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PM to hold bilateral meeting with Gilani in Thimphu on Thursday

File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in Egypt in July 2009.
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in Egypt in July 2009.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani for bilateral talks tomorrow on the sidelines of the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu, Bhutan.

"It has been agreed through diplomatic channels that the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan will hold a bilateral meeting at Thimphu on Thursday (29 April 2010)," a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Dr Singh had, in a pre-departure statement yesterday, said that he looked forward to his meetings with leaders of other SAARC countries, but there was no firm indication of a formal meeting between him and Mr Gilani.

The two leaders did not hold a formal meeting when they were in Washington earlier this month for the Nuclear Security Summit, restricting their interaction to an exchange of pleasantries at a reception hosted by US President Barack Obama.

India has suspended the Composite Dialogue Process with Pakistan after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed.

India blamed the attacks on elements based in Pakistan and has said repeatedly there could be no meaningful dialogue with that country until it took credible action to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.

New Delhi also wants Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil that is used to plan and carry out attacks against India.

In February, in an effort to break the ice, India offered to host Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries. The meeting between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir was held on February 25 and India kept the focus then on the steps being taken by Pakistan against terrorist groups operating from its territory against India.

Dr Singh had last met Mr Gilani for bilateral talks in July, 2009 on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt. The Prime Minister had also met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at Yekaterinburg in Russia in June last year on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

At tomorrow's meeting, the Prime Minister is expected to reiterate India's concerns about terrorism from across the border and express its unhappiness that Pakistan had not done enough to end the scourge.

In particular, he will seek details of the progress made so far in the cases related to the Mumbai terror attacks.

The revelation that a woman official of the Indian High Commission was involved in passing information to Pakistani intelligence agencies might also figure at the meeting between the two leaders.

Pakistan, on its part, will most likely once again raise the issues related to Jammu and Kashmir and the alleged violations by India of the Indus Water Treaty.

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PM in Bhutan for 16th SAARC Summit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew into Bhutan on Wednesday for the SAARC Summit, which he said would provide South Asian nations an opportunity to reflect on how the aspirations of their people could be met.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley on his arrival at Paro International Airport, to attend the 16th SAARC Summit, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley on his arrival at Paro International Airport, to attend the 16th SAARC Summit, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew into Bhutan today to attend the 16th SAARC Summit, which he said would provide leaders of South Asian nations to reflect on how they could meet the developmental aspirations of their people.

"The winds of change are blowing across the world. South Asia cannot be immune to the trend of greater integration, both at the regional and global levels," he said in a pre-departure statement.

"If we as South Asians work together, there is nothing that we will not be able to achieve. India will play its part in the resurgence of South Asia," he said.

"The Summit will provide the countries of this region an opportunity to collectively reflect on where we are, what more we can do together to meet the developmental aspirations of our people, and how South Asia can play its rightful role in the international arena," he said.

Dr Singh said the two-day Summit had special significance as it was taking place on the 25th anniversary of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This is also the first time that Bhutan is hosting a SAARC Summit.

Foreign Secretaries and Foreign Ministers of the member-states held preparatory meetings in Thimphu over the past two days to prepare for the Summit.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, at Paro International Airport, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inspecting the Guard of Honour on his arrival at Paro International Airport, to attend the 16th SAARC Summit, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, at Paro International Airport, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, at Paro International Airport, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.

SAARC brings together India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Dr Singh said the establishment of SAARC in 1985 was a visionary step for the South Asian region. He said that, during this period, the region had witnessed major transformation, and the idea of regional economic cooperation had taken firm roots.

"We have established a robust institutional framework for cooperation in diverse areas such as food security, poverty alleviation, terrorism, communication links, trade and economic, and a range of social issues impacting lives of our people. The South Asian Free Trade Agreement, the SAARC Development Fund and the South Asian University are some concrete examples of regional projects that will enable greater economic inter-linkages, and promote people to people contacts within the region," he said.

Noting that the theme of this year's Summit is "Climate Change", he said he looked forward to discussing regional cooperation and strategies for tackling the effects of global warming in the region.

"Ours is a particularly vulnerable region, which demands a coordinated and well thought out response cutting across sectors. We all stand to benefit by learning from each other’s experiences and strengths," he said.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that India enjoyed close relations with Bhutan, which are based on complete mutual trust and understanding. He said he looked forward to holding bilateral discussions with his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Y Thinley to build upon these solid foundations.

He said he also looked forward to his meeting with leaders of other SAARC countries. There is much speculation about whether he will meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during his stay in Thimphu, though both sides said no meeting had yet been scheduled.

The two leaders did not hold a formal meeting when they were in Washington earlier this month for the Nuclear Security Summit, restricting their interaction to an exchange of pleasantries at a reception hosted by US President Barack Obama.

During the SAARC summit, two important agreements, on Environment and Trade in Services, would be signed.

The SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services will enable the realization of the region’s immense potential in service areas such as Health, Hospitality, Communications, Computer and Information Services and Air Transport. It is expected to augment intra-regional trade in services in a mutually beneficial manner.

Bhutan has also proposed a Summit Declaration entitled "Towards a Green and Happy South Asia" and a separate Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change.

The SAARC Convention on Environment is expected to promote cooperation among the SAARC countries in the field of environment and sustainable development. The scope of cooperation under the Convention would extend to exchange of best practices and knowledge, capacity building and transfer of eco-friendly technology in a number of areas, including climate change, coastal zone management, wildlife conservation and environmental impact assessment studies.

Of particular satisfaction to India will be the fact that the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) Secretariat will be inaugurated in Thimphu during the Summit. India had proposed the establishment of the SDF at the 15th Summit in Colombo in August 2008.

The Summit is also expected to endorse the rules, regulations, academic and business plans of the South Asian University in New Delhi.

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India likely to get direct access to Headley soon

India and the United States have agreed to take suitable steps to bring about direct access by Indian authorities to suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley, who has admitted to being part of the conspiracy behind the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.


This came after a meeting here on Tuesday between Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium and US Attorney General Eric Holder.


Indian Ambassador the US Meera Shankar and senior officials of the US Department of Justice were also present at the meeting, which was followed by detailed discussions between the two sides.


"The discussions have resulted in a mutual commitment that there would be the best possible cooperation in our common fight against terrorism," a statement from the Indian Embassy here said.


"The two partners agreed to take suitable steps to bring about direct access by Indian authorities to David Headley as soon as possible," it said.


"The partnership between India and the United States recognizes the high priority to be accorded to each country’s national security. Both countries recognized the need for the investigations to reach a fruitful and successful outcome," the statement added.


India has been pushing for direct access to David Headley who, along with another suspected LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani national, had been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago in October last year for allegedly conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.


Subsequent investigations have shown that Headley had travelled to India several times prior to 26/11 and surveyed the sites where the attacks were carried out. At least 166 people were killed in the attacks.


More recently, it has come to light that he had, during one of those visits, surveyed the area in Pune where a bomb explosion at a popular eatery in February had killed 17 people and injured about 50 others.


In mid-March, Headley entered into a plea bargain with the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.


As part of this, he has agreed to testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, video conferencing or letters rogatory.


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India urges SAARC nations to join hands in fight against terrorism

External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna (2nd from left) at the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan on 27 April 2010.
External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna (2nd from left) at the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan on 27 April 2010.

India today called upon fellow-members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to join hands to fight and defeat terrorism that posed a serious danger to the economic stability of civilised societies.

"The South Asian region is particularly afflicted by this menace. The time has come for us to rally against the forces of terrorism that seek to divide and weaken our societies," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in his opening remarks at the 32nd session of the SAARC Council of Ministers in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The meeting of the Council came a day ahead of the 16th SAARC Summit that will be held for two days from tomorrow. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lead the Indian delegation to the Summit.

SAARC, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding this year, brings together India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Mr Krishna told his counterparts from membr-states that they could join the fight against terrorism through the early ratification of regional instruments such as the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, signed at the last Summit in 2008, and early conclusion of the proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

He said India, in cooperation with Sri Lanka, was involved in the strengthening of the SAARC Terrorists Offences Monitoring Desk and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk for sharing of information amongst their security forces.

Mr Krishna said it was a matter of satisfaction that SAARC had emerged as a model of regional cooperation in dealing with the wide range of issues that impact directly on the lives and livelihoods of the people of the region.

He noted that the grouping had made impressive gains in addressing issues of regional concern such as poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, trafficking in women and children, terrorism and drugs, among others.

"We, as Member States of SAARC, have an abiding obligation to address the pressing problems that beset our region, which we should set about achieving through well-defined goals based on mutual cooperation and understanding. Our effort will be to infuse a fresh dynamism into the regional processes and to strive to channelise the fruits of our collective efforts to the most vulnerable sections of our societies," he said.

He said SAARC members should make efforts to enhance trade, open borders and facilitate economic integration in the region.

"Our focus should be on improving regional connectivity through upgrading trade, transport and telecommunication links; addressing issues relating to trade facilitation such as harmonization of customs procedures and standards; increasing understanding through greater people-to-people contacts, particularly among the youth, civil society, cultural personalities, academics and parliamentarians," he said.

The External Affairs Minister said that, in the last few years, SAARC had also begun to lay the institutional framework for regional cooperation. Regional institutions, in the form of the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) in Dhaka, the SAARC Arbitration Council in Islamabad, the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) in Thimphu, the South Asian University in New Delhi, among others, are the building blocks of regional development, he said.

He noted that these and other SAARC initiatives were formalized through instruments that were signed by the SAARC Heads of State and Government during their 14th and 15th Summits to advance intra-SAARC cooperation in these crucial areas.

"The relevant Agreements pertain to the Establishment of SARSO, the South Asian University, Afghanistan’s Accession to SAFTA and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. While we would urge Member States to expedite the process of ratification, we may also direct the Secretariat and relevant SAARC mechanisms to simultaneously operationalise the provisions of these agreements while awaiting conclusion of the legal processes. Distinguished delegates will recall that we had undertaken similar measures in the case of the SAARC Food Bank Board and the SDF," he said.

Mr Krishna said he was pleased to note that progress had been achieved in the last few months in facilitating trade in South Asia. Intra-SAARC trade under SAFTA touched $ 529 million in 2009, a considerable jump from the previous two years, he said.

"Under SAFTA, we agreed in principle to prune our sensitive lists by twenty per cent. SAARC Member States have also agreed to reduce tariffs on 30% of tariff lines outside the Sensitive Lists to Zero," he said.

He said India was happy that two SAARC Agreements, on Environment and Trade in Services, are to be signed during the Summit. He said it was also hopeful that the SAARC Agreements on Motor Vehicles, Railways, Rapid Response to Natural Disasters, Multilateral Arrangement of Conformity Assessment Activities of Goods and Services and Regional MRA on Product Certification would also be finalized at the earliest.

