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India has harmed SAARC, undermined its spirit: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has blamed India for harming the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and undermining the spirit of the regional forum.Sharif currently on a three-day official visit to the Maldives, was referring to the postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit that was scheduled to take place in Islamabad on November 15 and 16, last year, but did not see light of day after India boycotted the conference.Sharif said Islamabad and Male share similar views to make SAARC a vibrant organisation for regional development.Addressing a joint news conference along with Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in Male, he said Pakistan is ready to extend all possible cooperation to The Maldives for welfare and development of its people.The Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Sharif as saying that both countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse areas, including trade, education, defence, tourism, and people to people contacts, and several Memoranda of Understanding were signed for the purpose.According to reports, four joint working committees have been set up to oversee implementation of the MoUs.Earlier on his arrival, Sharif was given a Guard of Honour smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces of Maldives at president?s office, where Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom greeted him.Sharif will be the Chief Guest at the celebrations of 52nd Independence Day of Maldives on Wednesday.

‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’: PM Modi lauds ISRO after South Asia Satellite launch, SAARC leaders thank India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the launch of the South Asian Satellite by India as a “historic moment” and said it opens up new horizons of engagement in the region, a view that was shared by leaders of six other countries of South Asia.Modi, who has projected the satellite as India’s “priceless gift” to its neighbours, said the “unprecedented” development sends out a message that “even sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation”.The launch was celebrated jointly through a video conference by Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese Prime Minister Thering Tobgay, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena.
ALSO READ Watch: South Asia Satellite launched, PM Modi praises ISROPakistan is not a part of the project as it had refused to accept India’s “gift”, which Modi had proposed soon after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014.”Successful launch of South Asian Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement,” Modi tweeted immediately after the GSLV-F09 carrying South Asia Communication Satellite lifted off from Sriharikota spaceport.
ALSO READ South Asia Satellite launched: SAARC leaders hail PM Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ Vision”Today is a historic day, a day without any precedence,” he said later while addressing the video conference.Underlining the concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ (cooperation of all, development for all), he said the development marked fulfilment of India’s promise made two years back to advance its space technology for the growth and prosperity of South Asia.Noting that this was the first of its kind project in South Asia, Modi said the satellite would help the individual countries in meeting their own needs with regard to development, better governance, poverty eradication and disaster mitigation.He said India wanted growth, development and peace in the region and was keen to utilise technology to pursue this goal for the shared prosperity.Hailing the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for ensuring the flawless launch, he said the satellite will greatly benefit South Asia and the region’s progress.”This (launch) tells us that even sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation,” he said.”This symbolises our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our peoples in the forefront,” Modi said.He said the mantra was “Cooperation, not confrontation, development, not destruction and prosperity, not poverty.” “Sabka sath, sabka vikas can be the guiding light for action and cooperation in South Asia and a befitting way for us to achieve our shared priorities of economic prosperity for our people,” the Prime Minister said.”And in this, you will find a strong and committed partner in India that truly believes in the strength of this choice and principle,” he told leaders of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan which are a part of the project.”We are a united family of South Asian countries, united in our pursuit of peace, progress & prosperity of our region and the entire humankind,” the Prime Minister said.Ghani described the launch as “South Asia’s giant step towards regional cooperation” and said it makes the region’s integration a reality.Hailing India’s “pioeneering” endeavour and Modi’s vision, he said, “cooperation outweighs confrontation”.Hasina, while congratulating Modi and ISRO for the launch, said it will “change the face of South Asia”.With the launch, the cooperation among the South Asian nations has expanded from land, water, air to space, she said.Tobgay described it as a “historic moment for the world” and said the “gift from India reflects true cooperation”.Thanking India and Modi for the “very priceless gift”, the Bhutanese leader said the free use of the data from the satellite will greatly benefit his landlocked country which does not have the capacity on its own to launch satellites.Yameen said the “very special gift” symbolises vision and commitment of Modi towards the region.Noting that the satellite will serve to improve the lives of people of entire South Asia, the Maldivian President said, “I call upon all South Asian friends to seize this opportunity”, perhaps a message to Pakistan which has refused to join the project.Dahal, popularly known as ‘Prachanda’, thanked Modi and India for “the thoughtfulness” of sharing the data of the satellite with other countries of the region.”This is a testimony of South Asia becoming self-reliant in space technology. Nepal looks forward to the best use of the data,” the Nepalese leader said.He said he looked forward to India’s help in developing the human resources of Nepal in usage of the satellite’s data.Srisena described the occasion as “historic” and said the development signifies inclusiveness and friendly cooperation.Modi, soon after taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, had made a unilateral proposal of India launching the satellite whose data would be shared with the SAARC countries for their development and prosperity.Initially, it was to be named as ‘SAARC Satellite’ but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project.The satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.

