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Imran by his side, Trump offers mediation on Kashmir

Press Trust of India

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New York: Describing himself as “an extremely good arbitrator”, US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue, but both sides have to agree on that.

Trump made the remarks during his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here.

“If I can help, I will certainly help,” Trump said, describing the Kashmir issue as a “complex” one which has been going on for a long time.

 

“If both (Pakistan and India) want, I am ready to do it,” he said, a day after attending ‘Howdy, Modi’ rally in Houston, where he shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and displayed a close friendship and a common vision on fighting terrorism.

“At any point of time, I would be an extremely good arbitrator,” he said.

Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in presence of Khan and said he has heard a “very aggressive statement” by Prime Minister Modi.

“It was very well received within the room,” Trump said, referring to the gathering of 50,000 people at the NRG stadium in Houston.

At the rally on Sunday, Modi hit out at Pakistan for its ‘support to militancy’ and said India’s decision to nullify Article 370 has caused trouble to those who cannot handle their country as he called for a “decisive battle against terrorism”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan, who has declared himself an ambassador of Kashmiris, on Sunday briefed US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

Trump and Imran last met in July at the White House. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue – an offer India rejected.

During Modi’s meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France last month, the prime minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

“All the issues between India and Pakistan are of bilateral in nature, and we don’t want to trouble any third country. We can discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally,” Modi had said.

On his part, Trump had said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir “at great length” during the G7 Summit and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own.

His comments on Kashmir in the French city of Biarritz was seen as an apparent backtracking from his earlier comments, offering mediation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s action evoked strong reactions from Pakistan which downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian Ambassador.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

India’s guarded reaction:Wait for bilateral meet

 New York: Asking journalists to “wait” for the meeting between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump, a senior Indian diplomat refused to comment on the US president renewing his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and his description of the prime minister’s statement in Houston as “very aggressive”.

Describing himself as “an extremely good arbitrator”, Trump on Monday said he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue if both sides agree to it.

He also described as “very aggressive” the statement made by Prime Minister Modi during the ‘Howdy, Modi’ community event in Houston during which the Indian leader had made a veiled reference to Pakistan and its support for “terrorism”.

“There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. So let us wait for the meeting,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs A Gitesh Sarma told a press briefing here on Monday in response to a question on the US president’s remarks on Modi’s statements and his offer again for mediation.

Trump made the remarks during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

Responding to a similar query on Trump’s offer to mediate, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar referred to Sarma’s response that one should wait for Tuesday’s bilateral meeting.

“The Secretary’s response (to wait for the bilateral meeting) is after giving some thought. You know, you are aware about our position, we have mentioned about this in the past. But my request is just hold on. Just hold on for the meeting tomorrow. I think it’s not very far,” Kumar said.

In less than two days after the Howdy Modi event in Houston, Trump and Modi will meet again for bilateral talks Tuesday following Trump’s address to the UN General Debate.

On Monday, Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in the presence of the Pakistani premier and said he has heard a “very aggressive statement” by Prime Minister Modi at the mega rally.

“I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday. I was there. I didn’t know I was going to hear that statement…but I was sitting there. And I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday, from India, from the prime minister,” Trump said.

However, at the same time, he said the statement was “very well received within the room”

“And I will say it was very well received within the room, the statement itself. That was a big room, 59,000 people. But it was a very aggressive statement. And I hope that they’re going to be able to come together, India and Pakistan, and do something that’s really smart and good for both. And I’m sure that…there’s always a solution. And I really believe there’s a solution to that,” Trump said.

During the ‘Howdy Modi’ community event on Sunday that was attended by over 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora and top US lawmakers, Modi, without naming Pakistan said that India’s decision to revoke Article 370 has troubled some people, who can’t handle their own country and who support terrorism.

“Where do you find conspirators of 9/11 and 26/11 terror attacks,” Modi had said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. “It is time for a decisive battle against terrorism,” Modi had said.

In an unprecedented move, Trump had joined Modi for the community event and at the end of the programme, the two leaders took a lap around the stadium, waving to the cheering crowd.

On August 5, the Indian government revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories.

Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

Trump and Imran last met in July at the White House. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue – an offer India rejected.

During Modi’s meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France last month, the prime minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

According to a readout of the Monday’s meeting between Trump and Khan issued by the White House, the two leaders discussed opportunities to deepen mutually beneficial energy cooperation and trade ties.

They also discussed ways to de-escalate tension between Pakistan and India, including combatting terrorism, and the importance of India-Pakistan dialogue to resolve disputes between them. (PTI)


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Northern Army Commander visits Siachen

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 20:Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Sunday visited forward posts in Siachen Glacier. He was accompanied by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury Corps’.

“Complementing the troops deployed in the Sector for their dedication and perseverance, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the nation is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the ‘Siachen Warriors’,” an army spokesperson said.

