Tokyo, July 8 (IANS) Backing India's concerns over terrorist safe havens in the AfPak region, the Tokyo conference of international donors on Afghanistan Sunday endorsed key recommendations of a regional conclave that New Delhi hosted to promote direct investment in the troubled country. The Tokyo Declaration, adopted at the end of the day-long conference on Afghanistan attended by participants, including External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recognized that "the main threat to Afghanistan's security and stability comes from terrorism and that this threat also endangers regional and international peace and security". The participants "recognized the regional dimensions of terrorism and extremism, including terrorist safe havens, and emphasized the need for sincere and result-oriented regional and international cooperation towards a region free from terrorism in order to secure Afghanistan and safeguard the region and the world against the terrorist threat". The donor countries also determined "never to allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for international terrorism again". The Tokyo declaration reflected India's oft repeated concern over terrorism emanating from across Afghanistan's borders, which was expressed by Krishna in his address at the conclave. Krishna, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, told the international community of the "existential threat" Afghanistan faces from terrorism emanating from across its borders. He said Afghanistan is fighting this threat "every day, and that it is ill equipped to repel in the absence of substantial assistance from the international community". The Tokyo conference took note of the importance of regional integration in stabilising Afghanistan and the India-led initiative for promoting the revival of the Afghan economy through private and foreign investment. The meet "welcomed the results of the Delhi Investors' Summit on Afghanistan hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry on June 28 in Delhi", which had many participants from neighboring countries "and underscored the importance of implementing the recommendations of the summit". "The Participants reaffirmed the significance of risk mitigation and credit provision schemes by the International Community in promoting private sector investment in Afghanistan. The International Community committed to taking concrete steps to promote private investment and trade by mobilizing relevant development finance institutions, export credit authorities, and other governmental and nongovernmental tools to encourage human and financial capital investments in Afghanistan." Krishna, in his address, called for indigenisation of foreign aid to Afghanistan and asked the international community to avoid the temptation to set "conditionalities" on such assistance as major donors pledged $16 billion in aid to stabilize the violence-beset country. "It is this perspective that should animate our thinking when we commit to Afghanistan longterm future today. This perspective should not only determine the quantum of resources that we commit to Afghanistan, it should also temper the kind of conditionalities that are attached to assistance," he said amid aid fatigue in the international community. Representatives from around 80 countries and international aid groups, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, gathered here to discuss aid for Afghanistan beyond 2014, when US-led international troops are expected to leave Afghanistan. Major donors pledged to give Afghanistan $16 billion in development aid over the next four years to prevent instability and chaos that may follow after foreign troops leave that country.
New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) In keeping with the importance India attaches to its Look East policy, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna would be travelling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to attend three major regional meetings July 11-12. Krishna, who was in Tokyo Sunday to participate in the international donors conference on Afghanistan, will attend the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, the 2nd East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh. The ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, an annual event, takes stock of the ASEAN-India partnership and deliberates on its future direction. India became a Sectoral Partner of ASEAN in 1992 and a Dialogue Partner in 1996. The relationship was upgraded in 2002 to the level of an Annual Summit Level Partnership. The 10th ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting is significant as India would be hosting a special ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit Dec 20-21 to mark 20 years of the relationship and 10 years of the summit level partnership. A series of events have been planned in the run-up to the Commemorative Summit, an official statement said. India has been part of the East Asia process since 2005, as a founding member. EAS Foreign Ministers would discuss cooperation in the five core areas of education, energy, finance, disaster management and pandemics as well as connectivity and further economic partnership between the member countries. Regional and international issues of concern and the preparation for the 7th East Asia Summit, which is to be held in Phnom Penh in November this year, would also be discussed. Krishna will also participate in the 19th Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Set up in 1993, the ARF has 27 members. India attaches importance to the ARF as a forum for constructive dialogue on political and security cooperation in the region with the ASEAN countries playing a central role in the process, the statement said.
Kabul, July 8 (IANS) Suspected Taliban militants launched a massive attack at a check-post in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province in which at least five policemen and 22 militants were killed, Xinhua reported. The attack that began around 3 a.m. in Regi area of Musa Qala district lasted for four hours, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said. Several militants fled the scene after additional forces arrived. Six policemen were injured in the clash. The Taliban did not make any comment.
