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Jordan seeks peace in Palestine

He also stressed the need to preserve the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem, maintain calm, and stop unilateral action that undermines the two-state solution…reports Asian Lite News

King Abdullah II of Jordan reaffirmed the necessity to intensify efforts to achieve just and comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine on the basis of the two-state solution during a meeting with visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

King Abdullah reiterated that achieving just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution is the key to bolstering regional cooperation, according to a statement by the Royal Hashemite Court.

He also stressed the need to preserve the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem, maintain calm, and stop unilateral action that undermines the two-state solution.

Earlier in the day, Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi and talked about efforts to return to serious and effective negotiations based on the two-state solution. ■

Meanwhile, Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi has reaffirmed that there is no alternative to the two-state solution as the real political ground for achieving fair and comprehensive peace in the region.

In a meeting with  Sven Koopmans, the visiting European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Middle East Peace process, Safadi said Jordan would keep working to find such a political ground, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Jordanian Foreign Minister also briefed Koopmans about Jordan’s efforts to arrange peace negotiations and support the Palestinian economy, while acknowledging the EU’s role in the regard, the statement added.

  The Jordanian top diplomat said all illegitimate procedures that undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process should stop, including building settlements and seizing Palestinian lands, Xinhua news agency reported.

He also reiterated the importance of respecting Palestinian residents’ rights in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, as well as the legal status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

For his part, the EU Special Representative praised Jordan’s role and efforts in pursuing regional peace and stability, reiterating the EU’s keenness to continue cooperation with Jordan to reinvigorate the peace process which has stalled since 2014.

ALSO READ-The Establishment of An Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian Confederation: Why Now and How?

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Universal peace is a fundamental human right

It is no accident that countries that have relatively peaceful societies make far more progress than those that are roiled in conflict, writes Prof. Madhav Nalapat

September 21, the International Day of Peace, passed without any pause in the tensions and conflicts taking place across the world. The day that is intended to emphasise the importance of peace seems to have gone unnoticed. In contrast, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 is remembered by billions of people whenever that date comes up. Conflict and tension seem to have a far greater magnetic hold on the attention of people than calls for their elimination.

This may be because peace is not regarded as the natural order of society, nor even as an aspiration to be sought. That goal is regarded as a fantasy that exists only in words rather than in real life. This when universal peace is a fundamental human right. There remains much debate about concepts such as universal human rights, with some governments arguing in favour of this broad-brush term, while others claim that each government has the right to decide which rights are universal and should be safeguarded, and which not.

This is a standard that can vary widely. Even in India, a country where universal suffrage was introduced at the beginning of independence from colonial rule, even the right to life was not for two years considered a fundamental right. The 20th century saw both debilitating wars during 1914-19 and 1939-45, as well as the subsequent liberation of several countries from colonial oppression. After the wars, there was a weakening of the repressive sinews of the colonial states caused by the Germans treating other European powers in much the same way as these powers themselves were treating colonies in Asia and Africa.

The freedom movements to ensure freedom from colonial oppression grew in scale sufficiently after 1945 to lead to the withdrawal of the colonial power. In India, the first major colony to gain its freedom, the huge proportion of Indian soldiers, sailors and air personnel increasingly began to question their loyalty to a foreign flag, an emotion key to the setting up of the first free government of India and the Indian National Army by Subhas Chandra Bose during the 1939-45 war. The role of the tide of mutiny that swept over the armed forces in India after the 1939-45 war ended in 1945 has been largely ignored by historians, who prefer to remain embedded in a sanitised narrative that almost completely excludes the role of this factor in persuading even Winston Churchill that holding on to India by force of arms was no longer a viable option.

The British “divided and quit”, convinced that in Pakistan it would have a reliable partner. Such an expectation was based on the vocal support expressed by M.A. Jinnah for the Allied cause, in contrast to senior Congress leaders, who preferred to be non-aligned. In 1942, during the peak of the tide of victory by Germany and Japan against the US-UK alliance, the Congress Party gave a call for the British to quit India. In contrast, Jinnah expressed no similar sentiment, thereby draining support for the Congress in the dovecotes of power in London and ensuring a substantial rise in the support given to the Muslim League and its plan to vivisect India into two states.