“He exhorted them to continue to uphold the high standards of professionalism and commitment, even while deployed in the face of extreme challenges posed by the highest battlefield in the world. He also laid a wreath at the Siachen War Memorial, as a mark of respect for the martyrs of Operation MEGHDOOT,” he added.

 

Lieutenant General Singh later visited ‘Heritage Abode’ – the residence of one of the greatest heroes of Ladakh, Late Colonel Chhewang Rinchen at Sumur Village in Nubra Valley.

Colonel Chhewang Rinchen was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra twice and a Sena Medal, for his acts of valour during the various battles fought in the Ladakh Sector. Paying his respects, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that Colonel Chhewang Rinchen will continue to inspire future generations of Indians.

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No merger on cards, J&K Bank has strong fundamentals:Chhibber

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 20: Putting all the speculations about the J&K Bank’s merger at rest, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Director R K Chhibber today stated, “The recent crisis of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank in the country has worried bank customers in general but the rumors of J&K bank’s merger by some vested interests has raised apprehensions among our depositors particularly in J&K. Let me put all those speculations at rest by assuring you that no merger is on the cards and the bank’s fundamentals are very strong.”

In a press statement, he further said, “Let me assure all the stakeholders of the bank that their beloved bank is in safe hands of more than 12000 strong J&K Bank family under the supervision and guidance of a professionally strong board of directors with a robust accountability framework in place for transparency and efficiency. The only way to go for the bank is up and above, towards higher levels of accomplishments.”

Commenting upon the effect of recent political developments in J&k upon the bank, he said, “We certainly believe that the recent developments that have taken place in state won’t affect the essence of this institution, which is to financially serve the people of J&K and catalyze the economic development of this region.J&K Bank has witnessed far bigger challenges in the past, and we believe, as always with the emotional equity of the people, support of J&K Government and unmatched commitment of our staff, we shall meet every challenge head-on and come out stronger and more successful.”

 

While reiterating that J&K Bank has strong fundamentals with all its major financial indicators performing well, the Chairman also asserted that few of the large loans, made some years ago that have turned Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and are being investigated; have been adequately provided for by the bank and shall have no impact on the profitability of the bank.

“Let me assure you that we are here to be with you and lead you towards a more promising and fulfilling economic future”, he said.

Reflecting upon the long and eventful journey of the bank, the Chairman said, “It has been a long, eventful and challenging journey of over eighty years that has shaped up not only this great institution but the very structure and the substance of J&K’s economy. For all this, we acknowledge and admit the instrumental role of our shareholders and customers whose unwavering trust and cooperation has been the guiding light for us during eight decades of our existence.”

Expressing his gratitude for the bank’s main stakeholders, Chairman said, “In particular we appreciate the unflinching support of our main stakeholders i.e.the J&K Government, the Board of Directors, and employees at large. J&K Government has always come forward to support the bank in all spheres and have already raised their stake to 59 pc in the bank by providing capital of Rs 532 Crfor business growth and regulatory requirement. Thegovernment has also indicated to extend additional capital support in near future to meet our Basel III capital requirements.”

Notably, thevery reason for the establishment of Jammu & Kashmir Bank by its founders in 1938 has been to empower the people of the state financially so that an era of development could be ushered in.Today we see that vision transformed into reality as J&K Bankleads from the front with market share of more than 65 pc, more than 12 million account holders from two million households and a total business around 1.65 lac Cr.

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Market Intervention Scheme: Govt procures 1.5L apple boxes, disburses Rs 8 cr

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 19: Jammu and Kashmir government has procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes and paid around Rs 8 crore to growers under the ambitious Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) so far.

Launched last month in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), MIS was aimed at easing difficulties of the apple growers in the valley.

Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, said around 4000 growers have been registered under the scheme so far.

 

“We have procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes, which roughly comes to 2000 metric tonnes of fruit. We did business of around Rs 10 crore and almost Rs 8 crore have been disbursed to apple growers so far,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.

Director Horticulture noted that there has been a good response since October 7, when government revised the rates of apples.

“As per government order, the payment has to be disbursed within three days after procurement of apple. Sometimes it may take five days. We will continue this scheme till December 15. It can be extended if need arises. This scheme is working in a hassle free manner and apple growers are benefitting,” he said.

 The initial rates for A grade apple were Rs 52 per kilo, Rs 36 for B grade and Rs 15.75 for C grade apple. The revised rates for A grade apple are Rs 58 per kilo, Rs 42 for B grade and Rs 22 for C grade apple.

Bhat said six lakh metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far. This includes 2000 metric tonnes exported under market intervention scheme.

“Kashmir grows around 21 lakh metric tonnes of apple and over 25 percent has been exported so far. Most of the growers have exported apples on their own without benefitting from the scheme,” he said.

Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.

Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.

Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.

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