Qureshi : Pakistan’s security stance on Afghanistan
Pakistan has been blamed time again and again for its failure to bring peace in the regions .Last year in Munich 54th security conference , Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Saturday asked the US to stop blaming Pakistan for its problems in Afghanistan and instead search for the reasons for its failures. He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference where military chiefs and civilian leaders have gathered to discuss the world’s most pressing security issues. The conference is a three-day event.
This confabulation has surged when money paid to Pakistan to contain terrorism failed in all fronts and the factory of radicals continues hence obvious terror tension spew during Taliban peace talks.
Local media informs that the Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani traveled to join security conference in the Munich city of Germany.
Tensions between Islamabad and Washington intensified after the announcement of Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan, which was very critical of Pakistan for its alleged inaction against terrorist sanctuaries allegedly used for sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi left for Germany on Wednesday to attend the Munich Security Conference 2019 where he will present Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan.
The Munich Security Conference discusses and analyses the global security situation and is attended by foreign ministers, defence ministers and experts.
“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be present at the conference and I will meet him. He will present Afghanistan’s stance in a panel discussion and I will present Pakistan’s stance.”
The foreign minister said he would also meet a US delegation of lawmakers. “US, Pakistan relations have entered an important phase. Since day one I have worked towards resetting relations and there has been progress.”
Qureshi stressed that recent statements by the US were encouraging. “Instead of pointing the finger at Pakistan, the role is now being praised. The world is appreciating Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan.”
The minister also said he would be meeting with the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, Canada, and Uzbekistan. “I will also try meeting Mogherini who represents the European Union on foreign affairs so Pakistan’s and EU plan for strategic enhancement can be finalized.”
Suicide attack kills 27 in Iran
A suicide bombing targeting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps has left 27 people dead in the country’s southeast. A Sunni extremist group active in the region has claimed responsibility.
Iran’s state media report that a vehicle loaded with explosives hit a bus transporting members of the Guard Corps in Sistan-Baluchistan province near the border with Pakistan on Wednesday.
The bus was carrying about 40 members of the Guard Corps who had finished border security duties.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi vowed retaliation “for the blood of the martyrs of this incident.”
Security in the region has been threatened by the ongoing activities of the Sunni extremist group. The militants kidnapped 10 members of the Guard Corps last October. They have also carried out attacks targeting police.
Taliban to talk US in Islamabad
The Afghan Taliban said on Wednesday that their negotiators would meet US envoys for talks this month in Islamabad, and also sit down with Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss Afghanistan.
Taliban negotiators will meet their US counterparts on Feb 18 in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad as part of accelerating diplomacy to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Wednesday.
The talks come a week ahead of previously scheduled negotiations between the two sides in Qatar on Feb 25. Mujahid said in a statement that the Qatar talks would still take place as scheduled.
Mujahid said his side would also meet Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold “comprehensive discussions about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations”.
While he said the Taliban delegation would meet the US team, he did not specify any meetings with team head, US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Khalilzad is due in Pakistan ahead of the Qatar talks as part of a six-country swing through Europe and the Middle East as he tries to build support for efforts to end America’s longest war.
Both the Taliban and the United States hailed progress after the end of the last round of negotiations in Qatar last month but Western diplomats familiar with discussions say that many tough hurdles lie ahead.
The US side is expected to push hard for a ceasefire between Taliban fighters and foreign-backed Afghan forces before any agreement on the withdrawal of US-led foreign troops.
Taliban officials say they want all foreign troops out before a ceasefire, but would still welcome non-military foreign help to re-build the country.
Washington is also seeking more details on fresh assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow Afghanistan to be used by groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh (Islamic State) to attack the United States and its allies, Western diplomats said.
It is also pushing hard for the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, which the group has so far shut out of talks, branding it as a puppet of Washington.
US President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address last week to say progress in negotiations with the Taliban would allow a reduction in the approximately 14,000 US troops currently in Afghanistan and a renewed “focus on counter terrorism.”
