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Pakistan rejects India’s cross-LoC infiltration claim

Pakistan had also observed a Black Day in July to protest the deaths in Jammu and Kashmir and also termed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani a "martyr"

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  • Bilateral ties between India and Pakistan took another dip on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, after Pakistan rejected India’s claim of cross-LoC infiltration
  • Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and issued a strong demarche on continuing cross-border terrorism from Pakistan
  • The demarche said India strongly protests against the continued infiltration from Pakistan of trained terrorists with instructions to carry out attacks

Bilateral ties between India and Pakistan took another dip on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, after Pakistan rejected India’s claim of cross-LoC infiltration.

In response to a media question regarding summoning of Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India to protest cross-LoC infiltration, a Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson said, “We strongly reject Indian claim of any cross-LoC infiltration. Pakistan remains committed to the policy of not allowing its territory for any terrorist activity against anyone.”

“However, it is necessary to establish the veracity of the Indian claim. Details in this regard will be gathered,” the spokesperson added.

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Days after India and Pakistan clashed over the turmoil in Kashmir at a SAARC meet in Islamabad, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and “issued a strong demarche on continuing cross-border terrorism from Pakistan” a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.

The demarche made specific reference to LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba) terrorist and Pakistan national Bahadur Ali who was apprehended recently, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Vikas Swaroop. Image source: www.insubcontinent.com
Vikas Swaroop. Image source: www.insubcontinent.com

The demarche stated that Pakistani national Bahadur Ali alias Abu Saifullah was arrested by Indian authorities in Jammu and Kashmir on July 25 along with weapons, including an AK-47 rifle, live rounds of ammunition, grenades and grenade launcher, as well as sophisticated communication equipment and other material of Pakistani and international origin.

It said Bahadur Ali, born on December 17, 1995, is the son of Mohammed Haneef, a resident of Jia Bagga village in the Lahore district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

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“Bahadur Ali has confessed to our authorities that after training in Lashkar-e-Toiba camps, he was infiltrated into India,” the demarche said.

“He was thereafter in touch with ‘operations room’ of LeT, receiving instructions to attack Indian security personnel and carry out terrorist attacks in India.”

The demarche said India “strongly protests against the continued infiltration from Pakistan of trained terrorists with instructions to carry out attacks”.

This was contrary to assurances given by Pakistani leaders at the highest level, it added.

It also said that Bahadur Ali wrote to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi seeking legal aid and assistance to meet his family.

“We are prepared to grant the Pakistan High Commission consular access to Bahadur Ali,” the demarche concluded.

The Indian action comes less than a week after an SAARC ministerial meet in Islamabad saw the bilateral tensions over Kashmir come to the fore. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had slammed the “use of excessive force”, referring to the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, while Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticised the “glorification of terrorists as martyrs”.

Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk
Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk

Both sides did not hold a bilateral meeting, and Rajnath Singh also did not stay for a lunch for the Saarc interior ministers as his Pakistani counterpart, despite giving the invite, left early.

Pakistan had also observed a Black Day last month in July to protest the deaths in Jammu and Kashmir and also termed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani a “martyr”.

The killing of Wani on July 8 has led to a spiral of protests and violence in Kashmir, leaving over 50 people dead in clashes with security forces. (IANS)

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India And Vietnam Come Together Against Maritime Rival China

Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge.

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India- Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong before heading for talks behind closed doors in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

Advances in relations between Vietnam and India will help both countries resist Chinese expansion in Asia including the contested South China Sea, Asia scholars say.

India-Vietnam relations are growing again this week as Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind visits Vietnam Sunday through Tuesday. He was set to meet Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong for closed-door talks.

The visit advances a long-standing, fast-improving friendship that began in the 1970s, when Vietnamese leaders tapped India to diversify foreign policy, and leapt forward in 2016 when the two sides entered a strategic comprehensive partnership. Now both worry about China.

“Given a shared apprehension of Chinese assertiveness, New Delhi seeks to bolster Hanoi’s capabilities to check China, to expand Indian influence in Southeast Asia as a counterweight to China’s growing footprint in South Asia,” said Sameer Lalwani, deputy director for U.S. think tank The Stimson Center’s South Asia program.

India, elections, vietnam
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

South China Sea dispute

Vietnam and four other governments dispute all or part of Beijing’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea. The two sides got into two deadly ship clashes, in 1974 and 1988, and rammed each other’s boats in 2014. China cites historical documents to support its claims.

India, located west of the Indochinese peninsula, does not claim the sea that lies east of Vietnam.

But last year hundreds of Chinese and Indian troops faced off on a Himalayan plateau disputed by China and India’s ally Bhutan. India also resents China’s support for its territorial rival Pakistan. It has grown eager to help Australia, Japan and the United States patrol Asian seas where China has alarmed other countries by landfilling tiny islets, in some cases for military use.

Those countries want the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea open internationally instead of under increasing Chinese control.

“I think Vietnam wants India to play a more active role in the South Asian region because Vietnam knows that India is not so active in the quadrilateral, including the U.S., India, Australia and Japan,” said Trung Nguyen, director of the Center for International Studies at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

India-Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

​India and Vietnam held their first joint drill In the Bay Of Bengal in October to strengthen “working-level” relations, the Press Trust of India says. India has offered Vietnam $500 million in credit for arms purchases, as well, and proposed a South China Sea warning system able to send tsunami data to Vietnam.

Oil and gas exploration

Vietnam and India will use fuel exploration to consolidate their stand in the South China Sea, and with a potential profit, analysts forecast.

India and Vietnam already do “robust” trade, worth $12.8 billion in 2017-2018, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs says. Bilateral trade should reach $15 billion by 2020, the vice chairman of the Indian Business Chamber of Vietnam said last year. Indian investment in Vietnam was $2 billion then.

For the past four years, the overseas subsidiary of India’s government-run ONGC has worked with PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp. to search for oil and gas in the South China Sea. China is probably watching warily, experts say.

Climate Change, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam
Submerged tombs are seen at a flooded village after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. VOA

Vietnam happens to need outside expertise and investment to find gas and oil off its long seacoast. Both domestic and foreign oil firms would earn money from any discoveries.

“The issue of oil is probably one of the larger political elephants in the room, so to speak,” said Maxfield Brown, senior associate with the business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City. “I’m sure that Vietnam is keen to find countries that are willing to invest in its natural resources and aren’t necessarily scared off by the threat of Chinese naval incursions.”

Spanish driller Repsol quit a Vietnamese-approved project in the South China Sea in March, apparently under pressure from China, media reports said then. Vietnam is now considering a $4.6 billion gas exploration project with ExxonMobil, local partner CNG Vietnam Joint Stock Co. says. China claims that site, as well.

“Vietnam is always trying to get them to do more exploration and India has been wary of holding onto blocks that aren’t productive or getting blocks that are in sensitive areas vis-a-vis China,” said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus with the University of New South Wales in Australia.

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India has shown little fear to date, said Mohan Malik, professor in Asian security, Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in the United States.

“Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge,” Malik said. “Through joint naval exercises and port calls at Vietnamese ports, New Delhi is signaling to Beijing that China’s growing naval expansion…would be countered by India’s naval outreach in the South China Sea.” (VOA)