London, July 8 (IANS) A new video posted on extremist websites linked to Al Qaeda shows six masked assassins clad head to toe in black ninja-like outfits, and getting trained in firing pistols. The footage - recorded at a camp on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan - shows the terrorists going through a series of shooting drills, The Sun reported. The extremists are shown adopting the classic firing pose - pistols held in both hands with arms outstretched. They then drop to a crouch to gun down a target with bullets. The ninja terrorists are also seen firing AK-47 rifles, first from the shoulder, then the waist, then while kneeling, and finally sitting and lying on the ground. Two of the black-clad militants are shown with a heavy machine gun. Other terrorists are seen rehearsing drive-by shootings from a pick-up truck and motorbike. Their arsenal also includes rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the daily said. A similar Al Qaeda-linked extremist website has 66,000 registered users.
London, July 8 (IANS) A 24-year-old Somali-origin man, a "potential suicide bomber" and suspected member of the Al Qaeda, defied a court order to travel near the Olympic Park area five times in a day, a media report said Sunday. With just a few days left for the Olympics to start, the man, who is under a control order not to enter the area in Stratford, east London, has been arrested over concerns that he could have been carrying out a reconnaissance mission for an attack, the Daily Mail reported. The man, identified only as "CF", travelled across London on a train that passes close to the Olympics area, a court heard. The Olympics begin July 27. A suspected risk to national security, the man has been put under the "Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures" order that restricts movements, computer use and who he can meet. He was discovered using the London overground route in the banned area through the electronic tag he has been ordered to wear. Suspected to be fighting for Al Qaeda affiliated group al-Shabaab, the man attempted to travel to Afghanistan to fight as a jihadist for the Taliban and take part in suicide operations in 2008 against British troops there, the daily said. The Home Office said he attended a terrorist camp along with six British nationals and received training from Al Qaeda leader Saleh Nabhan, who was later killed in a raid by US Navy Seals in 2009. It told the court the man wanted to re-engage in terrorism-related activities, either in Britain or Somalia, and was "determined to continue to adhere to his Islamist extremist agenda". The disclosure about the alleged breaches that took place in April and May comes just after 14 terror-related arrests were made in Britain a few days ago.
Madhusree Chatterjee New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Barring alternative sexuality and love, cross-cultural Indian cinema rarely explores taboos in international politics like the rampant persecution and denial of rights to the gypsy communities across the world. The itinerant Roma gypsies in Europe trace their genetic roots to the north and northwestern Indian subcontinent from where they migrated to Europe nearly 1,000 years ago. A new Indo-European production, 'Prague' which will premiere at the coming Osian's Cinefan Film Festival beginning July 27 in the national capital has built its narrative - a cross-cultural love story - in the backdrop of the history of the atrocities on the Roma gypsies in what was Czechoslovakia during World War II. The movie will feature in the Indian competition section. The movie, directed by young filmmaker Ashish Shukla is set in Prague, the capital of the modern day Czech Republic where the minority ethnic Roma community - the few of the surviving bastions - still clash with the local people. At the centre of the unusual story is a young Indian architect Chandan, who comes to Prague to work on a project with friend Gulshan. Chandan meets a gypsy girl Elena, who wants to build a memorial for the gypsies who died in World War II. Chandan cannot trust Elena, because of her gypsy blood...He suspects her motives. The protagonists' insecurities are fanned by friend Gulshan's hostility and needling. The only person the architect can seek solace from is a man who does not exist. Director Ashish Shukla describes his movie as a psychological thriller with a powerful message. The persecution of Roma gypsies in pre-war and war-time Europe is a prickly reality of racial and political hate crimes. An estimate by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says of the slightly less than one million gypsies living in Europe before the war, the German Nazis and their Axis partners killed up to 220,000. 'It is not an unusual story and it does have cross-cultural elements as backdrop of the films. 'Prague' in a brief section does deal with the gypsies (Roma) history where we explain the atrocities that happened against the gypsies during World War II, when a concentration camp was established for gypsies as they were discriminated against and called habitual criminals,' Shukla told IANS. Shukla said 'this concentration camp in Lety was run in the name of Nazis, but it was a Czech concentration camp'. 'The place still has a mass grave on which there is a pig farm now. The contemporary gypsies are still fighting for the memorial of their loved ones,' Shukla said. The director says the 'gypsies were Indian nomads from the northern borders of Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan who migrated to Europe around the 13th century via Egypt'. 'They were first called Egypties. After further relocation, they spread across northern Europe and Russia. In fact, in 1983 Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, while inaugurating the second International Romani Festival in Chandigarh, said she had felt kinship towards the Roma gypsies - their sense of adventure and fortitude,' Shukla said about India's stand on the gypsies. But now, due to their habitual nomadic nature, they kept losing their racial identity, the filmmaker said. 'They were called refugees or minorities. They were no schools or jobs for them. So most of them are still illiterate which makes them uncivilised for the Europeans. The only option for them was performing arts such as music, dance or petty crimes,' the filmmaker, who has researched on the ethnic nomads, said. A few countries are trying to rehabilitate the gypsies but 'they are facing protests from the neo-Nazis'. The filmmaker said his team 'has tried to keep 'Prague' as a deep rooted story with a cultural mix'. 'It may be seen as a new take on foreign locations and cross-cultural stories coming out of India. The movie will also have some Czech songs,' he said. 'Prague' has been produced by Rohit Khaitan. (Madhusree Chaterjee can be contacted at email@example.com)
