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Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M Krishna arrived here on a three-day visit on Friday with the objective of taking further steps to normalise relations between India and Pakistan.

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Friday said that he had come to Pakistan with a message of goodwill from the government and people of India.

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Friday said India needs to look at the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks 'unemotionally.'

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who will hold talks with her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna over the weekend, on Friday expressed hope that the two Asian neighbours would normalise relations.

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): Foreign scretaries of India and Pakistan met here on Friday to fine tune the agenda for Saturday's ministerial bilateral talks.

Islamabad, Sept 7 (ANI): Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said that Indian Premier Manmohan Singh has made his visit to Pakistan conditional, but added that from Islamabad's point of view, diplomacy is not and should not be about putting conditions.

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Gul said on Friday there was no domestic acceptance of the peace talks between India and Pakistan, because of the perception that it was being done under U.S. pressure on the government. 

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who is currently on a three-day bilateral visit to Pakistan, called on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday evening.

 Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday said that India and Pakistan will sign a bilateral visa agreement on Saturday, which will be of great benefit to persons above the age of 65, and would be a huge step for improving relations between both nations.

Islamabad, Sep 7 (ANI): India''s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who will hold bilateral delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Saturday, called on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at his Aiwan-e-Sadr official residence here on Friday evening.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Increasing domestic pressure in India and Pakistan to liberalize the visa regimes is bearing fruit at last. Hundreds of thousands of displaced families will find it easier now to meet relatives across the border, separated due to partition.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Bilateral talks at the delegation level between India and Pakistan have begun here this morning. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is leading the Indian delegation at the talks, while the Pakistan team is being led by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan signed an agreement for a new visa regime on Saturday that will encourage greater people-to-people and enhanced business contacts between both countries.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Stating that there was immense potential for normalising ties with India, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Saturday said, Islamabad has been consistent in trying to engage with New Delhi, and is determined to ensure that bilateral ties move forward, and are not held hostage to the baggage of history.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Saturday that Pakistan would be very happy to welcome Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, as and when he decides to undertake a visit of this country.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday formally announced the release of 270 captive Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture in honour of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Islamabad.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said on Saturday that terrorism poses a “continuing threat” to regional peace and security, and also expressed satisfaction and happiness at Pakistan’s commitment to take steps to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 terror strike on Mumbai to justice.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Saturday expressed satisfaction over the progress towards normalising bilateral trade and commercial relations.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Saturday inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of culture.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Saturday held discussions on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed that there was a need for continued discussions, in a purposeful and forward looking manner, with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): As press conferences go, this one in the Foreign Office in Islamabad this evening was quite a tame one.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Saturday reiterated and reaffirmed their commitment to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Saturday reaffirmed the importance of carrying forward the dialogue process with a view to resolving peacefully all outstanding issues through constructive and result oriented engagement, and to establish friendly, cooperative and good neighborly relations between Pakistan and India.

Islamabad/Lahore, Sep 9 (ANI): A day after concluding delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will head to Lahore for meetings with the Governor and Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab Province.

Lahore, Sep 9 (ANI): Visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna called on the Governor and the Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab Province on Sunday.

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna arrived back home here on Sunday evening after completing a successful three-day visit to Pakistan, during which, delegation-level talks took place with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on the next steps in the ongoing dialogue process, followed by a stopover in Lahore.

Lahore, Sept 9 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Sunday said that India is committed to build a relationship of trust and mutual benefit with Pakistan, and added that India wishes to have a “stable and prosperous” Pakistan as its neighbour.

A risky leap of faith 2012  9  11

Mumbai (2012-09-11): The Indian media delegation got a two-hour window of opportunity to do some sightseeing in Lahore after having covered the India-Pakistan foreign minister level talks for two days. Though I had been to the city earlier, I had not had the opportunity to visit the Sufi shrine of Data Darbar and the Minar-e-Pakistan. As our bus, protected by soldiers with assault weapons and the Police Superintendent of Lahore, approached Minar-e-Pakistan, a young journalist sitting in front of me said aloud, “What is this?” His South Indian colleague replied, “some Minar.”

