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Meets Pak PM in Davos: Trump again offers to ‘help’ resolve Kashmir

Press Trust of India

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Davos, Jan 22: President Donald Trump has said that the US is watching the developments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir “very closely” and repeated his offer to “help” resolve the dispute between the two neighbors during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan here.

Addressing the media with Khan prior to their private meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here on Tuesday, President Trump asserted that trade and borders were both critical points for discussion, while Khan said that for him, Afghanistan was the top priority.

Trump told Khan, whom he referred to as “my friend”, that he would speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the ongoing Kashmir issue. The US president is expected to visit India in the coming weeks, marking his first visit after taking up his post in the White House. “What’s going on between Pakistan and India… if we can help, we certainly will be willing to. We have been watching it very closely and it’s an honor to be here with my friend,” Trump said.

 

“The Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to always play its part in deescalating the tensions because no other country can,” Khan said. President Trump has repeatedly offered to mediate following India’s August 5 decision to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan which has been trying to internationalize the issue.

New Delhi has defended its move, saying Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the country, and the special status provisions only gave rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. “The country took the decision of abrogation of Article 370, which had only given separatism and terrorism to that state,” Prime Minister Modi said in October.

Although President Trump has offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue in the past, New Delhi has told Washington that it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation. On the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz in August last, Prime Minister Modi, while interacting with the media alongside President Trump, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can resolve all issues bilaterally and “we don’t want to trouble any third country”.

This was the third meeting between Trump and Khan since Pakistan premier assumed office in 2018, and it came against the backdrop of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s recent trip to the US, amid reports that the US and Afghan Taliban were close to striking a peace deal. “There are issues we want to talk about. The main issue is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan. Fortunately, we are on the same page. Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with Taliban and the government,” Khan said.

When a reporter asked Trump if he would visit Pakistan considering he was already set to visit India, the US president evaded a direct answer and said he was meeting the Pakistan premier in Davos. “Well, we’re visiting right now. So we don’t really have to. I wanted to say that from a relationship standpoint, we got a great relationship. From the standpoint of our two countries, we’re getting along very well. I would say we’ve never been closer to Pakistan the way we’re right now. And this is a big statement,” Trump said.

However, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that President Trump has assured Prime Minister Khan that he would visit Pakistan soon. Several “important issues” were discussed in the hour-long “productive” meeting between the two leaders, Qureshi was quoted as saying by Dawn.

The foreign minister said he was also present during the meeting, which was attended by Trump’s “entire team”. Qureshi said President Trump was also briefed on the measures taken by Pakistan to get off the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list. Pakistan also asked for US support on the matter, he added.

Khan left for Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum and on Tuesday. The four-day summit which kicked off on Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the forum. A total of 53 heads of State are on the guest list. Nearly 3,000 participants from 118 countries are expected to attend the event during which political leaders, business executives, heads of international organizations and civil society representatives are set to deliberate on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues.

‘No scope for third-party mediation’

New Delhi, Jan 22: There is no role for any third-party intervention on the issue of Kashmir, government sources said a day after US President Donald Trump’s fresh offer to “help” India and Pakistan resolve the lingering dispute.

New Delhi’s long-held position has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there is no question of any mediation or intervention by any third party.

Speaking to reporters with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Davos on Tuesday, Trump said the US was watching the developments relating to Kashmir “very closely” and repeated his offer to “help” resolve the dispute.

It was Trump’s fourth offer in last five months to help both the countries resolve the Kashmir issue after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories.

“What’s going on between Pakistan and India if we can help, we certainly will be willing to. We have been watching it very closely,” Trump said.

Official sources said India’s clear and consistent position has been that there is no role to play for any third party on Kashmir.

Trump is expected to visit India in the second half of February.

It is learnt that India had communicated to Washington after Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir last year that it is a bilateral matter with Pakistan. (PTI)


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Kashmir

Dal lake fire incident: Affected houseboat owners to be provided land: DC Srinagar

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Feb 23: The Srinagar administration Saturday released a relief grant of 5 lakh rupees in favour of victims of fire incident in Dal lake earlier this week.

The grant was released in favour of four victim families whose residential houseboats were damaged in the unfortunate incident.

The cash relief follows immediate relief in the form of articles of essential use including blankets and kitchen sets provided to the affected families soon after the incident.

 

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary who authorised release of the immediate relief grant said that those whose houseboats were gutted in the incident will be provided land for their rehabilitation.

Dr Shahid while visiting the affected families said he must laud the Dal lake houseboats association for their assistance in firefighting efforts during the incident and their generally supportive approach.

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Tribal Research Institute to work for preservation of JK’s tribal culture

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Feb 23: In order to preserve and promote tribal cultures, Jammu and Kashmir is all set to establish its own Tribal Research Institute (TRI) by next fiscal year—which would be focusing on to promote tribal practices and their art, culture and languages.

“Tribal Research Institute (TRI) is coming up in Khimber, Srinagar —which would be a centre of excellence to focus on studying and promoting tribal practices and their art, culture and languages in Jammu and Kashmir,” said, Secretary Cooperative and Tribal Affairs, Abdul Majid Bhat during Public Grievances Camp at Banquet Hall, Srinagar.

He underlined the need for preserving cultural practices and languages in order to preserve the rich cultural heritage of indigenous people and the traditional wisdom that dates back several generations. He said that Government was taking collective, conscious and concerted efforts to preserve tribal cultures of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Bhat said that the TRI would work as body of knowledge and research, support evidence-based policy, planning and legislations, capacity building and disseminate information, among others.

Bhat said Tribal Welfare Department initiated a slew of initiatives to promote language and cognitive language skills among tribal population children at the primary school level in these regions.

“Currently we have 17 new hostels coming up for tribal students, while as 19 others are already functional,” Bhat informed. He said that under several schemes, the Government covers students and the tribal population of the regions—including Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar, Gurez among other areas.

He informed that 480 residential accommodations have been already provided to the students in several places in Jammu and Kashmir.

“TRIs will have a greater role in making policies for tribals of the UT,” he said. “The aim of the government is to give more autonomy to Tribals,” he said.

He said that Government of India has provided additional funds to streamline the pattern and establishment of TRI in Jammu and Kashmir. “There is a plan to give TRI more autonomy in academic and financial matters so that they can recruit domain experts for research work and have adequate physical infrastructure,” he said.

Bhat said that the TRIs—which were constituted for research and documentation of socio-cultural and liguistic aspects of tribal life, have picked up pace and were doing better. He said that union ministry also intends to set up a national-level apex body to coordinate activities of TRIs across the country to train manpower, share best practices and disseminate information.

“Some of the TRIs across the country will be selected to promote them as top research centres and to coordinate the work of TRIs in the region,” Bhat said.

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Kashmir

After nearly 7 months: Schools open today

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Feb 23: All schools in Kashmir, shut since August 5, when the Centre scrapped the erstwhile state’s special status and bifurcated it into Union territories, are set to reopen on Monday. The decision to shut the schools five months ahead of winter vacation was part of the multiple precautionary measures taken by the Centre.

Schools in Srinagar municipal limits will function from 10 am to 3 pm, while those in other areas will work from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. Director of School Education Mohammad Younis Malik said all arrangements were in place. “It’s our responsibility to redouble efforts to get the school syllabus completed in time,” he said.

The re-opening of schools coincides with United States President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to India.

 

There have been repeated attempts to re-open the schools before the winter vacation set in on December 10 – once in August and the next in October. However, the attempts did not yield any result as most students did not turn up.

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