Decisions taken by the Union Cabinet
· Cabinet approves MoU between India and Morocco for setting up of a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the MoU between India and Moroccofor setting up of a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Counter-Terrorism.
Setting up of the JWG on Counter Terrorism by India and Morocco would help cases relating to terrorist attacks. The MoU would, thus be the basis for obtaining / exchanging information on terrorist activities.
· Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Finland on Cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of outer space
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for Memorandum of Understanding between India and Finland on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of outer space. The MoU has already been signed in 10th January, 2019 at New Delhi.
Impact: The signed MoU will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space. Cooperation with the Government of Finland would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity.
Implementation Strategy and Targets:
Ø The Participants will each nominate a coordinator for the purpose of coordinating cooperative activities under this MoU. In order to facilitate the implementation of this MoU, the Participants could meet on mutual decision alternately in India or in Finland or through videoconference.
Ø The Participants or, upon their authority, the implementing agencies, may set up project teams if necessary, to manage specific cooperative projects taken up under implementing arrangements.
The move comes in the background of interest expressed by the Govt. of Finland for co-operation in the area of Space.
· Cabinet approves Proposal for leasing out of 1.61 acres of land at Alipur, Delhi, owned by Delhi Milk Scheme to Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium for setting up of Kisan Mandi
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for leasing out 1.61 acres of land bearing khasara No.91/15 located at Alipur Delhi, owned by Delhi Milk Scheme to Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) for setting up of KisanMandi.
The lease will be for a period of 30 years w.e.f, 10.09.2014 to 09.09.2044, with the lease rent of Rs.100/- per month with annual increase of 10% per annum from 10.09.2014. The lease rent will be payable in advance for whole year in the beginning of the calendar year latest by 31st January.
Impact:- The setting up the KisanMandi by SFAC, which will, provide as an additional, marketing channel/ platform to FPOs and Growers Association for direct sale of fruits and vegetables to whole sale and retail buyers in Delhi/NCR for the benefit of farmers as well as consumers of the country.
Highlights of the KisanMandi:-
Ø Only registered FPOs/Grower Associations (GAs) will be allowed to offer fresh produce for sale on this platform.
Ø Organisationretailers, wholesalers, hotels and catering institutions, Resident Welfare Association (RWAs) and ordinary consumers can buy from this platform, with no agents / middlemen involved.
Ø There will be no commission charged on the transactions in the KisanMandi either from sellers or buyers, FPOs will pay a small service charge for the use of facilities such as godowns, cold stores etc.
Ø KisanMandi will also offer direct supply through retail outlets on a franchises model. A beginning will be made by offering staple produce such as potato and onion through selected kiosks of the Delhi Milk Scheme. The KisanMandi will also have provision for online sales and. direct marketing through call centre etc.
· Cabinet approves proposal for allotment of land measuring 30 acres to Pasteur Institute of India for establishment of New Viral Vaccine Manufacturing Unit at Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Proposal for allotment of land measuring 30 acres to Pasteur Institute of India (PII) for establishmentof New Viral Vaccine Manufacturing Unit at Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
The project entails production of Viral Vaccines (like TCA anti-Measles Vaccine, JE Vaccine etc.) and Anti Sera (like Anti Snake Venom and Anti Rabies Sera) at the PII, Coonoor. Land for the project will be transferred free of cost.
Land used for the project will also be got changed by the Ministry of Health & FW from ‘Industrial’ to ‘Institutional’.
Benefits: The allotment of land will encourage the production of life-saving vaccines for children, to strengthen the vaccine security of the country, and would reduce the cost, besides providing import substitution as presently these are being imported.
· Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of the National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis beyond 31.3.2019 for three years
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Extension of tenure of the National Commissionfor SafaiKarmacharis (NCSK) beyond 31.3.2019 for three years.
Salient Features: The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 31.3.1997. Later the validity of the Act was initially extended upto 31.3.2002 and thereafter upto 29.2.2004. The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29.2.2004. After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time. The tenure of the present Commission is upto 31.3.2019.
