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Pak HC Abdul Basit’s Undiplomatic acts

Sheshadri Chari

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Abdul basit exceedts all diplomatic limits in meeting Chinese envoy yo discuss India- China standoff in India Bhutan Border.

India International

India criticizes UN’s failure to show resolve in sanctioning new Taliban leaders

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United Nations | India has strongly criticized the UN for its failure to show resolve in sanctioning new Taliban leaders who continue to perpetrate violence and destruction in Afghanistan and aided by those harboured in safe havens in its neighbourhood, a veiled reference to Pakistan.

Counsellor in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Eenam Gambhir said at a UN General Assembly debate on the situation in Afghanistan it is clear that the terrorists who plan attacks against Afghanistan are not interested in peace.  “The goalposts for them have changed. The terrorists and their supporters have now set up industries amongst them of narcotics and illegal mining in the territories they control stealing the resources of the Afghan people and to fund more violence and terrorism,” she said.

Gambhir said that while the people of Afghanistan strive for better lives and a peaceful future, the challenges they face have only increased in the recent past. She cited the recently released Global Terrorism Index, which named Afghanistan as the world’s deadliest country for terrorism with one-quarter of all worldwide terrorism-related deaths during 2017 occurring in the country.

India strongly criticized the UN’s failure to deal with the “source” of terrorism wrecking havoc in the war-torn country.  “Despite these challenges, the UN has not demonstrated the resolve to deal with the source of the problem. The Security Council sanctions committee, which refuses to designate new leaders of the Taliban or to freeze the assets of the slain leader of Taliban, is falling short of what is expected of it by the Afghans and international community,” she said.  “From the lessons from the past, we who are located in New York, are aware that peace in Afghanistan is tied to the peace and security in the entire world,” she added.

Gambhir noted that while the international community advocates that there is no military solution to the issue, the Taliban, aided by their supporters, continue to pursue military operations perpetrating violence and destruction, like the recent attack in Kabul, over several parts of Afghanistan.  In a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan, Gambhir said “These offensives are planned and launched by those who are harboured in safe havens in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan. These sanctuaries have, for years, provided safety for the dark agendas of ideologically and operationally-fused terror networks like the Taliban, Haqqani network, Daesh, Al- Qaeda and its proscribed affiliates such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.”

Gambhir said the reports of the Secretary General repeatedly demonstrate that the violence and terror in Afghanistan was showing no signs of abating. “We witnessed an increased frequency of attacks, in places never imagined before; even the sick and wounded in hospitals, young boys and girls in schools, praying devotees in mosques, and even mourners at funerals, were not spared by the forces of terror and violence,” she said.

The General Assembly held its annual debate on the situation in Afghanistan during which it adopted a resolution by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to none against, with three abstentions (Libya, Russia, Zimbabwe).  Through the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly pledged its continued support to Afghanistan as it rebuilds a stable, secure and economically self-sufficient State, free of terrorism and narcotics. It further encouraged all partners to support constructively the Government of Afghanistan’s reform agenda and emphasizes that threats to stability and development in the country and the region require closer and more coordinated cooperation.

Gambhir lauded the enthusiastic participation of the people of Afghanistan in the Parliamentary elections held last month despite terrorist violence, saying this reflects their desire and faith in democratic governance and rejection of forces that foment and spread terror and violence. “Democracy in Afghanistan is taking deeper roots,” she said.  She stressed that India supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace and reconciliation process which promotes and protects unity, sovereignty, democracy, inclusiveness and prosperity of Afghanistan. “Any meaningful progress towards sustainable peace requires cessation of terrorist violence, renunciation of links with international terrorism, respect for rights of common Afghan people, especially the women, the children and minorities.”  She further said that India will continue to stand with Afghanistan, stressing that building reliable connectivity for the land locked country is key component of its regional partnership.

“In these endeavors we are mindful that all such projects respect state sovereignty and territorial integrity and are based on universally recognized international norms, transparency and principles of financial responsibility, ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards,” she said.  It is with this spirit that India is engaged in various connectivity projects in the region including the Chabahar Port project and direct India-Afghanistan Air-Freight Corridor, which have been successfully operationalised, she said.

