New Delhi, May 01: The NDA government is loath to any official engagement with Pakistan but, in a sign of some forward movement, it seems to have agreed to reviving the Track II diplomacy process with its western neighbour.
The original Track II initiative, Neemrana Dialogue, received a fresh start with a high-powered delegation of former Indian diplomats, military veterans and academics travelling to Pakistan to discuss ways to improve India-Pak relationship,. Times of India reported on Tuesday.
The delegation was headed by former MEA secretary and Pakistan expert Vivek Katju. J S Rajput, former NCERT head, was also part of the delegation. The talks took place from April 28 to 30. Pakistan was represented by former foreign secretary Inam ul Haque and Ishrat Hussain among others.
While like other track II mechanisms, Neemrana is also a non-governmental dialogue, it is different from others in that both foreign ministries have in the past associated themselves with it.
India will wait to see the outcome of the upcoming elections in Pakistan before taking any call on official talks with Islamabad. To many though the revival of Neemrana would suggest that the policy of not having any engagement with Pakistan has run its course.
“There have been other track II initiatives but these were mostly funded by third parties. Neemrana had more India-Pakistan character,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan T C A Raghavan.
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, who is a member of the Neemrana group, chose not to visit Pakistan for the dialogue. He, however, said that Neemrana was an important initiative which had even survived some very difficult times in the relationship.
“Neemrana has had a tough time over the past few years. Both sides felt though that it was important to keep alive that tradition but I didn’t go because I don’t think it would yield significant results in the current circumstances,” said Sibal.
In order to bring change in Pak behaviour, India must also change: Chidambaram
New Delhi, Apr 21: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Sunday said that in order to bring a change in Pakistan’s behaviour, India must also change its behaviour towards the neighbouring country. The former home minister also said that a way must be found to normalise the India-Pakistan relations so as to answer the country’s “biggest external challenge” in terms of security and various other aspects.
“Whatever we do, we have to make Pakistan change its behaviour. That means we must also change our behaviour towards Pakistan. These attitudinal changes will happen over a period of time. But we must make an effort,” he said at a discussion titled — “Beyond Politics: Debating a new Security Manifesto”, organised by think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) here. Retired Lt General DS Hooda, who headed the Army’s Northern Command when India carried out surgical strike in terror camps across the border in 2017, contended that “one surgical strike or air strike cannot change the behaviour of Pakistan.”
Gen (retd) Hooda also presented salient features of his report “India’s National Security Strategy” — a policy created by his team for the Congress party. Chidambaram said, “We build strong armies not to win a war but to avoid the war. If that is kept in mind everything will fall in place.”
“We may have tried everything and failed, but we have to try and try and try until we have a break. There is no reason why one day an Indian prime minister and a Pakistan prime minister cannot walk into each other’s territory and shake hands,” he said, adding there has to be some “radical” thinking, a departure from conventional thinking. Chidambaram suggested that efforts should be made to resolve issue which are easy to sort out and batted for increased mutual visits by the people of the two countries.
He said war is not an option for developing countries like India and Pakistan. “Barring China, countries in the region are not even middle income countries. The narrative of war is misleading. The war is not at all an option,” he said. “We cannot afford to do things beyond the economic capacity.”
He also explained how internal security is also linked to the national security, mentioning the case of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and Naga insurgency. Chidambaram disputed the claim of the BJP that the current government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a strong one, claiming that last year saw the highest number of terrorist incursions, highest number of deaths of security jawans and civilians.
Lt. Gen. (retd) Hooda said there is a need for a longterm security policy to be effective against adversaries. He also underlined the need to solve issues like Jammu and Kashmir with a combination of effective military and political policies.
Advisor Sharma reviews Darbar Move arrangements
Takes stock of PadshahiBagh – Wullar Lake Diversion Channel
SRINAGAR, APRIL 21: Advisor to Governor K.K. Sharma today visited Civil Secretariat, Srinagar, and took stock of the arrangements being made regarding the Darbar move.
Later, he visited Bemina to get the status of ongoing work on PadshahiBagh – Wullar Lake Diversion Channel.
During the visit, the Advisor was accompanied by Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control, Chief Engineer RNB, SE Irrigation and Flood Control and other senior officers of the department.
Taking stock of the work, the Advisor directed the concerned to expedite the work on the channel and remove all the bottlenecks so that the project could be completed at an earliest.
He also visited the site of Automatic Gauge Reader System (Measuring water level) at Ram MunshiBagh.
RO Anantnag reviews final preparedness
ANANTNAG, APR 21: Returning Officer (RO) Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency, Khalid Jahangir today in presence of General Observers, Police Observer convened a meeting of Assistant Returning Officers (ARO), Nodal Officers, Zonal and Sectoral Magistrates to review the final preparedness for the smooth conduct of parliamentary elections conducted in the district on April 23, 2019.
The RO stressed upon the officers that they should put in best their efforts to ensure that elections are conducted in the smooth and fair manner in accordance with Election Commission of India (ECI) directions. He emphasized that proper implementation of the plans be ensured so that no room is left for any laxity or lapses.
Zonal and Sectoral Magistrates were re-sensitized that they shall ensure assured minimum facilities (AMU), arrangements for polling parties, conduct of mock poll, carrying of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) as per standard operating procedure, maintenance of law and order, keep close watch on the situation and also ensure that no intimidation to voters, booth capturing or any other malpractice takes place. The concerned officers were asked to ensure strict adherence to all the aspects of these plans and directed for that timely, safe and secure induction and re-induction of polling parties according to standard operating procedure.
The AROs were directed that dispatch centres must be properly organised. All the officers were directed to work with dedication and zeal and handle the election process in a meticulous, professional and efficient manner to ensure peaceful, free fair and transparent elections.
The meeting was attended by Narash Thakral General Observer for Bijbehara and Pahalgam constituencies, Daljitsingh Manget General Observer for Dooru and Anantnag, Rajvee Sharma General Observer for Kokernag and Shangus, Ajay Kumar Tripati Police Observer, DIG CRPF Mohsin Shaheedi, SSP Anantnag Altaf Ahmad Khan, Additional Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Deputy District Election Officer, AROs of Anantnag, Nodal Officers, Zonal Magistrates & Sectoral Magistrates.
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