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India willing to talk to Pakistan, but only on terrorism-related issues

Accepting Chaudhry's invite, Jaishankar in his reply stated that the talks should focus on five aspects of terrorism

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New Delhi, August 19, 2016: A top official said on Thursday that the Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has accepted his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry’s invitation for talks but has made clear that the agenda should concern only issues related to terrorism.

Accepting Chaudhry’s invite, Jaishankar in his reply stated that the talks should focus on five aspects of terrorism.

“In a letter dated August 16, Foreign Secretary has first of all underlined that Pakistan’s self-serving allegations made in their communication are rejected in their entirety by the government of India,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here.

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“Pakistan has no locus standi in respect of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of our nation,” he said.

According to Swarup, Jaishankar in his letter “conveyed that he accepts his counterpart’s invitation to visit Islamabad” but made it clear that the discussions should focus first on the more pressing aspects of the Jammu & Kashmir situation.

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Vikas Swarup. Image source: Twitter

These include cessation of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan aimed at Jammu and Kashmir; ending incitement to violence and terrorism from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir; detaining and prosecuting internationally recognised Pakistani terrorist leaders who have been publicly active recently in exhorting and supporting such violence in that state; closing down of Pakistani terrorist camps where terrorists such as Bahadur Ali, recently arrested in Jammu and Kashmir, continue to be trained; denying safe haven, shelters and support to terrorists in Pakistan who have escaped Indian law.

“Foreign Secretary also said that he looks forward to discussing with his counterpart the earliest possible vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.

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He stated that Jaishankar “also underlined the importance of bringing to justice all those guilty in Pakistan for the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008 and Pathankot airbase attack (in January this year)”.

“He said that his visit should provide the opportunity to receive a briefing from Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary on progress in this regard,” Swarup said.

He stated that the world was aware that Pakistan has a long history of violence and terrorism against India, as also in the broader region.

“The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been its particular target. This record began with the government of Pakistan sending armed raiders into Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 and was repeated in 1965,” Swarup said.

“More than three decades later, displaying a similar attitude, military personnel were infiltrated across the Line of Control in Kargil in 1999.”

This approach to India, Swarup said, was reflected in support for terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir that continued to the present day.

“These acts were initially denied by the Government of Pakistan and attributed to local population, only to be admitted later by Pakistan’s leaders who directed and organised such cross-border attacks on India, and assaults on the local people,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the Pakistan government was aware that the framework for interactions between and Pakistan was stipulated by the Simla Agreement of July 1972, wherein then Pakistani President Z.A. Bhutto agreed that the two countries should resolve to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations, as also the Lahore Declaration of February 1999 wherein Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit.

“They are also based on the assurance given by (then Pakistani)) President (Pervez) Musharraf in January 2004 that he will not permit any territory under Pakistan’s control to be used to support terrorism in any manner” Swarup added. (IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)