Pakistan PM receives mixed signals from New Delhi

In this photograph released by the Press Information Department (PID) on Aug. 18, 2018, newly appointed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) meets with members of the 1992 Cricket world cup team and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu (top R) in Islamabad. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Pakistan PM receives mixed signals from New Delhi

  • Modi congratulates Khan, but BJP slams hug between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pakistani Army chief
  • I felt too much love and affection from Pakistan when I was there, says Sidhu

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Imran Khan on becoming Pakistan’s premier.
In a letter to his counterpart, Modi expressed the need for constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement.
He also expressed his commitment to peaceful, neighborly relations, and stressed the need for a terror-free South Asia.
But Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for visiting Islamabad to participate in Khan’s swearing-in ceremony.
The BJP demanded Sidhu’s sacking from the post of Cabinet minister in Punjab province, and asked the opposition Congress Party to “sack him from the party for hugging” Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani Army chief.
The hug “is not an ordinary thing,” said BJP spokesman Sambit Patra, adding that Sidhu “is not an ordinary man but a minister in the Punjab government, and every Indian has taken this issue very seriously.”
Sidiq Wahid, a Kashmiri scholar and senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, told Arab News: “The muscular nationalism practiced by the Hindu right-wing BJP treats other nationalists as the enemy.”
He said: “I see hope for meaningful talks with Pakistan only when there’s a dramatic change in the current trajectory of Indian politics.”
When contacted by Arab News, Sidhu declined to comment, but upon his return to India he said: “I pray for the people who criticized me, but I felt too much love and affection from Pakistan when I was there.”
Vinod Sharma, political editor of the Hindustan Times, told Arab News that “it’s unbecoming of a mature democracy” to raise the issue of Sidhu visiting and hugging Bajwa.
“India isn’t that weak as to not let an Indian be hugged by the Pakistani Army chief. The paranoia of the right-wing fringe is a gross misrepresentation of a great democracy that India happens to be,” Sharma said.
“The Hindu right wing is adept at creating India-Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim binaries for political-electoral gains,” he added.
“It’s a dangerous game, and in the name of defending India they’re hurting its time-tested, inclusive character.”
But Robin Singh, a Punjab-based journalist and civil rights activist, said: “Sidhu crossed his brief while visiting Pakistan. He forgot that he is a public representative, and should have kept in mind the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan. By hugging the army chief, he has hurt the sentiment of people in India.”
The Congress Party has refused to comment on the issue, terming it “a personal visit of Sidhu to meet his friend.”
Sharma said this “polarizing debate is disturbing and aimed at sheer electoral dividends,” blaming “a section of the Indian media for the propagation of binaries to enhance their market share.”
He added: “It’s a self-defeating pursuit as it doesn’t leave the audience educated on complex foreign policy issues.”


China: Plots to disrupt ties with Pakistan will fail

Updated 38 min 17 sec ago
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China: Plots to disrupt ties with Pakistan will fail

  • China has pledged $57 billion to build power stations, major highways, new railways and high capacity ports along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
  • China welcomes the good start made in its “all-weather” partnership with Pakistan following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan

BEIJING: Any plots to sow discord in China’s ties with Pakistan will not prevail, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Tuesday, as Beijing fends off criticism of its economic projects in Pakistan and a clampdown in China’s western Xinjiang region.
China has pledged $57 billion to build power stations, major highways, new railways and high capacity ports along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road plan to further tie China to Eurasia.
The sustainability of Chinese projects has come under fresh scrutiny in recent months, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July warned that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan’s troubled economy should not be used to pay off Chinese lenders. Both Beijing and Islamabad say the loans are sustainable.
China welcomes the good start made in its “all-weather” partnership with Pakistan following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan, State Councillor Wang Yi told Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
But “any conspiracies attempting to incite disharmony or interfere in China-Pakistan relations will not prevail,” Wang added, without elaborating, according to a statement released by China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday.
China and Pakistan should continue to make “all-out” efforts to promote the economic corridor, expand trade and reduce poverty to bring more benefits to the ordinary people of Pakistan, Wang said.
The relationship between China and Pakistan will not change, regardless of circumstantial changes, Qureshi told Wang, according to China’s statement.
The corridor is “extremely important” to Pakistan and has brought “deep impact” for jobs, development and livelihood, and Islamabad will take effective measures to ensure the security of the entire route, he added.
Beijing has faced growing international criticism from rights groups, some western nations and United Nations human rights experts over its sweeping security crackdown in the far western region of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.
Islamabad, like most governments of majority Muslim countries, has so far remained silent on the issue, but a group of Pakistani businessmen whose Chinese wives and children have been trapped in Xinjiang are lobbying the new government to help pressure Beijing into allowing their release.
Beijing says it faces a serious threat from extremist militants and separatists in Xinjiang and has rejected accusations of mistreatment.