Tuesday 18th April 2017 17:55 EDT

Indo-Pakistan relations are fast sliding into an abyss with the news that Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer with 12 years of service, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court as an Indian spy. The court’s proceedings were held in camera; Indian diplomats were denied access to the prisoner, as required under international law.  Jadhav was charged with ‘promoting terrorism’ in Balochistan and Sindh. He is believed to have been working at the Iranian port of Chabahar. He may have inadvertently crossed the Iran’s Balohistan border into Pakistani Balochistan.  This is no more than a guess. His side of the story is presently a closed book. 

There was a rare show of unity in Parliament, with Sushma Swaraj inviting the Congress party to join the government in drafting an all-party resolution on the subject. Spies were executed during the Second World War; during the Cold War and in peacetime generally, they have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Jadhav’s death penalty is a message that Pakistan considers itself at war with India.

Indian warning

India has warned Pakistan of the grave consequences if Jadhav were to be executed. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has warned Islamabad that such an act would be perceived by New Delhi as ‘premeditated murder.’ Notes have been exchanged between the two governments. Jadhav has a right of appeal to a higher military court within 60 days, and were that appeal be rejected, he could post a mercy to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Hindu, Times of India, Telegraph April 12)

At the gates

In Kashmir, violent jihadi mobs wrecked and set fire to election booths near Srinagar for a by-election to Parliament. One must learn to read the signs correctly in order to survive. Jihadi outrages have recently occurred in Russia, Sweden and Germany; the most barbarous being the bombings of three churches in Egypt, in which 44 worshippers died, being the most reprehensible.

Coptic Christianity in Egypt pre-dates Islam; Copts constitute ten per cent of Egypt’s 90 million population. They have been the target of rapes, kidnappings, forced marriages and acts of violence for centuries past. In the Kashmir valley, targeted Islamist violence resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Hindu Pandits.

An Islamic Kashmir – the demand of the separatists – will become the platform for jihadi violence in the rest of India. Appeals to sweet reason have failed. Remember V.P, Menon’s (Sardar Patel’s principal aide) warning words apropos of the Pakistani-sponsored invasion of Kashmir: ‘Srinagar today, Delhi tomorrow. A nation that forgets its history and its geography does so at its peril.’ (Reports, Hindu, Telegraph, Times of India April 10, with Scrutator’s comment)

Hasina in Delhi

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed visited New Delhi last weekend for talks to take the India-Bangladesh relationship – in excellent shape - forward to the next level. She was given a red carpet welcome at the airport by Prime Minster Narendra Modi, welcomed at Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pranab Mukherjee, was the Chief Guest at the banquet, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in attendance.

Deals signed

Stepping up cooperation in connectivity, energy and defence, India extended lines of credit worth $5 billion to Bangladesh, the two prime ministers signed up to 22 agreements across these fields. A new bus service from Kolkata to Dhaka via Khulna is to take effect from June and Special Economic Zones (SEEZs) are to made available to exclusively Indian companies in Bangladesh to boost investment and trade. (Telegraph April ,10)

There are also to be greater military exchanges between the two sides and more Indian facilities for training of Bangladesh personnel. Transmission of power from India to Bangladesh will follow.

Miltary personnel honoured

Indian Army and Air Force and Navy men who made distinguished contributions to the Bangladesh Liberation struggle against Pakistan lost their lives included Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Squadron Leader A.B. Samanta and Mohini Ranjan Chakravarty of the Border Security Force were honoured, among others, by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (Times of India April 8)

Teesta water sticking point

However, the sharing of the Teesta River water, on which Sheikh Hasina had set her heart, proved to be a sticking point. Bangladesh pointed to the lack of water in the north of the country, the difficulty being that the same situation prevails in the northern areas of West Bengal. How to resolve these conflicting demands to the benefit of the two sides is far from easy, but surely not beyond the ingenuity and skills of engineers and water management experts. Ms Banerjee has suggested increased storage from other rivers to augment the water of the Teesta and its unimpeded flow into Bangladesh (Mint April 11)