Mr Krishna said it was a matter of great satisfaction that the SDF Secretariat would be inaugurated in Thimphu during the Summmit. He urged Member States to take full advantage of the mechanism of SDF through expeditious clearance and implementation of projects and programmes to promote the welfare of the people of the SAARC region, to improve their quality of life and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region.

"We are fully committed to working within SAARC to contribute to the development of the region through social development and regional economic integration. In this context, I am happy to report that regional projects initiated by the Government of India in Telemedicine, Tele-education, Rain Water Harvesting, Seed Testing Laboratories and Solar Rural Electrification, are under implementation in most SAARC Member States," he said.

India supported Bhutan's proposal for a Special SAARC Declaration on the theme of Climate Change to be issued during the Summit. India also supported a fresh SAARC position on Climate Change for the Conference of Parties (CoP 16) in accordance with the UNFCCC principles and Bali Action Plan.

"It is my sincere wish that the dialogue on Climate Change is carried in a meaningful manner at this Summit," he said.

Mr Krishna said positive progress had been made towards establishment of the South Asian University and noted that the university would start classes in August this year.

"SAARC belongs to the people of South Asia who have ensured that its focus is delivery oriented and intended for the larger benefit. It is also an important reason to ensure that that parallel strands of culture and trade are inter-twined for greater regional synergy and for economic prosperity," he said.

He said India had always attached importance to facilitating people-to-people contact in the region through exchanges in the fields of culture, tourism, literature, youth and so on. He also informed the Council that permanent premises for the SAARC Museum of Textiles and Handicrafts had been acquired in New Delhi and work on developing the Museum was progressing as per plan.

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Krishna says SAARC has achieved many milestones in 25 years

External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna with Foreign Minister of Nepal Sujata Koirala in Thimphu on 26 April 2010.
External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna with Foreign Minister of Nepal Sujata Koirala in Thimphu on 26 April 2010.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said that the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had, over the past 25 years, made visibile strides and achieved many milestones.

"It has created the institutional and legal framework for regional cooperation through agreements and programmes covering almost every area of importance to the region, ranging from poverty alleviation and food security to terrorism and women’s empowerment," he said in a statement on arrival in Thimphu for the 16th SAARC Summit on April 28-29.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lead the Indian delegation to the Summit, which will mark the Silver Jubilee of the grouping, which also includes Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan.

"Its focus on grassroots development is designed to cater to 'the welfare of the people of South Asia' and to bring about an improvement 'in their quality of life'," he said.

Mr Krishna said that, with the depth of challenges facing the region, the transformation of SAARC within a quarter of a century to a dynamic vehicle of regional economic cooperation was indeed remarkable.

"The asymmetric and non-reciprocal participation by India has been an important factor in this process. This has inspired other SAARC Member States to take similar initiative on regional projects," he said.

Mr Krishna said the 16th Summit would give member-states an opportunity to introspect on the past and chart a course for the future.

Bhutan has chosen "Climate Change" as the theme of the Summit. The "Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration" has been entitled "Towards a Green and Happy South Asia".

Mr Krishna said the theme was expected to be reinforced by the signing of a SAARC Convention on Cooperation in Environment by the Foreign Ministers in the presence of the Heads of State and Governments of SAARC Member States. An Agreement on Trade in Services will also be signed during the Summit, thereby opening up new vistas of economic cooperation among SAARC countries.

He said SAARC member-states had committed themselves to strengthening regional economic cooperation through SAARC, particularly over the three years since the New Delhi Summit in April 2007.

According to him, it is to the credit of SAARC, that despite the global financial recession, trade under SAFTA since its implementation in 2006 amounted to $ 689 million.

He said the basket of tradeable items was also quite diverse from manufacturing to agriculture products. All member-states had also reiterated their resolve to facilitate greater trade liberalization measures and greater tariff reductions, he said.

"As we head for the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu, we are imbued with a sense of confidence and optimism in SAARC as a vehicle for regional development," he added.

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Assistant Secretary Robert Blake to lead US team to SAARC Summit

United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake, Jr. will lead the US observer delegation to the 16th SAARC Summit to be held in Thimphu, Bhutan on April 28-29.


A press release from the State Department here today said Mr Blake would hold bilateral meetings with regional leaders on the margins of the summit.


Before reaching Bhutan, Mr Blake will pay a two-day visit to Nepal on April 25-26, during which he will meet with political leaders, government officials and civil society to discuss the continuation of the peace process, next steps in the constitution drafting process, trafficking in persons issues and economic development.


From Bhutan, Mr Blake will travel to Beijing where he will lead the US delegation to the US-China Sub-Dialogue on South Asia. He will also discuss regional issues with government officials and scholars, the release added.


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Hamid Karzai to visit India from April 26-27

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will pay a two-day official visit to India on April 26-27 for talks aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Announcing the visit, an official press release from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the visit would carry forward the sequence of high-level interaction between the two countries.

During his stay in the capital, Mr Karzai will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Indian leaders.

"The visit provides an opportunity for both sides to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, and for India to express its firm commitment and support to the Government and people of Afghanistan as they build a peaceful, democratic, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan," the release added.

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Steinberg to visit India, Bangladesh from April 20-22


United States Deputy Secretary of State James B Steinberg will travel to India and Bangladesh from April 20 to 22.


This will be his first visit to the two countries as Deputy Secretary, a press release from the State Department said.


According to the release, Mr Steinberg will meet government officials and other political figures, and business, civil society, and opinion leaders in New Delhi, Kolkata, and Dhaka.


He will discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues that advance the US' bilateral relationships with both India and Bangladesh, the release added.


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UN report: Pakistan Govt. officials "failed profoundly" to protect Benazir

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry, appointed last year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the request of the Pakistani Government, has not reached any conclusion as to the organisers and sponsors behind the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007.

The inquiry, however, found that security arrangements by Pakistan's federal and local authorities to protect Ms Bhutto were "fatally insufficient and ineffective" and subsequent investigations into her death were prejudiced and involved a whitewash.

Ms Bhutto was twice Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-90 and 1993-96. She was the wife of Pakistan's current President Asif Ali Zardari.

She had gone into self-imposed exile in Dubai after she was removed as Prime Minister in 1996 on grounds of alleged corruption by then President Farooq Leghari. She returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with then President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn.

Ms Bhutto was killed on December 27, 2007, when a suicide bomber blew up her vehicle while she was leaving the Liaquat National Baug in Rawalpindi after an election campaign rally, two weeks before the scheduled General Elections.

The Commission's report, released here on Thursday, said the Pakistan Government was quick to blame local Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida although Ms. Bhutto’s foes potentially included elements from the establishment itself.

"A range of Government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first to protect Ms. Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in its conception, planning and financing," the Commission said.

"Responsibility for Ms. Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the Government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced," it said.

General Pervez Musharraf was President of Pakistan at the time of the suicide bombing in Rawalpindi. The report said the then federal Government lacked a comprehensive security plan for Ms Bhutto. It relied instead on provincial authorities, but then failed to issue to them the necessary instructions.

"Particularly inexcusable was the Government’s failure to direct provincial authorities to provide Ms. Bhutto the same stringent and specific security measures it ordered on 22 October 2007 for two other former prime ministers who belonged to the main political party supporting General Musharraf," it stated.

"This discriminatory treatment is profoundly troubling given the devastating attempt on her life only three days earlier and the specific threats against her which were being tracked by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence agency)," it added, stressing that her assassination could have been prevented if the Rawalpindi District Police had taken adequate security measures.

Turning to the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Commission found that police actions and omissions, including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation.

"The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands," it said. "The one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab (provincial) committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether this amounts to criminal responsibility."

The Commission also found that City Police Officer Saud Aziz impeded investigators from conducting on-site investigations until two full days after the assassination and that the Government’s assertions that Mr. Mehsud and Al-Qaida were responsible were made well before any proper investigation had started, pre-empting, prejudicing and hindering the subsequent investigation.

"Ms. Bhutto faced serious threats in Pakistan from a number of sources," the Commission said. "These included Al-Qaida, the Taliban and local jihadi groups, and potentially from elements in the Pakistani establishment. Notwithstanding these threats, the investigation into her assassination focused on pursuing lower-level operatives allegedly linked to Baitullah Mehsud."

It stressed that investigators dismissed the possibility of involvement by elements of the Pakistani establishment, including the three persons identified by Ms. Bhutto as threats to her in her 16 October 2007 letter to General Musharraf. It also noted that investigations were severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other Government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth.

"The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate," a UN press release quoted the report as saying.

The three-member panel, which was headed by Chilean Ambassador to UN Heraldo Muñoz and included Marzuki Darusman, former attorney-general of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran official of the Irish National Police, urged the Government to undertake police reform in view of its "deeply flawed performance and conduct."

It also recommended the establishment of a fully independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and terrorism in Pakistan in recent years in view of the backdrop of a history of political violence carried out with impunity.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban commended the commissioners and their staff for completing their challenging nine-and-a-half month-long task "expeditiously and in a professional manner."

In a later news conference today, Mr. Muñoz stressed that the Commission held more than 250 interviews with Pakistanis and others both inside and outside Pakistan, reviewed hundreds of documents, videos, photographs and other documentary material provided by federal and provincial authorities in Pakistan and others.

In the report, the Commission spoke of the "efforts of certain high-ranking Pakistani Government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources" but during an extension of its mandate until 31 March it was able eventually to meet with some past and present members of the Pakistani military and intelligence services.

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PM reaches Brazil to attend IBSA, BRIC Summits

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reached Brasilia on a two-day visit during which he will attend the IBSA Summit on Thursday and the BRIC Summit on Friday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting with the Defence Minister of Brazil, Nelson Jobin, on his arrival at the Brasilia Airbase for the BRIC and IBSA Summits, in Brazil on April 14, 2010. Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Ministeris also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting with the Defence Minister of Brazil, Nelson Jobin, on his arrival at the Brasilia Airbase for the BRIC and IBSA Summits, in Brazil on April 14, 2010. Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Ministeris also seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reached Brasilia on a two-day visit during which he will attend the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit today and the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit tomorrow.

During his stay in Brasilia, Dr Singh will also hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by his wife, Ms Gursharan Kaur, was received on arrival at the Brazilian Air Force base by Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobin and other senior officials. He was given a red-carpet welcome, with a ceremonial guard of honour and a gun salute.

Dr Singh flew in to Brasilia from Washington, where he had attended the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by United States President Barack Obama.

