Tuesday January 23, 2018
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PM Modi says India has difficult neighbourhood

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Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India has a “difficult neighbourhood”, and that several countries have reached out to India to deal with the rising threat of terror and radicalization across regions “including the Islamic world”.

Addressing top commanders of the country’s three armed forces at the Combined Commanders’ Conference onboard INS Vikramaditya, the Prime Minister said India is seen as a “new bright spot” of the world economy, and also as “an anchor for regional and global peace, security and stability”.

Modi emphasised on India’s attempt to establish good relations with its neighbours, including Pakistan.

“And, as the world seeks to deal with the rising threat of terrorism and radicalism, countries across all regions, including in the Islamic world, have reached out to seek cooperation with India,” Modi said.

“Above all, it is our neighbourhood that is most critical for our future and for our place in the world. But ours is a difficult neighbourhood with the full spectrum of security challenges,” he said at the conference attended by the three service chiefs, the defence secretary and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Modi also expressed concern over the instability in West Asia.

“We see terrorism and ceasefire violations, reckless nuclear build-up and threats, border transgressions and, continuing military modernization and expansion.

“The shadow of West Asian instability is becoming longer,” he said.

The Prime Minister said, “our region” is marked by uncertain political transitions, weak institutions and internal conflicts and, “major powers” have increased their engagement in India’s land and maritime neighbourhood.

On Pakistan, Modi said India was trying to “turn the course of history” and “bring an end to terrorism”.

“We are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region.

“There are many challenges and barriers on the path. But the effort is worth it because the peace dividends are huge and the future of our children is at stake,” the prime minister said.

“So, we will test their intentions to define the path ahead. For this, we have started a new NSA-level dialogue to bring security experts face to face with each other. But, we will never drop our guard on security and we will continue to judge progress on their commitments on terrorism,” he said.

Modi also mentioned China and said India was pursuing “closer relations” to harness the full potential of the economic partnership.

“We will aim to address outstanding issues, maintain stability on the border, and develop greater mutual understanding and trust in our overlapping neighbourhood.

“I believe that India and China can engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities,” he said.

“From Maldives and Sri Lanka in the seas to Nepal and Bhutan in the mountains, we are working to safeguard our interests and our relationships,” Modi said.

The land boundary agreement with Bangladesh has strengthened relations, and India was also committed to peace in Afghanistan, he added.

This was the first time the Combined Commanders Conference was held onboard an aircraft carrier.

Modi inspected a Tri-services Guard of Honour in the morning at INS Garuda in Kochi, before arriving onboard INS Vikramaditya, where he was received by the three service chiefs.(IANS)

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.