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Spying Allegations by Pakistan against Indian High Commission Officials in Islamabad are Crude Attempts to Tarnish India’s Image: Sushma Swaraj

Pakistan named eight officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and alleged they were working for the Research and Analysis Wing or the Indian Intelligence Bureau

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Sushma Swaraj , Pakistan
Sushma Swaraj Speaks Out On India-Pak Relations, Asks Pakistan to Stop Promoting Terror. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 23, 2016: Spying allegations levelled by Pakistan against Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad were a “crude attempt” by the neighbouring country to tarnish India’s image, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has informed the Lok Sabha.

In a written reply, the minister also said that the naming of officials in the media, was a violation of the Vienna Convention.

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Pakistan earlier in November named eight officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and alleged they were working for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) or the Indian Intelligence Bureau.

Pakistan’s move came on the heels of India apprehending an official of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for allegedly indulging in anti-India activities.

[bctt tweet=”Indian government has taken a “number of initiatives” to normalise India-Pakistan relations.” username=””]

“The allegations against Indian officials represent an afterthought on the part of Government of Pakistan and constitutes a crude attempt to tarnish the image of India,” Sushma Swaraj said in the written reply.

“The manner in which their names and photographs were prominently published in Pakistani media along with baseless allegation reiterated without any corroboration by Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is against the Vienna Convention and also violates the norms of established diplomatic practice and courtesies,” she said.

The minister said the officials and their family members were brought back to India in three batches on November 8, 10 and 12.

She also said that the Indian government has taken a “number of initiatives” to normalise India-Pakistan relations.

“Government had taken a number of initiatives to normalise India-Pakistan relations, peacefully and bilaterally, in an environment free from terrorism and violence.

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“At the same time, Government is also resolutely committed to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens,” she said.

In October, Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar was apprehended by Indian authorities for allegedly indulging in anti-India activities. He was declared persona non grata on October 28.

The Indian government had summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner on the same day and registered strong protest about the activities of Akhtar, who left India on October 29 along with his family.

On October 28, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry declared Surjeet Singh, Assistant Public Welfare Officer in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, as persona non grata without providing any justification, “except for the baseless and unsubstantiated allegation that his activities were not in keeping with diplomatic norms”. Surjeet Singh subsequently returned to India on October 29.

On November 2, Pakistan government withdrew six Pakistan High Commission officials, whose names had reportedly appeared in media as a result of the interrogation of Akhtar.

“It was Government of Pakistan’s own decision to withdraw these six officials without any prior communication to the Government of India regarding the same. They left India on November 2, along with 25 family members,” the minister said in her reply.

Pakistan withdrew another two officials on November 16.

On November 2, Pakistani media prominently carried names of eight Indian officials of the High Commission of India, Islamabad Counsellor R.K. Agnihotri, First Secretary Balbir Singh, First Secreatary (Trade) Anurag Singh, Attache Amandeep Singh Bhatti, APWO J. Senthil, and Assistants D. Sodhi, V.K. Verma and M. Nandakumar, along with their photographs.

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The Pakistan media reports alleged that these officials were involved in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan.

On November 3, in the weekly media briefing Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially released their names and official designations.

“The litany of baseless charges against them was repeated,” she said. (IANS)

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Government Introduces Quota Bill For Upper Castes in Lok Sabha

The government decision has been described by the opposition as another "election gimmick" to garner votes

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The government on Tuesday introduced a Constitution amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to provide 10 per cent reservation for economically backward sections in the general category in government jobs and higher educational institutions.

The introduction of the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot was a smooth affair in the House with no member raising any objection.

The Bill, cleared by the Union Cabinet on Monday with an eye on the upper castes vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, seeks to amend Articles 15 and 16 under whose present provisions the benefits of the existing reservations are generally not available for the economically weaker sections of the forward castes.

The statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill said that the economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with those persons who are economically more privileged.

The benefits of existing reservations under clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15 and clause (4) of Article 16 are generally unavailable to them unless they meet the specific criteria of social and educational backwardness, it said.

The directive principles of State policy contained in Article 46 of the Constitution enjoins that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Quota Bill for upper castes introduced in Lok Sabha.

Under the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, 2005, clause (5) was inserted in Article 15 of the Constitution which enables the State to make special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, in relation to their admission in higher educational institutions.

Similarly, clause (4) of Article 16 of the Constitution enables the State to make special provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

However, the statement of the objects and reasons said the economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation.

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“With a view to fulfil the mandate of Article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens to get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India,” it said.

Accordingly, the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides for reservation for the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutions, including private institutions aided or unaided by the State other than the minority educational institutions referred to in article 30 of the constitution and also provides for reservation for them in posts in initial appointment in services under the State, the government said in a statement.

The government decision has been described by the opposition as another “election gimmick” to garner votes. (IANS)