New York, Sep 28: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed India an “impediment” to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (SAARC) progress after his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, left a SAARC meeting before hearing Pakistan’s statement.
Swaraj attended the Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers held in New York on the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly and chaired by foreign minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Thursday.
After making her statement, she left the meeting early, prompting criticism from Qureshi who later told reporters, “No, I didn’t have any talk with her (Swaraj). On the positive gesture, I can say she left the meeting mid-way, maybe she was not feeling well”.
Indian diplomatic sources told PTI that it was quite normal in a multilateral meeting to leave early after one has delivered the country’s statement.
The sources said that Swaraj was not the first minister to leave the meeting as her counterparts from Afghanistan and Bangladesh had also left before her.
They added that Swaraj had other engagements as well and foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale was present throughout the SAARC meeting.
Swaraj and Qureshi were slated to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.
However, India called off the meeting last week, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” slain Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Qureshi said he saw that there was this thinking in the meeting that “if we have to achieve something from this forum we have to move forward”.
“What is the way to move forward. We have to decide the next step – I have no hesitation in saying that in the way of SAARC’s progress and success and in the region’s connectivity and prosperity, there is only one obstacle and one attitude.
“The attitude of one nation is making the spirit of SAARC and the spirit of the founding fathers of SAARC unfulfilled and unsuccessful,” he said, in a veiled reference to India.
He said that he heard the Indian Minister’s remarks at the meeting “very carefully”.
“She talked about regional cooperation. My question is how will regional cooperation be possible when the region’s nations are ready to sit together and you are the obstacle in that dialogue and discussion,” he said.
Qureshi said he judged from the SAARC meeting that most of the members present there understand the significance and value of the grouping.
“They want to move on. I can’t speak for them but I can deduce from their body language disappointment because if you do not move and if you do not sit and convene meetings how do you move on. You are talking of SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area), you are talking of regional trade, how do you have regional trade when you are unwilling to sit and talk. When you fail to agree on a date for a summit where is regional trade going,” he said.
He cited other regional blocs like ASEAN and the EU and said “look at this (SAARC) atmosphere”.
India had boycotted the 2016 SAARC summit citing Islamabad’s unrelenting support to “terrorist” activities in India and after militants attacked an Indian Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had also joined India in boycotting the summit.
Qureshi called the Foreign Secretary’s comments, made after Swaraj had left, as a “very vague statement”.
“You say the next summit will not happen until there is conducive environment. How do you define what conducive environment is? It can vary from country to country. It can vary from person to person. On the basis of an imaginary thing, you are becoming an obstacle in the way of the entire region and its prosperity,” he said.
Qureshi added that 1.78 billion plus people of the SAARC grouping have to ask in whose hands their fate and future are being kept as a mortgage.
On Qureshi’s remarks that India is an obstacle in SAARC’s prosperity and regional connectivity, the Indian diplomatic sources said the answer to this was in Swaraj’s statement.
In her statement, Swaraj voiced India’s commitment to regional cooperation, saying it attaches highest priority to the development and prosperity of the region, under the government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
“Development of seamless physical connectivity is key for achieving regional growth, employment and prosperity,” she said.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially. The member-state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the association. The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Metropolitan Project: Over 94 lakh kanals identified in JK
Srinagar, Jul 18: Over 94 lakh kanals of land has been identified across Jammu and Kashmir for developing the state under the ambitious Metropolitan Region Development Authorities (MRDA) project.
Under the project, two Metropolitan Region Development Authorities will reduce the deficit on infrastructure – water supply, roads, sewage, drainage, light rails, e-buses and other amenities.
“The authorities will also develop satellite townships in Greater Jammu and Greater Srinagar. Million square feet IT parks will also be developed in these townships,” the document reads.
Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration recently announced creation of Jammu Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authority — to provide an integrative framework for the purpose of planned development of these regions.
As per the details, the government has identified 94,22,465 kanals of land in 2559 villages of 14 districts in the state.
In Kashmir, 1452 villages comprising of 4989304 kanals of land would be covered under MRDA.
In Srinagar district, 124 villages comprising 514116 kanals of land would be covered. In Pulwama, 922715 kanals of land in 240 villages have been identified for implementation of project under MRDA.
Similarly, 331799, 1049195, 451400, 142461 kanals of land would be covered in Kulgam, Baramulla, Shopian, and Bandipora districts respectively.
Around 44,33,161 kanals of land would be covered in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur under MRDA.
The MRDAs, as per the document, have been selected on the principles of regional planning and development.
An official of Housing and Urban Development Department said a process has begun for acquisition of land for the project.
“All types of land are being covered under MRDAs. Besides government land, we have also identified private land which ought to be acquired. But some land owners are not willing to provide land saying that government is not paying them commensurate to market value,” the official said.
He said the land owners want promulgation of an ordinance to replace old law “which will enable them fair compensation during acquisition”.
Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Dheeraj Gupta said that all types of land were being covered under MRDAs. “We will acquire private land wherever needed,” Gupta added.
India to Pak: Release, repatriate Jadhav immediately
New Delhi, Jul 18: Describing the detention of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan as “illegal” and under “fabricated” charges, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday urged Islamabad to release and repatriate him immediately.
Making a statement in Rajya Sabha, he said the verdict of the International Court of Justice is not only a vindication for Jadhav but also for all those who believe in the rule of law.
The International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence for Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism”.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017.
A bench led by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”.
The bench also ruled by 15 votes to 1 that Pakistan had violated India’s rights to consular visits after Jadhav’s arrest.
Pakistan “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”, the judges had said.
Pakistan was under the obligation to inform India about the arrest and detention of Jadhav under the Vienna Convention, Judge Yusuf had ruled.
Jadhav guilty of crimes against people: Imran
Islamabad, Jul 18: Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan Thursday said that he appreciated the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision to “not to acquit, release & return” Kulbhushan Jadhav, day after the world court in The Hague directed Pakistan to review the death penalty given to the former Indian Navy commander.
Holding Jadhav responsible for “crime against” Pakistani people, Khan said Pakistan will proceed per law.
“Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release & return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Imran tweeted.
On Wednesday, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to make an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and death sentence of Jadhav.
The world court also rejected all objections raised by Pakistan, granting consular access to Jadhav “without further delay”, in a verdict that was hailed in India as a “big victory” for the country. It agreed with India’s stand that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention by denying access.
In a reprieve for Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017, a 16-member bench by a 15:1 vote continued the stay on the execution.
A Chinese judge was part of the majority verdict while the ad hoc judge from Pakistan on the bench headed by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia gave a dissenting opinion.
Rejecting Pakistan’s objection to admissibility of the Indian application in the case, the court in its 42-page order held that “a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review” of the sentence of Jadhav that had strained relations between the two neighbouring countries.
The bench, however, rejected some remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court’s decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the verdict, saying “truth and justice” have prevailed while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj described it as a “big victory” for India.
Despite the order backing India, Pakistan claimed victory. The country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted: “Jadhav shall remain in Pakistan. He shall be treated in accordance with the laws of Pakistan.” Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan on 3 March, 2016, by Pakistani security agencies and was convicted of being a spy. In April 2017, Pakistan had announced that Jadhav was given death sentence by a military court.