For Mahatma Gandhi, a saint, the results of an action were not what mattered but the action itself. Which is why the Mahatma consented to Partition in 1947 after campaigning tirelessly for two decades against the irrational view of the Muslim League that Hindus and Muslims formed two separate nations. In fact, the DNA of both, whether cultural or biological, is the same, a fact that has recently been emphasised by RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat to the consternation of several of his detractors in India and elsewhere.

Had the British and other European powers the wisdom to partner with, rather than seek to dominate, people in Africa, Asia and South America that they overran, both they as well as the rest of the world would have benefited. An India that was prospering would have been an attractive market for British goods, just as a vibrant Indonesia would have been for the Netherlands or Vietnam for the French. The quicksand of notions of racial supremacy (that showed itself to the European powers in the form of Nazi Germany during 1933-45) led to oppression and the consequent lowering of the possibilities for mutual benefit, the only kind that is both just and long-lasting.

Hitler’s genocide denuded Germany of some of that country’s best brains, and among other events ensured that the US developed the atom bomb before the tyrant’s own country did. Apart from universal suffrage, India also pioneered in ways of ensuring justice to long-suppressed communities, giving them opportunities in public education and government that they did not have until then. The way in which some of India’s best doctors, engineers and scientists have come from so-called “backward classes” highlights the truth of human society being “horizontal” (different but equal) rather than “vertical” (higher and lower).

Had the European powers absorbed some of the lessons in traditional teachings in the countries they plundered, and transferred some of their own skills to the populations there, the results would have been much more beneficial than the way in which the enslavement of countries actually took place. There is much talk among military personnel in the PRC about a kinetic reversal of the independent nature of Taiwan. Even were such a forced union to take place, those Taiwanese who have been and would have in future been most helpful to the further development of the PRC itself would leave for more hospitable shores, and strengthen those countries against China, much the way those who took refuge from Nazi Germany ensured a scaling up of the capabilities of the UK and the US during the 1939-45 war.

In the knowledge economy, progress comes through willing consent and not through fiat. To seek to enforce through police action the creativity and intellectual excellence needed to scale up Artificial Intelligence and other capabilities is to indulge in futility. Given the expansion in the military capabilities of Taiwan that has taken place under President Tsai’s watch, a forced union with the PRC, the kinetic solution being pushed by elements in the Central Military Commission seems impossible without an unbearable impact on China’s own east coast. Which would be a blessing for the PRC, for any union created by the PLA would damage the PRC as much or more as it would Taiwan itself.

In India’s case, border tensions since 2017 have finally resulted in a de-linking of trade with PLA moves to nibble away at India’s territory. It is no accident that countries that have relatively peaceful societies make far more progress than those that are roiled in conflict. The greater an appreciation of the utility of universal peace (and the mutual empowerment and sharing of capabilities that this denotes), the better for the world. Unfortunately, not just between countries, but between regions in a country, within groups in a nation, and even inside individual families, tensions and the conflict these create are commonplace.

Recently some opined that a marriage certificate gave the right to the husband to violate the modesty of his spouse. Nothing should give such a right. The attainment of a situation where harmony and peace rather than conflict and force are omnipresent may seem distant. Alas, even more so than was air travel was in the past, or the debut this year of space travel with passengers but without an astronaut on board.

ALSO READ: Pak refusal intensifies Afghan refugee crisis
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At SCO summit, PM says radicalisation biggest challenge to peace

Modi says the summit should develop a shared template to fight radicalism and extremism and work to develop a strong network among moderate, tolerant and inclusive institutions and traditions associated with Islam, reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke about increasing radicalisation, which he said has become the biggest challenge to peace, security and trust deficit in the region, in his address to the plenary session of the 21st meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Dushanbe.

In his virtual address, Modi said recent developments in Afghanistan had made this challenge clearer.

He said the summit should develop a shared template to fight radicalism and extremism and work to develop a strong network among moderate, tolerant and inclusive institutions and traditions associated with Islam.

“Twentieth anniversary of the SCO is the right time to think about the future of SCO. The biggest challenges in this area are related to peace, security and trust deficit and root cause of these problems is increasing radicalisation. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made this challenge clear,” he said.

