Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 May 2017 in Berlin, Germany.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Modi has said India and Israel share a “deep and centuries-old” connection

Narendra Modi will become the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, when he arrives on Tuesday.

Mr Modi, who recently said India and the Jewish state share a “deep and centuries-old” connection, is expected to agree military and cyber security deals.

Observers note he will not travel to Ramallah or meet Palestinian leaders, as visiting dignitaries often do.

The visit is seen by some as a turning point in India’s position on Israel.

India and Israel have had diplomatic relations for 25 years, but it has always been a balancing act given India’s sizeable Muslim population.

The two countries have been working closely together for years on counter-terrorism, defence, agriculture and the water and energy sectors.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the meeting as a “a very significant step” in strengthening relations, which he said were “on a constant upswing”, reported the Times of Israel.

The Indian leader will also be meeting an Israeli boy, Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed when gunmen stormed a Jewish centre in Mumbai during a 2008 terror attack.

India: PM Modi, Sir India Is Not A Democracy If You Do Not Have Religious Freedom

To India’s Prime Minister Modi:

This article is in regard to a story I read earlier today from the Christian Post. In several regards this article if it is true shows that India is not yet a true democracy. For any country to actually be a democracy there are many issues that must be addressed, in this article I am only going to try to address a few of these ideals. In a true democracy there has to be equality in areas of their caste system where anyone can move up, or down in the financial arenas depending on their own abilities. All adults must be allowed to vote for whomever they chose at least as long as they are not convicted felons who are in jail at the time of the elections. This last issue I have with your government is in regard to India not having true honest religious freedom.

 

I do believe that India is a great country right now yet it could be so much more if the political will is there. The article today in the Christian Post said that six Christian adults were arrested last month for taking 72 Christian children of Christian parents to a ‘vacation Bible school’. A State can not prosper for all of its citizens if they cannot worship their God as they see fit. The only exception to this rule should be if the religion is telling people to go into the population and attack and or kill people who don’t agree with them and their ‘God’s’ teachings. If a person actually knows anything about the New Testament Scriptures of the Bible then they know that the Scriptures do not teach violence toward anyone. As you well know Mr. Modi there are some ‘Religions’ that do teach such violence and not even as arbitrarily, but as a requirement. Mr. Modi, is the Hindu Religion really one of these Demonic Cults? I believe that the Nation of India can be the greatest Democracy size wise on this planet in about 20 or 30 years and you may think it is now but with these glaring flaws that is not so, not yet. If the politicians in your country do not fix these serious issues I believe your future will look like a mixture of Iran and China except not Islamic or Atheist but a horrible debased Hindu State that will end up having no semblance of Democracy or freedom.

‘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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sukma attack: CRPF Jawans were having lunch when Maoists ambushed them

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

Sukma attack: CRPF jawans were having lunch when Maoists ambushed them

PTI | Updated: Apr 25, 2017, 06.26 PM

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Maoists squad “very discreetly with the aid of locals” kept tracking the movement of the troops
  • When one party of 36, out of the total three, sat down for lunch, the Naxalites, possessing sophisticated weapons, took them by surprise and rained heavy gun fire

PTI photoPTI photo

NEW DELHI: The 25 CRPF jawans who were killed+ in a deadly Naxalite ambush in Chhattisgarh+ ‘s Sukma, were having lunch when a hail of bullets and grenades hit them fatally.

A party of about 36 troops, out of the total 99, came under the first assault after they had ventured out from Burkapal on Monday to sanitise and provide protection to a 5.5-km long road construction work connecting Chitagufa in the said district, officials said.

The Maoists squad “very discreetly with the aid of locals” kept tracking the movement of the troops when one party of 36, out of the total three, sat down for lunch, the Maoists, possessing sophisticated weapons, took them by surprise and rained heavy gun fire, they said.

A huge assortment of 22 smart arms, including 13 AK series assault rifles and 5 INSAS rifles, 3,420 live rounds of various rifles, 75 magazines of AK rifles, 31 of INSAS, 67 live UBGL rounds, 22 bullet proof jackets, two binoculars, five wireless sets and a deep search metal detector were also looted by Naxalites, they said.

While a top CRPF officer said the killed troops had “finished their lunch” and may be were not in an absolute alert mode for the next few minutes, other officials said “some of them were having their lunch” when the attack was launched around 12.30pm.

While the slain 25 men and about six others who were injured, tried to gather their weapons or take aim at the marauding Naxalites, the others on the guard duty mounted an effective retaliation and saved about 40 civilians and construction workers who were present in the vicinity of the area during the deadly assault+that lasted over an hour.

What has surprised multiple security officials whom PTI talked to, is the fact that the Maoists are understood to have used few under-barrel grenade launchers (UBGL), a smart and sophisticated weapon used by security forces, to inflict fatal casualties on the troops by lobbing grenades in quick succession.