India’s ‘priceless gift’ South Asia Satellite to be launched

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The South Asia Satellite will be launched on May 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today, describing it as India’s “pricelss gift” to its neighbours as part of the ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ concept. Seven out of eight SAARC countries are a part of the project which Pakistan refused to join as it did not want the “gift” from India. “We have always attempted to move ahead with the concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas (cooperation of all, development for all),” Modi said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’. The concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ is not confined to India but is relevant globally too, especially in the context of the neighbourhood, he said. “There should be cooperation of our neighbours and there should be development of our neighbours too,” he said. “On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite. The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project,” the Prime Minister said. Describing it as a “priceless gift” from India, he said the project is a significant step towards promoting cooperation with the entire South Asia. “This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia…The satellite of South Asia will help in the overall development of the entire region,” Modi said. The benefits will be in the areas of mapping of natural resources, tele-medicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links, he said. He thanked the countries which became part of this project. These countries, besides India, are Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan. Soon after taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, Modi had made a unilateral proposal of India launching the satellite whose data would be shared with the eight SAARC countries for their development. Initially, it was to be named as ‘SAARC Satellite’ but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project. Basically, the satellite is meant for providing communication and disaster support, connectivity among the countries of South Asia region. It will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things. The satellite was initially proposed to be launched in December last year but it got delayed.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Modi’s space diplomacy: All you need to know about Rs 450 crore ‘South Asia Satellite’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India embarks on space diplomacy like never before. For the first time, New Delhi is flexing its prowess of space technology by embarking on an unprecedented and un- chartered ‘stratospheric diplomacy’ through a special Rs 450 crore gift for south Asians.India is carving a very unique place in the universe, this week New Delhi will ‘gift’ a heavyweight bird in the sky to its neighbours through the ‘South Asia Satellite’. India is opening its heart out to its neighbours, explains External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, adding “neighbourhood first is now being extended beyond the stratosphere”.It seems this ‘gift’ of a communications satellite for use by neighbours at no cost has no parallels in the space- faring world, all other current regional consortia are commercial for-profit enterprises. So it seems Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a known visionary space buff, is placing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in a new orbit by providing this space- based platform that would cost the participating nations almost US $1,500 million over the 12-year life of the satellite.
ALSO READ FULL TEXT ‘Mann ki Baat’: Time to put an end to VIP culture mindset, says PM ModiPrashant Agarwal, an IIT Kanpur-trained engineer and the point-person in the Ministry of External Affairs piloting the project, says, “Prime Minister Modi has actually extended his slogan ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas’ to India’s neighbourhood essentially to service the needs of the poor in South Asia.”On May 5, the skies above the island of Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal will be lit up as the Geo- synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) also called the ‘naughty boy of ISRO’ on its 11th mission will carry a message of peace like never before.The nearly 50-m-tall rocket that weighs about 412 tons will carry what is now dubbed as the ‘South Asia Satellite’ or what the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) still prefers to call GSAT-9. The 2230-kg satellite has been fabricated in three years and is purely a communications satellite costing Rs 235 crore.The uniqueness of this satellite is that it will have a footprint that extends all over South Asia and India is gifting this heavenly messenger to its neighbours who according to India’s assessment could be helped in better utilising these space based technologies.The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India’s neighbours can utilise to increase communications. Each country will get access to at least one transponder through which they could beam their own programming and there could be common ‘south Asian programing’ as well.Each country has to develop its own ground infrastructure though India is willing to extend assistance and know-how. According to the government. the satellite will “enable a full range of applications and services to our neighbours in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support”.The satellite also has the capability to provide secure hot lines among the participating nations in addition since the region is highly prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis, it may help in providing critical communication links in times of disasters.In this unusual message of peace, India’s most hostile neighbour Pakistan has fully opted out. Rest of the seven nations part of the South Asian Association for Regional Co- operation (SAARC) are already on-board with Afghanistan still to ink the deal with some minor technical details still to be fixed in Kabul. Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to be part of this mission, confirms Baglay.When Prime Minister Modi was just a fresher and just four weeks into his new position on June 30, 2014, he surprised the world while speaking to the scientists at ISRO in Sriharikota as he asked “the space community to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC satellite that we can dedicate to our neighbourhood as a gift from India”.The proposal emerged directly from Modi and the leadership at ISRO was stunned into silence not knowing what this space animal will look like. A highly-impassioned Modi, who had just witnessed a successful launch, said “I believe that the fight against the poverty of the countries of SAARC is the fight against illiteracy, the fight against superstitions, the challenge of moving forward in the scientific field is the possibility of providing opportunities to young people of SAARC countries.”Our dream of this SAARC Satellite will work in the welfare of all our neighbouring countries. And that’s why I have proposed in front of you today that we offer a valuable gift to our SAARC countries through a SAARC Satellite launch so that we also become partners in their welfare.” Modi reinforced this idea five months later when speaking in Kathmandu at the SAARC Summit on November 26, 2014.He said, “India’s gift of a satellite for the SAARC region will benefit us all in areas like education, telemedicine, disaster response, resource management, weather forecasting and communication. “We will also host a conference in India for all South Asian partners next year, to strengthen our collective ability to apply space technology in economic development and governance. And, we plan to launch our satellite by the SAARC Day in 2016.”Modi’s sincere efforts got a jolt when even after participating in the planning meeting on June 22, 2015, Pakistan decided to ‘opt out’ from the proposed SAARC satellite suggesting that ‘Pakistan has its own space program’. So the project was renamed to ‘South Asia Satellite’ but sources say Pakistan was not allowed to veto the development project. Meanwhile frequency co-ordination activities took longer than expected and the launch got postponed by almost six months.Among India’s neighbours, three nations already possess full-fledged communication satellites with Pakistan and Sri Lanka having been helped by China; Afghanistan also has a communication satellite actually an old India- made satellite acquired from Europe.Bangladesh is likely to have its first bird in the sky later this year made with help from Thales. Essentially, it is the tiny nations of Bhutan and Maldives that may benefit in the long run. Incidentally, Nepal has already floated a tender to acquire two communications satellites.Experts say “Pakistan has missed an opportunity” since its own space program is currently in a primitive stage as compared to India’s. This is despite the fact that Pakistan actually launched its first rocket five years ahead of India and its space agency Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is older than ISRO.Pakistan has had five satellites in space but today lacks heavy duty launchers and satellite fabrication facilities. But will India’s strident regional space diplomacy yield results?There is no doubt that through the South Asia Satellite India is actively trying to counter China’s growing influence on its neighbours. But in the 21st-century Asian space race, China already has the first mover advantage. Better late than never is prevailing mood and for this unique space diplomacy it is almost certain that India is likely to get applauded by the world’s powers for this one of a kind friendly confidence building measure. Hopefully friendly skies can result in reduced hostilities on Earth.