He further said no connectivity initiative cannot be a one-way project. “To ensure mutual trust, connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and participatory. There should be respect for the territorial integrity of all countries,” Modi added.

“India is committed to increasing its connectivity with Central Asia. We believe that landlocked central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India’s vast market,” he added.

“This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of SCO. I welcome Iran as a new member country of the SCO. I also welcome the three new dialogue partners – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar,” he further said.

Modi welcomed the new members and dialogue partners to the summit and greeted the people of the host country, Tajikistan. “This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of SCO. I welcome Iran as a new member country of the SCO. I also welcome the three new dialogue partners – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar,” said PM Modi.

Speaking about the ongoing Afghanistan turmoil, its internal and external implications, and issues pertaining to regional security, PM Modi stressed on global effort in order to bring peace in the region.

“20th anniversary of SCO is right time to think about future of SCO. The biggest challenges in this area are related to-peace, security and trust deficit, and root cause of these problems is increasing radicalisation. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made this challenge clear. We should take a joint step to restore peace in the region.”

Moderate and tolerant Islamic values are already there. SCO should help propagate such ideas in the region, the Indian Prime Minister added.

Further in his address, Prime Minister Modi endorsed trade routes for land-locked Central Asia countries with India.

“SCO expansion shows the impact and influence of this growing organization. Connectivity is the biggest issue in Central Asia. India is committed to increasing its connectivity with Central Asia. We believe that landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India’s vast market.”

It is to be noted that this is the first SCO meet being held in-person and virtual, and the fourth where India will take part as a full-fledged member. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar earlier in the day met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed the border row with him on the sidelines of the summit. While PM Modi joined the meeting via video link, Jaishankar is in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.

The SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) comprising Russia and Central Asian States will hold a joint summit meeting on Afghanistan.

ALSO READ-UAE, UK Ink Landmark Deal To Tackle Illicit Financial Flows

READ MORE-AAP promises free electricity within 24 hrs of coming to power in UP

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Will continue to be a force-multiplier for peace, India tells UNSC

“India’s contributions in the area of human-centric peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction work in Africa are well-known,” sadi the MoS for External Affairs …reports Asian Lite News

India will continue to be a force-multiplier for peace-building with an emphasis on a human-centric approach, said India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Meenakashi Lekhi while addressing the UN Security Council Open debate-‘UN Peacekeeping Operations: Transitions’ on Wednesday.

“India’s contributions in the area of human-centric peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction work in Africa are well-known,” the MoS for External Affairs said.

“India’s fundamental approach to peace-building efforts is to respect national ownership and to be guided by the host state’s development priorities,” she noted.

“We are convinced that human-centric, gender sensitive and technologically prime solutions and the robust functioning of democratic institutions of governance that give all stakeholders a say in creating a better future is the success of peace-building and for sustaining peace,” Lekhi added.

“Going forward India will continue to be a force-multiplier for peace building within emphasis on human centric approach,” she exclaimed.

Recalling that over the past seven decades over a million men and women have served under UN flag in 70 peace-keeping operations, the Minister said, “India joins other delegations in paying tribute to the men and women who have served and continued to serve in peacekeeping operations for their professionalism, dedication and courage. We also remember the 4,089 peacekeepers who have laid down their lives and whose courage and bravery of India’s 174 peacekeepers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” she pointed out.

Stating that India is the largest troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations in the cumulative terms and since their inception having deployed 2,50,000 peacekeepers across 49 UN missions, Lekhi said that this bears testimony to India’s commitment towards contributing a reliable, well-trained and highly professional peacekeeping force.

“As of today India’s nearly 5,500 peacekeepers are deployed across 9 UN missions. India was also happy to donate vaccines for all UN peacekeepers and upgrade two of our hospitals for peacekeeping to combat the pandemic,” she informed.

“We take pride in the fact that the first ever all-woman peacekeeping contingent was from India and stationed in Liberia,” the Minister added.

She said, “UN peacekeeping missions have been playing an important role bringing about peace and stability in countries of deployment despite numerous operational challenges.”