Singed or Singham? 2012  9  17

Mumbai (2012-09-17): Remember that time in school when you had to write the answer to the two mark question: What was the immediate cause for the start of World War-II or what was the immediate cause for the Battle of Plassey? Now, what really was the immediate cause for the launch of second-generation reforms last week? If social media were to be believed, then it would have to be that stinker of an article in the Washington Post calling Dr Manmohan Singh, “a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.”

Mumbai (2012-09-24): I can always hiss if I can’t bite.” That was Mamata Banerjee last Saturday, smarting over the insult of not being consulted by the UPA before introducing the Big Bang Reforms. The mercurial Trinamool leader seemed angrier over the manner in which the reforms were introduced rather than the reforms themselves. She thundered, “We can bow our heads to Ma, Mati, Manush, but not to the arrogance of power.” Ironically, in the public opinion, as indicated by the markets and television interviews of common people and analysts, she was perceived to be just as arrogant as the UPA.

Mumbai (2012-10-01): Are we headed for coffee shop wars in the months ahead? I can only rub my hands in glee. After having to suffer years of weak milky coffee, cups with lids that don’t shut, surly baristas who don’t understand your orders, it is time for a shake up in the market. Starbucks is coming, and it is welcome.

Mumbai (2012-10-08): The election carnival is upon us this Puja season. Running parallel with the Navratris, Eid, Deepawali, Gurupurab, and other festivities during the Ashwin and Kartik lunar months, is the campaigning for assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Speeches by candidates will be analysed for content and delivery. The crowd sizes of political rallies will be compared. Body language of national leaders will indicate their comfort levels with local candidates, and with their coalition partners. It is not just the poll results. A lot more is at stake here.

Give her strength 2012  10  15

Mumbai (2012-10-15): It is a true story. Neelima (name changed to protect identity) got married last month to the man of her choice. She married out of her community and caste. My cousin twice removed had broken taboos and all of us silently applauded her. Neelima grew up knowing that her mother had no option but to stay married to her father — the man who had no job and sat at home chewing tobacco, not helping either with the income or with doing chores. As an engineering student in the ’70s, he abused prescription drugs and lost his mental balance. His parents refused to admit that there was something wrong with their handsome son, and asserted that once he was married off, all his ‘problems’ would end. Instead, his problems kept multiplying. He produced three children but couldn’t provide for them. His poor wife was forced to hunt for odd jobs while his parents used up all their retirement funds to sustain their son’s family in the village home. It was a hard life, especially when relatives came visiting. As children we didn’t know how to reach out to Neelima and her younger siblings. The chasm ran deep. We were privileged city cousins who wore shoes and jeans, we spoke fluent English, and we laughed without a care. They didn’t.

Washington (2012-10-22): This isn’t an election! Where are the posters? Where are the songs? Where are the massive rallies and rath yatras? Where are the music videos and film stars at the rallies? Where are the scandals and tears? Where are the election commission diktats? Seriously, we can teach a thing or two about elections to the Americans.

Washington (2012-10-29): Not long ago, but now forgotten, in the United States, there was HOPE. And it was Barack Obama who promised it and then embodied it. The year was 2008 when the US was grappling with sinking economy, torn with wars desperate to reverse the pernicious practices of the Bush years. ‘Yes We Can’ and ‘Change You Can Believe In’ were slogans that were the white ray of hope. An American born in Honolulu to a white woman and a Kenyan black man, raised by a strong grandmother, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States defying all odds. With a name like that, he was always the Outsider.

Mumbai (2012-11-05): It is death by press conferences. There is one almost daily. Beamed live on TV where accusations are hurled against politicians, whether from the ruling party or the opposition, industrialists and random media houses. In trying to get across to saturated TV viewers, new depths are plummeted every evening. The ugliness is unbearable and yet like coke addicts, we consume the ‘stuff’ day in and day out.

