India plays balancing game again: Why Palestinian President was in Delhi

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s four-day state visit took place at a time when the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is breaking new grounds in the realm of country’s foreign policy.
Modi reconfirmed to Abbas after talks India’s unwavering support to the Palestinian cause. India hopes “to see the realization of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel”, the prime minister said in his statement.
The two leaders agreed that India and Palestine, through practical cooperation, will work together to build Palestine’s economy and contribute to improving the lives of its people. “We will continue to support the skill development and capacity-building efforts of Palestine”, Modi said.
Five agreements, including in the area of information technology, electronics, agriculture, health,youth affairs and sports, including Yoga,were signed between two sides in the presence of two leaders.

Read More

Qatar bets big on India, 6 pacts signed

India and Qatar, the energy-rich Gulf state, have taken a set of important steps to bolster their economic and security partnership as the two countries signed six agreements, including one on the transfer of sentenced prisoners.

The pacts were signed after full-spectrum talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in New Delhi on March 25.

The six agreements, besides the transfer of sentenced prisoners, included: an MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology; an MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation; an MoU between Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar and Foreign Service Institute of the ministry of external affairs; an MoU for cooperation in the field of Radio and Television; and an agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News.

The pact on the transfer of sentenced prisoners envisages the repatriation of Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent to their home country to serve their sentence. This agreement would enable the sentenced persons to be near their families and would help in the process of their social rehabilitation, said an official statement.

Read More

Feasting, bickering and philosophising: Way to go for India-Pakistan relations!

Feasting, bickering and rhetorical fireworks. It was a conflicted see-saw day for the prickly relations between India and Pakistan as the Pakistan high commission rolled out a moveable feast for at least 3,000 Indian guests on its National Day in New Delhi even as New Delhi sharply reminded Islamabad that there is no place for third party (Kashmiri separatists) in the dialogue process.

March 23, 2015 – it was just another day in the subcontinent bidding adieu to winter and bracing for the long blistering summer ahead, but it telescoped multiple contradictions in the tangled India-Pakistan relations.

What does all this symbolism, rhetoric and below-the-belt barbs mean for India-Pakistan relations and the prospects of the dialogue process? The messaging is confused, but still one can isolate some strands: one, for all the occasional bickering and reiteration of well-known positions, the leadership in New Delhi and Islamabad are increasingly realising that there is no option but to talk and re-engage. There is also a healthy dose of pragmatism, a sobering realisation that bickering between the governments will not prevent bonding and feasting on people-to-people level. If nothing works, they can always bank on the robust appetite of people on both sides of the divide for good food: the rich spread of biryani, chicken tikka and kakori kabab…

Read More

Indian hostages in Iraq: India seeks Turkey’s help

With the extremist Sunni terror group ISIS continuing its assault in the Middle East, the lives of 39 Indian constructions workers hang in the balance as they remain in the ISIS’s captivity for almost nine months. Against this backdrop, India has sought Turkey’s help to secure the release of the Indian hostages from Iraq, who were kidnapped from Mosul, Iraq, last June.

India’s External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj has been pursuing the issue over the past months through various channels and took it up with her Turkish counterpart, Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was in India on a short visit. Although intelligence agencies have been unable to locate the exact whereabouts of the Indian hostages and their captors, the talks with Turkey have brought fresh hope for their secure rescue.

India was faced with a similar situation last year when the ISIS held 46 nurses captive, later releasing them unharmed. Their safe return to India, after much back and forth across multiple diplomatic channels, showed the diplomatic prowess of the newly-elected Modi government.

In the current case, according to sources, Mr. Cavusoglu said that the ISIS’s information flow was very “restricted” and no concrete details were available on the whereabouts of Indian workers. Recent ISIS killings of hostages from Japan have caused concern for the safety of the Indian hostages. Some sources had also claimed earlier that the hostages had been killed.

Read More