Sunday October 22, 2017
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India-Palestine aim to bolster economic ties

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Sushma Swaraj

Palestine: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday that India was working towards closer political interaction with Palestine. It also intends for deeper economic engagement with them.

“We have also started to put in motion the framework suggested by our president for the future of our partnership during his visit,” she said referring to President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine in October last year.

“Accordingly, we are working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine,” she said while inaugurating the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre at the campus of the Al Quds University here. The centre is part of India’s capacity-building efforts in Palestine.

“We are also looking at ways and means to further increase academic collaboration between India and Palestine,” the minister said.

Elated at the centre’s inauguration, she said this was yet “another example of India’s commitment to helping its brothers and sisters in Palestine”.

Sushma Swaraj, who held bilateral talks with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Maliki and called on President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day, said her talks with the two leaders were “fruitful”.

“I am coming here after fruitful discussions with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki on a wide range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues,” she said.

“In my meetings, I was happy to see that we have shared views on issues and there is great warmth in our friendship.

“We also discussed India’s capacity building assistance to the people of Palestine of which this Center is a shining example.”

Sushma Swaraj mentioned this was her first visit abroad in 2016 and Palestine her first destination.

“This in itself reflects the importance Palestine holds for India.”

She said the fact that her visit was taking place shortly after President Mukherjee’s visit “also reflects our keen interest in further deepening the very rich and historic relationship that we have with Palestine”.

“India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its principled support to the Palestinian cause is rooted in our own freedom struggle,” she said.

According to the minister, India’s approach to Palestine has crystallised into a policy with three core dimensions — solidarity with the Palestinian people; support to the Palestinian cause; and support to Palestine’s nation-building and capacity-building efforts.

“The entire Indian political leadership remains steadfastly committed to these policies,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj said India’s strengths in IT and IT-enabled services could immensely benefit the Palestinian economy and society.

“We are ready to assist Palestine in IT, as well as other sectors, as much as we can,” she said adding that India would build another centre for excellence in ICT and innovation in Gaza city.

“We are also developing a techno-park in Ramallah. President Abbas views the techno-park as a transformative project,” she said.

She said India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and the friendship with the Palestinian people remained undiluted.

“This is an integral part of our foreign policy,” she said.

“We will also continue to support the developmental aspirations of the Palestinian people by all possible mean at our disposal.”

Earlier on Sunday, apart from her meetings with Al Maliki and Abbas, who hosted a lunch in her honour, she paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his bust, which is placed at the Garden of Nations here.

She also paid tributes at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat here.

Sushma Swaraj, who landed in Tel Aviv late on Saturday, reached Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine, on Sunday morning.

Later in the day, she proceeded to Israel where she will meet the top Israeli leadership. (IANS)

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India’s Diwali Promise, Medical Visas to All Deserving

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Shushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj. IANS

New Delhi, October 19: Marking the auspicious occasion of Diwali, India on Thursday made a Diwali promise medical visas all those people abroad, including in Pakistan, seeking treatment.

“On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant a medical visa in all deserving cases pending today,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Keeping to a promise made on Independence Day, India on Wednesday issued six more medical visas to Pakistani nationals, including three children.

“We will issue visa to facilitate treatment of your eight-year-old child in India,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday night in response to a request from Nazir Ahmed who said that his son Mohammad Ahmed was awaiting a medical visa from India for one year.

In a separate tweet, she also promised a visa to Muhammad Asif Malik’s son, who is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) in children’s hospital in Lahore, and to Kasif Chacha’s child who is running out of medicine.

Visas were also issued to Irfan Ahmed Shaikh, Nasir Mahmood and the mother of Rafique Menon for liver surgeries.

This month, Sushma Swaraj has announced the issuance of 19 medical visas to Pakistanis for treatment in India as Diwali promise.

Last month, India issued a medical visa to a Pakistani child seeking open heart surgery.

