Thursday, June 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India blocks Pakistan’s entry into ARF
Sinha meets Powell in Phnom Penh
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi. June 18
The Indo-Pak peace process today received a fresh jolt, this time not through the ongoing war of words between the two nuclear arch-rivals, but through a concrete development that took place in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha pulled off a diplomatic coup of sorts vis a vis Pakistan when he effectively prevented Islamabad’s efforts to get into ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the 10-year-old regional body that has assumed vast political and economic clout.

Well-placed sources in the Vajpayee government told The Tribune that Pakistan’s cause was advocated at the tenth ministerial meeting of the ARF at Phnom Penh today by Malaysia, a country which recently harassed hundreds of Indian professionals working there.

It was a classic example of dexterous and quick footwork diplomacy by Mr Sinha who made an effective intervention at the meeting which carried the day. Sources said as soon as Malaysia broached the subject of Pakistan’s entry into the 23-member ARF, Mr Sinha opposed the move and cited ARF rules and regulations and the guiding principles.

Sources said Mr Sinha pointed out that it was a matter worth examining as to how far the geographical footprint of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) stretched.

Significantly, Mr Sinha is understood to have objected to the manner in which the subject had been raised under “Other Matters” of the agenda and argued that it was too important a matter to be discussed as “Other Matters”.

He added that it was ARF’s own decision that the body should not expand till its full consolidation.

Sources said nobody challenged Mr Sinha’s contention and the matter rested there. Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhung, who chaired today’s meeting, passed the ruling in India’s favour.

General Musharraf’s latest volley of India-centric statements leaves one confounded. No President would admit his country’s involvement in a shameful military misadventure against his neighbouring country like General Musharraf who recently not only defended Pakistan’s role in Kargil, but also said another repeat of Kargil could not be ruled out. A clarification followed subsequently, as usual.

This led to an unprecedented tough remark by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the peace-maker. Referring to the statement on Kargil, Mr Vajpayee said in Mandla (Madhya Pradesh) yesterday that Pakistan was preparing to face its fourth defeat in its proxy war against India. 


Check terrorism, UK tells Pervez

London, June 18
A day after Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani said there had been no let-up in cross-border infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, Britain today asked Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to do more to tackle terrorism, even as it appreciated his efforts to counter the menace.

“We continue to urge President Musharraf to do all that he can as more can be done to tackle terrorism. This applies to all international partners of the coalition to fight against the scourge of terrorism. We hope we can see further progress,” an official spokesman said here.

The spokesman said “actually we are very pleased with efforts of President Musharraf to counter terrorism. The Pakistan President also knows that the international community would expect Pakistan to deal severely against anyone using Pakistan as a safe haven.” PTI 


Lahore bus service from July 1
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 18
The meeting of high-powered committee attended by Secretary, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs, at New Delhi, has given the final nod to the ‘New Delhi-Lahore’ bus service from July 1. Rail, road and air links with Pakistan were snapped following attack on the Indian Parliament.

The bus diplomacy was launched by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had himself travelled to Lahore on its maiden run on February 20, 1999. 

Canada bans 3 Sikh groups, terms them 'terrorist'

Vancouver, British Columbia, June 19 (Reuters) 
Canada has banned three Sikh militant groups as “terrorist” organisations, including the one allegedly linked to the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182.Federal Solicitor General Wayne Easter yesterday said Ottawa had determined that Babbar Khalsa, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation “knowingly engaged in terrorist activity.”

It also banned two Pakistan-based Sunni militant groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, bringing the number of groups on Canada’s prohibited list to 31.  The three Sikh groups support the creation of an independent Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab.

Talwinder Singh Parmar, a founder of Babbar Khalsa who was killed by Indian authorities in 1992, is alleged by Canadian police to have helped plot the bombing that destroyed Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, which killed 329 persons.

Two Sikh men are now on trial in Vancouver for the airliner bombing off the coast of Ireland, which was history’s deadliest act of aviation sabotage until the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the USA.  Babbar Khalsa and ISYF both had members in the Vancouver area, which has one of the largest Sikh populations outside of India.  Under Ottawa’s new designation, anyone found guilty of handling the property or finances of the outlawed groups faces penalties including a jail term of up to 10 years and the seizure of the assets.Back


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