ISRO to launch ‘South Asia Satellite’ that will benefit all neighbours except Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India plans to launch on May 5 the ‘South Asia Satellite’ that will benefit all the countries in the region, except Pakistan which is not a part of the project. “It’s going up in the first week of May,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A S Kiran Kumar told PTI in a telephonic interview. According to ISRO sources, the launch of this communication satellite (GSAT-9) is scheduled for May 5 on board the space agency’s rocket GSLV-09 from Sriharikota spaceport. Kiran Kumar said the satellite, with a lift-off mass of 2,195 kg, would carry 12 ku-band transponders. “Pakistan is not included in that. They did not want (to be part of the project),” he said.Sources said the satellite is designed for a mission life of more than 12 years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement about this satellite during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in 2014 calling it a “gift to India’s neighbours.” “It (name) was changed to this (South Asia Satellite) because of that only (Pakistan not being part of it),” Kiran Kumar said. Earlier, it was named as ‘SAARC Satellite.’ “Basically, it (the satellite) is meant for providing communication and disaster support, connectivity among States (countries of South Asia region). It will provide a significant capability to each of these participating States in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things,” he said.”So, there is a significant amount of inter-linking possible among the States (these countries),” Kiran Kumar said. According to ISRO officials, there is a potential for each participating country to use a dedicated transponder with a capacity of 36 to 54 Mhz for its own internal use. Each country would be responsible for content generation and its use, they said.Space agency ISRO scripted history in February by successfully launching 104 satellites, including India’s weather observation Cartosat-2 Series, in a single mission onboard its dependable Polar rocket from here.Bettering Russian space agency’s feat of launching 37 satellites in a single mission in 2014, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) injected the Cartosat-2 Series satellite and 103 nano satellites into precise orbit after a textbook lift-off from this spaceport, about 100 km from Chennai.The previous highest number of satellites launched by ISRO in one mission was 20 in June 2015, the agency said.Cartosat-2 Series satellite, a remote sensing spacecraft with a five-year life span, would send images that would be utilised in coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land use maps among others, ISRO said.So far, ISRO has launched 226 satellites, including 179 belonging to foreign countries.At the end of the 23-hour countdown, the shortest so far by ISRO, the agency’s trusted workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, on its 39th flight, blasted off from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 9:28 AM and soared into clear skies.ISRO said it was able to reduce the countdown time, which normally varies upto 52 hours, as the preparations were completed in a shorter span.After a flawless flight, the rocket first orbited 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series satellite followed by the co-passengers — ISRO’s INS-1A and INS-1B, 96 other nano satellites belonging to two US companies, and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland and UAE.The satellites were placed in the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) in a gap of about 30 minutes during a series of separations.

