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US freezes aid, assistance to Pakistan

Monitor News Bureau

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Washington, Jan 05: Toughening its stance, the US on Friday suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take “decisive actions” against “terror” groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network operating from its soil.
The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year’s Day tweet accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven to terrorists” in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
The suspended amount also includes USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress.
In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017 and other unspent money from previous fiscal years.
“Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.
“We consider them (terror groups) to be destabilising the region and also targeting US personnel. The US will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan,” she said.
The US, she said, will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless it is required by law.
In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror,” and said the time had come “for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace”.
Referring to Trump’s new strategy, Nauert said despite a sustained high-level engagement by Trump administration with the government of Pakistan, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and also attack the US and allied personnel.
Department of Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Mike Andrews told PTI that National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 provides up to USD 900 million for Pakistan in the CSF.
Of these funds, USD 400 million can only be released if the Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis certifies that the Pakistan government has taken specific actions against the Haqqani Network.
“At this stage all Fiscal Year 17 CSF have been suspended, so that’s the entire amount of USD 900 million,” Andrews said.
During an interaction with Pentagon reporters, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis did not respond to question if he was in favour of cutting off the aid to Pakistan.
“I prefer not to address that right now because it’s obviously still being formulated as policy. But I’ll give my advice on it to the president. I also agree on some confidentiality there,” he said.
According to a senior State Department official, no decision has been taken on the fate of USD 255 million security assistance to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017.
The deadline for that is September 30 this year.
Mattis along with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have travelled to Pakistan in recent months to deliver tough message to the leadership there. So, this action should not come as a surprise to them, Nauert said.
“They may say it’s a surprise, but what is no surprise is that the President has expressed his concerns, Secretary Tillerson has expressed his concerns, as has Secretary Mattis, and I imagine many other government officials having those conversations with Pakistan,” Nauert said.
Now, the money that has been suspended at this time does not mean that it will be suspended forever, she said.
“Pakistan has the ability to get this money back, in the future, but they have to take decisive action. They have to take decisive steps,” she added.
“People have long asked, why don’t you do more about Pakistan, and I think this sort of answers that question. Obviously, Pakistan is important, an important relationship to the US, because together we can work hard to combat terrorism. Perhaps no other country has suffered more from terrorism than Pakistan and many other countries in that part of the region,” she said.
“They understand that, but still they aren’t taking the steps that they need to take in order to fight terrorism,” she said.
In an interaction with reporters, two senior state department officials insisted that such a move is not a punishment, but to provide an incentive to Pakistan to take more action against terrorist groups.
“We have not done anything that’s irreversible here. All this funding is available to Pakistan, if they undertake to take the measures that we’ve asked of them,” a senior administration official said in response to a question.
“Pakistanis have repeatedly said we don’t care about this money. What matters I think to the Pakistani’s is that it is the symbolism of doing this that it represents a deterioration of our relationship that they care about a great deal,” the official said.
“So we were hoping that this is an incentive that they don’t want to see this relationship deteriorate any further and that they’re going to commit to working with us to try to find a way to put it on a more solid footing,” the official added.
The US and others have long complained that Pakistan gives safe haven to the Afghan Taliban and their allies, the Haqqani network, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies allegations but President Trump has escalated the criticism against the country since he took office.
The Pakistanis say they have suffered great losses from the longstanding war against Islamist networks and are furious that Trump has failed to acknowledge the role they have played.
Yesterday, the state department accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom. It announced that it was placing Pakistan on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation. The step does not carry any serious consequences.


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Govt all set to revamp loss making PSUs in JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 16: Jammu and Kashmir government is all set to revamp the functioning of loss making public sector undertakings (PSUs) in a bid to make them profit earning corporations.

Most of the public sector undertakings (corporations) in Jammu and Kashmir are running in losses and have become a major burden on the state exchequer. 

Centre has now told Jammu Kashmir government to take measures for making the PSUs into profit making corporations.

 

“Under a new proposal, all the public sector undertakings will work under the Industrial Development Corporation which will be headed by Chief Managing Director, who shall be an IAS level officer. Each corporation will be headed by Executive Director,” said a Managing Director of one of the corporations.

According to him, Centre has also told the Jammu and Kashmir government to provide details of employees, assets, and liabilities of corporations.

“Once the details are finalised, the government may merge few of the corporations and take measures for making them profit earning corporations,” he added.

As per an official document, the Centre has also told the J&K government to provide details about board of directors in corporations.

“The government will appoint new board of directors in several corporations like it did recently in JK Bank. There will be further changes in corporations in coming weeks,” a source said.

The government has already directed the corporations not to make any recruitment or initiate works without the concurrence of the Finance Department. 