Before leaving New Delhi last Saturday on the eight-day trip, Dr Singh had said that the IBSA and BRIC groupings reflected the growing role of emerging economies in shaping the global economic order.

He said the IBSA process had come of age, encompassing as it does a wide range of activities which supplement the excellent bilateral relations India enjoys with each of these countries. He said coordination among the three countries on important international issues had expanded and their trilateral cooperation was beginning to bear fruit in many sectors.

He said the BRIC countries were among the largest and fastest growing economies with rich human and material resources.

"They represent the future of the global economic landscape. We have a high stake in the revival of the global economy, an open trading system, energy security, combating climate change and addressing non-traditional threats to international security," he said.

About his proposed meeting with President Lula, he said relations with Brazil were an important pillar of India's policy towards Latin America and had witnessed substantial expansion in recent years.

The first standalone BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in June last year. The second, to be held tomorrow, will begin with a meeting of the leaders in a restricted session which will be followed by a 45-minute long plenary session.

The agenda of the summit includes discussions on the international financial and economic crisis, G-20 related matters, climate change, United Nations reform, regional issues including Iran, the Middle East and Haiti, and a general follow-up of the dialogue of BRIC countries.

The leaders are expected to issue a joint statement at the conclusion of the summit. A BRIC statistical publication is also expected to be issued at the end of the Summit meeting. The plenary session will be followed by a press conference.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who is part of the delegation, will attend the second meeting of the BRIC High Representatives of Security today. He is also likely to hold bilateral strategic dialogues with his Brazilian, Russian and Chinese counterparts.

Several events have been organised in Brazil alongside the two summits. These include the joint IBSA-BRIC Business Forum in Rio de Janeiro and meetings of commercial and development banks of the BRIC countries.

Brazil is also hosting a Track-III seminar of BRIC think tanks. Participants from India include scholars from the Observer Research Foundation, ICRIER and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, among others.

The IBSA Summit today will also have a restricted meeting first, followed by the plenary session. This will be the fourth summit.

The IBSA Dialogue Forum has been conceived as a mechanism to promote intensive and comprehensive dialogue between the three countries, both at the governmental level and at the level of civil society.

At the governmental level, apart from the summit, there is a trilateral commission that meets at the level of the Foreign Ministers and meetings of the Trade Ministers. In addition, there are 16 Working Groups covering the entire spectrum of the relationship, including transport, energy, trade and investment, health, science and technology, information technology, public administration and social development.

At the level of civil society there are dialogue forums for interaction between parliamentarians, academics, the media, business and women, among others.

The three IBSA leaders are expected to sign a few trilateral memoranda of understanding (MoU) on solar energy and on science and technology. Some other MoU on sports and cooperation among the diplomatic academies of the three countries are under discussion.

IBSA has also been undertaking projects in other developing countries as part of the IBSA Trust Fund, which are managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The three countries are looking at cooperation in space sciences and a concept paper has been developed for a weather satellite. They are also working for better air and surface connectivity among them.

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Related Stories

Mobile telephones more common than toilets in India: UN report

More people in India, the world’s second most populous country, have access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet, according to a report released here on Wednesday by the United Nations University (UNU).


The report contains recommendations on how to reduce the number of people with inadequate sanitation across the world.


"It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet," Mr Zafar Adeel, Director of UNU's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (IWEH), and chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their partners, said.


According to the report, India has some 545 million cell phones, enough to serve about 45 per cent of the population, but only about 366 million people or 31 per cent of the population had access to improved sanitation in 2008.


A UN press release said the recommendations released today were meant to accelerate the pace towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation.


The report said that, if current global trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predict there will be a shortfall of 1 billion persons from that sanitation goal by the target date of 2015.


"Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation," Mr. Adeel said.


The nine recommendations in the report include suggestions to adjust the MDG target from a 50 per cent improvement by 2015 to 100 per cent coverage by 2025; and to reassign official development assistance equal to 0.002 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to sanitation.


The UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice.


"The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions," Mr. Adeel added.


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France supports India's bid for UN Security Council seat

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a meeting with the French President Nicholas Sarkozy, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a meeting with the French President Nicholas Sarkozy, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reiterated his country's support for India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, saying the country should get its rightful place in the comity of nations.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington on Tuesday, the two leaders also agreed to beef up the efforts of the international community on counter-terrorism which, they said, touched and affected everybody.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said the two leaders had a very good discussionon regional issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr Prakash said the two leaders also had detailed discussions on G-20, especially in the context of the upcoming French Presidency of the European Union. Mr Sarkozy outlined his views on the role of the G-20 in the post-economic recovery phase and spoke about his desire to push towards a new world monetary order. They also exchanged views on commodity price regulation.

Dr Singh said the G-20, in order to continue to remain relevant and enhance its relevance, should formulate concrete steps to sustain the global economic recovery. He said the G-20 should also decide what aspects it should maintain its focus on and cautioned against complacency.

Mr Prakash said the meeting was held in a "very warm and friendly atmosphere", given the convergence of views and interests between India and France.

Dr Singh reiterated an invitation to Mr Sarkozy to visit India. The visit is likely to take place in the last quarter of this year.

Both sides expressed satisfaction and happiness at the relationship of strategic partnership which was forged in 1998.

Dr Singh visited France in September 2008 whenthe two countries signed an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear corporation. The Prime Minister visited Paris again in July last year, when he was the Guest of Honour at the French National Day celebrations.

Mr Sarkozy visited India in January 2008 and was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

Apart from these visits, the two leaders have met regularly on the sidelines of international conferences and fora.

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PM rules out talks with Pakistan until it acts against 26/11 conspirators

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ruled out a resumption of talks with Pakistan until it took credible steps to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to justice.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing a press conference regarding the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010. National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon is also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing a press conference regarding the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010. National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon is also seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ruled out a resumption of talks with Pakistan until it took credible steps to bring the perpetrators of the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to justice.


India has blamed elements based in Pakistan for the attacks, in which 166 people were killed, and has been demanding that they be brought to book. It also wants Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil that is used for attacks against India.


"We would like Pakistan to at least bring all of these perpetrators of these horrible crimes to book and do so effectively," Dr Singh a press conference in Washington on Tuesday evening at the end of his four-day visit to the United States.


"That's the minimum that we expect from Pakistan. If Pakistan does that, we will be very happy to begin talking once again about all of these issues," he said.


Asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement that India needed to provide more evidence before his Government could take more steps against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Dr Singh said he did not see "any need to provide any additional evidence to Prime Minister Gilani on this."


"I would hate to enter into an argument with Mr Gilani at a press conference," he said and pointed out that US intelligence agencies had provided enough evidence of the links between the LeT and al Qaeda.


He said he did not think that there was any need for India to provide more evidence about the role of the LeT, or of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, HuJi chief Ilyas Kashmir and suspected 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rahman in terrorist activities against India.


Dr Singh said he had briefly met Mr Gilani twice in Washington but they had only exchangd pleasantries and did not have any serious discussions.


India has put the Composite Dialogue Process with Pakistan on hold after the 26/11 attacks, though Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had held a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir here on February 25 in an effort to break the ice. That meeting remained largely focused on the steps being taken by Pakistan against terrorist groups operating in its territory.


The Prime Minister was in Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit convened by United States President Barack Obama on April 12-13.


He said India welcomed the initiative taken by President Obama to focus the attention of the international community on nuclear security. "This is an important issue for us because without ensuring security we will not be able to harness nuclear energy for our developmental purposes," he said.


He said India was satisfied with the Communique and Work Plan that had been adopted by the Summit. India participated actively in the preparatory process, he said.


Dr Singh had announced at the Summit that India would establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership. This will be owned and managed by the Government, but will be open to international participation in terms of academic exchanges and R and D efforts. This initiative is the next logical step in India’s engagement with the world after the opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India, he said.


He said India's statement at the Summit outlined its approach to the issues of nuclear security, nuclear terrorism, clandestine proliferation and global disarmament.


"After listening to the world leaders at the Summit, I feel a sense of vindication of India’s position. The intersection of international terrorism and clandestine proliferation affects our security directly. The concerns that we have been expressing for decades on the dangers of proliferation and risk of nuclear materials finding their way into the wrong hands are today finding widespread acceptance," he said.


The Prime Minister said that when India called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the 1950s its voice was not heeded.


"Today the world is veering around to the vision we had put forward of a world free from nuclear weapons. The world is beginning to see merit in pursuing universal, non-discriminatory and complete nuclear disarmament. We will continue to persevere in our efforts in this direction," he added.


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PM: India deeply concerned about threat of nuclear terrorism

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday India was deeply concerned about the threat it faced from the danger of nuclear explosives or fissile material falling into the hands of non-state actors.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Morning Plenary Session of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Morning Plenary Session of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India was deeply concerned about the threat it faced, as did other States, from the danger of nuclear explosives or fissile material and technical know-how falling into the hands of non-state actors.

"The world community should join hands to eliminate the risk of sensitive and valuable materials and technologies falling into hands of terrorists and illicit traffickers," he said at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by United States President Barack Obama in Washington.

"There should be zero tolerance for individuals and groups which engage in illegal trafficking in nuclear items," Dr Singh told the world leaders present at the meeting.

The Prime Minister announced on the occasion that India had decided to set up a "Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership" in India.

He said India visualized this to be a state-of-the-art facility based on international participation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other interested foreign partners.

He said the Centre would consist of four Schools dealing with Advanced Nuclear Energy System Studies, Nuclear Security, Radiation Safety, and the application of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in the areas of healthcare, agriculture and food.

The Centre will conduct research and development of design systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable.

"We would welcome participation in this venture by your countries, the IAEA and the world to make this Centre’s work a success," he said.

Dr Singh said nuclear security was one of the foremost challenges the world faced today and, therefore, commended Mr Obama for his initiative in convening the Summit. He said India owuld like the Summit to lead to concrete outcomes which would help make the world a safer place.

He said the developmental applications of nuclear science in areas such as medicine, agriculture, food preservation and availability of fresh water were by now well established.

"Today, nuclear energy has emerged as a viable source of energy to meet the growing needs of the world in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. There is a real prospect for nuclear technology to address the developmental challenges of our times," he said.

He said India had ambitious plans for using nuclear energy to meet our growing energy needs. Its target was to increase the installed capacity more than seven fold to 35000 MWe by the year 2022, and to 60,000 MWe by 2032, he said.

Dr Singh said the nuclear industry’s safety record over the last few years had been encouraging. "It has helped to restore public faith in nuclear power. Safety alone, however, is not enough. The challenge we face today is that of ensuring nuclear security," he stressed.

According to him, global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament.