Major impact: The major beneficiaries of the proposal would be the SafaiKaramcharis and persons engaged in manual scavenging in the country since the NCSK will work for their welfare and upliftment.The number of Manual Scavengers identified under the MS Act Survey as on 31.01.2019 is 14226 and under the National Survey undertaken by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment at the behest of NITI Aayog is 31128 on 31.01.2019.
· Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Argentine in tourism
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Argentinein the field of Tourism.
The signing of MoU between India and Argentine in the field of tourism will help the two parties in creating an institutional mechanism for enhancing cooperation in the tourism sector.
· Cabinet approves Revision in the list of Scheduled Tribes of Chhattisgarh
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the Cabinet note on the proposal for official Amendments in The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2016 so as to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) of Chhattisgarh.
This Act may be called the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2019. After the Bill becomes an Act, member of the communities newly listed in the revised list of Scheduled Tribes of Chhattisgarh will also be able to derive benefits meant for Scheduled Tribes under the existing schemes of the Government. Some of the major schemes of this kind include Post Matric Scholarship, National Overseas Scholarship, National Fellowship, Top Class Education, Concessional Loans from National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation, Hostels for ST boys and girls etc. In addition to above, they will also be entitled to benefits of reservation in services and admission to educational institutions as per Government policy.
· Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Saudi Arabia on establishing a mechanism for Investment Infrastructure in India
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing Memorandum of Understanding between India and Saudi Arabia on establishing a mechanism for investment Infrastructurein Indian.
The MoU will be a step forward in engaging with the institutions of Saudi Arabia to attract a potential investment into the infrastructure sector in the country. It will lead to boosting infrastructure development in the country, creation of more jobs, growth of ancillary industries/sectors which will lead to growth in GDP and over all economic prosperity.
· Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Saudi Arabia on cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs matters
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Saudi Arabia on cooperation and mutual assistance in Customs Matters.
The Agreement will help in making available, reliable, quick and cost effective information and intelligence for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences and apprehending of Customs offenders.
· Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Saudi Arabia in the field of tourism
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Tourism, Government of the Republic of India and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism.
The main objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding are:
a) Exchanging information and expertise in Legislations in the tourism development, Hotels, resorts and tourist accommodation facilities, Tourism data and statistics, Exhibition events and other tourism activities in States of the Parties, Tourism development, planning and investment; Licensing, operating and marketing tourism facilities, Agricultural Tourism, Desert tourism etc.
b) Exchanging media publications, tourism related films, and encourage exchanging of visits between experts and tourism media representatives in the States of the Parties.
c) Introducing tourism investment opportunities available in the States of the Parties; encourage mutual tourism investment in tourism projects.
d) Encouraging organizing joint tourism events; participate in exhibitions, conferences and seminars held in the States of the Parties thus contributing to tourism development and crystalizing a joint tourism vision.
e) Encouraging public and private education facilities working the tourism education and training field in the States of the Parties.
f) Exchanging innovative experience and technologies in the tourism field, and consultation services.
g) Cooperation and coordinating in international forums and organizations concerned with tourism affairs.
· Cabinet approves continuation of sub-schemes under “Umbrella programme for development of Scheduled Tribes” for the period till March, 2020: Over 10 crore Scheduled Tribe people to be benefitted
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for continuation of sub-schemes under “Umbrella programme for development of Scheduled Tribes” from 1.4.2017 to 31.3.2020 with an outlay of Rs.11,900 crore.
· Minimum Support Price for Raw Jute for 2019-20 season hiked to Rs.3950/- from Rs.3700/- per quintal by the Cabinet
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Raw Jute for 2019-20 season.
The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of Raw Jute has been increased to Rs.3950/- per quintal for 2019-20 season from Rs. 3700/- per quintal in 2018-19 season.
Impact: The MSP would yield returns of 55.81 percent over the all India weighted average cost of production. The MSP of Raw Jute is expected to ensure appropriate minimum prices to the farmers and step up investment in Jute cultivation and thereby production and productivity in the country.
Nodal Agency: The Jute Corporation of India would continue to act as Central Nodal Agency to undertake price support operations at the MSP in the Jute growing states.