“No new posts shall be created by the PSUs, autonomous bodies, without the prior concurrence of Finance department. No recruitment shall be made by public sector undertakings, without following a transparent and due process including advertisements inviting applications from eligible candidates irrespective of class of the posts,” an order reads, issued earlier.

As per the directives, no procurement of goods and services shall be made by the public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies, societies aided by state government without following a transparent bidding process.

“Further, PSU, autonomous bodies, societies are instructed to undertake the changes as may be required in their bye-laws, regulations with the approval of competent authority,” the order adds.

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Separatism must be uprooted from JK: Modi

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Haryana, Oct 15:Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that his government will stop water flowing to Pakistan and divert it to Haryana as it rightfully belongs to the country and the farmers of the state.

“For 70 years, water that belonged to Haryana’s farmers and to us flowed to Pakistan…But this Modi will stop that water and bring it to your house. I have already started working on it. The water belongs to India and farmers of Haryana…That is why Modi is fighting this for you,” he said at an election rally here.

 Referring to J&K, the PM said that “separatism must be uprooted” from the state.

 

He made the statement while hitting out at the rival Congress party over Article 370, while addressing an election campaign here.

“They (Congress) are creating hullabaloo over Article 370 across the world. Politics continues, elections come and go, victory and loss happen. But national security remains the top priority. Till when terrorism and separatism will prevail in J&K? Till when brave soldiers will be martyred?” he said.

“Today, we are taking tough and big public interest decisions regarding humanity. The phase of separatism must end, the lives of young people should not be destroyed, mothers should not be bereaved of her son,” he added.

In August, the government revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and also divided the state into two union territories- J&K and Ladakh.

The Prime Minister continued: “We see a mother from Kashmir performing ‘namaaz’ 5 times a day & bowing her head before ‘Allah’, to call back her son from joining militancy. I want to ask Congress leaders, should not such mothers get their sons back?”

He said that irrespective of the Congress’ stand on Article 370, the government will take decisions in the national interest without a second thought.

Modi reiterated that the abrogation of Article 370 led to the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country, saying the region would now see fast-paced development and prosperity.

Modi said that the central government is making all arrangement so that people can celebrate Prakash Parv of Guru Govind Singh.

“I am happy that the Kartarpur Corridor project is about to be completed. We are fortunate that we have got the chance to fix the political & strategic failure that happened seven decades ago, to some extent,” he added.

Taking at dig previous Congress, the Prime Minister said that state governments before 2014, used to keep an eye on the vote of the farmers of Haryana and their land.

“This is the first time in the last 5 years that meaningful steps have been taken to protect the interests of the farmers of Haryana. The BJP government here has made ended scam related to the purchase of land. License for change of land use is now decided to be given through open auction,” he said.

Haryana, where 90 Assembly seats are at stake, will go to polls on October 21. The counting of votes will take place on October 24.

Lauding women for proving their mettle in various fields, Modi said that this year’s Diwali in Haryana should be dedicated to “our daughters and celebrate their achievements”.

“ We will have two types of Diwali this time. A ‘diya’ (earthen lamp) Diwali, and a ‘kamal’ (lotus) Diwali. We should dedicate this Diwali to our daughters and celebrate their achievements,” the Prime Minister said.

Urging the people to re-elect the BJP again in the ensuing Assembly elections, Modi said that the state is witnessing progress due to “double engine” of development.

“The double engine of Modi in Delhi and Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana has resulted in unprecedented development of the state,” he added.

The Prime Minister is currently in Haryana and is addressing rallies as part of BJP’s electioneering ahead of the Assembly polls.

The state will head for elections on October 21 in a single phase. Counting of votes will take place on October 24.

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Reorganisation of J&K into UTs : Countdown begins, Amit Shah to attend function

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 15: Preparations are in full swing to celebrate the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on October 31.

Several union ministers including Amit Shah is likely to attend a function on October 31, when Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will be officially declared union territories.

“Union Home Minister Amit Shah, his cabinet colleagues including Ravi Shankar Prasad and Jitendra Singh are also likely to attend the function, which will be held at Civil Secretariat Srinagar. Guard of honour will be presented to new Lieutenant Governor (LG),” said a source at the Civil Secretariat.

 

So far no decision has been taken whether Satya Pal Malik will be the LG of new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Government has already directed the administrative secretaries to remain available at Srinagar on October 31. Earlier, government had removed Jammu and Kashmir’s flag that was flying next to the national flag on the Civil Secretariat.

Prior to August 5, Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution by virtue of its special status. Every legislation except in the matters related to defence, external affairs, and communications began with an exception clause that the law will apply to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir.

Post abrogation of Article 370, 164 state laws have ceased to exist in J&K. Similarly 106 central laws will be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir when it officially becomes Union Territory from November 1.

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