Mumbai (2012-11-12): Owl: Oh my! A flying kabootar in the dead of the night… I thought I would never see this in my lifetime. You seem a traveller, dear pigeon. Who are you?

Mumbai (2012-11-19): The public outpouring of grief by Shiv Sainiks at the funeral of Bal Thackeray was expected but what was not expected was the restraint and solemnity shown in the past two days by the Dear Departed Leader’s storm troopers. Ever since Thackeray’s failing health reports came in four months ago, there were fears about public expression of uncontrolled grief. Mercifully, there was no violence.

Mumbai (2012-11-26): The terror attack on Mumbai four years ago was supposed to hit India where it hurt the most and hurt it irrevocably. The goal was to shatter India’s dream of being the next economic giant, it was supposed to crush the ambitions of its millionaires, it was supposed to lay nought the hopes and aspirations of its burgeoning middle class. It was supposed to break India’s will and bring it on par with its self-destructive neighbour that was not willing to compete fairly.

Mumbai (2012-12-03): 1997 was a tumultuous year in Indian politics. In April, the Congress Party had decided Deve Gowda was to be toppled. United Front had to thus choose a new Prime Minister who was acceptable to its picky allies as well as the Congress party. From all State Bhavans, emissaries rushed to and fro — with prospective names, and demands. The fulcrum of action was Andhra Bhavan, where in the eighties, N T Rama Rao had formed the national coalition of non-Congress parties. Now, Chandrababu Naidu, the inheritor of his father-in-law’s legacy started cobbling together a consensus for the next non-Congress Prime Minister. But no agreement could be reached as hours passed by. Late into the night, Inder Kumar Gujral’s name was decided upon simply because he was the least controversial. He did not have a vote-bank and was not a threat to anybody. No one thus objected to his name. He had links with the Congress: so he could be expected to call in favours when needed.

Live from the newsroom 2012  12  10

Mumbai (2012-12-10): She walked in, with some books under her arm, wanting to photocopy her project. The newsroom was buzzing with activity. Wide-eyed, she stopped short and asked me, “Is everything okay, Maami?” “Yes”, I said. It was a regular news-day; we were instructing and taking instructions from each other at very high decibel levels, with a lot of colourful language thrown in. My niece was darting glances at me.

Atithi tum kab jaaoge 2012  12  17

Mumbai (2012-12-17): “Sabotage”, he claimed. Rehman Malik was convinced that there was a grand design to sabotage his India visit from the word go. As soon as he landed at Delhi, the vile Indian media posed questions about events in the past. How dare they? Didn’t they know that Pakistan has advised India to forget the past? How dare they insult a guest by asking him vulgar questions about the Pakistan Army mutilating the body parts of Indian soldiers? “That was 15 years ago.” he protested

Mumbai (2012-12-24): “Desh ka yuva yahaan hai, Rahul Gandhi kahaan hai?” rant the air. There were many catchy slogans, shaming politicians and expressing solidarity with the victim of last week’s gang rape on Saturday. Implausible as it sounds, anger against the rapists had turned into anger against the establishment. And this outpouring of grief and anger was done in the heart of the capital, opposite the President’s House, Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office.

Mumbai (2012-12-31): These are my New Year resolutions. I hope to dutifully keep them. I promise myself that I will really try. I already feel silly listing them because they are actually rules that all reporters should follow but well, we often either forget them or ignore them. Just like those miserable diet plans and food charts. So here is my list:

New Delhi, Feb.23 (ANI): Kashmiris are watching with great interest the ‘Tunisami’ that began in Tunisia and is spreading through the virtual and real world. Last year’s unrest in the valley was fuelled by the use of social media by separatists who urged young Kashmiris to launch an ‘online Intifada’. 
While it didn’t quite meet with the success that the separatists wanted, it probably sparked off an idea that was used by protestors during the Arab Revolution. Some claim that it was the Iranians who used the social media first to revolt against a repressive regime.
The ‘Facebook revolution of 2010’ in Kashmir didn’t have the desired effect. While it certainly made the over 10 million Indian online community aware that the disgruntled in Kashmir were not merely the aged Hurriyat gentlemen on TV screens, it failed to project the political aspirations of the Kashmiris.