He said that, since 2002, India had pilotd a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly to deny terrorists access to Weapons of Mass Destruction. He said India fully supported the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

He said the primary responsibility for ensuring nuclear security rested at the national level, but national responsibility must be accompanied by responsible behaviour by States.

"If not, it remains an empty slogan. All States should scrupulously abide by their international obligations. It is a matter of deep regret that the global non-proliferation regime has failed to prevent nuclear proliferation. Clandestine proliferation networks have flourished and led to insecurity for all, including and especially for India. We must learn from past mistakes and institute effective measures to prevent their recurrence," he said.

Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh with the Heads of the Delegations at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.
Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh with the Heads of the Delegations at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010.

Dr Singh welcomed the fact that the world was veering around to its view that the best guarantor of nuclear security was a world free from nuclear weapons.

"Starting with Jawaharlal Nehru over five decades ago, India has been in the forefront of the call for global and complete nuclear disarmament. In 2006 India proposed the negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention. We have also expressed our readiness to participate in the negotiation of an internationally verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament," he said.

He said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had put forward a concrete Action Plan in 1988 for the universal and non-discriminatory elimination of nuclear weapons leading to global nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework. He once again reiterated India's call to the world community to work towards the realisation of this vision.

"We welcome the agreement between the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals as a step in the right direction. I call upon all states with substantial nuclear arsenals to further accelerate this process by making deeper cuts that will lead to meaningful disarmament," he said.

Dr Singh said India was encouraged by the Nuclear Posture Review announced by President Obama. "India supports the universalisation of the policy of No First Use. The salience of nuclear weapons in national defence and security doctrines must be reduced as a matter of priority," he said.

"The dangers of nuclear terrorism make the early elimination of nuclear weapons a matter of even greater urgency," he said.

He said the Indian Atomic Energy Act provided the legal framework for securing nuclear materials and facilities, and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board ensures independent oversight of nuclear safety and security. India is party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment, he said.

The Prime Minister said India’s three-stage nuclear power programme which began sixty years ago was based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle.

"A direct benefit of this is that it ensures control over nuclear material that is generated as spent fuel. At the same time, we are continually upgrading technology to develop nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure and proliferation resistant. We have recently developed an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor based on Low Enriched Uranium and thorium with new safety and proliferation-resistant features," he said.

Dr Singh said India had maintained an impeccable non-proliferation record, of which it was proud. He said that, as a responsible nuclear power, India had and would not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies.

"We have a well-established and effective export control system which has worked without fail for over six decades. We have strengthened this system by harmonisation of our guidelines and lists with those of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Our commitment to not transfer nuclear weapons or related materials and technologies to non-nuclear weapon states or non-state actors is enshrined in domestic law through the enactment of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. We stand committed not to transfer reprocessing and enrichment technologies and equipment to countries that do not possess them," he said.

Dr Singh said that India had, as a founder-member of the IAEA, had consistently supported the central role of the agency in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation.

He said India had so far conducted nine Regional Training Courses on Nuclear Security in cooperation with the IAEA. We have entered into a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA in 2008, and have decided to place all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors under IAEA safeguards.

"We will continue to work with the IAEA and our partners in the United Nations as well as other forums such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to upgrade standards, share experiences and ensure effective implementation of international benchmarks on nuclear security," he added.

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PM meets Nazarbayev, Fassi, Harper in Washington

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held bilateral meetings with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada in Washington on Monday and discussed with them ways of enhancing bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at Washington, on April 11, 2010Prime Minister meeting the Prime Minister of Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 12, 2010.Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in a meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 12, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at Washington, on April 11, 2010. The Prime Minister meeting the Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi and the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 12, 2010.

At their 45-minute meeting, Mr Nazarbayev and Dr Singh agreed, among other things, that an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear cooperation would be concluded between the two countries soon.

The two leaders reviewed the bilateral relationship and the implementation of the agreements and initiatives that had been agreed upon during the President's visit to India in January 2009.

According to Mr Vishnu Prakash, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Nazarbayev spoke very appreciatively of India's economic development and evinced interest in seeing Indian companies play a greater role and an expanded presence in Kazakhstan.

He said both sides evinced an interest in enhancing cooperation in a number of areas, especially agriculture, civil construction, mining, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals as well as other sectors. They particularly spoke of concretizing collaborations and having projects and initiatives which could be implemented on ground at the earliest.

Dr Singh was assisted by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and other officials at the talks, while Mr Nazarbayev was assisted by his Foreign Minister and Oil Minister.

Mr Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan was planning 170 major projects in a variety of sectors to speed up industrialisation and invited Indian companies to participate in them.

Mr Prakash pointed out that hydrocarbons and energy, including civil nuclear energy, were the main pillars of cooperation between the two countries and referred to the various agreements in place in these sectors.

These include an agreement between ONGC Videsh and KazMunaiGas in the Satpayev oil block and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazatomprom envisaging cooperation between the two sides, including for supply of uranium to India and other aspects.

Mr Nazarbayev invited Indian companies to establish thermal power plants in his country.

The meeting also discussed the situation in Kyrghizstan and Afghanistan. They agreed on the need for stability, security and economic development of Afghanistan, and also evinced concern at production of narcotics and trafficking of narcotics. Mr Nazarbayev was very appreciative of India’s role in reconstruction and economic development in Afghanistan, and he remarked that once the situation in Afghanistan stabilizes, that would pave the way for a direct surface link between India and Kazakhstan.

Mr Nazarbayev invited Dr Singh to pay a visit Kazakhstan. He also invited him to participate in the third summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had represented India at the first CICA Summit in Kazakhstan in June 2002.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is likely to pay a visit to Kazakhstan in May this year.

At the 40-minute meeting with Mr Fassi, the two leaders exchanged views on enhancing the historic links between India and Morocco and stepping up all-round cooperation.

Both countries have maintained a tradition of high-level exchanges. King Mohammed VI visited India in 2003 and the Moroccan Prime Minister had visited India recently.

The two sides agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Commission at the level of their Commerce Ministers would be held in New Delhi soon, when the Foreign Office consultations would also take place.

Mr Prakash pointed out Morocco was one of India's most important suppliers of phosphate. Many Indian companies are engaged in mining in Morocco and converting rock phosphate into phosphoric acid, which is then exported to India. Bilateral trade is growing and exceeded $ 1 billion last year.

Mr Fassi said Morocco wished to enhance cooperation with India in the renewable energy sector, particularly in solar and wind energy, in which India has considerable strengths.

Mr Fassi also expressed Morocco's support for India's candidature for a seat in the United Nations Security Council. Both sides expressed similar views on terrorism and spoke about enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing.

According to Mr Prakash, Dr Singh had a very pleasant and fruitful exchange of views with his Canadian counterpart, who had visited India in November 2009. The two Prime Ministers had met again a few weeks later in Port of Spain on the margins of the Commonwealth Summit. The two leaders reviewed cooperation in the area of trade and economy. India and Canada have set a target of taking bilateral trade to $ 15 billion in five years.

The noted with satisfaction that the discussions on an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear cooperation had been concluded and hoped it could be finalised and signed soon.

Dr Singh noted that the 25th anniversary of the bombing of Air India's "Kanishka" would fall in June this year and said there were continued concerns about the activities of extremist groups. He hoped Canada would monitor their activities. Mr Harper assured him that his Government would do its best. They agreed that their officials would remain in touch in this regard.

They also discussed climate change and the coming G-20 Summit in Toronto, which Dr Singh is expected to attend.

Mr Harper sought Dr Singh's views on the agenda for the coming summit and about what could be its focus. Dr Singh said the G-20 framework had helped overcome the immediate financial crisis but now had to move ahead to deal with the larger issue of global imbalances and reforms of the international financial institutions.

Dr Singh underlined the need for a stable and predictable regime of capital flows especially for the developing countries. He spoke about the Indian economy and the efforts to return to a growth rate of nine per cent, for which it needed a conducive and enabling international environment. He also pointed out that India was not contributing to global imbalances as it was not a mercantile economy.

Mr Harper spoke about Canada's interest in using the G-20 to develop a framework to encourage balanced and sustainable growth internationally.

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PM has brief interaction with Gilani in Washington

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani briefly at a reception in Washington hosted by US President Barack Obama on Monday for leaders attending the Nuclear Security Summit.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exchanging pleasantries with his Pakistani Counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani, during the official reception for the leaders, at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 12, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exchanging pleasantries with his Pakistani Counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani, during the official reception for the leaders, at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 12, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a brief interaction with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani at a reception in Washington hosted by United States President Barack Obama on Monday evening for world leaders attending the Nuclear Security Summit.

Sources said Mr Gilani walked up to Dr Singh and greeted him. The two leaders shook hands and chatted warmly for a few minutes.

Later, Mr Vishnu Prakash, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters that the two leaders exchanged pleasantries, without going into the details what they said to each other.

Dr Singh and Mr Gilani have not held a formal bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit though both of them had meetings with other leaders attending the event. There is now talk that the two leaders might meet on the margins of the SAARC Summit to be held later this month in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The Foreign Secretaries of the two countries had met in New Delhi in February in an effort to break the ice in the bilateral relationship after India had suspended the Composite Dialogue Process between the two countries after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives.

India blamed the attacks on elements based in Pakistan and said there could be no meaningful dialogue between the two countries unless Islamabad brought the perpetrators to justice and took concrete action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in its territory that was being used for acts of terrorism against this country.

Pakistan wants India to resume the Composite Dialogue Process but New Delhi says this would have to wait till there is evidence of concrete action against the perpetrators and conspirators behind the 26/11 attacks.

While India had invited Pakistan for the February 25 talks between the two Foreign Secretaries and has indicated its willingness for another round of discussions at that level, it might not be keen to raise the level of the talks. Even for the February 25 talks, India had made it clear that it would remain focused on the action taken by Pakistan against terorrism, while the Pakistani delegation tried to widen the discussion to cover other topics such as the Jammu and Kashmir issue and water disputes.

Dr Singh and Mr Gilani had last met in July 2009 on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt.

While Pakistan has taken some steps to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 to book, India is clearly not satisfied. Dr Singh conveyed as much to Mr Obama at their bilateral meeting in Washington on Sunday and the US, in turn, is understood to have relayed India's concerns to Mr Gilani when they met later on the same day.

Dr Singh told Mr Obama that it was unfortunate that there was no will on the part of the Government of Pakistan to punish those responsible for the 26/11 attacks. This was where the partnership of India and the US could make the difference, he told Mr Obama.

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Obama: US understands India's concerns on terror, will engage Pakistan on them

US President Barack Obama has told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he fully understood India's concerns about terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said the US was engaging Pakistan on these issues.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.

United States President Barack Obama has told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he fully understood India's concerns about the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said the US was engaging Pakistan on thse issues.

