Pakistan may have expressed its willingness to host the long-delayed summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), but India wants the neighbouring country to “walk the talk” on terrorism before any such meeting of the key regional body. Pakistan will have to pass the test of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the month of June before India gives any word on whether the SAARC should be held in Islamabad or not.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) top officials recently discussed the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s statement showing the country’s readiness to host the SAARC summit later this year. The SAARC summit has been pending since 2016 as a result of growing tension between India and Pakistan over the Uri attack.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have made it clear to the MEA officials that Pakistan must show some credible action against terrorism before being allowed to host the SAARC summit.
Sources told The Sunday Guardian that India will be watching how Pakistan is able to satisfy the FATF in its next meeting to be held by the end of June this year. “Only then will India be making its stand clear on attending the SAARC summit in Pakistan,” say sources.
“FATF will be a significant test for Pakistan to clear before its entitlement to hosting the SAARC summit. If it gets black listed or it stays on the grey list of FATF, then Pakistan will have no moral authority whatsoever to host SAARC summit,” says a senior foreign service official posted in MEA.
The Paris-based terror and money laundering watchdog has already rebuked Pakistan over its utter failure to deal effectively with terrorism being promoted on its soil. Here one can recall how PM Modi had last year given a strong message about the SAARC nations (particularly Pakistan) to come clear on the issue of terrorism. “The full potential of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation can only be realised in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence. Let us re-commit ourselves to defeating the forces that support and nurture terrorism, and to work collectively towards a secure and prosperous South Asia,” PM Modi said in a message on the occasion of the 36th Charter Day of SAARC in December last year.
An official said that Pakistan has not yet come up with what could convince the world community and SAARC member nations of its seriousness in uprooting terrorism from its soil. “Rather it has been found backing and sponsoring terror organisations operating from Pakistan’s soil,” he added. “There is no question of PM Modi visiting Pakistan if it continues to be a sympathiser of terror elements present there,” he said. FATF’s admonishment is already a substantial proof of Pakistan being negligent towards terrorism. Hence, India would prefer to keep a watch over how FATF takes a view of Pakistan’s further action in the next crucial meet in the month of June.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy had also said: “According to reports, there are several terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), which are used for training and subsequently for infiltrating trained militants and terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir for terrorist activities. Some of these training camps are still active and imparting training to militants.”
What the minister said goes on to suggest that Pakistan continues to be a patron of terror organisations, which continues to strain the ties with India. Even state actors in Pakistan are behind them, it is reported. “How can such a country stop funding the terror outfits,” asks a diplomat. “It can’t get FATF clean chit with this kind of activity. With this being the case, how can Pakistan be allowed to have a SAARC summit?”
The last SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014. The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on 18 September that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “prevailing circumstances”. The summit had to be called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order.
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Naxals using drones for recce on security forces
Nagpur: Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of security forces near the Chhattisgarh borders, said Maharashtra Police on Friday.
Speaking to ANI, Sandip Patil, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Gadchiroli said, “Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of our posts near the Chhattisgarh border. In the last 4-5 months we have reported 7-8 incidents. Considering all the possibilities we are taking anti-drone measures.” “These small drones are generally used in wedding ceremonies for photography. They use these drones to check the locations of police parties and security parties from the mountains,” said Patil.
He said considering the drone incident that happened in Jammu, the Maharshtra Police has increased the vigilance and been adopting anti-drone measures. Asked about if there is any coordination with Chattishgarh, the DIG said, “Drones were used in Chattishgarh 7-8 months back. We are working in coordination with IG Bastar and SPs and CRPF. We have made a counter-drone strategy with coordination with them.”
Patil further said that the prima facie information suggests that Naxals procured the drones from Hyderabad.
STUDENTS REACT AS CBSE DECLARES CLASS 12 BOARD EXAM RESULTS
As the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released the much-awaited class 12 results on Friday, mixed reactions were received from students. This year, the pass percentage stands at 99.37 per cent.
Some expressed their happiness calling the decision perfect while the others felt the entire year along with their preparations was wasted. Speaking to ANI, Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student said, “Did not expect to get 98.4 per cent, I’m very happy. Keeping pandemic and safety of students in mind, the government took a good decision,” Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student.
Abhishek Chaudhary, another student from Delhi said, “Results were not what we were expecting. I was expecting over 80 per cent score but I am disappointed. I wanted to get into a government college but it seems difficult now.”
“I’m extremely happy, was not expecting to score over 90 per cent,” said Khushi, a humanities student in Ludhiana.
The exam was scheduled to be held in May but was cancelled due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. This year, the CBSE 12th results have been prepared in an alternative way as board exams could not be held this year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The board had adopted an alternative assessment scheme to finalise the result.
WITH ANI INPUTS
ASSAM ISSUES ADVISORY AGAINST TRAVEL TO MIZORAM
The Assam government on Thursday issued a travel advisory asking people not to travel to Mizoram and advised people from the state working or staying there to “exercise utmost caution.”
Assam and Mizoram also traded accusations over deployment of security forces along the interstate border on Thursday, three days after both sides were locked in a fierce gun battle near the boundary that left six policemen and a civilian dead.
Amidst the ongoing border dispute between the two states Assam and Mizoram, Assam Minister Ashok Singhal on Thursday informed that Mizoram civilians are threatening the people of Assam.