PM Modi’s terrorism remark, a reminder about nature of challenge Defence expert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a veiled swipe at Pakistan, asserted that a ‘thought process’ in South Asia was inspiring and nurturing terrorism, defence expert Uday Bhaskar on Sunday said the statement is a timely reminder about the nature of this challenge. Bhaskar said it is clear that Pakistan nurtures terrorist groups, adding that religious consensus over the same is the need of the hour. ?Prime Minister Modi?s observation about terrorism during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina in Delhi is both, a significant statement and also a very timely reminder about the nature of the security challenge at the regional and global level. It is tragic and relevant that Prime Minister Modi made this statement just in after the aftermath of tragedy in Stockholm,? Bhaskar told ANI. The defence expert further said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina?s visit to Delhi is a very important visit, perhaps the most critical visit for Prime Minister Modi in terms of regional cooperation. The fact that Prime Minister went to the airport to receive the Bangladesh Prime Minister is indicative of the way in which this visit is being seen by the Modi Government. ?Prime Minister Modi is reminding the global community and religious leaders about the nature of this challenge. It is interesting that he did not refer to Pakistan by name. It is clear about the way Pakistan is nurturing terrorist groups and the need for regional consensus, which had come up even last year when the Prime Minister was talking to the SAARC leaders in a different context. So, I would characterise this as a very significant and timely political statement by the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh,? he said. Prime Minister Modi yesterday said that a ‘thought process’ in South Asia is inspiring and nurturing terrorism. He further said that India has always wanted its neighbours to progress along with itself, but certain elements in the region are thriving on destroying instead of developing. Speaking in the presence of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Modi expressed his desire to see other nations proceeding along India on the path of development. “India’s development alone is incomplete and we can’t even imagine that we will go forth and succeed alone in this region. We want peace, prosperity and progress for our neighbors as well. ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ is not only limited to India but our neighbors development as well,” he said at the ‘Sommanona Ceremony’ honoring the Indian Martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the liberation war of Bangladesh. Further stating that India has always extended the hand of friendship to every nation, the Prime Minister opined that the ties of friendship between India and Bangladesh are testament to that fact. In a veiled attack on Pakistan, he then proceeded to state that there is a ‘thought process’ in South Asia, which is inspiring and nurtutring terrorism, whose value system is based on violence instead of humanity. “Their only objective is to spread terrorism, destroy instead of develop and betray instead of trust. This thought process remains a steady challenge to us.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pak summons India’s Deputy High Commissioner for ceasefire