The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs pointed out that one of the major challenges that continue to hamper peacekeeping operations has been the transition phase from peacekeeping to peace-building.

The drawdown of a UN peacekeeping operation and its reconfiguration into a minimal modified UN presence represents a critical phase for the success of a UN peacekeeping mission, she added.

“For the host country, on one hand the signals progress towards political stability and new development opportunities, but on the hand it also presents a real risk of a country relapsing into conflict,” Lekhi argued.

“The transition of peacekeeping operations to peace-building depends on several factors including the way such transitions are envisaged, planned and executed by the UN,” she highlighted.

“To be successful, this critical phase needs the active collaboration of all stakeholders,” the Minister submitted.

ALSO READ: China, Pak change military commanders overlooking Indian borders

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Ghani meets US peace delegation in Kabul

Two sides during the meeting on Sunday discussed several issues including expanding cooperation, and maintaining bilateral political ties,According to Ghani’s office…reports Asian Lite News

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met a visiting US inter-ministerial delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, in Kabul.

According to Ghani’s Office, the two sides during the meeting on Sunday discussed several issues including expanding cooperation, and maintaining bilateral political, security, defense and economic relations.

Concerning the continuation of $3.3 billion in annual assistance for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), the US delegation conveyed the White House message of supporting the ANDSF as well as supporting Afghanistan in the economic areas

Zalmay Khalilzad. (Photo: Twitter/@US4AfghanPeace)

Besides Ghani, Khalilzad on Sunday also met the head of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), Abdullah Abdullah, during which they discussing issues related to the Taliban and Afghanistan’s national reconciliation efforts.

Before Khalilzad had embarked on his trip to Kabul, the US State Department said that the “delegation will underscore enduring US support for Afghanistan’s development and a political settlement that will end the war”.

The visit comes over a month after US President Joe Biden announced in April to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

The announcement was followed by concerns about the political future of Afghanistan, TOLO News reported.

Pentagon officials have said that one-quarter of the withdrawal has been completed.

The US forces have handed some bases to Afghan forces, including the New Kabul Compound, known as NKC, in Kabul.

Violence has however, remained high in Afghanistan, while the peace negotiations in Doha have had no progress following Biden’s announcement.

119 killed in 2 days

Amid a surge in violence following US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, a security official said that 119 people, including 102 security force members were killed in clashes and security incidents in just two days–June 3 and 4.

Details provided by a security official who wished not to be named indicated that 196 security force members were wounded in just two days, reported Tolo News.

The source said that Taliban casualties are similar to those of Afghan forces in the same time period, but the Defense Ministry reported that 183 Taliban were killed in Afghan defensive operations in eight provinces on June 3 and 181 Taliban were killed in Afghan forces operations in six provinces on June 4.

Analysts said that this shows the gravity of the intensifying conflict. The Defense Ministry reports clashes in at least 10 provinces daily on average.

a piece of broken glass of a vehicle at the site of a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo by Rahmatullah Alizadah/Xinhua)

“There are clashes in 24 to 27 provinces every day. Security forces casualties have increased, but it is not as much as the Taliban,” said Khan Agha Rezaee, the head of the internal security commission of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of Parliament.

The clashes have intensified on multiple fronts as heavy fighting was reported in Faryab in the last 24 hours in which at least a dozen security force members were killed, a member of the provincial council said.

“The figures provided by Afghan forces on Taliban casualties and by the Taliban on Afghan forces casualties are not accurate,” said Ilyas Wahdat, former Paktika governor.

Meanwhile, the Taliban rejected these figures. Casualties of security forces and Taliban are usually not stated in public with exact figures, and in most cases, they are not confirmed by independent sources, reported Tolo News. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Al Qaeda leadership resides in Af-Pak region, reveals UN report

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Peaceful Bangladesh a boon for India and South Asia

Hasina, in a bid to tackle other extremist groups such as the Jamaat E Islam and others however, has maintained “live and let live” policy with the Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) until recently when it broke onto violence, reports Mahua Venkatesh

South Asia watchers appeared to have arrived at a consensus: A peaceful Bangladesh is a boon for India and the region. After members of Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) members resorted to violence in Bangladesh last month, Prime Minister of the south Asian nation Sheikh Hasina has cracked down on the outfit while promising to uphold the principles of inclusivity and cultural unity.

