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India skips BRI forum, Pakistan says CPEC to go ahead

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Beijing, Apr 26: India on Friday skipped Beijing’s Belt and Road forum for a second time in protest against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the controversial project has entered a new phase and would go further ahead.

India sternly opposes the CPEC, a key artery of the Belt and Road project that cuts through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, New Delhi’s raison d’etre for staying away from the trillion-dollar connectivity scheme.

Like the launch of the Belt and Road forum in 2017, India gave the second edition of the summit a miss over the CPEC.

 

India not approving the corridor has become a sticky point in its relations with China.

China maintains that the project is purely economic in nature and won’t impact Beijing’s neutral stance on the Kashmir issue.

Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes.

The heads of 37 countries and official representatives from nations and international organisations have gathered at the three-day event on the trillion-dollar connectivity project that President Xi Jinping sought to defend against mounting criticism that it was pushing poor countries into “debt trap”.

Pakistan, China’s close ally, is said to be one of the countries saddled with Chinese debt.

In his keynote address at the opening ceremony, Khan lauded the CPEC.

“Together Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of CPEC, with greater emphasis on socioeconomic uplift,” he said, adding that the next phase would be “supplemented” by the signing of an expanded free trade pact between the countries.

The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

The project has come under criticism from some Pakistani government officials who have expressed concerns about their country’s inability to pay back Chinese loans.

The US and other nations have also raised questions about China pushing countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives into “debt traps” by giving them loans at usurious interest rates.

At the event, Xi tried to dispel those fears.

“In pursuing the Belt and Road cooperation, everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.

“We welcome the participation of the multilateral and national financial institutions in BRI investment and financing. And we encourage third market cooperation. With the involvement of the multiples stakeholders, we can surely deliver benefits to all.

“We have also formulated guiding principles of financing the development of the Belt and Road and published a debt sustainability framework for participating countries of the BRI to provide guidance for BRI financing cooperation.

“The laws and regulation of participating countries should also be respected. We need to take people’s centric approach and give priority to poverty alleviation and job creation to see the joint pursuit of Belt and Road cooperation would deliver true benefits to the people of the participating countries,” the Chinese leader added.


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Jadhav Case: ICJ suspends death sentence, grants consular access to India

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The International Court of Justice on Wednesday announced its ruling in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

Ruling in India’s favour, the ICJ affirmed Jadhav’s right to consular access and notification, news agency ANI reported, citing Reema Omer, international legal advisor, South Asia.

The court has also directed Pakistan to provide effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences, the agency added.

 

Sushma Swaraj, India’s former Indian minister of external affairs, called it a “great victory for India”.

“I thank the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for our initiative to take Jadhav’s case before International Court of Justice. I thank Mr. Harish Salve for presenting India’s case before ICJ very effectively and successfully. I hope the verdict will provide the much needed solace to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav,” she said in a series of tweets.

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, a former Indian navy officer, was arrested in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan in March 2016 on charges of espionage.

The 48-year-old was then sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017, sparking outrage in India.

India insists that Jadhav was not a spy and says he was kidnapped in Pakistan. New Delhi is asking the ICJ to order Islamabad to annul the sentence.

India’s lawyers told the court in February that it was a “farcical case” based on “malicious propaganda”, while Pakistan’s lawyers hit back by accusing Jadhav of “terrorism”.

The last hearing coincided with a sharp spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after a suicide bombing in restive Kashmir, although relations have since improved.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries.

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India, China exercising restraint in Doklam: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

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New Delhi: Speaking in Lok Sabha on the current state of relations with China, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that both the nations are committed to uphold existing agreements to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border.

Defence minister added, “Infrastructure like roads, tunnels, railway lines and airfields are being developed on the border of India & China to ensure the sovereignty & security of the nation.” Giving an account of the situation at border, Rajnath Singh ensured that both the nations are exercising restraint in Doklam.

Recently, Army Chief Bipin Rawat reacting on Chinese troops’ movement in Jammu and Kashmir’s Demchok had denied that any intrusion from Chinese side saying, “Celebrations were underway in our side and just to see what was happening, the Chinese troops came.”

 

Moreover, Chinese president Xi Jinping is set to visit India later this year in October. PM Modi and Xi Jinping will hold second ‘informal summit’ at Varanasi on October 12, reported The Hindu. Earlier in April 2018, the first informal meet had taken place in Wuhan. It is expected that both leaders will take a boat ride in ancient city of Varanasi. The meeting marks the completion of 70 years of diplomatic relations between India and China.

In June this year, PM Modi and Jinping met on the sidelines of SCO Summit is Bishkek. Calling his meeting with Jinping ‘extremely fruitful’ PM Modi had said, ‘We shall continue working together to improve economic and cultural ties between our nations.’ Xi reciprocated Modi’s gesture as he said, “China is ready to work with India to continuously advance the closer development partnership between the two countries.”

Moreover, China has for long been derailing India’s efforts to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group which widened the rift between both the countries. India, on the other hand, has been apprehensive of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

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Militant killed in Sopore gunfight

Global News Service

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Baramulla, July 17 : A militant was killed after a gunfight broke out between militants and government forces in Gund Brath area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday morning.

SSP Sopore Javeed Iqbal said that one militant body along with one weapon has been recovered from the encounter site.

The SSP further said that searches at encounter site is still underway.

 

As per the sources the slain militant has been identified as Adnan Channa resident of Old town Baramulla.

According to the sources, the slain militant had joined LeT outfit in April 2019.

Meanwhile, the partial shutdown is being observed in the old town area of Barmulla after reports of slain militant who is believed to be resident of old town Baramulla spread in the area.

Earlier in wake of gunfight authorities had suspended mobile internet services in Sopore parts, also to prevent any law and order problem Additional Deputy Commissioner Sopore Ashiq Hussain Lily in a statement ordered the closure of Degree College as a precautionary measure.

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