“It is very likely that these UBGLs were looted from security forces only. That could be as recent as the incident where 12 CRPF men were killed in Sukma on March 11,” a senior officer said.

Sukma Attack: 25 CRPF Jawans martyred

Sukma Attack: 25 CRPF Jawans martyred
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He added that while no Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) was used in the ambush, the favourite weapon for inflicting damage on security forces, what claimed the lives in the biggest Naxalite ambush of the country in the last three years was heavy usage of gun fire and grenades.

Officials said as the troops of the 74th battalion of the CRPF, that came under attack, and few other similar contingents have been going out on the same track for some time and hence there was a possibility that their “presence was being tracked, marked and trailed” by Maoist cadres.

“Our men have told us that the villagers were making movements close to them. Villagers were also taken as shields by Naxalites and that restricted our fire for some time,” the officer said.

At present the troops were securing a culvert that is being constructed on the road and it would have taken about four-five months more to complete this task, the officer said.

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The area where the deadly blood bath took place is considered the stronghold of south Bastar Divisional Committee of the Maoists headed by Maoist commander Raghu and is under the Jagargunda Area Committee led by another Maoist Papa Rao.

Top Comment

Would we not expect that at least half of the group would be on the alert with weapons while the other half had their lunch ? After all these years, don’t the CRPF follow even elementary precautions … Read MoreS Nityananda

Officials said “it is beyond doubt” that the assault would have been led by the the 1st battalion of the Naxalite People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) led by Naxalite commander Hidma who is said to be active in the area at present in view of the Tactical Couter Offencive Campaign (TCOC) undertaken by Maoists during summer months to assert their influence in the area.

India’s Delhi Elections Shows The People Have Chosen The BJP: Pro PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S NDTV)

NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. “BJP headed for a big victory”, predicted Yogendra Yadav
  2. Result reflects people’s anger with Delhi government: Yogendra Yadav
  3. His party Swaraj India also contested MCD polls

Delhi has made its preference for the BJP abundantly clear, Yogendra Yadav, the founder of Swaraj India, said today, predicting, before 9 am, “the BJP is headed for a big victory” in local elections. The result, said Mr Yadav, reflects the people’s anger with the government that is headed by Arvind Kejriwal – the men were part of the same Aam Aadmi Party till two years ago when Mr Yadav and another senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan were evicted after taking on Mr Kejriwal.

The ballooning of the BJP in this election for three local corporations, Mr Yadav said, owes everything to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  “People have ended up rejecting the CM (Chief Minister) and electing the PM,” he commented on NDTV.

Mr Yadav said his own Swaraj India does not expect much today. “This is a starting point, this is not our election to gain big seats, it was a foundational election,” he claimed.

Even before the counting of results began, Mr Kejriwal repeated electronic voting machines or EVMs for being rigged, a claim he first made when his party failed to win Punjab in February’s election, defying a massive campaign fronted by him and the forecast of exit polls.

After death sentence, what are Kulbhushan Jadhav’s options under Pakistan laws?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

After death sentence, what are Kulbhushan Jadhav’s options under Pakistan laws?

INDIA Updated: Apr 15, 2017 08:36 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kulbhushan Jadhav

People shout slogans during a protest against the conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav, in Mumbai.(AP Photo)

Pakistan on Friday listed the options available to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal against the death sentence given to him by a military court on charges of espionage.Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, told a news briefing that the former Indian Navy officer was allegedly “responsible for espionage, sabotage and terrorism” and had been tried according to the law of the land.

Aziz, who read from a statement and did not take questions from the media, then listed the options available to Jadhav under Pakistani law.

“He has the right to appeal within 40 days to an appellate court. He may lodge a mercy petition to the (army chief) within 60 days of the decision by the appellate court,” Aziz said.

“He may lodge a mercy petition to the President of Pakistan within 90 days after the decision of (the army chief) on the mercy petition.”

Read more

India has strongly criticised Pakistan for not sharing Jadhav’s whereabouts and details of his condition. It also criticised Pakistan for not adhering to the international norm of providing consular access to a prisoner despite the two countries having an agreement on the issue.

New Delhi has also said that if Islamabad goes ahead with the execution of Jadhav, it would be tantamount to premeditated murder.

Jadhav was reportedly captured in Balochistan in March last year. He was tried by a field general court martial or an army court under provisions of the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.

Aziz said Jhadav was provided with “legal counsel in accordance with provisions of our law” and that he reportedly confessed before a magistrate and the army court that he was tasked by Indian intelligence to “plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities”.

Aziz said all political parties of Pakistan were unanimous that the death sentence given to Jadhav was “the correct decision” and the “whole nation is solidly united against any threat to Pakistan’s security”.

