560 in Malir, 509 in Karachi East 401 in Korangi, 258 in Ghotki, 204 in Hyderabad, 131 in Khairpur and 117 in Kashmore.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the number of census blocks with less than 40pc registered women voters is 3,782, including 601 in Lower Dir, 600 in Kohistan, 469 in Upper Dir, 343 in Peshawar, 250 in Mardan, 147 in Mansehra, 138 in Chitral, 132 in Charsadda, 127 in Batagram and 103 in Bannu.

Balochistan has 3,539 such blocks, including 554 in Khuzdar, 315 in Kalat, 223 in Quetta, 208 in Dera Bugti, 196 in Killa Abdullah, 188 in Kohlu, 162 in Pishin, 143 in Awaran, 137 in Matung, 132 in Lehri, 125 in Loralai, 121 in Labella, 114 in Kachhi and 105 in Jhal Magsi.

In Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the number of census blocks is 2,410. They include 736 clocks in North Waziristan, 350 in Bajaur, 337 in Mohmand, 266 in South Waziristan, 240 in Khyber agency, 141 in FR Bannu and 121 in Kurram agency. The Federal Capital has 53 such constituencies.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2017

Benefits of Indian cash overhaul elusive as deadline passes

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

THE AMERICAS

Benefits of Indian cash overhaul elusive as deadline passes

  • In this Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 photo, an Indian woman, who had come to deposit money, argues with a bank officer in New Delhi, India. On Nov. 8, India yanked most of its currency bills from circulation without warning, delivering a jolt to the country’s high-performing economy and leaving countless citizens scrambling for cash. Still, as Friday’s deadline for depositing old 500- and 1,000-rupee notes draws to a close, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has called the demonetization drive a great success in drawing out tax dodgers and eliminating graft. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

    In this Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 photo, an Indian woman, who had come to deposit money, argues with a bank officer in New Delhi, India. On Nov. 8, India yanked most of its currency bills from circulation without warning, delivering a jolt to the country’s high-performing economy and leaving countless citizens scrambling for cash. Still, as Friday’s deadline for depositing old 500- and 1,000-rupee notes draws to a close, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has called the demonetization drive a great success in drawing out tax dodgers and eliminating graft. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)  (The Associated Press)

Fifty days ago, India yanked most of its currency from circulation without warning, jolting the economy and leaving most citizens scrambling for cash. As the deadline for exchanging the devalued 500- and 1,000-rupee notes for new ones hits Friday, many Indians are still stuck waiting in long bank lines.

Empty ATMs and ever-changing rules are preventing people from withdrawing money, and many small, cash-reliant businesses from cinemas to neighborhood grocery stores are suffering huge losses or going under.

Despite those problems, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his Nov. 8 demonetization decree has succeeded in uncovering tax evasion and cracking down on graft. The Indian government is urging patience, insisting it’s playing a long game that will eventually modernize Indian society and benefit the poor.

So far, despite the widespread inconvenience and costs, most of the country’s 1.25 billion citizens appear to be taking Modi’s word for it.

Here are a few things to know about India’s massive cash overhaul:

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HARDSHIP FOR THE POOR

Modi’s announcement that 500 and 1,000 rupee bills — making up 86 percent of India’s currency — were no longer legal tender has posed an enormous hardship for millions of people who use cash for everything from salaries to cellphone charges.

Almost immediately, serpentine lines appeared at banks and ATMs as people waited hours to deposit or exchange old currency notes for new bills. Since authorities only began printing the new bills after the policy was announced, demand vastly exceeds supply and cash machines often run dry. Daily commerce in essentials including food, medicine and transportation screeched almost to a halt.

Worst affected were the country’s hundreds of millions of farmers, produce vendors, small shop owners and daily-wage laborers who usually are paid in cash at the end of a day’s work. Many lost their jobs as small businesses shut down, compounding their poverty.

Pankaj Aggarwal, owner of a clothing shop in the Old Delhi neighborhood of Chandni Chowk says his sales crashed by 70 percent.

“You can imagine what our business is like now. It will be some time before our sales normalize,” he said.

Modi appears to have succeeded in promoting the cash overhaul as a “pro-poor” policy, tapping into deep anger among the have-nots toward wealthy elites.

