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Obama-Sharif dialogue, India not touched upon

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Washington: India did not feature in the much hyped Barack Obama-Nawaz Sharif dialogue on Thursday which discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.

Welcoming Sharif to the White House, Obama said he looked forward to using the meeting as an opportunity to further deepen the longstanding relationship between the two countries.

“Obviously, the United States and Pakistan have a longstanding relationship,” he said. “We work and cooperate on a whole host of issues — not just on security matters, but also on economic and scientific and educational affairs.”

“And we’re looking forward to using this meeting as an opportunity to further deepen the relationship between the United States and Pakistan,” Obama said.

Praising “an extraordinary Pakistani-American community that is helping to build this country”, the president said: “And those people-to-people ties are part of what makes this relationship so special.”

Thanking Obama for inviting him to Washington once again, Sharif said “the Pakistan-America relations stand over 70 years” and it would be his “endeavor to further strengthen and solidify this relationship”.

He said he looked forward to a very constructive engagement with Obama “to add greater substance and depth to our relationship, as you’ve very frankly mentioned”.

Sharif was accompanied among others by Pakistan Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

Earlier Sharif met US Vice President Joe Biden over breakfast and discussed regional, political and security issues, particularly the cooperation on war against terrorism, according to official Pakistani news agency APP.

Ahead of his meeting with Obama, Sharif had sought to shift the focus of talks to India rather than counter-terrorism and safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons highlighted by US.

Sharif told US senators on Wednesday that the US would be the most relevant third party that could intervene to help resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

According to a statement issued by Sharif’s Office cited by Pakistani media, Sharif briefed members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his recent peace initiative towards India announced in the UN General Assembly.

“Members of Senate noted the prime minister’s proposal that given India’s resistance to bilaterally resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir, it would be imperative to have third party intervention for which the US would be most relevant,” it said.

Pakistan on Wednesday also handed over three dossiers to US Secretary of State John Kerry about alleged Indian involvement in subversive activities in the country, APP reported.

The dossiers were handed over to Kerry when he called on Sharif at the Blair House. Kerry, it said, was briefed about the alleged destabilizing role of Indian agencies in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan and Karachi.

Sharif, according to APP, also reiterated his commitment to seek normalisation with India.

However, State Department spokesperson, John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday he was “not aware that we have” received any documents relating to India from Pakistan.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Kim Jong-un Applauds North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme Despite US Sanctions

The leader said Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was "safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia"

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Seoul, October 8, 2017 : North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lauded his country’s nuclear weapons programme as the best way to defend its sovereignty and counter threats from the US.

Speaking to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Jong-un said “nuclear weapons of North Korea are a precious fruition borne by its people’s bloody struggle for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”, Efe reported citing state news agency KCNA.

Kim, also the chairman of the WPK, said Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was “safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia”.

He added his country’s nuclear ambitions have provided the foundations for strong economic development, despite sanctions imposed by the “US imperialists and their vassal forces” to force North Korea into abandoning its weapons programme.

ALSO READ North Korea Threatens Japan of Nuclear Destruction, Calls its Actions ‘Suicidal’

During the plenary session, which is held at least once a year, the North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong was elected to the party’s politburo, a sign of her rising importance and clout within the North Korean regime.

Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide of the leader, joined the party’s Central Military Commission, while Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was appointed to the central committee’s politburo, according to the state agency. (IANS)

 

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.