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‘Serious measures’ taken by Pak to curb terror: Russian envoy to India

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New Delhi: The Russian envoy to India, Nikolay Kudashev, said that Pakistan has taken “serious measures” to curb terror financing and shown the desire to be a part of global and regional efforts to fight the menace.

His remarks come as ties between Russia and Pakistan appear to grow. In September 2017, the two countries held a two-week long military exercise – DRUZBA 2017 – focusing on counter-terrorism operations to boost bilateral defence ties.

Kudashev, however, said it would not be correct to say that Russia was getting closer to Pakistan as Moscow’s relations with New Delhi “are unique and second to no one”.

 

Responding to a question on whether Russia sees Pakistan as a reliable partner to address its interest in Afghanistan, the envoy said the integrity of Pakistan was growing.

“The credit must be given to Islamabad. After this country joined the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), it started taking serious measures to curb the financing of terror… The integrity of Pakistan is growing and there is no reason to deny its wish, its desire to be part of regional and global efforts to fight terror,” Mr Kudashev said in his address at the Ananta Aspen Centre’s Ambassador Series in New Delhi.

Russia is a key strategic partner of India and its major supplier of defence equipment. India has been maintaining that Pakistan is the “global epicentre of terrorism”.

But Mr Kudashev said the problems in Afghanistan would be impossible to solve without taking on board every neighbouring country.

“This logic also guides us towards further developing relations with Pakistan, which is, on the other hand, Russia’s historic and important regional partner as well. These ties are not emanating from the regional balance of power equations, but growing on their own merits,” he said.

“Importantly, we don’t look at the situation in the region from the point of view of bilateral disputes, which we are not in a position to interfere or take sides,” he said.

Kudashev, a career diplomat and specialist on South East Asia, was appointed Russia’s Ambassador to India in August.

On China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, he said Russia was ready to cooperate with China on BRI, saying it views the controversial project from an economic perspective.

The BRI aims to link Asian and European markets through a maze of rail, road and shipping networks. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a part of BRI and India opposes CPEC as it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Replying to another question, Mr Kudashev hoped that major defence deals, including the one to deliver the Kamov helicopters to India, should be sealed after Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Russia this month.

Asked about the Russian response to air strikes on it ally Syria by the US, France and the UK, he said there would be a response but within the framework of the international law.


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SC issues notice to Centre on MHA’s ‘snooping’ order, seeks reply within six weeks

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New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre and sought a response, within six weeks, on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system. The top court had earlier denied an early hearing in the case.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, seeks quashing of the government’s December 20 order which empowers the agencies to intercept any computer under the Information Technology (IT) Act. According to the notification, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies and failing to do will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.

The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.

 

The government had come under fire for its order with the Opposition accusing the Centre of running a “police state”. The government, however, later clarified that “no new powers” had been conferred to the agencies and that the same rules were brought in by the UPA government in 2009.

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26/11 plotter Tahawwur Rana, in US jail, may be extradited: report

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Washington/New Delhi: There is a “strong possibility” of Tahawwur Hussain Rana – currently serving a 14-year jail term in the US for plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack – being extradited to India, an informed source said.

The Indian government, with “full cooperation” from the Trump administration, is currently working on completing the necessary paperwork to ensure the extradition of the Pakistani-Canadian national before his current jail term ends in December 2021. Rana was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack.

Some 166 people, including US nationals, were killed in the attack carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

 

In 2013, Rana was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. According to the US officials, he is set to be released in December 2021. “There is a strong possibility of extradition of Rana to India on completion of his jail term here. We (US and India) are working on this,” a source told PTI.

But the “challenge” is to complete the necessary paperwork during this period and overcome the cumbersome bureaucracy of the two countries and the independent judiciary, the source said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice and the US’ State Department and the Department of Justice, each of them has their own extradition procedure in place. And they are unwilling to cutdown or speed up their own process when it comes to extradition, it added.

Following a recent visit to the US by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, officials from both sides have agreed to cut down on the bureaucratic procedures so that all the necessary paperwork is ready before the current jail term of Rana ends in December 2021.

From now on, the NIA is expected to have direct communication with their US counterparts to cut short the timeframe and bureaucratic formalities.

In case, the US government in co-operation with the Indian government is unable to complete the necessary paperwork before that, officials in Washington said it would become very tough to ensure a smooth extradition of Rana once he is released from the jail in Chicago, where he is currently serving his sentence.

As per the existing US law, Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian national, would most probably be deported to Canada if India and the US are unable to complete the cumbersome extradition process before his release.

However, people familiar with the matter told PTI, that there is a “desire” so there is an assurance from the highest level in the Trump administration that all necessary steps would be taken in a timely fashion to ensure extradition of Rana before his release.

According to the US officials, the extradition of Rana would help in cementing the relationship between the two countries, boost up the counter-terrorism cooperation and enhance America’s image among Indians.

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Talks of CPI(M)-Cong alliance for LS polls to be ‘initiated at state level’: Yechury

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Kolkata: Any talks of a CPI(M)-Congress adjustment for the parliamentary election have to be “initiated at the state level” as the political situation is different in various states, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said, virtually ruling out a nationwide tie-up between the two parties.

Yechury’s remarks came at a time a section of the state CPI(M) leadership was keen on an electoral understanding with the Congress to defeat the Trinamool Congress and the BJP in West Bengal.

“We had said the political situation is different in various states. So any sort of talks with the Congress have to be initiated at the state level,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a condolence meeting for former West Bengal industry minister and politburo member Nirupam Sen here on Sunday night.

 

He was replying to question on why the CPI(M) was not initiating talks with the Congress at the national level to put up an anti-BJP front.

Yechury said the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh was a “positive” development and that a “lot more is yet to happen”. The CPI(M) leader said he is looking forward to an anti-BJP secular and democratic front at the Centre in 2019 in a “post-poll scenario”. Majority of the state Congress leaders are in favour of an informal seat-sharing arrangements with the CPI(M) in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, senior state Congress leaders said.

Some of the top state Congress leaders have already begun “informal talks” with some CPI(M) leaders over the issue of seat adjustment.

However, the state Congress unit maintained that the final call on the decision of state-specific adjustments with the CPI(M) will be taken by party president Rahul Gandhi.

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