On Independence Day, the External Affairs Ministry made a Diwali promise that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, on July 18, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for a liver tumor, got a visa.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas.(IANS)

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Sushma Swaraj at UN: After 70 years, India IT superpower, Pakistan is terror export factory

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Sushma Swaraj at the UN general Assembly
Sushma Swaraj at UN general Assembly

United Nations, Sep 23: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Saturday, launched a stinging attack against Pakistan at the UN General Assembly. She said that in the 70 years of the independence, India had grown as an IT superpower, while Pakistan has emerged as a pre-eminent factory for the export of terror.

“We are fighting poverty. But our neighbour Pakistan seems only engaged in fighting us,” she said in her address to the United Nations General Assembly and responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi’s allegations that India was sponsoring terrorism.

She threw a taunt at the Pakistan Prime Minister while referring to his accusations that India was violating human rights in Jammu and Kashmir: “Those listening to him (Abbasi) had only one observation: ‘Look who is talking’.”

“A country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium.

“I would like today to tell Pakistan’s politicians just this much, that perhaps the wisest thing they could do is to look within. India and Pakistan became free within hours of each other. Why is it that India today is a recognised IT superpower in the world and Pakistan recognised only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror.”?

She said while India fought terrorism exported by Pakistan it did not neglect development work at home.

“We created IITs, IIMs, AIIMS while Pakistan created LeT, Haqqanis, JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen,” she said, referring to Pakistan-based terror groups.

Sushma Swaraj asked the UN not to see terrorism with “self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance”.

(IANS)

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World’s Oldest Board Game Backgammon Being Used by Jerusalem Double to unite Jews and Arabs

Backgammon is acting as a peace maker between Israelis and Palestinians. Every one in Middle-East irrespective of one's religion has an attachment with this game.

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Backgammon- An ancient board game that is acting as a bond to unify Jews and Arabs.
Backgammon- An ancient board game that is acting as a bond to unify Jews and Arabs. Pixabay.
  • An ancient game turning out to be a peace maker between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem
  • Backgammon is a deeply rooted game in the Middle-East, which is uniting segregated neighbors
  • Backgammon is one of the oldest board games in the world

Jerusalem, September 11, 2017: No one had ever imagined the power of Backgammon. And about how this ancient game could act as a game changer in the Middle-East.

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest board games that is currently being used to bring back peace in the Middle-East.

Jerusalem Double project is a series of Backgammon tournament that takes place in Jerusalem. It is an inter cultural initiative by Jerusalem Foundation to create more interaction between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel is the only Jewish state in the world which is located just at the east of Mediterranean Sea. Jew is a word used for those people who profess Judaism irrespective of the place they live in.

Palestinians consist of the Arab population that hails from the land which is now controlled by Israel. They want to establish a state by the name “Palestine” on all or part of the land, which is currently controlled by Israel.

“We wanted to bring Jews and Arabs together beyond the daily grind. We wanted to create a joint cultural event in which everyone can share and we wanted to create cross over between neighborhoods that for generations have been completely segregated”, believes Zaki Djemal from Jerusalem Foundation.

Jerusalem Double chose Backgammon as a medium to break the walls between the Jews and Arabs because Backgammon is deeply rooted in the Middle-east. It is highly accessible and inclusive.

Initially, the project Jerusalem Double had faced a lot of resistance from both the communities. But, they went against the wind and left no stone unturned to make this project work. As a result, the Backgammon proved to be a catalyst towards a positive change.

In 2106, when the first Backgammon championship had happened, only 150 people showed up. But this time, 250 people participated in the tournament and competed for a cash prize of 6,000 USD.

Play can create empathy between strangers and apparent enemies and it can give us the confidence that we need to trust in each other and in the world we have been slighted, even after we have experienced pain, suffering, and fear said Zaik Djemal.

Backgammon is an outstanding initiative towards a peaceful morning in the Middle-East.

-prepared by Shivani Chowdhary of NewsGram. Twitter handle: @cshivani31