Khaleda Zia

Beghum Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Islamist party in Bangladesh, has denounced Sheikh Hasina for selling out the country’s interests to India. General elections are to be held in Bangladesh in early 2018, hence India has a strategic stake in Sheikh Hasina’s survival. Under Begum Zia, Bangladesh was a spring board for jihadi terrorists and smugglers wishing to enter and wreak havoc in india (Times of India April 9)

Indo-Australian ties firmed up

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull completed a successful visit to India. His talks with Prime Minister Modi were cordial. Australia reaffirmed its commitment to supply India with uranium for its nuclear power plants and expressed his unswerving support to the Adani Group’s venture in Queensland coal sector, involving mining and transportation for export – one of world’s largest projects, following a meeting with Gautam Adani, founder-chairman of the group (Mint April 12)

Rail link to Tawang

With an eye to the strategic significance of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, the government set in motion a feasibility study to establish a rail link to this remote site near the India-China border at an approximate altitude 13,000 ft. However the nearest broad gauge station on the Assam-Arunachal border is Bhalugong through which the rail link to Tawang is likely to be located. Minister of State, Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State in the Home Ministry Rijiju have been entrusted the necessary authority to explore the undertaking (PTI March 30)

Dalai Lama accorded rapturous welcome

The Fourteenth Dalai Lama was accorded a rapturous welcome when he visited Tawang, the birthplace of his ancestor, the Sixth Dalai Lama. Thousands of devotees, from Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Tibet and the entire Himalayan belt thronged the area near the monastery from which he addressed the assembled crowd of worshippers. Chinese threats and insults directed at him and the Indian government proved counter-productive.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister’s remark that India shared a border with Tibet and not with China provoked a further broadside against India from Beijing. China’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh is untenable in Indian eyes. The ball is firmly in China’s court (Times of India April 10. Mint April 13)

India-Israel ties to deepen

India is close to signing two major defence deals worth $1.5 billion with Israel prior to Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the country in July. The deals include anti-tank missiles and a naval air defence system. ‘The visit is a big milestone,’ said Shailesh Kumar, Senior Asia analyst at political risk firm Eurasia Group. Modi’s visit transcends defence. Officials in both countries believe they face a common threat: terrorism. India is Israel’s largest defence customer and third in India’s list of vendors after Russia and the US.

Never stronger

‘India-Israel relations have always been strong but never have they been widely publicized,’ said Ankar Gupta, New Delhi-based Vice-President for Aerospace and Defence.’ (Business Line April 13)

Jihadi thugs provoke CRPF force

A video showing paramilitary CRPF personnel being kicked and abused by Kashmiri jihadi youth and the exemplary restraint displayed by the force was a vivid demonstration of what the Indian security forces have endure in that hell-hole (Times of India Aril 13)

Hungarian welcome for Indian business

The formal inauguration of Apollo Tyres’ second manufacturing unit in Hungary was perceived as an event of national importance in the country, with Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, giving an emotional speech on how investment was critically important for the country. Referring to Apollo’s Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Neeraj Kanwar and the Kanwars ‘as part of the Hungarian family (Business Line April 13)

Technology key to India’s growth

India’s next level of economic growth ‘rests on how it capitalizes on technology,’ said Deepak Parekh, Chairman Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), one of India’s largest and most successful lenders. Six of the 10 largest companies globally were technology companies, he said. Quality and infrastructure are areas which India must address vas a priority. ‘There is no easy way to growing,’ he explained.

Trillion dollar economy

India became a trillion dollar economy in 2007, doubling it in 2015, and will more than double that by 2024, said Parekh. (Business Line April 13)

Parliament exceeds performance

In a historic session both Houses of Parliament passed a record of 18 Bills, thus redeeming themselves from previous performances when disruption led to a legislative logjam much to the detriment of the national interest (Business Line April 13)

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