At a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington on Sunday, Mr Obama also said the US would be sensitive to the issues India had raised with him in the context of security assistance provided by the US to Pakistan.

On India's request for direct access to suspected LeT suspect David Coleman Headley, Mr Obama said the US was working through its legal system on the issue of provision of such access.

"He was fully supportive of our request for provision of such access," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told journalists after the meeting.

Headley is believed to be part of the conspiracy behind the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

India has been pushing for direct access to Headley who, along with another suspected LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani national, had been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago in October last year for allegedly conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.

Subsequent investigations have shown that Headley had travelled to India several times prior to 26/11 and surveyed the sites where the attacks were carried out. More recently, it has come to light that he had, during one of those visits, surveyed the area in Pune where a bomb explosion at a popular eatery in February had killed 17 people and injured about 50 others.

In mid-March, Headley entered into a plea bargain with the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. As part of this, he has agreed to testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, video conferencing or letters rogatory.

Dr Singh reached Washington on Saturday evening on a four-day visit during which he will attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on April 12-13. His meeting with Mr Obama took place at the Blair House, across the road from White House.

Dr Singh was assisted at the talks by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Ms Rao and Indian Ambassador in Washington Meera Shankar, among others.

The US delegation included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister told the US President that what happened in its neighbourhood was of crucial importance to India at a time when it was trying to ensure an architecture of high economic growth.

According to Ms Rao, he said that the terrorist onslaught in the region, if it persisted, could affect India's growth prospects. He said this terrorist menace should be tackled and this was an issue on which India and the US were on the same side.

Dr Singh said this with specific reference to what is happening in Pakistan and Afganistan. He said that the way this menace was tackled would determine the future of the South Asia region. He mentioned the issue of access to David Headley in this context and also spoke about the tremendous rise in infiltration across the Line of Control.

Ms Rao said Dr Singh also mentioned the activities of the LeT and persons like JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and HuJI chief Ilyas Kashmiri. He said that it was unfortunate that there was no will on the part of the Government of Pakistan to punish those responsible for the terrorist crimes in Mumbai of November 2008. This was where the partnership of India and the United States could make the difference, he said.

Mr Obama said India had the goodwill and the understanding of the US in this regard. He said he shared Dr Singh's vision of South Asia.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.

He said the US fully appreciated India's interest in Afghanistan and recognised the enormous sacrifices made by it to help stabilise the war-torn country. He expressed support for India's continuing contributions to Afghanistan's development.

Referring to India-Pakistan relations, Mr Obama said the US favoured the reduction of tensions between the two countries.

Dr Singh again stressed the need for Pakistan to take convincing action against those accused of involvement in the 26/11 attacks.

Ms Rao said the 50-minute meeting was "extremely positive and very constructive." Both leaders referred to the good progress that had been made in bilateral relations between India and the US since their last meeting here in November 2009, when Mr Obama had hosted Dr Singh for the first state dinner of his presidency.

They said they looked foward to the strategic dialogue between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Ms Clinton in Washington on June 3.

Dr Singh and Mr Obama expressed their happiness that the agreement on arrangements and procedures relating to the India-US Civil Nuclear Deal had been completed. They were also satisfied with the good cooperation on counter-terrorism issues. President Obama said that he understood India’s deep concerns in regard to this issue as also on the situation in Afghanistan. He said that India’s interests were consistently on the mind of the United States.

According to Ms Rao, Mr Obama said there was no country in the world where the opportunities for a strong, strategic partnership were greater and more important to him personally or to the United States than that with India. He referred to the relations between two democracies in this context, their common values and the people-to-people relationship.

Dr Singh said India looked forward to the visit of Mr and Mrs Obama to India later this year. He said the President had caught the imagination of millions around the world, including the people of India.

He said he was convinced that the two Governments could begin a new chapter in their relations. He referred to the role of the US in strengthening growth impulses in the world economy, particularly in developing countries, in the post-Second World War world and said that experience could be repeated.

The Prime Minister said countries like India needed an international environment that did not allow protectionist forces to gain ascendancy. He said there was a need to rewrite the architecture of the global economic system and felt the G-20 could play an important role in ensuring that global economic recovery was sustainable.

He said the US was uniquely placed to work out a plan for sustainable recovery in a globally integrated financial system. He also said there was a synergy of interests between India and the US in this regard.

Mr Obama said preparations were on for the next G-20 Summit and said the US would welcome the suggestions of India. He referred to the common interest of both countries in seeing an early conclusion of the Doha Round.

Food security and energy security, he said, were other areas for cooperation, especially since the experience of India in these fields was particularly very valuable and of global relevance.

Mr Obama also appreciated India's contributions to the Nuclear Security Summit which begins on Monday. Dr Singh congratulated him on his initiative in convening the summit.

In response to a question, Ms Rao said Iran figured in the discussions. She said India's views in this regard were well-known to the US.

The discussion referred to the ongoing discussions in New York on the possibility of a UN Security Council Resolution to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue. Mr Obama briefed Dr Singh about the status of those discussions.

Dr Singh made known India's position in this regard. India has always stressed that Iran has certain obligations to fulfil as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the nuclear issue as it concerns Iran. On the issue of sanctions, India's position is that these, when they targeted ordinary people, had always been counter-productive. Both sides agreed to keep in touch on this issue and to continue their discussions.

In response to another question, Ms Rao said Mr Obama referred to the pending Civil Nuclear Liability Bill and hoped that this could be concluded as expeditiously as possible.

Mr Obama also met Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani later in the day.

Dr Singh will also have bilateral meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his stay in Washington.

Ms Rao said there were no plans for a bilateral meeting between Dr Singh and Mr Gilani in Washington.

From Washington, Dr Singh will travel to Brasilia in Brazil, where he will attend the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit on April 15 and the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit on April 16 hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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PM meets Obama, discusses terrorism, access to Headley, Afghanistan

Prime Minister Mamohan Singh met United States President Barack Obama in Washington on Sunday and is understood to have discussed with him the situation in Afghanistan and issues related to terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met United States President Barack Obama in Washington today and is understood to have discussed with him the situation in Afghanistan and issues related to terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Dr Singh, who reached Washington on Saturday evening on a four-day visit, met Mr Obama at the Blair House, across the road from the White House.

During the meeting, he is understood to have raised the issue of India obtaining access to suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Headley, who is believed to be part of the conspiracy behind the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

According to sources, the US president said his adminstration was fully supportive of India's request and was working on the legal steps to be taken in this regard.

The reference to Headley came in the context of a discussion about acts of terror planned against India from Pakistani soil. Dr Singh is learnt to have mentioned the role of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and HuJI chief Ilyas Kashmiri in this regard.

The Prime Minister was assisted by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao at the meeting.

Mr Obama stressed the need for India and Pakistan to work on reducing tensions between them and said the US was in favour of the two neighbours engaging in a dialogue to sort out their differences.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the US President Barack Obama, at Blair House, Washington on April 11, 2010.

Dr Singh is learnt to have made it clear that India would maintain its presence in Afghanistan. The two leaders are also learnt to have discussed the developments in Iran, especially with regard to its nuclear programme.

Mr Obama was expected to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani later in the day.

Dr Singh is in Washington to attend the 42-nation Nuclear Security Summit on April 12-13 being hosted by Mr Obama.

India has been pushing for direct access to David Headley who, along with another suspected LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani national, had been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago in October last year for allegedly conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.

Subsequent investigations have shown that Headley had travelled to India several times prior to 26/11 and surveyed the sites where the attacks were carried out. More recently, it has come to light that he had, during one of those visits, surveyed the area in Pune where a bomb explosion at a popular eatery in February had killed 17 people and injured about 50 others.

In mid-March, Headley entered into a plea bargain with the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. As part of this, he has agreed to testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, video conferencing or letters rogatory.

Apart from Mr Obama, Dr Singh will also have bilateral meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his stay in Washington.

There are no indications yet about whether there would be a bilateral meeting between Mr Gilani and Dr Singh.

Today's meeting was the first between Dr Singh and Mr Obama since November, when the US President had hosted the Prime Minister for the first state dinner of his presidency at the White House.

From Washington, Dr Singh will travel to Brasilia in Brazil, where he will attend the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit on April 15 and the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit on April 16 hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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PM arrives in Washington, to meet Obama on Sunday

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Washington on Saturday on a four-day visit during which he will meet US President Barack Obama on Sunday and attend the Nuclear Security Summit on April 12-13.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, USA to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on April 10, 2010. Ambassador Meera Shankar can also be seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, USA to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on April 10, 2010. Ambassador Meera Shankar can also be seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Washington on Saturday on a four-day visit during which he will meet United States President Barack Obama for their first bilateral meeting since November last year and attend the 42-nation Nuclear Security Summit on April 12-13.

Dr Singh was received at the Andrews Air Force Base by White House Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar and other senior officials.

Apart from bilateral issues, Dr Singh's discussions with Mr Obama will cover the situation in Afghanistan. India is expected to make it clear that it will continue to maintain a presence in Afghanistan.

India is also likely to push for direct access to suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Headley to find out more about his role in the conspiracy behind the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives.

Headley and another suspected LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani national, had been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago in October last year for allegedly conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.

Subsequent investigations have shown that Headley had travelled several times prior to 26/11 and surveyed the sites where the attacks were carried out. More recently, it has come to light that he had, during one of those visits, surveyed the area in Pune where a bomb explosion at a popular eatery in February had killed 17 people and injured about 50 others.

In mid-March, Headley entered into a plea bargain with the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illionois in Chicago. As part of this, he has agreed to testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, video conferencing or letters rogatory.

Dr Singh and Mr Obama are also likely to discuss the progress in the implementation of the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) being hosted by Mr Obama will focus on nuclear terrorism and the possible acquisition of nuclear devices and material by terrorist groups.

Before leaving Delhi, Dr Singh had said in a pre-departure statement that nuclear terrorism and proliferation of sensitive nuclear materials and technologies were legitimate concerns which required firm responses.

"India has a well developed indigenous nuclear energy programme, which dates back six decades. We have an impeccable record of security, safety and non-proliferation which reflects our conduct as a responsible nuclear power," he said.

"India welcomes President Obama’s initiative to hold a Summit on Nuclear Security. Nuclear energy is poised to play a growing role in addressing the developmental challenges of our times. This will be possible only if we, as individual nations, and as a global community ensure the highest standards of security which reinforce public faith in the benefits of nuclear science. India is an important stakeholder in this global endeavour," Dr Singh said.

He said India had been a consistent advocate of complete and universal global nuclear disarmament.