Her government has continued with unabated efforts to choke the radical outfit.

In a major development, HeI’s Brahmanbaria District Unit Joint Secretary Mufti Abdur Rahim Qasemi resigned as he sought justice over “the mayhem carried out by the Islamist group’s leader and activists in the district,” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the south Asian nation, Dhaka Tribune (DT) reported.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

“The loss of life and property of the people cannot be approved by Islam in any way. So, I personally stayed away from all these activities (mayhem) and forced the teachers and students of all the madrasas under my supervision not to take part in those,” he said in a statement.

In the last few days, a total of 15 leaders of HeI have been arrested by the Bangladesh authorities.

Also read:Bangladesh closes border with India

Not only have intelligence reports shown that HeI members have been actively involved in the violence in Bangladesh which coincided with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, a few arrested members of the outfit have also confessed.

The Bangladesh based Daily Star, in an article published in its Bengali section, noted that HeI has been attempting to bring down the Hasina government. The outfit also wants to make Bangladesh much like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Hasina has been cracking down on radical forces

“In the years since, and against the odds, Bangladesh has prospered. And while Pakistan has remained fixated with India, Bangladesh hasn’t manifested similar obsession vis-�-vis Pakistan, despite having borne unspeakable atrocities,” the Spectator �a British weekly magazine�in a report last month said.

However, the report also said the “Bengali identity, forming the basis of Bangladesh as a separate nation, rooted in millennia of Indic pluralism and religious co-existence, continues to be attacked by the perpetrators and collaborators of the 1971 genocide.”

Bangladesh police

“Weeding out of extremism in the region is absolutely essential for the development of India and the south Asian nations. There have been various radical elements that are working to destabilise development and peace in the region,” Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, visiting fellow at ORF and a former ambassador told India Narrative.

HeI, as a group also controls most of the madrassas in the country.

Also read:HIB: The rise of new extremist entity in Bangladesh

“The recent crackdown comes as a boon for India, as extremist elements have the potential to create discord with the country, especially in the eastern and northeastern region. At a time when the geopolitical structure of the region is changing fast, it is key that India keeps a close watch on the developments,” another analyst on condition of anonymity said.

India PM Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Hasina, in a bid to tackle other extremist groups such as the Jamaat E Islam and others however, has maintained “live and let live” policy with the HeI until recently when it broke onto violence.

According to the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in the early 1990s, the Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) was established with funds from Al-Qaeda. HuJI-B had strong links with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and at the peak of its operations in 2004, the group claimed that up to 15,000 members had been recruited from Madrassas (Islamic religious schools) in Bangladesh and Pakistan, the EFSAS said.

In the Global Terrorism Index by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the country ranked 33rd out of a total of 163 countries. Though in 2019, Bangladesh was placed 30th and a year earlier grabbed the 25th position, it appears to have stemmed the tide of Islamic terrorism that was threatening the nation of over 161 million in the first decade of the 21st century.

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

Also read: Bangladesh suspends new Covishield doses

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NATO pledge commitment to support Afghan peace

The alliance declared that member states were scheduled to begin an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1…reports Asian Lite News

The NATO alliance on Friday reiterated its pledge to support Afghanistan and the political resolution of hostilities in the country, Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, said on Friday.

On Thursday, the official met with Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation. According to Pontecorvo, they held fruitful discussions “on the new chapter in the relationship between Afghanistan and NATO.”

“We agreed on the importance of a political settlement and on the need for a united Republic front to act in the interest of peace and for the benefit of all Afghans,” the official was quoted as saying by the regional alliance office in a tweet.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani,

Last week, the alliance declared that member states were scheduled to begin an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, planning to complete it within a few months. The US intends to complete the pullout by September 11.

Also read:‘Afghanistan ready for NATO pack up’

In the meantime, Afghanistan is still witnessing clashes between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan military despite the launch of peace talks between the movement and Kabul in Qatar’s Doha last September.

The Afghan military continues to regularly report on its special operations against the movement.