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan today summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh to condemn the alleged ceasefire violation by Indian security forces along the Line of Control (LoC), killing a civilian. Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that India resorted to “unprovoked firing” on April 1 along the LoC in Chirikot sector. The statement claimed that an 18-year-old civilian, who was injured in the firing, died yesterday. “The Director General (South Asia & SAARC), Dr Mohammad Faisal, summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr J P Singh and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violation by the Indian occupation forces,” it said. It said that the deliberate targeting of civilians is indeed condemnable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights and humanitarian laws. The Director General urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘India will be the world’s youngest country by 2020’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will become the world’s youngest country by 2020 with an average age of 29, India’s envoy in Sri Lanka said today. Sixty-four per cent of India’s population will be in the working age group by 2020, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Taranjith Singh Sandhu said while delivering a foreign policy lecture here. “With western Europe, the US, South Korea, Japan and even China aging, this demographic potential offers India an unprecedented edge which could further contribute to the GDP growth rate,” he said. “The core aim of India’s foreign policy is to meet the developmental aspirations of its 1.25 billion people. Our diplomacy is for our development,” the envoy said. The Indian foreign policy has become more proactive and the world appreciated India’s leadership, he said. There was a huge window of opportunity for India-Sri Lanka ties, Sandhu said. “We will soon be launching a SAARC communications and meteorology satellite which also has Sri Lankan partnership. There is a lot that we can do together. We are keen to integrate,” he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pak needs to shut down terrorism factory: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan needs to shut down “terrorism factory” and there is now international concern about it, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar today said.He also asserted that India has not given up on SAARC, but it will keep looking for other opportunities for regional integration “since SAARC is stuck”.Speaking on ties with China, Jaishankar said “it does not help to duck issues” and admitted that there was a need to invest more to manage the relationship better.Jaishankar was speaking during a discussion on “Political change and economic uncertainties” at the Gateway Dialogue event, co-hosted by Ministry of External Affairs.He also cautioned against “demonising” US President Donald Trump. “Don’t demonise Trump, analyse Trump. He represents a thought process. It’s not a momentary expression,” he said.Trump has been facing criticism over his controversial immigration policy.Jaishankar said that western countries may not be open about Pakistan and terrorism problem but they have concerns.”Western countries may not be open about Pakistan and terrorism problem but they have concerns. The issue really here is whether Pakistan is willing to take fundamental steps.They need to shut down terrorism factory,” he said.”The thinking on Pakistan is necessarily security centric because the fact is we can live in a situation of very little threat but not in a situation of terrorism on and off, which will be the case as long as the factory keeps running,” he said.”Terrorism in the past was seen as our problem but now it’s a bigger problem. There is today international concern (on terrorism),” he said.He said India’s multilateral engagement is not just good “for branding purposes but it also works in India’s interest”.”We are approaching multi-polarity. Everyone is playing everybody,” he said.Visualising a greater role for India on international scene, he said time has come for the country to take a lead on global stage, since the major countries are ‘narrowing down’.”At a time when horizons of a lot of major countries are getting narrower…If the major (countries) are pulling back there is a space out there and it is in our interest to use that space. In my views, we should be looking at more powered position in international forum,” he said.He also said that India should not give up on SAARC.”We haven’t given up on SAARC. We can’t and we shouldn’t,” India’s top diplomat said.”When it comes to regional integration, we will keep looking for other opportunities since SAARC is stuck,” Jaishankar said.”At a time when major powers are rethinking their multilateral engagement, India’s track record stands out,” he added.

‘India blocking Pak diplomat’s appointment as SAARC Secy Gen’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is attempting to block on “procedural grounds” the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as SAARC’s next secretary general, according to a media report here which has been strongly dismissed by New Delhi. “The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), beleaguered by internal rifts, is headed for more difficult days ahead as India is attempting to block on ‘procedural grounds’ the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next secretary general of the regional body,” Dawn News reported. The SAARC secretariat can, therefore, potentially remain a headless body for a long time if the stalemate prolongs and the “dispute” is not resolved soon, the report said. Reacting to the report, official sources in New Delhi said India was not trying to block the appointment, it has only pointed out that “procedural” norms need to be adhered to which was also accepted by other SAARC members. The Pakistani turn, which is held by rotation, starts from March 1, 2017, and continues till February 28, 2020. Amjad Hussain Sial is a career diplomat who has been nominated by Pakistan as the 13th secretary general of SAARC, the daily said. This is the first time in SAARC’s troubled history that it is moving towards a standoff over the Secretary General’s appointment, the report said. Sial had been nominated by Pakistan as the Secretary General to replace the outgoing top official of Kathmandu- based SAARC secretariat Arjun Bahadur Thapa, whose tenure expires on February 28. Sial’s nomination was made at the SAARC Council of Ministers in Pokhara, Nepal, in March 2016 and was endorsed by all member states. “New Delhi, however, through a diplomatic note last month asked the secretariat to adhere to the ‘due working procedures’ in the appointment of Mr Thapa’s successor,” the report said. Pakistani officials, meanwhile, have accused India of employing “delaying tactics”. They insist that concurrence had been received from all members, including India, it said. The daily claimed that a copy of an Indian diplomatic note dated May 30, 2016 conveying its concurrence to Sial’s appointment as secretary general was also shared with it. New Delhi is now unnecessarily raising issues over the appointment, the report said, citing officials. SAARC is an eight-member regional grouping that comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Amartya Sen questions democratic institutions, public: Asks why better healthcare is not demanded