Tokyo, July 8 (IANS) India Sunday called for ]indigenisation of foreign aid to Afghanistan and asked the international community to avoid the temptation to set "conditionalities" on such assistance as major donors pledged $16 billion in aid to stabilize the violence-beset country. Underlining India's longterm commitment to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna called for continued international support and developmental assistance to a country that has been ravaged by three decades of conflict and terror emanating from across the border. "It is this perspective that should animate our thinking when we commit to Afghanistan longterm future today. This perspective should not only determine the quantum of resources that we commit to Afghanistan, it should also temper the kind of conditionalities that are attached to assistance," he said amid aid fatigue in the international community. While lauding the mutual Mutual Accountability Framework that has been drafted for the conference as a noble effort, Krishna exhorted the international community not to link aid to conditionalities like good governance amid allegations of corruption against the Karzai government and misutilisation of foreign aid. "Good governance is crucial to the building of a strong and legitimate state. But good governance also requires a strong state that has full control over its territory," he said. "This is not yet the case in Afghanistan," he stressed. He was speaking at an international conference on Afghanistan here where major donors pledged $16 billion in development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years to prevent instability and chaos that may follow after foreign troops leave that country in 2014. According to an estimate by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about 97 percent of Afghanistan economy comes from spending on foreign troops and aid. International assistance worked out to $15.7 billion in the 2011 financial year, which is nearly equal to the country gross domestic product. Krishna said while $16 billion pledged for Afghanistan represent a baseline or minimum requirement for a least developed landlocked country hit by externally imposed conflicts for three decades, these amounts "give a fighting chance for success if they can be optimized and managed in a frugal way without excessive administrative costs". Over the years, India has pledged $2 billion for multifarious reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. In this context, he alluded to Indian projects in Afghanistan and stressed that they managed to ]avoid the multiplelevels of subcontracting and dependence on private security companies that add to the overhead costs of the work done by many other development partners of Afghanistan. ]As a result, we have managed to carry out some of the most economical and costeffective projects in Afghanistan, he said.
Tokyo, July 8 (IANS) India Sunday pressed Pakistan to act against continuing anti-India terror activities on its soil and reminded it of disclosures made by 26/11 handler Abu Jundal when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Sunday met his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar here. The meeting between Krishna and Khar took place on the sidelines of the international conference on Afghanistan in the Japanese capital. Krishna raised the disclosures made by Abu Jundal, which corroborate claims of David Headley, another 26/11 plotter now in the US custody, about the involvement of Pakistani state actors in the 2008 attack. Krishna, according to government sources, also gave more evidence to Pakistan about anti-India activities indulged in by 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed who is said to enjoy patronage of the powerful military establishment in Pakistan. Krishna also pressed Khar to expedite release of Sarabjit Singh, a death row prisoner in Pakistan, and stressed that both sides should take a larger humanitarian overview of the issue of prisoners' in each other's country. The issue of terrorism had figured prominently in discussions between Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani in New Delhi July 4-5. India had then asked Pakistan to act on the information on Jundal's disclosures and underlined that bringing perpetrators of 26/11 carnage to justice would be the biggest confidence building measure between the two countries. Pakistan has denied the involvement of state actors in the Mumbai attack and offered a joint probe into Jindal's disclosures. Krishna and Khar will have structured discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral issues and will review the second round of the post 26/11 dialogue process when they meet in Islamabad in September. The two countries revived their dialogue in February last year after a long hiatus following the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attack which was masterminded and executed by Pakistani terrorists. Earlier, Krishna was scheduled to go to Pakistan mid July, but had to postpone his trip as the dates coincided with the Indian presidential elections.