“The first two months have been so bad for us, we don’t even have enough money to buy food,” said daily wage laborer Neeraj Mishra, 35. “Overall, I think Modi has done some good. People with a lot of money are the ones who have been troubled. I don’t have enough cash for it to bother me much.”

Political scientist Sreeram Chaulia, dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi, describes the strategy as “classic populism.”

“Some people are outraged, but are hesitant to come out and say it because they don’t want to be branded as anti-national or self-centered,” he said.

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A BRUISED ECONOMY

The wide impact of the demonetization won’t be known until the government issues its next quarterly GDP figures in February, but the Reserve Bank of India already has shaved half a percent from this year’s GDP growth forecast, to 7.1 percent.

Since domestic commerce drives most economic activity, analysts have expressed alarm over the scale of economic and social disruption and are warning a contraction is likely in coming quarters.

“The countless unpredictable consequences that will continue to show in the coming weeks and months mean that it is, in effect, a huge gamble,” said Jan Zalewski, an Asia expert with the Britain-based risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft. “Inflicting such huge costs for what is an uncertain outcome is problematic.”

Real estate, tourism, transportation and gold and gems have been hit the hardest, along with informal sectors that rely mostly on cash.

Prices are forecast to rise since the cash crunch is pinching supplies of all sorts of goods.

The country’s banks, however, are seeing banner business. The central bank said old notes worth 13 trillion rupees ($191 billion) had been deposited as of Dec. 10, with many more expected by Friday’s deadline.

That should improve bank liquidity and in turn encourage more lending to boost economic growth.

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MIXED MESSAGES, CHAOTIC RULES

The Finance Ministry and central bank have issued at least 60 different directives, some of them contradictory, about such issues as how much money can be withdrawn from bank accounts and which documents are needed for depositing old cash. The mixed messages have compounded the overall chaos and shaken investors’ confidence.

“There appears to be less trust in many institutions, including the Reserve Bank and other banks. That is one important behavioral change that has been ushered in,” said Mihir Sharma, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi based think tank.

Financial experts are baffled about how to evaluate the move.

“One of the major problems with the demonetization move is that success is so difficult to measure,” Zalewski said. “In and of itself, it can’t end black money, stop terrorism funding and the counterfeiting of notes.”

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NEW BILLS, OLD HABITS

The idea that swapping old currency notes for new ones would wipe out tax evasion has already been proven naive. Over the last seven weeks, Indian income tax authorities uncovered more than 32 billion rupees ($477 million) in undeclared wealth held in new notes, foreign currency, gold and other commodities.

The Finance Ministry found enormous stashes of new currency bills secreted away by corrupt bank managers. Axis Bank’s CEO Shikha Sharma said she was “embarrassed and upset” after it was found managers at the bank had used the stolen funds to fake accounts and launder customers’ untaxed savings for a premium.

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A GLOBAL TREND?

A month after Modi scrapped the high-denomination notes, Venezuela’s president announced that the 100-bolivar notes that account for more than three-quarters of the country’s cash would be taken out of circulation.

Skyrocketing inflation had taken the value of the Venezuelan notes to 2 U.S. cents from 10 cents in the past year.

But while India’s cash overhaul has been relatively peaceful, Venezuela’s was not.

When no new bolivar notes appeared to replace the old ones, riots and looting erupted in towns across Venezuela, whose economy was already in shambles. Hundreds of grocery stores were damaged or destroyed. Ultimately, the government extended use of the old 100-bolivar notes until Jan. 2.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared the abrupt cash overhaul an economic triumph, claiming people were racing to deposit the old notes into banks. He did not say how much was deposited.

In Pakistan, opposition lawmakers passed a resolution last week calling for the withdrawal of the country’s highest-denomination note from circulation. The government rejected that move, saying there was no need to discontinue the country’s 5,000-rupee note, worth about $48.

“The very notion of cancellation of such convenience in transactions is preposterous and unequivocally denied,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

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Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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Follow Katy Daigle and Nirmala George at http://www.twitter.com/katydaigle and http://www.twitter.com/NirmalaGeorge1

People Of India Wakeup: Pakistan Government Trying To Use Rupee Issue To Bring Down Your Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Pakistan wooing Indians opposed to Modi’s policies: Sartaj Aziz

    • PTI, Islamabad

|Updated: Nov 23, 2016 18:35 IST

A file picture of Pakistan’s foreign affair’s advisor Sartaj Aziz. (Reuters)

Pakistan has set up a high-level committee to formulate “a doable and sustainable” policy to highlight the Kashmir issue globally and is reaching out to Indians who are opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “extremist policies”, according to a media report on Wednesday.

