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Pakistan agrees to release Indian prisoners

Monitor News Bureau

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Islamabad: Pakistan approved India’s proposal to release elderly and juvenile prisoners on humanitarian grounds.
Foreign minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif, after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the Indian ‘humanitarian proposals’, said a foreign ministry statement.
The Indian proposals, the statement said, had been received “regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries”.
It said: “Pakistan has agreed to the exchange of three categories of prisoners: women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age.”
The foreign minister expressed hope that India would “positively reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals, in the spirit that they have been made”.
He also said it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the “extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.”
In January, the transfer of lists of prisoners took place between Pakistan and India. Under an agreement, both Pakistan and India have to transfer the lists of prisoners of each country detained in other side twice a year.
The lists are transferred on January 1 and July 1 each year. Pakistan handed over a list of 457 Indian prisoners to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and India reciprocated by giving a list of Pakistani prisoners to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
Out of 457 Indian prisoners held by the Pakistani authorities, there are 399 fishermen. Pakistan released 146 Indian fishermen on January 8.


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International

Pakistan exporting ‘terror’, stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains: India at UNSC

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UNITED NATIONS: India lashed out at Pakistan for raising the issue of women’s rights in Kashmir in the UN Security Council, saying the country represents a system that has been exporting militancy and “regressive” extremist ideologies and “stifling” women’s voices for narrow political gains.

India’s strong response came after Pakistan’s outgoing UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi commented on the situation in Kashmir, revocation of Article 370 and women’s rights in the Valley during the debate on October 29.

“As everyone today focuses on collective action, one delegation rhetorically regurgitates about women’s rights in my country,” First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said Monday at a Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security.

 

Without naming Pakistan, Tripathi said the delegation “represents a system that has been exporting terrorism and regressive extremist ideologies, and stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains. This has devastated lives of generations of women and their families, in our region and beyond.”

Alluding to Islamabad’s habit of raking up the Kashmir issue at various UN forums and committees, Tripathi said the country habitually makes baseless allegations without any relevance to the agenda under consideration and this has “become a staple for this delegation.”

She referred to Lodhi’s comments on Jammu and Kashmir during the October 29 debate as well as during a previous debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”.

Asserting that India firmly rejects the baseless allegations, Tripathi said “the Council has not paid attention to such deceitful narratives in the past, and we are confident that the Council will continue to do so, to ensure that its agenda is not used as a ploy for furthering territorial ambitions.”

In her remarks to the debate, Tripathi underscored that violence against women and girls perpetrated by terrorists remain rampant and subjugation of women in public and in private spheres continue across situations that are on the agenda of the Council.

“It is important that the Council strives to effectively integrate women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes, including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts,” she said.

Further, Tripathi highlighted the positive impacts of greater participation of women in UN peacekeeping but voiced concern that women make up only 4.2 per cent of military personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.

“We ought to encourage participation of all women units to achieve the set targets in this regard,” she said.

Tripathi pointed out that a trend in which in order to accommodate those who cannot fulfill the commitments of providing all women units to peacekeeping missions, mixed units are being given preference by diluting the policy frameworks.

“If this continues, we possibly cannot achieve the set targets,” she said as she added that India remains committed to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and has deployed a Female Engagement Team in UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) earlier this year.

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Rajnath Singh arrives in Moscow to boost defence cooperation with Russia

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Moscow: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit to Russia where he will discuss modalities pertaining to defence co-production between the two countries.

During his visit, the Defence Minister will co-chair the 19th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) here.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Defence, Singh is expected to hold extensive discussions with Defence Minister of Russia General Sergei Shoigu covering all areas of military-to-military cooperation and defence industrial cooperation.

 

He will also inaugurate, along with Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, ‘India-Russia Defence Industry Cooperation Conference’.

The Conference will discuss ways to promote defence industrial cooperation between India and Russia, technology transfer and investment in India in the defence industry under the ‘Make in India’ programme.

Rajnath Singh is also scheduled to visit St Petersburg where he will place a wreath at the Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetery honouring the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Last week, Singh had travelled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he represented India at the Council of Heads of Government meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

India and Uzbekistan signed three MoUs pertaining to military education and military medicine.

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UN chief continues to call for Kashmir issue to be resolved through dialogue

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres continues to call for the Kashmir issue to be resolved through dialogue, saying any solution should be rooted in the respect for human rights of the people living in the Valley, his spokesperson has said.

Guterres will engage whenever he can with the two nations on the issue, spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said at the daily press briefing here Thursday.

“The Secretary-General… has discussed the issue of Kashmir with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, with the Prime Minister of India, during the General Assembly and before,” he said.

 

Responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir, Dujarric said the UN chief has called and will continue to call for “the situation to be resolved through dialogue and that any solution be rooted in the respect for human rights of the people who live in Kashmir. So, that continues to be his position”.

Last month, the UN chief said that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for resolving the Kashmir issue and his good offices are available if both sides ask for it while calling for the full respect of human rights.

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan. The Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.

On August 5, India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Several security restrictions were imposed in Kashmir as well as Jammu following the decision.

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