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India International

India-Pakistan trade much below than potential: Reports

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Islamabad| The current trade between India and Pakistan is at a little over USD 2 billion, much below than the potential, and can go up to USD 37 billion if the two countries tear down artificial barriers like lack of connectivity, trust deficit and complicated and non-transparent non-tariff measures, according to a World Bank report.
The report titled ‘Glass Half Full: Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ was released here on Wednesday.
Dawn reported that it says that the current trade between the two countries is much below than full potential. It could only be harnessed if both countries agree to tear down artificial barriers.The bank also estimated Pakistan’s potential trade with South Asia at USD 39.7bn against the actual current trade of USD 5.1bn.

The report also unpacks four of the critical barriers to effective integration. The four areas are tariff and para-tariff barriers to trade, complicated and non-transparent non-tariff measures, disproportionately high cost of trade, and trust deficit.Talking to a group of journalists on key points of the report at the World Bank office in Islamabad, lead economist and author of the document Sanjay Kathuria said it was his belief that trust promotes trade, and trade fosters trust, interdependency and constituencies for peace.In this context, he added, the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor by governments of Pakistan and India would help minimise trust deficit. He said such steps will boost trust between the two countries. For realising the trade potential between Pakistan and India, he suggested the two countries can start with specific products facilitation in the first phase.

Kathuria said Pakistan had least air connectivity with South Asian countries, especially India. Pakistan has only six weekly flights each with India and Afghanistan, 10 each with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and only one with Nepal, but no flight with the Maldives and Bhutan. Compared to this, India has 147 weekly flights with Sri Lanka, followed by 67 with Bangladesh, 32 with the Maldives, 71 with Nepal, 22 with Afghanistan and 23 with Bhutan. The report recommends ending sensitive lists and para tariffs to enable real progress on the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and calls for a multi-pronged effort to remove non-tariff barriers, focusing on information flows, procedures, and infrastructure. The report stated that Pakistan’s decision of not granting MFN status or non-discriminatory market access to India was also a barrier to trade.

The preferential access granted by Pakistan on 82.1% of tariff lines under Safta was partially blocked in the case of India because Pakistan maintained a negative list comprising 1,209 items that could not be imported from India, the report noted. Policy-makers may draw lessons from the India-Sri Lanka air service liberalisation experience. Connectivity is a key enabler for robust regional cooperation in South Asia.

Kathuria said that reducing policy barriers, such as eliminating the restrictions on trade at the Wagah-Attari border, or aiming for seamless, electronic data interchange at border crossings, will be major steps towards reducing the very high costs of trade between Pakistan and India. He argued that the costs of trade are much higher within South Asia compared to other regions. The average tariff in South Asia is more than double the world average. South Asian countries have greater trade barriers for imports from within the region than from the rest of the world.He said these countries impose high para tariffs, which are extra fees or taxes on top of tariffs. More than one-third of the intraregional trade falls under sensitive lists, which are goods that are not offered concessional tariffs under The World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Illango Patchamuthu, said Pakistan is sitting on a huge trade potential that remains largely untapped. “A favorable trading regime that reduces the high costs and removes barriers can boost investment opportunities that are critically required for accelerating growth in the country,” he said.

The World Bank’s Director Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Caroline Freund said Pakistan’s frequent use of tariffs to curb imports or protect local firms increases the prices of hundreds of consumer goods, such as eggs, paper and bicycles.They also raise the cost of production for firms, making it difficult for them to integrate in regional and global value chains, she said. “Pakistan needs to promote export promotion policies to ensure sustainable growth.”

On the issue of currency devaluation, she said undervalued currency is an anti-export measure. She suggests exchange rate should be determined by the real market trend.

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India International

2+2 can be 22

Akhilesh Bhargava

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The much awaited but highly delayed, maiden 2+2 dialogue between India and USA, is finally scheduled to be held in the New Delhi on 6th September 2018. Its repeated postponements for unavoidable reasons, as the US said, had raised doubts about the seriousness of USA in India as a key strategic partner, under the Trump administration. Under this dialogue format, the defence and foreign minister of India and USA will meet to discuss matters of defence, diplomacy and security. The question here arises will something fruitful come out of it? Mr Akhilesh Bhargava shares his insights on the matter at hand in this video.

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