Islamabad, July 8 (IANS) An alliance of Islamic and political parties in Pakistan Sunday staged a protest motorcade against the government's decision to reopen the supply lines for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Hundreds of activities of the alliance, the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), took part in the motorcade from Lahore to Islamabad, Xinhua reported. It will pass through several major cities of Punjab province before reaching here Monday after covering some 280 km. Pakistan closed the supply lines after 24 Pakistani troops were killed in a NATO airstrike last November. It reopened them this month following an apology from US secretary of State Hilary Clinton over the loss. Rehman Malik, prime minister's advisor on interior affairs, said the government will not intervene if the marchers remain peaceful. Chief of DPC Maulana Samiul Haq has appealed to the people to join the protest. Leader of Jamaat-e-Islami party, Munawar Hasan, criticised the government's decision and said it wants to get involve in the Afghan war. Tight security measures were put in place for the march.
Tokyo, July 8 (IANS) In a veiled reference to Pakistan, India Sunday said Afghanistan faces an "existential threat" from terror emanating from across its borders and urged the world to provide "substantial assistance" to Kabul. Underlining India's long-term commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the light of the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops, Krishna highlighted an investment-driven approach to stabilising the country. "While we assist Afghanistan in attaining its long-cherished goal of self reliance, we must also acknowledge that despite our successes in Afghanistan, the basic ideological, infrastructural, logistical and financial infrastructure of terror is still intact in the region," India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said here. He was speaking at an international conference on Afghanistan here where major donors pledged $16 billion in development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years to prevent instability and chaos that may follow after foreign troops leave that country in 2014. "Afghanistan continues to be a country that faces an existential threat from terrorism emanating from beyond its borders, a threat that it is fighting every day, and that it is ill equipped to repel in the absence of substantial assistance from the international community," Krishna said. Krishna was making a veiled reference to widely suspected support militant networks in Afghanistan get from Pakistan's military establishment, which regards that country as its strategic depth. "Clear and visible support to Afghanistan is crucial in order to preserve the gains made by the international community and Afghan men and women in the past decade," Krishna said. Representatives from around 80 countries and international aid groups, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have gathered here to discuss aid to ensure sustainable development of Afghanistan beyond 2012 until 2014 and during the transformation decade (2015-24). Underlining India's long-term commitment to Afghanistan, Krishna said: "India does not plan to limit its future development engagement in Afghanistan to a particular time frame or only to the presently planned projects. Our partnership is for the long term." Over the years, India has pledged $2 billion for multifarious reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Krishna called for "indigenisation" of foreign aid and asked the international community to avoid temptation to lay down conditionalities on such assistance. He lauded the the Mutual Accountability Framework that has been drafted for the conference as a noble effort. Krishna said while India believes that "good governance is crucial to the building of a strong and legitimate state, it also requires a strong state that has full control over its territory. "This is not yet the case in Afghanistan." Pitching for an investment driven approach to the revival of Afghanistan, Krishna referred to recommendations made by a regional investors' conclave New Delhi hosted June 28 for shoring up the Afghan economy. The key recommendations of the regional conclave included included providing the private sector investment protection and risk mitigation, providing incentives for investing in Afghanistan, and the creation of an international fund for small and medium enterprises. "India is ready to partner the international community and Afghanistan to achieve these goals within a globalized economic environment. A dynamic Afghan economy could make it a source of security as well as the heart of a cooperative region," he added. Krishna said while $16 billion pledged for Afghanistan represent a baseline or minimum requirement for a least developed landlocked country hit by externally imposed conflicts for three decades, these amounts "give a fighting chance for success if they can be optimized and managed in a frugal way without excessive administrative costs". He said Indian projects in Afghanistan managed "have managed to carry out some of the most economical and cost effective projects in Afghanistan".