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Sushma Swaraj makes a passionate defense of her role in Lalit Modi affair

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday made a passionate defense of her role in the Lalit Modi affair, but the Congress tore into her and blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the unending parliament logjam.

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses during a press conference regarding `International Day of Yoga` in New Delhi, on June 9, 2015. ​(Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)Detailing her role for the first time in parliament, the minister — whose resignation has been sought by the opposition — sought to give a humanitarian twist to the saga, saying she acted the way she did only because the former IPL chief’s wife faced a life threatening situation.

She insisted that she did not recommend to the British government to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi but wanted to help his wife, a cancer patient in Portugal.

In an emotional speech in the Lok Sabha that was devoid of most opposition members, she said the allegations that she recommended British travel documents for Lalit Modi were “wrong and baseless”.

“I have not helped Lalit Modi but his wife who is an Indian national, (who is) not involved in any crime. Is it a crime to help a woman like this? If it is a crime, I have committed it. I accept it. If the house wants to give punishment, I am ready.

“If it had been (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi in my place, what she would have done?” she asked, inviting cheers from the treasury benches.

“I never made a recommendation or request to the British government to give travel documents to him.”

The minister said she verbally conveyed to the British government that if “it chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi, it will not spoil bilateral relationship between the two countries”.

In no time, the Congress accused her of impropriety and misuse of office besides a keenness “to help a person wanted by law agencies in India”. The party called her statement “hogwash”.

“Her statement (in parliament) exposes her,” Congress leader Anand Sharma told the media.

“Should a minister be clandestinely arranging or facilitating the issue of travel documents, the request for which was rejected earlier by British authorities?” he asked.

“There was no life threatening situation” to Lalit Modi’s wife, he said, adding that Lalit Modi, after getting the British travel document, went on a virtual global tour.

To back its statement, the Congress showed on a projector several file pictures of Modi enjoying himself in tourist havens and partying with male and female friends.

Sharma said it would have been understandable if Sushma Swaraj had ordered the issue of Indian travel documents to Lalit Modi as he was an Indian national.

“Why intervene voluntarily when the British government and their authorities have not asked the Indian government (whether to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi or not).

“And then to say ‘I have made no recommendation’, this is ridiculous.”

The Congress also targeted Prime Minister Modi, saying he “cannot brazen it out by remaining silent.

“Accountability cannot have dual standards. There cannot be a different rule book for the Modi government and his ministers.

“We in the opposition are duty bound to enforce accountability. It is the PM and his government who are purely responsible for the disruption in the parliament.

“The PM is complicit by silence. He is endorsing acts of arrogance and obduracy which has caused the logjam in parliament.”

Both houses of parliament have been virtually crippled since the monsoon session began on July 21, with the opposition demanding the resignation of Sushma Swaraj as well as the BJP chief ministers of Rajasthan (Vasundhara Raje) and Madhya Pradesh (Shivraj Singh Chouhan).

Raje is said to have close links with Lalit Modi while Chouhan is being blamed for the Vyapam recruitment scam that has led to around 40 deaths. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the government have said none of them will quit.

Sushma Swaraj said earlier that she had been waiting to respond to charges hurled at her during a debate. “If I do not get a chance to speak, it will be injustice.”

(IANS)

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India-Pakistan Ties: India Grants Medical Visa to another Pakistani National

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.

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medical visa
Sushma swaraj addressing a press conference. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day.

“Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha.

Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.

On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced 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, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18.

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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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

ALSO READ US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (IANS)