The move was announced by advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz in Senate on Tuesday, according to Dawn newspaper.

The committee will consist of senior officials from the ministries of defence, interior and information, Military Operations Directorate, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Speaking about the status of the implementation of policy guidelines, Aziz said the committee was headed by foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and could co-opt other members if required.

Read: Pak official says Indian shelling kills 11 including 9 travelling in bus

Aziz said that another committee, chaired by the information secretary, had been formed to prepare fact sheets “to counter India’s propaganda campaign and design a media strategy to continuously highlight the Kashmiri freedom struggle”.

This committee also includes representatives from the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and information technology, as well as members of the Military Operations Directorate, ISI and IB.

Aziz said that the ministry of information technology had been asked to prepare a comprehensive strategy to highlight the Kashmir issue via social media.

He said that “steps were being taken to highlight Indian interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, as well as its support for subversive activities and human rights violations in held Kashmir”, the report said.

Aziz said that steps were already being taken to reach out to segments of the Indian public that were opposed to Modi’s extremist policies.

“Our missions abroad, including in New Delhi, are making outreach efforts to emphasise the extremist Indian policies,” he remarked.

Talking about measures to counter India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan in the region, Aziz said Pakistan was doing its utmost to engage the international community, including regional partners.

He said Pakistan was supportive of all initiatives for peace and stability in the region, adding that this commitment to regional peace and stability was evident from the decision to participate in the Heart of Asia ministerial conference in Amritsar, despite the postponement of SAARC summit in Islamabad because of India.

Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine, he said, was clearly spelt out and due restraint was being exercised.

“Pakistan continues to exhibit maturity and statesmanship despite provocative statements by Indian leadership and the continued ceasefire violations across the LoC and working boundary having resulted in civilian casualties,” he said.

He said there was a need for a positive response from India to move forward. He said that while Pakistan always conveyed a desire to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue, India had chosen to attach conditions to the talks.

Kashmir Suffering Due To Indo-Pak Tensions: Erdogan (Is This Where You Say ‘No-Duh?)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDU TIMES NEWS PAPER)

INTERNATIONAL » SOUTH ASIA

Updated: November 17, 2016 16:52 IST

Kashmiris suffering due to Indo-Pak tensions: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif listen to their national anthems, during a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday. Mr. Erdogan, who is in Pakistan on a two-day official visit, later discussed the K-issue with Mr. Sharif and advocated bilateral talks to solve the tangle.
AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif listen to their national anthems, during a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday. Mr. Erdogan, who is in Pakistan on a two-day official visit, later discussed the K-issue with Mr. Sharif and advocated bilateral talks to solve the tangle.

Says the escalating situation “can no longer be ignored,” advocates bilateral dialogue to solve the K-tangle

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said the suffering of Kashmiris due to escalating India-Pakistan tensions “can no longer be ignored” as he called on the two countries to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

Mr. Erdogan, who arrived here on Wednesday, made the remarks after he held detailed talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

They discussed the K-word

Addressing a joint press conference, the Turkish President told the media that during his one-on-one meeting with Mr. Sharif that they talked about the situation in Kashmir.

“Our brothers and sisters in Kashmir are suffering because of escalating tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and Kashmir, which can no longer be ignored,” Mr. Erdogan said. He stressed on the importance of dialogue to address the thorny issue.

“The Kashmir issue needs to find a resolution for itself following a dialogue between Pakistan and India,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Thanks Pakistan

The Turkish President thanked Pakistan for siding with Ankara’s elected government during a failed coup bid earlier this year. “Soon after the failed coup attempt in Turkey, I received a phone call from President Mamnoon Hussain and we discussed a possible response to the development,” he said.

Mr. Erdogan also lambasted what his government has termed the Fethullah Terror Organisation (Feto) for allegedly supporting the coup and said it was a threat to other countries.

“We are in the process of warning all of our friends and countries [against Feto] across the globe with whom we have solidarity,” he said.

Mr. Erdogan also welcomed Pakistan’s decision to expel dozens of teachers and staff of Turkish schools in Pakistan which were controlled by Fetullah.

Keywords: ErdoganSharifKashmir

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