In a volte-face, Pakistan’s Cabinet on Thursday rejected the proposal of a high-powered committee to import cotton and sugar from India, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asserting that there can be no normalisation of ties until New Delhi reverses its decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The somersault came a day after the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) under newly appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar on Wednesday decided to buy the two key items from India, lifting a nearly two-year long ban on their import from India.
Qureshi said the issue of import of cotton and sugar from India was discussed during the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “An impression is being created that relations with India have become normal and trade has been restored…,” Qureshi said in a video message. “On this impression, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet had a consensus opinion that until India reviewed the unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, it would not be possible to normalise ties with India.”
Talking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that the Cabinet discussed the issue of ties and trade with India and decided that things cannot progress until India revokes its August 5, 2019 move on Kashmir.
“We want to cooperate with India, but the first condition is that it should go back to pre August 5, 2019 position in Kashmir,” he said.
Finance Minister Azhar’s announcement on Wednesday to import cotton and sugar from India had raised hopes of a partial revival of bilateral trade relations, which were suspended after the August 5, 2019 decision of New Delhi to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. India is the world’s biggest producer of cotton and the second biggest sugar manufacturer.
Azhar’s decision became doubtful since afternoon, but officials kept mum and finally the first confirmation came from Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who is known for her hawkish stand on Kashmir. “Today Cabinet stated clearly NO trade with India,” Mazari tweeted soon after the Cabinet meeting. Mazari said that Prime Minister Khan, who chaired the first Cabinet meeting after testing Covid-19 positive on March 20, “made (it) clear (that) there can be no normalisation of relations with India until they reverse” their actions viz Kashmir of August 5, 2019.
Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Mazari had said that all ECC decisions have to be approved by Cabinet and only then can they be seen as “approved” by the government. “Just for the record–All ECC decisions have to be approved by Cabinet & only then they can be seen as ‘approved by govt’! So today in Cabinet there will be discussion on ECC decisions incl trade with India & then govt decision will be taken! Media shd be aware of this atleast!” Mazari had tweeted.
In May 2020, Pakistan had lifted the ban on import of medicines and raw material of essential drugs from India amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in Pakistan. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship. The ties strained further after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019, in response to the Pulwama terror attack in 2019 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
India’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 angered Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad. Pakistan also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.
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Ceremonies and marriages to be held during the day in Haryana
In wake of a spurt in the Covid pandemic, the state government has come up with a certain set of guidelines and new directions. The government had already imposed the night curfew on 12 April 2021 and in continuation to it, it has been decided night ceremonies, Navratra programmes and marriages will take place during the day. Chief Minister Manohar Lal directed all the Deputy Commissioners that night-time ceremonies and Navratra programmes should be shifted to the day. The government has also issued directions around gathering at public places. According to new norms to control the fatal Covid-19, from now on not more than 200 people can gather in outdoor functions and not more than 50 in indoor functions. Similarly, not more than 20 people will be able to attend funerals.
“We also have to keep in mind as to what is unavoidable and what can be avoided. This time the Covid-19 spread has started from educational institutions so there is a need to be more vigilant, especially there. We also need to reduce crowding in public gatherings etc.,” said the Chief Minister. Due to the increasing number of Covid cases in the country and the state, we have to take strict precautions, he added.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT CENSURES KRK FOR COMMENTING ON BHAGNANI’S BUSINESSES
The Bombay High Court has censured Kamaal Rashid Khan alias KRK for his controversial and defamatory tweets against producer Vashu Bhagnani, his family, business, profession and projects
KRK has been stopped by the High Court from putting out any further tweets against Bhagnani and all his business interests till the pendency of the Rs 1 crore defamation suit filed by the veteran producer for ‘defamatory’, ‘slanderous’, and ‘distasteful’ statements as well as ‘patently false allegations on KRK’s Twitter and YouTube accounts.
As per the court order, an injunction has been issued, pending the final disposal of the suit, that prohibits “the defendant from publishing, circulating or repeating the allegations and tweets and/or making, publishing, circulating and/or communicating to the public any defamatory/slanderous comments and/or statements against the plaintiff and/or his family and/or his business, profession and/or his projects.”
“Social media is a very powerful tool which on many occasions is misused to defame reputed persons. Courts have time and again deprecated such misuse. This is yet another occasion where the Bombay High Court has passed an order restraining KRK from making slanderous and defamatory remarks against Vashu Bhagnani, his family members, his business, and his projects. This is the third court order against Khan in succession,” said Ameet Naik, Founder and Managing Partner of Naik Naik & Company. After hearing the matter at length, the court observed that the tweets are not criticism given by a film critic which is contrary to the defence of KRK and are serious defamatory and slanderous remarks.
CAPT AMARINDER LAUNCHES KEY MSME REFORMS
Chandigarh: Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh launched a fresh wave of reforms to further reduce the regulatory burden on MSMEs through rationalisation, digitalisation and decriminalisation of the regulatory landscape, thus enabling entrepreneurs to focus on expanding their operations in a predictable business environment during this Covid-19 pandemic. The reforms on removing imprisonment terms, building flexibility and reducing oversight in the labour rules, and pursuing a data-driven assessment of service delivery delays are all centred around making entrepreneurship easier in Punjab, said the Chief Minister.