Stay out, Ghani tells Pakistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday urged Pakistan to stay out of his country and rein in the Taliban to ensure an orderly departure of NATO forces next month.

Speaking during a visit to the restive southern province of Kandahar, Ghani said that Afghanistan wanted to see NATO forces out with dignity.

He said that Pakistan, which Afghanistan and the United States blame for giving a safe haven to the radical insurgency, should use its leverage to force the Taliban back into peace talks.

NATO announced last week that member states will start an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, planning to complete it within a few months. The US intends to complete the pullout by September 11. (ANI/Sputnik)

Also read:India, US team up for Afghan stability

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India, US team up for Afghan stability

Both nations agreed to close and frequent coordination in support of a lasting peace and development for the people of Afghanistan…reports Arul Louis

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar have agreed that the two nations will coordinate on efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan, from where Washington and NATO will be withdrawing their troops, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Blinken spoke to Jaishankar “to reaffirm the importance of the US-India relationship and cooperation on regional security issues”, Price said in a readout of their conversation on Monday.

They “agreed to close and frequent coordination in support of a lasting peace and development for the people of Afghanistan”, he said.

Myanmar, where the military has flouted the results of parliamentary elections, imprisoned the democratically elected leaders and cracked down on protesters since the February 1, figured in their talks.

They “reaffirmed their shared commitment to democratic values and mutual support for the restoration of democracy in Burma”, Price said using the old name for Myanmar.

Other issues discussed were cooperation on climate change, for which President Joe Biden is convening a global summit, Covid-19 and “other global challenges”, he said.

Jaishankar said in a tweet that their “conversation covered recent developments in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood. Exchanged views on the UNSC agenda. Also discussed issues pertaining to our health cooperation”.

Also read:Biden team adds 2 Indian-Americans

Reports that the US was going to lift the embargo on exporting raw materials needed for making Covid-19 vaccines followed the mention of health and the pandemic as topics of their conversation.

However, President Joe Biden’s Spokesperson Jen Psaki would not confirm if there was an agreement on allowing the vaccine raw materials export.

Announcing his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan ending a 20-year-old war, Biden last week asked India and other regional countries to pitch in to help stabilise the country.

India, which was mostly on the sidelines of the US efforts to make a deal with the Taliban to facilitate the troop withdrawal by the September 11 deadline, has been invited at Washington’s suggestion to an Afghanistan peace conference in Turkey this month.

New Delhi has given Afghanistan economic assistance of over $3 billion since 2001 and also provided security assistance through training over 4,000 Afghan military and security personnel and supplying helicopters.

India also built Afghanistan’s Parliament and is constructing a network of roads that would also provide a link for the landlocked country to a port it has constructed in Chabahar, Iran.

Also read:Covid surge: India on UK’s red list

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EU urges constructive engagement in Afghan peace talks

EU will continue to encourage “a politically negotiated settlement through continued direct talks between the parties” said EU spokeperson …reports Asian Lite News

The European Union (EU) has called for “firm commitment and constructive engagement by all parties” in the peace talks in Afghanistan, after the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced the pullout of their troops from the country.

European Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali told a press briefing on Thursday that the EU will continue to encourage “a politically negotiated settlement through continued direct talks between the parties”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The bloc has also called for an end to the violence in the country, “which remains unacceptably high”, the spokesperson added.

NATO allies on Wednesday agreed to pull out all of their armed forces from Afghanistan after the US announced that all American troops would leave the country by September 11.

Also read:Australian troops to exit Afghanistan by September

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Kashmir Fashion Breaks the Jinx

The maiden fashion show in Kashmir sets the ball rolling… A special report Khadeeja Qayyum

Kashmir fashion broke the jinx. Everything is possible in Kashmir now. The maiden fashion show, organised by the All Jammu and Kashmir Youth Society (AJKYS), at Tagore Hall in Srinagar opened a new chapter in the history of Kashmir. Who would have thought few years ago that this too is possible in Kashmir! 10 designers and 22 models of Kashmir participated with top designer Rajdeep Ranawat. Prominent cultural activist Sajid Yousuf Shah inaugurated the event.

