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Australia continues to flag India as Travel Destination that warrants a “high degree of caution”

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Is Taj Maha just a 'cemetery'? Pixabay

New Delhi, April 13, 2017: Australia may be considering India a priority country in its international relationship as the two nations move towards closer strategic and security cooperation following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s just-concluded visit to India, but in its official travel advisory Australia continues to flag India as a travel destination that warrants a “high degree of caution” .

In fact, an intending Australian traveller to India may be well discouraged from planning a visit to the country — or even cancelling a planned visit — if he or she were to read all the warnings and caveats about the “high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime, and the high rate of vehicle accidents” as well as the safety of women, poor air quality and social volatility.

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The Australian travel advisory was updated as late as March 20 this year — days before Turnbull visited India and reviewed with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “the entire gamut of bilateral relations; number of forward-looking decisions taken to further strengthen our partnership”.

India has been trying to woo visitors from Australia with its “Incredible India” campaign. Last year, India organised “Confluence: Festival of India in Australia” from August to November “to provide a boost to tourism and to the art precincts in” Indian cities.

But the advisory on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian government says “there are several regions of India where we advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel, or avoid all travel”.

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“Violent protests and demonstrations occur sporadically throughout India,” says the advisory.

“Exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.”

The advisory also includes venues of Indian festivals, religious sites and markets where “travellers should maintain heightened vigilance”.

Without naming Pakistan or any other country, the advisory points out that militants cross “the border into India with the intention of conducting attacks”.

“It is likely they will continue to try and do so. Terrorist groups regularly issue statements threatening to launch attacks in India.”

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“The threat of terrorism exists in all Indian cities and tourist centres. In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists including hotels, markets, tourist sites, transport hubs and public transport networks, and religious sites.

“Attacks have also targeted local courts, sporting events and cinemas, and Indian security and political establishments. Major tourist sites and shopping centres are also potential targets for attack,” the advisory goes on to say.

Cautioning against “dangerous” road travel, “undisciplined and aggressive” driving practices “poor quality and congested” Indian roads, Australian visitors are also warned that “you are three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in India than in” the home country.

“Accidents are commonplace and the number of road traffic deaths is high. Travelling by road at night is particularly dangerous due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting and the presence of other vehicles driving with headlights off or on high beam. Vehicles may travel in the wrong direction, often without warning.”

The advisory also flags women safety as a high-priority issue, cautioning females visiting India for religious purposes against risks of sexual assaults by faith leaders.

“There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious groups and their leaders in India. Australians visiting India for such religious purposes should be aware of these risks.”

It also notes that foreign women could be subjected to “unwanted attention and more serious harassment and assault” in India where “successful prosecutions are rare”.

After reading this ominous advisory not many Australians may be inclined to make India their immediate travel destination. (IANS)

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Iran invites Pakistan to join Chabahar project with India

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran has invited Pakistan to join Chabahar port project
  • It is a very crucial port of great importance
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has invited Pakistan to participate in the Chabahar Port project that connects India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a leading Pakistani daily reported on Tuesday.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The move may be seen as Zarif’s bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the Iranian port, Dawn online reported. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China.

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to the daily.

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

Zarif had earlier held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif and addressed a trade conference. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” Zarif said.

Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons

He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”, adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran.

Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.” IANS