"We were among the first countries in the world to call for a world free of nuclear weapons. I am encouraged by the fact that this approach is finding greater resonance today. We will continue to call for more meaningful progress in this direction," he said.

Apart from Mr Obama, Dr Singh will also have bilateral meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Canadia Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his stay in Washington.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will also be at the Nuclear Security Summit but there were no indications yet that there would be a bilateral meeting between him and Dr Singh.

From Washington, Dr Singh will travel to Brasilia in Brazil, where he will attend the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit on April 15 and the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit on April 16 hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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Photos courtesy Embassy of India, Washington

India-Australia Education Council to be set up

Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal meeting the Indian students affected by violence, at Melbourne on April 08, 2010.
Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal meeting the Indian students affected by violence, at Melbourne on April 08, 2010.

India and Australia have agreed to constitute the India-Australia Education Council to bring together government, academia, business and industry of both the countries to further bilateral collaboration in the education sector.

The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting between visiting Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal and Ms Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of Australia in Melbourne yesterday.

The agreement recognises the fact that education is central to sustained, inclusive and equitable growth, an official press release said here today.

The two Ministers also agreed to set up a Joint Faculty Development Programme and an Inter University Convention of Vice-Chancellors.

These initiatives, together with the expansion of the existing Education Exchange Programme to include all levels of education, are aimed at greater cooperation in the education sector between the two countries, the release said.

The two sides signed three memoranda of understanding (MoU) in the field of education in the presence of the two Ministers. They include an MoU between the Association of Indian Universities and Universities Australia, another between India's Central Board of Secondary Education and the Australian Council of Education Research and the third between The Energy Research Institute (TERI) and Deakin University.

According to the release, the discussions between the two ministers also explored various ways to further the strategic partnership between India and Australia. Issues relating to the safety and well-being of Indian students in Australia and other related matters were also discussed.

The two Ministers emphasised that people-to-people contacts, including student interactions, are at the heart of the bilateral relationship, in building bridges of friendship and understanding and acting as a significant resource for future development of the relationship.

Mr Sibal also had a meeting with Victorian Premier John Brumby at which they discussed the steps taken so far by the Victorian Government to address the concerns of international students.

Mr Sibal expressed his deep concern on the continued incidents of assaults on Indian students and requested Mr Brumby for credible data on the incidents that have taken place over the past one year as also information relating to the status of the trials, the charges framed and convictions. He stressed the importance of setting up an institutional mechanism for sharing such information.

He also requested the Premier of Victoria to extend transport concession to international students and increase the accommodation facilities for them.

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US Chamber's trade mission to India next week

A trade mission from the United States Chamber of Commerce will be in India next week to highlight opportunities for US and Indian companies to increase trade and investment, expand infrastructure, and leverage technology in order to create jobs in both countries.

The mission will be led by the chamber's President and CEO Thomas J Donohue, a press release from the organisation said.

"By looking to new markets abroad, American businesses remain at the point of the spear in strengthening U.S. international relations," Mr Donohue said.

"In no country is this more evident than India, but our work is just beginning. India is a vital market for American companies and increasing bilateral trade and investment ties is necessary to driving job creation and innovation in both countries," he said.

According to the release, during the seven-day mission, Mr Donohue will meet top business and Government leaders. Apart from Delhi, the mission will also travel to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai.

The release said Mr Donohue would highlight India's trillion dollar infrastructure challenge, which he hopes to convert into US business opportunities.

"Some of our best capabilities are in developing infrastructure and technologies that India critically needs," Mr Donohue said. "It's time to integrate American businesses of all sizes into this supply chain."

"To create these jobs, we're urging the governments to not only resist protectionism, but continue to open markets, embrace domestic reforms, and provide global leadership on trade, energy, and the protection of intellectual property," he said.

Mr Donohue pointed to the growth in two-way trade between the countries, which has crossed $40 billion annually and is expected to grow at double-digit rates well into the next decade.

"The private sectors of both our countries have been trailblazers in bringing together the two largest free-market democracies," he said. "Now it's time to press our governments toward accelerating mutually beneficial commercial relations."

The release said a major stepping stone toward expanding trading opportunities and enhancing energy security in India came from the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative, which the Chamber resoundingly supported. The agreement represents $150 billion in business potential for U.S. companies and could generate as many as 250,000 high-tech American jobs.

"The Chamber will remain at the forefront in the effort to streamline export control rules that are a legacy of the Cold War," Mr Donohue said.

"Many of the problems facing our countries can be solved by prudent application of sophisticated technology. More than ever we need to collaborate as partners in this field. This area has already led to an explosion of growth in U.S. high-tech exports to India. But American businesses believe that there are more opportunities and jobs still to be created by leveraging technology," he said.

Mr Donohue will be accompanied by Mr Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council.

On April 13, Mr Donohue will address the Confederation of Indian Industy (CII) and other business organizations in New Delhi.

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US rules out civil nuclear deal with Pakistan

U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley.
U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley.

The United States has made it clear that a civilian nuclear energy agreement with Pakistan was not on the cards shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his country qualified for the kind of deal that the US had with India.

"We are focused on Pakistan’s energy needs. But as we said last week, right now, that does not include civilian nuclear energy," Assistant Secretary Philip J Crowley told reporters at the daily briefing at the State Department here on Wednesday.

Pakistan had raised the issue at its recent Strategic Dialogue here at the level of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Later, at the joint media interaction with Mr Qureshi, Ms Clinton had skirted a question on the nuclear deal and said that the US would help Pakistan on some power projects.

Yesterday, Mr Gilani had said in Islamabad that Pakistan qualified for such a deal because it had in place effective security and non-proliferation measures.

In response to a question about India's role at the Nuclear Security Summit convened by US President Barack Obama in Washington next week, given that the country is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mr Crowley said India would play an important role, both at the summit as well as the NPT Review Conference in May.

"We think that, as the Nuclear Posture Review reflected on its release yesterday, we are less concerned about the exchange of nuclear weapons among states. We’re more concerned about how we keep nuclear technology and know-how out of the hands of outlier states and rogue elements," he said.

"And India will have an important role to play in – both in terms of reinforcing and strengthening the Nonproliferation Treaty, but also demonstrating, as it is itself, how it can both protect nuclear technology, but – while also allowing the growth of civilian nuclear capacity," he said.

Asked if the US was concerned that the nuclear material in South Asia, Pakistan in particular, was more vulnerable to terrorist groups, he said, "I’m not going to break any new ground here. I think various U.S. leaders have expressed confidence in the security of the Pakistani weapons. I’m not going to go any further than that," he added.

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Krishna: India, China can advance interests better through cooperation

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna interacting with media at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing on 6 April 2010.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna interacting with media at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing on 6 April 2010.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said India and China, given their shared interest in creating a more contemporary order, could advance their respective interests much better through active cooperation rather than a competitive relationship.

Addressing the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) in Beijing, he said that the two countries had only begun to impact seriously on the world, with both striving to rewrite the rules of the world a little more in their favour.

"A reshaping of the global architecture is underway, evident in new groupings like the G-20, BRIC, BASIC and the East Asia Summit. As developing societies, our convergence is manifest on issues like climate change and global trade rules," he said.
Mr Krishna said that, even on the complex issue of UN reform, it is perhaps time for China to review previously held positions and welcome the presence in the Security Council of a nation with which it has much in common, referring to India's bid to get a permanent seat in the council.
He said the two sides had to accept there would be outstanding issues between the two countries even as the relationship forged ahead.

"This is in the very nature of global politics and we should not get discouraged as a result. The true test of our maturity is how well we handle our problems," he said.
He said that, even on an issue like the unresolved boundary question that is often the subject of media speculation, it was not always appreciated that considerable progress had actually been made.
"The Peace and Tranquility Agreement of 1993, the Confidence Building Measures of 1996 and the Guiding Principles and Political Parameters of 2005 have all demonstrated that we have the ability to increase convergence and deepen mutual understanding on this complex issue through patient negotiation," he said.

Mr Krishna said there was a strong case for a global issues partnership between India and China as two large developing Asian economies and felt the countries could work together on key challenges that would define the 21st century.
"As rising powers, India and China are often projected to have a competitive relationship. In the final analysis, we all are what we want to be. It is upto us to disprove such scenarios, not through platitudes and wishful thinking, but by concrete examples of cooperation," he said.
Mr Krishna, who is on a four-day official visit to China, said the issues on which the two countries could cooperate included sustainable development, technology exploitation, water usage, climate change, rapid urbanization, migration, human development and building a pluralistic society.
"The 21st century will be increasingly driven by the quality of human resources. As the two largest human resource powers, our cooperation can accelerate that trend," he said.

Mr Krishna said there was more to their prospects than issue-based cooperation, with the rise of the two countries promising to alter the configurations of the global order in a fundamental manner.
"We cannot accept incremental change in the way the world is currently run. The G-20 represents the first step in a new direction. Our combined efforts can help reform the systems of international financial governance much more effectively than we could by working alone. As Asian states, we must recognize that our continent lags behind Europe and the Americas in terms of economic and infrastructural integration and security cooperation. We have yet to find the right common denominators in many areas. If India and China work purposefully in this direction, the whole world stands to benefit," he said.
The Minister said the growth of the bilateral relationship would be determined by the extent of the awareness of the two countries that they are linked in the future, just as their destinies were linked in the past.

Mr Krishna's visit councides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of India's diplomatic relations with China.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna presenting a gift to Qu Xing, President of the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing on 6 April 2010.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna presenting a gift to Qu Xing, President of the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing on 6 April 2010.

Keeping that as the backdrop, he focused today on the common concerns of India and China and the future of their cooperation.
He said it was not surprising that the post-1945 order in the world was reluctant to recognise the legitimate concerns and interests of the two nations. He recalled that, in their early years as independent players, the two polities found themselves on the same page on de-colonization, national sovereignty and independence, and security of states.
Mr Krishna said that, in the 1980s, having overcome initial challenges, India and China saw that rapid economic growth would give them a stronger voice in the international community.
"Looking back, it is significant that Rajiv Gandhi actually sought to accelerate India’s modernization just a few years after Deng Xiaoping unveiled his reform policy in China. Unfortunately, it took us another decade to evolve a national consensus. But the point that I wish to underline is that the architects of modernization and reform in both countries – Rajiv Gandhi and Deng Xiaoping – were also the prime movers of normalizing our ties after a difficult interregnum. Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 visit to China was the landmark event that put our ties on their present course. The underlying assumption that was clearly shared by both leaders was of the importance of growth at home and of cooperation abroad. Those still remain our guiding principles," he said.