The AJYKS, an NGO, has broken the shackles and it can pave the way for many more such shows being held in Kashmir in the near future. The ball has started to roll. For young boys and girls in Kashmir modeling has always been a difficult option. All aspiring models cannot afford to visit Mumbai and other metropolitan cities to chase their dreams.
After the abrogation of Article 370—which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir—many things have changed in the newly carved out union territory. New Delhi has changed its priorities by shifting its focus from a handful of Kashmir based leaders to a common man. Empowering youth and providing them with more opportunities have been the thrust areas.
The change is visible but a few elements are finding it hard to come at terms with the changing trends in the Valley. Young girls coming forward to participate in the fashion show has proven it beyond doubt that Kashmir’s generation-next is keen to tread on the path of peace, prosperity and development.


One fails to understand how come organizing a fashion show is an immoral act? Such shows are held across the world, including Pakistan and the Gulf countries, if these shows are moral in Muslim countries then how come a show held in Srinagar is immoral?
Kashmiri youth are within their rights to live their lives in a way they want and no one can dictate terms to them. The females who want to wear burqas can go ahead with it. No one will ask them why they are in a veil? But no one has given them a right to prevent others from taking part in the events that can prove to be stepping stones in their careers.

Protest March

The fashion show triggered a row in the Valley as around 30 to 40 females took out a silent protest march against the event along the Boulevard Road on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. The protesters claimed that they were not affiliated with any organisation and hit the streets voluntarily. However, media reports said that the cleric from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district had organized the march.
A KAS officer while reacting to the march wrote: “Strongly condemn such acts. Everyone has a right to live his life the way he likes.”
Prominent journalist Aditya Raj Kaul tweeted: “And the radical Islamist are up in arms against the Fashion Show with ‘My Burqa, My Pride’ posters to push back Kashmir. Thirty Burqa clad women, who don’t want art, cinema, theatre, fashion, cafes or progress. Just want violence and hatred. Hope Kashmir gets a cinema hall soon.”
 


Fatwa on rock band
 In 2012 three teenage girls, Nooma Nazir, 16, Ameena Khalid, 16 and Farah Deeba 15, had formed Pragaash—a Sufi-rock girl band. But the then proclaimed Grand Mufti of Kashmir, late Mufti Bashiruddin, who used to claim to be a sole custodian of the Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat’ in the Valley, had issued a fatwa (religious edict) advising the girls and their families to “stay within the limits of modesty as prescribed for them.”
The band was silenced before it could even properly appear on the scene.
The three teenage students of Srinagar’s Presentation Convent, had mesmerized the audiences at their first stage performance on December 24, 2012. The event was organized by a Srinagar based cultural group “Valley Youth Expression” with funds from the Central Reserve Police Force. But after their performance these girls were trolled and threatened on social media, which led to these budding artists calling it a day.
Since 2012 lot of water has flown in Jehlum. The henchmen of separatists and radical elements have lost their addresses. In “Naya Kashmir” many young artistes, including girls, have proven their mettle in the recent past. These artistes are participating in stage shows, performing during wedding functions and other cultural events. The videos of their performances have gone viral on social media. These budding artists are spreading love and music. They seem least interested in preaching hatred and violence.

Dukhtaran Terror Over
Prior to August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcated erstwhile J&K State into two union territories— radical women organization headed by Asiya Andrabi, who along with her aides is lodged at Tihar Jail in New Delhi at present—was infamous for raiding parks, restaurants and throwing acid on women for not observing purdah. But as on date there are no such organizations active in the Valley. The terror of the women group has ended. It has allowed the females who want to move on with their lives to come forward and showcase their talent. As on date the schools in the Valley hold special music classes for the students and encourage them to participate in the events which would turn them into confident human beings, who won’t succumb to any threats or fear.  
New Beginning 
The fashion show organized by the AJKYS in Srinagar triggered a debate but the voices in favour of the event indicate that Kashmir has changed in the past one and half years and no one can stop Kashmiri youth from competing with their counterparts across the country. The fashion show at Tagore Hall is a beginning there is lot more in offing for the youth, who during the past three decades were turned into cannon fodder by extremists to keep the pot boiling in the Valley. Kashmir is on the move and youth are leading from the front.      

   

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