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nobel jaureaute Amartya Sen, while speaking to an audience on Saturday, said, neither the parties nor the people made healthcare an issue in the 2014 elections. “In 2014 during elections, neither the parties nor the people made healthcare an issue,” Sen said while addressing a gathering at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. As the rapt audience listened to the oral cancer survivor who, at 18 was given not more than a 15% chance of survival, came down heavily on democratic institutions including the media and the law, apart from the common man, for not demanding better healthcare facility from the government.Key points from the speech⇒ Healthcare should include other social determinants (nutrition, sanitation & social equity)⇒ Need more spending on public healthcare⇒ Exploitation of poor patients by private doctors has to stop⇒ Moral hazard involved in subsidising private hospitals for unverified treatments (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna) needs radical reform⇒ More recognition needed for the central role of public healthcare”India spends a little over 1% of its GDP on healthcare and there is wastage even while spending,” said Prof Sen. He compared India’s healthcare indicators with the rest of the SAARC nations and said, “While six decades back India was second only to Sri Lanka, now it is second last, ahead only of Pakistan.”China spends around 3% of its GDP on healthcare while many developing countries like Zambia spend as much as around 11% of their total budget on healthcare.He questioned the deficit of discussion on healthcare in the public domain as well as the lack of spending in the public healthcare system. Private doctors were not spared either. “Many of the private doctors know extraordinarily little, combining quackery with crookery,” Dr Sen said, stressing on the need to protect poor patients from being exploited by these private doctors. Sen said that while India’s economy has grown, “the society reach of economic prosperity has been very limited.” Adding, “Unlike China where money has been used to develop social infrastructure, India has struggled with the momentous handicap of bad healthcare and education.”Talking about the government’s demonetization attack, he said, “It was a missile that has been launched overnight but we don’t know where it has landed yet.” Heatlhcare models and ways to deliver Universal Healthcare will be discussed at the three-day conference that will come to a close on Sunday. Union Health Minister JP Nadda is scheduled to address the delegates on the final day.

India ‘impeded’ SAARC process, violated its spirit: Sartaj Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister’s advisor on foreign policy Sartaj Aziz on Friday alleged that India, which boycotted SAARC meeting in Islamabad, “impeded” the grouping’s process and “violated” the spirit of its Charter.Aziz said this during a meeting with outgoing South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa who is on a visit to Pakistan. Pakistan was looking forward to welcoming SAARC leaders for the 19th Summit in November but it was postponed when “India impeded the SAARC process and violated the spirit of the SAARC Charter”, Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement. “Pakistan remains committed to hosting the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad at the earliest so that the objectives of regional cooperation under the SAARC umbrella can be pursued more vigorously,” FO quoted Aziz saying in the meeting.He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of SAARC for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation. Aziz said that due to several impediments and challenges, SAARC has been unable to fulfill the vision that was laid out for it by its founding members. Aziz said he believed that the SAARC Secretariat could play an important role as catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of programme and activities that would benefit the region.Thapa emphasised the need to overcome the difficulties the organisation faced and expressed hope that the 19th SAARC Summit would be held in Islamabad as soon as possible.Thapa, who paid a farewell call on Aziz, also held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who appreciated Thapa’s contributions to the SAARC process and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC objectives.Chaudhry emphasised that internal and bilateral problems of member states must not be allowed to affect the organisation and that 19th SAARC Summit should be held as soon as possible to put the whole SAARC process back on track. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Syed Zulfiqar Gardezi, Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) hosted a lunch for the Secretary General, which was attended by Amjad Hussian Sial, Secretary General-elect of the SAARC.Thapa who hails from Nepal, is the 12th Secretary General of SAARC. He will complete his tenure on February 28 after which Amjad Hussain Sial, former Special Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan is to take charge as the next Secretary General of SAARC.