While speaking to ANI, Ashok Singhal said, “In the video footage, Mizoram civilians are threatening us and they are carrying weapons too. So we have issued an advisory for the people of Assam not to visit Mizoram. If somebody still goes there, we will not take his/her responsibility.” “Provocative statements are still being issued from the other side.
Further, talks will take place with the mediation of the Union Home Ministry. We have handed over the post to neutral forces but Mizoram has still not withdrawn its personnel from post”, said Cachar Guardian Minister Singhal.
Taking stock of the situation, Assam’s Cachar Superintendent of Police, Ramandeep Kaur said, “The CRPF is manning the border. Assam police have withdrawn as per directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but on Mizoram’s side, the police are still out there which is making the situation tense. Assam people should abide by directions and advisory given by the government of Assam.”
Meanwhile, Assam police also issued a notification saying that in order to check trafficking of illicit drugs, all incoming vehicles from Mizoram will be thoroughly checked at all the entry points along the Assam Mizoram border.
On July 26, the border dispute between the two states peaked and a fierce gun battle between the forces of the two states resulted in the death of five Assam police personnel and one civilian.
One injured policeman succumbed to his injuries later taking the total toll of policemen to six. At least 50 people were injured in the incident. A total of six companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed at the site where the policemen died.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Malls, multiplexes may soon reopen in Maharashtra
The Maharashtra government may soon allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants and gymnasiums to reopen and operate at 50 per cent capacity while shops and other establishments may get extended hours of operations, beyond 4 pm, in 25 districts with low Covid-19 positivity rates. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that a formal order on easing the restrictions will be issued in the next few days.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the state Covid task force and senior health department officials to discuss the easing of restrictions a day after several ministers demanded relaxations in the state cabinet meeting.
Tope said on that Mumbai and 24 other districts will be in Level 2. Eleven districts, including Palghar, Raigad, Ahmednagar and Pune, which are part of MMR or share borders with it, will remain in Level 3 because of their higher test positivity rate and cases.
He also said that after the meeting that the issue would be decided by the Chief Minister regarding the resumption of the local trains.
Weekends may see some relaxations but Sunday will remain completely shut. Only fully vaccinated (2 doses) citizens will be able to travel in local trains. As of now only government employees and people involved with essential services are allowed to travel in local trains.
Cinema halls likely to be open for the public with limited capacity. Local shops, hotels, and gyms will be allowed to remain open for longer hours now.
Districts which will still see the curbs are Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Beed, and Ahmednagar. These districts have higher positivity rates than average.
INDIA-CHINA TALKS TODAY, GOGRA, HOT SPRINGS DISENGAGEMENT ON CARDS
India and China will hold the 12th round of Corps Commander-level talks on Saturday. It will be aimed at discussing disengagement from the remaining friction points in the eastern Ladakh sector Army sources told ANI.
India and China have already disengaged from the banks of Pangong lake after extensive talks and the Gogra Heights and Hot Springs areas are left to be resolved as these friction points were created post-Chinese aggression last year. According to Army sources, the 12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China is scheduled to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am.
“12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am. India and China expected to discuss disengagement from the Hot Springs and Gogra Heights areas,” Army sources said.
The two countries have been engaged in a military standoff for almost a year but disengaged from the most contentious Pangong lake area last month after extensive talks at both military and political levels.
The credit for the disengagement was given to all stakeholders by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane who also talked about the country benefitting from the inputs given by the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the crisis.
Earlier, India and China held 11 rounds of talks at the Corps Commander level to reach the arrangement to disengage from the Pangong lake area.
With ANI inputs
IT WILL AFFECT FREEDOM OF PRESS: HC TO SHILPA SHETTY ON HER MEDIA GAG PLEA
The Bombay High Court on Friday, while hearing a defamation case filed by actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra against media outlets, said that passing a blanket gag order on the media against reporting anything against her shall impact the freedom of press, adding that there is a judicial limit on what can be construed as good or bad journalism. However, some media outlets were asked to take down a few videos and contents that were found to be defamatory by the actress.
Shilpa Shetty, wife of Raj Kundra arrested in the pornography case, on Thursday filed a defamation case against 29 media outlets.
The Bombay HC, however, directed the three videos uploaded on YouTube channels of three private persons be deleted and not uploaded again as they were malicious in nature. The court noted that the freedom of press has to be balanced with the right to privacy of an individual.
The actress, in an interim application, had sought for the media to be restrained from allegedly publishing any incorrect, false, malicious and defamatory content.
The court noted that the articles referred to by Shilpa Shetty in her suit do not seem to be defamatory. “It cannot be like if you (media) are not going to write or say anything nice about me (Shilpa Shetty) then do not say anything at all. How can this be,” it asked.
vThe court noted that most of the articles referred to in the suit, including one that claimed that “Shetty cried and fought with her husband Kundra” when he was brought to their house by the police for joint interrogation, was based on what police sources said.
Shetty had objected to news articles about the actress breaking down and confronting Raj Kundra when Mumbai Police raided their residence. Saraf said, “It was something that had happened between a husband and wife and it was private and should not have been reported.” To this, the court said that the act of Shetty happened in front of outsiders (policemen) and it was reported from “crime branch sources. Also, the act of crying was not defamatory but it shows that she’s a human”.
The HC also said that the media just can’t sing praises and that Shetty is a public figure and that such articles are not defamatory. “You (Shetty) chose a life in public life. Your life is under a microscope. It cannot be that if the media is not going to say anything nice about her (Shetty) then they will be asked to say nothing at all.”
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