Read more

India: No Plans To Demonetise Rs 2,000 Bank Notes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

No plans to demonetise Rs 2,000 notes: Government

PTI | Updated: Apr 5, 2017, 05.15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Counterfeit currency that came into the market after demonetisation were made of low quality paper which was easy to make out
  • The government is more alert and has taken many measures to curb fake currency: Kiren Rijiju

File photo used for representation. File photo used for representation.

NEW DELHI: There are no plans to demonetise the new Rs 2,000 currency notes, the government said on Wednesday, scotching “rumours” to this effect.

“We are seizing fake currency. As far as rumours in the market are concerned, we should not go by such rumours,” minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said in the Rajya Sabha.

He was responding to a question by Congress member Madhusudan Mistry during Question Hour seeking to know if the government will demonetise Rs 2,000 currency notes as there were “strong rumours” in the market.

The minister said fake currency has mostly been seized from Gujarat and West Bengal. “But it is not correct that fake currencies cannot be identified. It is not true,” he said.

Counterfeit currency that came into the market after demonetisation were made of low quality paper which was easy to make out. But later fake currency notes with better quality paper started coming in, Rijiju said.

Stating that the government has adopted many new security features in the new currency notes, Rijiju said, “I can assure the House and the country that now no one can copy 100 per cent, as we have indigenous design and extra features.”
The government is more alert and has taken many measures to curb fake currency such and there were provisions for stringent action against those involved in fake currency, including setting up a coordinated committee of all intelligence agencies, providing training and creating awareness among the people, he said.

Top Comment

To have full effect, they should remove the 2000 Rs note. Crooks and hoarders have taken it directly from the bank during demonetization.

As per the data placed before the Upper House, Border Security Force has seized 378 new Rs 2,000 currency notes from Assam and West Bengal post demonetisation.

National Investigation Agency (NIA) has seized 22,677 new Rs 2,000 notes worth Rs 4.53 crore from Gujarat and West Bengal.

Demonetisation Be Damned! The Indian Rupee Is On A Tear

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF QUARTZ INDIA)

LOOK AT IT FLY

Demonetisation be damned! The Indian rupee is on a tear

March 17, 2017 Quartz India

It’s been a great week for the Indian rupee.

On March 16, at Rs65.41 per US dollar, the currency hit a one-year high against the greenback.

Much of the strengthening has to do with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recent electoral wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhandand solid performances in two other states. The strong showing reflects just how well the party is positioned to sweep the next general elections in 2019 and hand Narendra Modi a second term as prime minister. Some of that magic is rubbing off on the markets.

“Since the start of the week, equity markets and the Indian rupee have rallied sharply in response to the strong performance of the main ruling party in recent state elections,” DBS Bank said in a March 16 report.

So far, the Indian currency has been the third-best performing in Asia in 2017. The rupee has gained 3.4% this year against the US dollar, only trailing the South Korean won and the Taiwanese Dollar.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike on March 15—only the third since the economic crisis of 2008—hit the dollar. When the US dollar falls, capital outflows from emerging markets are restricted, thus strengthening local currencies like the Indian rupee.

The rupee’s strengthening comes after a free fall triggered by Modi’s move to demonetise 86% of the currency notes (by value) in November 2016. Initially it had been estimated that the currency ban would dent the GDP and take a toll on the economy.

In January, a Reuters poll of some 30 foreign exchange strategists had estimated that the Indian currency could see a record fall this year because of the currency ban. But India’s Central Statistical Office’s estimates show that the economy grew at 7% during the October-December 2016 quarter, and the rupee is holding strong.

One reason for the rupee’s surge is also that the macro-economic factors that influence a currency—inflation and current account deficit (CAD)—are looking good for India at the moment. While inflation is being restricted in its safe zone of sub 6%, India’s CAD (the excess of imports over exports) has also been falling.

What next

A strong rupee is good news for corporate India. Many firms hold debt in foreign currencies, so a fall in the exchange rate means their interest outgo will reduce. “Many Indian entities including short-term trade finance people remain unhedged for their offshore liability. They (companies) are likely to have gained from the rupee’s sharp rise in the last few days. At least, interest liability has reduced, adding to balance sheet gains,” Jayesh Mehta, country treasurer at Bank of America told the Economic Times.

However, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could soon step in to stabilise the rupee’s movement. Some reports suggest that the central bank already is buying dollars through public sector banks.

“The rupee appreciation, we feel is not sustainable and would revert to the range of Rs66-66.5 range, to begin with as the fundamentals do not warrant such unbridled enthusiasm,” a report by CARE Ratings said. “The outcome of the elections has been the main driving force. A strong rupee may not be good for our exports and the RBI is cognizant of the same.”