Terming it the beginning of the state’s transformation journey, he said with these reforms, commitments had been set for future changes including rationalising trade license with shops and establishments act and removing imprisonment terms from 100 low-risk provisions in non-labour related rules. Besides, the Chief Minister announced that the number of labour registers will be reduced, requiring an entrepreneur to maintain from 60 to less than 14, and flexibility enhanced in hiring women employees. Discretionary powers of inspectors are being removed with regard to deductions related to the absence or leave which will be deduced from labour registers going forward. These changes will be incorporated in the new State Rules.
Further, to ensure timely delivery of key licenses and permits, as prescribed under the Transparency Act 2018, Government has begun a monthly data-driven assessment mechanism under the Chief Secretary to make sure not a single license or permit is delayed beyond the stipulated period. Going forward, it is also proposed to reduce the number of Pre-commissioning licenses & NOCs to start a business by at least 20% and the possibility of doing this entirely online being explored. Also, changes will be made in Land Use for starting new business and mechanisms will be developed for timely and hassle-free water, electricity and sewage connections. “These reforms are the start of a journey, and we hope to make Punjab a lighthouse State for MSME growth support,” he said, adding, “We have listened to entrepreneurs on the ground and we will continue to reduce the compliance burden to start, operate, and grow a business.”
Punjab CM sets 2 lakh a day vaccine target for April
Even as he noted with satisfaction that the Covid numbers in the state appeared to have plateaued, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered strict enforcement of Covid appropriate protocols to prevent any super spread events, along with an increase in daily vaccination doses to 2 lakh per day, and a special control room to be set up for effective in-person monitoring of home isolation cases.
Citing figures on mortality and positivity, the Chief Minister said that the restrictions currently in place are showing results, and the same needed to be implemented strictly, particularly in Mohali and other big cities showing high rates of transmission and cases.
He pointed out that the state’s positivity rate stands at 8.1%, even though positivity in the age group of less than 40 years had come down from 54% (September 2020) to 50% (March 2021). The curbs, coupled with strong efforts by all concerned, helped reduce the percentage of mortality in the age group below 60 years from 50% (September 2020) to 40% (March 2021), and should be strictly adhered to, he added. However, he reiterated his demand that the Centre should allow vaccination for under 45 in areas with more cases since the UK variant is infecting younger people more. He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to pursue the matter with the Central government while Dr KK Talwar stressed that patients of kidney and liver disease, who are under 45 years, should at least be allowed to be vaccinated.
The Chief Minister was chairing a virtual meeting with several ministers, senior administrative and police officials as well as medical/health experts to review the Covid and vaccine situation in the state.
Making it clear that there is no scope for complacency, he said the special control room with a dedicated team could utilise ANMs, ASHA workers, interns from medical colleges to move beyond just telephonic to more in-person monitoring. GMCHs should provide students to RRTs at District Level immediately, he further directed the Health Department.
RAJNATH SINGH CONGRATULATES IAF ON ITS RESPONSE TO CHINA IN EASTERN LADAKH
While addressing the biannual IAF Commanders’ Conference (AFCC-21) at Air Headquarters, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Indian Air Force for its befitting response to the “sudden developments in Eastern Ladakh” and appreciated its focus on “reorienting for the future” on Thursday. He also advised the Commanders to draw up long-term plans and strategies for capability enhancement to counter future threats.
He expressed happiness that the conference coincides with the birth anniversary of the Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC. Speaking about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Rajnath appreciated the role played by the IAF in assisting other government agencies in their task, as per an official statement from the defence ministry.
Referring to changing international geopolitics, he observed that the perceptible shift of focus from Trans-Atlantic to Trans-Pacific has become more obvious in the recent past. “Changing dimensions of war would now include advanced technologies, asymmetric capabilities and info-dominance, and IAF’s future preparations must include these aspects.”
The Defence Minister emphasised the need to promote ‘atmanirbharta’ in defence infrastructure, adding that the IAF’s order for LCA would result in a substantial boost to the domestic defence industry and will be a game-changer from the indigenisation perspective. With ANI inputs
EC ISSUES NOTICE TO BJP’S SAYANATAN BASU FOR INFLAMMATORY REMARK
Kolkata: The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sayantan Basu for delivering an inflammatory statement, which is “an open threat to Bengal and its people”.
The EC asked Basu to explain his stand regarding his statement within 24 hours, failing which the Commission “shall take a decision without further reference to you”. According to the quote attached in EC’s statement, Basu said: “… I, Sayanatan Basu, am here to tell you that don’t try to play too much. We will play the game of Sitalkuchi. They killed 18 year old Ananda Barman, a first time voter, in the morning. He was the brother of the BJP’s Shakti Pramukh. We did not have to wait for long… (barely audible) Four of them were known the way to heaven. There was a dialogue in the film ‘Sholey’ you know – if you kill one we will kill four of you. Sitalkuchi witnessed it – if you kill one we will kill four of you.”
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