He said that as India and China managed their domestic priorities well, it had huge implications for global prosperity because they were, between them, raising the living standard of almost one-third of humanity.
"Given the scale of what is underway, there is much that can be gained through our close cooperation. The economic models of India and China may be very different. But an exchange of best practices can still benefit both countries. After all, we do face similar challenges of urbanization, resource consumption, food and energy security, inclusive growth and skills development," he said.
Mr Krishna said the two countries must ask themselves whether, as neighbours and partners, each of whom are large and rising economies, they were making the best of opportunities?
"Put bluntly, is it possible that India and China can leverage each others’ strengths? After all, in their own past history, both nations have leapfrogged using international relationships," he remarked.

"There is a huge infrastructure demand in India, covering sectors like power, roads, rail and telecommunications. In the recent budget, 46% of the total plan allocations are assigned for physical infrastructure development. China has actually carried out many of the changes that India is still contemplating. As a result, it has capacities but less domestic demand. There is considerable scope for joint projects as we master the practice of working harmoniously together. On the Chinese side, the outsourcing of IT by state enterprises has only started recently. There is a potential waiting to be tapped, which would happen only by connecting Chinese users to Indian providers," he said.
Mr Krishna said India strongly felt the India-China relationship was grossly under-realised and the capacities for expansion were enormous.
He said the challenges to their peaceful periphery were not very different from the problems the two countries faced at home, which emanated from the two central issues of material poverty and intellectual poverty.
"To the extent that we can raise living standards rapidly at home and encourage similar progress in our neighbourhood, we will be more secure and stable. The more complex challenge is that of ideas. As pluralistic societies, we are threatened by political ideologies that are based on narrow loyalties, often justified by distorting religious beliefs. These forces are against progress and modernity and have only brought misery wherever they have dominated. States that use them as instruments to advance their political interests find themselves consumed by these very destructive ideas," he said.
The Minister said that, for both countries, stability at home stood in sharp contrast to extreme instability in their shared neighbourhood.
"We cannot afford to be passive spectators. It is critical for our future that we cooperate actively in meeting common challenges. Our ties were never a zero sum game. Today, it is all the more important that we take an enlightened and long-term view of our self-interest," he said.
Mr Krishna said a strong and stable relationship between India and China had consequences for the entire world.
"Because we are different, our divergences are often exaggerated. If truth be told, there are vested interests at work too. India and China must not just cooperate; they must be seen to be doing so by the rest of the world," he said.
"Our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, often emphasizes that the world is large enough to accommodate the aspirations of both countries. But this is not an inevitable outcome. It is a goal that requires strong political will, sustained engagement and a high degree of mutual sensitivity. What can we do to make this cooperation stronger? I believe that we need to work on a wide variety of fronts as progress on one will reinforce in the other," he said.

Mr Krishna said several dialogues and fora already existed between India and China that needed to keep meeting regularly and productively, including mechanisms to discuss bilateral, regional and global political issues.
"We have a separate set of talks for the boundary question. Annual consultations take place between our foreign offices, defence establishments, policy planners, consular officials and disarmament experts. There are also dedicated bodies to deliberate on trade matters and water management. Regular meetings lead to better communication, more understanding and strengthen confidence. I would, therefore, strongly encourage an intensive and sustained engagement between the two systems," he said.
He said the two sides must keep pushing the pace of the relationship with new ideas and more activity.
"On the political side, the support provided by growing track-2 dialogues is a welcome development. Our military-to-military cooperation is also expanding steadily. In trade, business events in 18 Chinese cities this year with IT, pharmaceuticals, engineering and agro-exports as thrust areas will surely make an impact. In culture, the Festival of India that will take our performing arts to 33 Chinese cities this year will be equally noteworthy. Growing exchanges of students and tourists speak of changing levels of comfort. Soap operas on Chinese TV and Bollywood dances in local restaurants confirm that we have transcended cultural barriers," he said.
Mr Krishna said the two countries needed to strengthen sentiment at the popular level and pointed out that the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties offered a great opportunity.

"But this needs to be a continuous and widening process. There are powerful symbols of connectivity between our societies. Xuan Tsang is one from distant history. We are now completing the construction of an Indian temple at the White Horse Temple complex in Luoyang which is associated with him. This will be a powerful symbol of our shared history. Asia’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore too evokes positive sentiments among Chinese intellectuals. His 150th birth anniversary next year offers a unique opportunity to build stronger cultural bonds. We have, of course, examples from more contemporary times like the young and heroic Dr. Kotnis and the Indian medical mission to Yenan. We must appreciate the power of culture to bring about perceptional changes in society as a whole," he said.
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India denies hindering water flows into Pakistan

India today rejected allegations that it was hindering water flows into Pakistan and developing the infrastructure to stop and divert these flows to serve its own needs.


"Such accusations bear no relation whatsoever to the reality on the ground," Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal said at a function organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations and Pakistan-India Citizens Friendship Forum yesterday.


He regretted that public discourse in Pakistan had, of late, increasingly focused on certain alelged acts of ommission and commision on the part of India as being responsible for the water scarcity in Pakistan.


The "water issue" was also being spoken of as an issue whose resolution is essential to build peace between the two countries, he noted. "Preposterous and completely unwarranted allegatins of 'stealing water' and waging a 'water war' are being made against India," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said the fact was that India had been scrupulously providing Pakistan its share of water in keeping with the Indus Water Treaty.


"We have never hindered water flows to which Pakistan is entitled, not even during the wars of 1965 and 1971 as well as other periods of tense relations and we have no intention of doing so. Those, who allege that India is acquiring the capacity to withhold Pakistan’s share of water, completely ignore the fact that this would require a storage and diversion canals network on a large scale. Such a network simply does not exist and figures nowhere in our plans," he said.


Going into the background, Mr Sabharwal said the issue of water sharing that arose between the two countries in 1947 was settled with the coming into force of The Indus Waters Treaty in 1960, which was voluntarily accepted by the two sides as fair and equitable.


He said those who question the fairness of the Indus Waters Treaty to Pakistan need to note that it assigned 80% share of water of the Indus system of rivers to Pakistan.


"The Treaty gave the use of Eastern Rivers (Sutlej, Beas and Ravi) - with a mean flow of 33 million acre feet (MAF) - to India, while giving the use of the Western Rivers, viz. Indus, Jhelum and Chenab – with a mean flow of 136 MAF - to Pakistan. Since Pakistan was dependent on water supplies from the Eastern Rivers until the 15th of August 1947, India also agreed to pay a sum of 62 million Pounds Sterling to Pakistan to build replacement canals from the Western Rivers and other sources. These were clearly not the gestures of an upper riparian bent upon depriving the lower riparian of water, as is alleged by some today," he said.


The envoy said the Treaty also permitted limited use of water of Western Rivers by India as follows:


a) Domestic use: - This includes use for drinking, washing, bathing and sanitation etc.


b) Non consumptive use: - This covers any control or use of water for navigation, floating of timber or other property, flood control and fishing etc.


c) Agricultural use: - India can draw water from the Western Rivers in terms of maximum permissible Irrigated Crop Area. The total area permitted to be irrigated by India is 1.34 million acres.


d) Generation of Hydroelectric Power :- India can use water from the Western Rivers for run -of- the river hydroelectric projects as well as for hydroelectric projects incorporated in a storage work, but only to the extent permitted in the provisions regulating storage of water by India from the Western Rivers.


e) Storage of water by India on the Western Rivers: - The Indus Waters Treaty allows India storage capacity on Western Rivers to the tune of 3.6 MAF, in addition to the storage that already existed on these rivers before the coming into force of the Treaty. Out of this, 1.25 MAF is general storage. The remaining quantity is split between 1.6 MAF for generation of hydroelectricity and 0.75 MAF for flood control. In terms of rivers, 0.4 MAF storage is allowed on the Indus, 1.5 on Jhelum and 1.7 on Chenab.


Mr Sabharwal said this limited use of water from Western Rivers by India was subject to the conditions laid down in the Treaty to protect the interests of both countries.


He said that, however, India was yet to use fully its entitlement to the waters of Western Rivers. As against its storage entitlement of 3.6 MAF, India has built no storage so far.


Out of the area of 1.34 million acres, permitted for irrigation, India is currently irrigating only 0.792 million acres, he said.


"We have exploited only a fraction of the hydroelectric potential available to us on these rivers. Out of a total potential of 18,653 MW, projects worth 2324 MW have been commissioned and those for 659 MW are under construction. In any case, even after India starts using its full entitlement of water from the Western Rivers under the Treaty, it will amount to no more than 3% of the mean flow in these rivers," he said.


The High Commissioner said that the Permanent Indus Commission, charged with the responsibility to establish and maintain cooperative arrangements for implementation of the Treaty, to promote co-operation between the Parties in the development of the waters of the Rivers and to settle promptly any questions arising between the Parties, undertook a general tour of inspection of the rivers once in five years and special tours in the interim. He said the Commission also met regularly at least once a year and in the interim as required.


He said the Commission had shown tremendous potential in ensuring smooth functioning of the Treaty. In the 50 years of the Treaty, only once was an issue, Baglihar, referred to a neutral expert.


"We believe that the potential of the Permanent Indus Commission can and ought to be used more effectively. In fact, we could even have the Commission sit in the nature of a consultative dispute avoidance body and take the views of experts – national and international – with a view to bringing up-to - date technology to the notice of the Commission to help it reach correct and acceptable solutions," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said the Treaty did not require India to deliver any stipulated quantities of water to Pakistan in the Western Rivers. Instead, it requires India to let flow to Pakistan the water available in these rivers, excluding the limited use permitted to India by the Treaty, for which it does not need prior agreement of Pakistan.


He said reduced flows into Pakistan from time to time were not the result of violation of Indus Waters Treaty by India or any action on its part to divert such flows or to use more than its assigned share of water from Western Rivers.


"Water flows in rivers depend, inter alia, on melting of snow and quantum of rainfall. India itself suffered serious draught conditions in 2009, with around 250 districts bearing the brunt of draught. Rainfall during the monsoon season was 20% less than normal countrywide, with many states in the North experiencing a much higher percentage of shortfall. Even winter rains have fallen far short of normal. The quantum of water flow in Western Rivers, as indeed in any other river, varies from year to year, dipping in certain years and recovering in some subsequent years," he said.


On the oft-heard accusation that India is building hundreds of dams/hydroelectric projects to deny Pakistan its share of water, he said this did not correspond to the reality on the ground.