Trying to convince China that India’s rise not harmful to its ascent: FS Jaishankar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the backdrop of growing unease in Sino-India ties, India today said it has been trying to convince the Chinese government that its ascent is not harmful to the rise of China and that both countries should be sensitive on matters relating to sovereignty.In an address at the Raisina Dialogue, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar took strong objection to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, saying there should have been some reflection on India’s unhappiness over it.”What we are trying to do is to convince China that our rise is not harmful to China’s rise just as China’s rise need not be to India’s rise,” he said at the gathering attended by representatives from across the world.Chill has set in Sino-India ties following China’s opposition to India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as Beijing blocking India’s move at the UN to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.During the interactive session, during which he touched upon a vast array of subjects concerning international relations, Jaishankar said the SAARC has been made “ineffective due to the insecurity of one member”.Identifying terrorism as the most “pervasive and serious challenge” to international security, the Foreign Secretary said developing a serious global response to it is of the highest priority but rued that it is hard to do.On ties with China, Jaishankar said there has been overall broadening of ties, especially in areas of business and people-to-people contact, but they have been overshadowed by differences on certain political issues.”But it is important for the two countries not to lose sight of the strategic nature of their engagement, or falter in their conviction that their rise can be mutually supportive,” he said.Replying to a question on CPEC, he said both countries should show sensitivity to each other’s sovereignty.”China is a country which is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty. So we would expect that they would have some understanding of other people’s sensitivity on their sovereignty,” he said.Jaishankar said the CPEC passes through a “piece of land that we call Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir which is territory belongs to India and which is illegally occupied by Pakistan”.He said the project has been undertaken without consultation with India and that its sensitivity and concerns towards it are natural.On India’s overall ties with China, he said both the countries have opened up significantly since 1945.”In a sense, both of us, if you step back and look at it, are opening up a very close international order. When people talk about change since 1945, I think two big changes are really India and China.”I would say if China had not opened up the international order the way it did, I think it would be much harder today for India also to exploit those phases. There is a high degree of shared interests,” he said.

SAARC meet was ineffective due to insecurity of one nation, says FS Jaishankar in indirect attack on Pak

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday said terrorism remains the most pervasive and serious challenge to international security.Addressing the second day of the Raisina Dialogue here, Jaishankar said developing a serious global response is of the highest priority.In an indirect attack on Pakistan, he said that SAARC was ineffective due to the insecurity of one nation.The Foreign Secretary’s assertion came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan must walk away from terrorism if it wants dialogue with India as New Delhi alone cannot walk the path of peace.Addressing the second edition of Raisina Dialogue on Tuesday evening, he said the world is going through profound changes and non-state actors are major contributors to spread of challenges faced by the world.Prime Minister Modi said India believes in de-linking terrorism from religion and rejecting artificial distinctions between good and bad terrorism.

Manipur students ‘denied’ entry into Taj Mahal, asked for proof of nationality: report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In yet another case of discrimination against people from the North-East, a group of students from a university in Manipur were allegedly stopped from entering the Taj Mahal by CISF personnel, reported Indian Express.The incident took place on Sunday at around 3:30 pm. The students of the Central Agricultural University in Imphal had gone to visit the monument as part of an all-India educational tour and were asked to produce proof of their nationality.However, even after producing their ID cards and a letter for the tour, the CISF personnel did not allow them to enter the monument. Only a few student, who had Aadhaar cards, were allowed in and the remaining students were given entry following police intervention.Students also lodged a written complaint with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials, alleging discrimination.The report said that the students were stopped from entering the Taj Mahal because they seemed like foreigners who were trying to pass off as Indians to get cheaper tickets.Tickets issued to foreign tourists (barring those from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries) to visit the monument cost Rs 1,000 each. However, Indians are charged Rs 40 per ticket.ASI official has ordered an inquiry into the matter.

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