"There are no quantitative limits on the hydroelectricity that India can produce using the Western Rivers. There is also no limit to the number of run-of- the river projects that India can build. However, India has so far undertaken a limited number of projects. We have provided information to Pakistan, as per the Treaty, in respect of 33 projects. Out of these, 14 are in operation, 13 are under construction, 2 are still at the proposal stage, 3 have been dropped or deferred and work on one project stands suspended. Out of these 33 projects, as many as 20 have a capacity of 10 MW or less. Projects identified for implementation in the coming years number 22. This certainly does not make for hundreds of dams/ hydroelectric projects," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said the Treaty required India to provide certain specified technical information to Pakistan at least six months before the commencement of construction of river works for a hydroelectric or storage project (the period is two months for a Small Plant), in order to enable Pakistan to satisfy itself that the design of a plant conforms to the provisions of the Treaty.


If Pakistan raises any objection, it has to be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. India has been meeting its obligation to provide the specified information as necessary, he said.


He said that, in all the cases in the past, India had responded to all queries from Pakistan about such projects, even if these were not strictly in keeping with the Treaty, in order to address Pakistan’s concerns.


"This has resulted in endless delays and cost overruns. The Tulbul Navigation project is a case in point. India provided information to Pakistan on this project as a matter of goodwill. As a further gesture of goodwill, works on the project were unilaterally stopped by India in October, 1986 and remain suspended to this day. However, infinite queries from Pakistan could amount to a virtual veto on Indian projects. This is not the intention of the Treaty in requiring India to provide information in advance of the river works. India is within its rights to proceed with the construction of a plant at the end of the period of advance notice, even if Pakistan raises objections, subject to any subsequent changes in design or any other consequences that may flow from resolution of the matter under Article IX of the Treaty," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said India had communicated information concerning Baglihar project on Chenab to Pakistan as early as in 1992. Pakistan’s objections were referred to a neutral expert in 2005 at the request of Pakistan. The expert upheld India’s design approach and suggested only minor changes in the scope of construction. Pakistan subsequently objected to the initial filling of the Baglihar reservoir. However, this was done by India in keeping with the Treaty provisions, he said.


"In fact, the Pakistan Indus Commissioner was invited to India at his request in July, 2008 to be briefed about the procedure of initial filling. The actual filling was done in August the same year within the time window specified in the Treaty," he said.


"The Kishanganga hydroelectric project on a tributary of river Jhelum has also been objected to by Pakistan, inter alia, on the ground that Pakistan has existing uses on the waters of Kishanganga (Neelum). The matter has been under discussion since 2004. However, details of the claimed existing uses are yet to be substantiated. We believe that the matter should be resolved at the Commission level, keeping in mind the provisions of the Treaty and the findings of the neutral expert in the Baglihar case. In August 2009, we also informed Pakistan that in case technical experts were unable to resolve the issue, efforts could be made to take it up at government level," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said India had all along adhered to the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty and would continue to do so.


"Since the Indus Waters Treaty provides an elaborate framework for distribution of water and resolving any questions, differences or disputes, we fail to understand attempts by some quarters in Pakistan to inflame public passions on the subject. Angry statements targeting India can neither increase the quantity of available water, nor can such statements become a substitute for the mechanism in the Treaty to resolve differences regarding its implementation," he said.


He asserted that there were strict norms for projects under India's Environmental Protection Act and Forests Protection Act, which include Catchment Area Treatment Plans and compensatory afforestation.


He said there was no truth in the "bizarre allegation", often heard, that India wanted to deprive Pakistan of water to dry up its canals and drains, which also serve as defensive features in times of war.


"There is no truth in this allegation. It is clear from what I have mentioned so far that India has not taken any action to deprive Pakistan of its share of water and consequently to dry up its canals," he said.


He also denied that a dam/hydroelectric project was being built by Afghanistan on the Kabul river with India's assistance which would adversely affect the flows of this river to Pakistan.


"I would like to inform you that there is no truth in this allegation. Those who make it ought to know that a dam or hydroelectric project is not something that can be built surreptitiously. It is highly undesirable to mislead people by making such baseless allegations on issues, which are easily verifiable on the ground," he said.


Mr Sabharwal said the issue of water scarcity in Pakistan could not be analyzed fully without looking at the picture in the large part of the Indus basin – around 65% - that lies in Pakistan’s territory or territory controlled by Pakistan.


He said a preponderant portion of the water of the Western Rivers flowing through Pakistan is generated in the catchment area within Pakistan or territory under Pakistan’s control.


"This share of water is completely controlled by Pakistan. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the excessive and, in many cases, exclusive focus of the public discourse on water scarcity in Pakistan on flows from India. Moreover, as water gets increasingly scarce, the issues of water management and avoidance of wastage of water assume greater significance," he said.


The High Commissoner cited daa to point out that there was an urgent need for Pakistan to take a closer look at the management of available water resources, deal with the problem of salinity and raise its storage capacity.


"India has nothing to do with these issues of water management that are internal to Pakistan, but which nevertheless ought to be integral to any discourse on water scarcity. Only Pakistan can seek solutions to these matters," he added.


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Fatima Bhutto alleges Zardari involved in her father's murder

Karan Thapar interviewing Fatima Bhutto.
Karan Thapar interviewing Fatima Bhutto.

Fatima Bhutto, niece of slain former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has alleged that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was involved in the killing of her father, Murtaza Bhutto, and that her aunt had a role to play in it.

"She presided over a state of lawlessness. My father was one of thousands killed under her second government so certainly she bears a moral responsibility," Fatima said in an interview to journalist Karan Thapar on the Devil's Advocate show on television channel CNN-IBN.

"And after his murder, my aunt played a strong role in the cover-up. We were forbidden from filing an FIR. All the witnesses were arrested. They had no access to their lawyers, their families. In fact, they were kept in jail till her government fell," she said.

Fatima is in India to promote her just-published memoir, "Songs of Blood and Sword" in which she has talked about her father's death and other events of those times in Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto's father and Fatima's grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was executed in 1979 after he had been deposed by then army chief Gen Zia ul Haq.

Fatima's uncle and Benazir Bhutto's brother, Shahnawaz, 27, was found dead in Nice, France on July 18, 1985 in mysterious circumstances.

Murtaza, Benazir Bhutto's other brother, was killed on September 20, 1996. Benazir Bhutto herself was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

Fatima said she had tried calling up her aunt, who was the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the day her father was killed.

"Eventually I was connected to her husband, the current President [of Pakistan], Asif Ali Zardari who said I cannot speak to my aunt. When I insisted that it was important, he said she can't come to the phone, she is hysterical. I was fourteen years old and I had no idea what he was talking about. I said: look it's very urgent. At that point of time he, very calmly, and very coldly said to me: don't you know? Your father has been shot. At that point I dropped the phone," she said.

"To say that to a child who was so attached to her father was so unbearably cruel that I convinced myself immediately that it must not be serious. Otherwise why would he have said this to me?" she said.

In reply to another question, she said none of the seven men killed that night were taken to emergency hospital.

"They were all taken to different locations. They were all taken past the time when they could have been saved. My father was taken to a dispensary where the doctors had their outpatient facility. It was a place which had sign outside its front door saying -no emergency. It was very clear that that was not a hospital where doctors could be found to save anybody's life," she said.

She further alleged that the police just dropped his father at the hospital and left.

Fatima said former Pakistan President Farooq Leghari had come out recently and said that Mr Zardari had gone to him, when he was the President, and said that this man (Murtaza) had to be eliminated.

"He has given the interview in Urdu, in English and Saraiki, and he said on television that Asif Zardari has the blood of Murtaza Bhutto on his hands and god knows how many other people," he said.

Fatima
Fatima Bhutto being interviewed by journalist Karan Thapar.

Fatima said that Masood Sharif, at that time head of the Intelligence Bureau, was at the scene of the crime that night. Several years later, he was inducted into the central committee of Benazir Bhutto's party.

"Now, to induct a man who has been publicly accused of your brother's murder sends a certain signal," she said.

Fatima said her aunt remained committed to the police line about Murtaza's death. "And just before her own murder, she tried to insinuate on television that not only Murtaza had himself killed, that he had a suicidal wish, but that his own guards killed him. She said that he was shot from the back which certainly he was not, and that his body bore tales of his death, which it certainly does but it has nothing to do with the claims that Benazir was making," she said.

She alleged that, one year after Shahnawaz's "murder" in 1986, Benazir Bhutto had begun to negotiate with the military establishment in Pakistan to take power. "And she was preparing, one would assume, to be General Zia's Prime Minister, who was still alive at that time. The differences really started then. My father couldn't understand how she was willing to negotiate with the very establishment that had killed their father, that they believed had their brother killed, all for the sake of power. She was willing to accept the IMF dictate; she was willing to let the army control foreign policy," she said.

Asked why, after Gen Zia dead, Benazir Bhutto continued to stop Murtaza from returning to Pakistan, she said, "I think because the compromises remained. She was Prime Minister to Zia's number two, who assumed the office of President after Zia-ul-Haq was killed. One of the men she appointed as Governor of Sindh had signed her father's death warrant," she said, suggesting that she did not want another Bhutto to share the limelight, power and legacy.

Fatima described as a betrayal Benazir Bhutto's decision to deny her father the Larkana seat, which was given instead to "a Zardari crony, a Zia crony".

"Not only an ultimate betrayal but the very reluctance of Benazir to allow her brother who had been a member of the party since it had been founded, a single party ticket shows her fear and how threatened she felt," she said.

Fatima said he had spent years researching her father's death and she had no doubt in her mind about Benazir Bhutto's role. "In terms of her younger brother Shahnawaz's death, this is a possibility. According to Jacques Verges who represented the family, according to Shahnawaz's family, it is a possibility," she said.

She said Benazir Bhutto was a very complex person to her. "There was also a time when she was my favourite aunt. She was a very complex person but I think, in answer to your question, perhaps this is the nature of the beast. I think power is an overwhelming, transformative, and very often, a destructive force. And Benazir was not immune to its power," she said.

"It's very complicated. I can't think of her except as the two sides. I can't see her alone as one. While she was out of power, she was a woman who faced great suffering, who was incredibly vulnerable and brave. But, on the other hand, when she was in power, she inflicted much of the suffering that she endured on thousands of people," she said.

Asked if there was a bit of her that still loved Benazir Bhutto, she said, "Of course. There is a bit of me that remembers that young woman who use to read me bedtime stories and who I felt safe around. But there is still a part of me that is very frightened of her." She, however, said that she did not hate her.

Fatima said she was not in touch with the larger Bhutto family and that the door between her and her cousins had been shut a long time ago.

Asked if that meant Fatima Bhutto was a Bhutto on her own, she said, "It certainly has felt like that for the last fourteen years. We have been denied access to our grandmother repeatedly. After my father's death, it was like we lost his entire family. My aunt filed cases against my brother Zulfikar and I when we were children. When Zulfikar was nine, my aunt filed case against him. So, I think we lost them a long time ago."

NNN

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