The Gods and Me 2011  3  1

Smita Prakash ANI Kumbakonam

    Religious pilgrimages really don't entice me. Or as I always tell my friends, "See, I am not that old yet." Thus my trip to Kumbakonam earlier this month, was more to appreciate the architectural splendour of the 12th century temples in this town in Tamil Nadu in Southern India.

    The five-hour drive from Chennai airport to Kumbakonam was an experience in itself.

    The roads are fabulous, but there are no facilities along the route. The lesson learnt: it is best to  resist the temptation of drinking tender coconut water during the journey. Easier said than done though. For each coconut water costs a mere Rs 10 and the highway is lined with shacks selling them.

New Delhi, Mar. 4 (ANI): Operation ‘Safe Homecoming’, launched by the Indian Government to bring home thousands of Indian nationals stranded in conflict-torn Libya, is a success story.
Every day, hundreds of Indians are flying back via the national carrier Air India and on chartered flights from Tripoli and other locations connected by air bridges in the Middle East.
The ‘Scotia Prince’, a chartered ship, has evacuated 1,188 Indians. An additional ship will reach Misurata, in Libya, to bring home Indians. And, all this is being watched on television and the Internet with great appreciation.

Farewell Jassal 2011  3  17

New Delhi, Mar.16 (ANI): Nobody quite tied his pagdi (turban) as perfectly as Raminder Jassal. Each pleat ran parallel and was tucked tight, and even at the end of a 12-hour workday, the pug was in place and he was ready to go on camera as if he had just tied his turban.

The Antim Ardas or the final prayer for India’s Ambassador to Turkey, Raminder Jassal, was held in New Delhi today. Jassal breathed his last battling cancer, bravely. In his 40 years in the Indian Foreign Service, Jassal served as Ambassador to Israel and Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington where he played a crucial role during the Indo-US nuclear deal. He also served in the Indian missions in Russia and Israel.

Mohali should have been about cricket. It should have been about cricket fans. It should have been about ordinary Pakistanis and ordinary Indians enjoying an extraordinary match. Now it will turn into a media circus. Attention will be diverted from the game to the body language of the two protagonists, the two prime ministers

When India and Pakistan meet on the cricket pitch it is anything but a game. The tension is palpable and taut, and there are no neutral observers. Okay, maybe the umpires. But that too, is a recent phenomenon. Remember Shakoor Rana? Along with Mike Gatting, most of India hated the Pakistani umpire.

New Delhi, Apr. 12 (ANI): London is so pretty in April. Grey and rainy. I don’t know why these English complain? Getting ready today for a party at the Shah's Belgravia flat. The invite says smart casuals, so I think just a happy blend of three designer labels will do, a bag, shoes and watch of Italian make should work well.
So, I enter the Shah’s well-appointed flat, Penny (Puneeta) gushes a warm welcome and introduces me as “an old friend from Delhi.” I spot about six people who have already arrived before me. No couples, that is nice because I have come alone too, hubby arrives from India next week, when all of Delhi empties out into Selfridges. Introductions done, I sit next to a very handsome Asian man who introduces himself as Akbar Marri from Balochistan.

Jammu, Apr.27 (ANI): In an expansive television interview to ANI (part 1), the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, said that his administration was leaving no stone unturned to ensure a peaceful summer ahead.
“There isn’t another person alive who wants as much as I do, not to see a repeat of the summer of 2010. We are doing everything possible to ensure a peaceful summer, but Jammu and Kashmir is, perhaps, one of the most unpredictable places. Given our experience of last year, we are reacting to situations more proactively and much better. We have adopted better crowd control techniques, we have better trained personnel. But the proactive measures are more important, the administrative handling, the political handling. Handwara (where a youth was killed inadvertently in a security ambush) was a sort of a trigger point that could have created trouble. We reacted a lot better to that situation than on a lot of previous occasions.”

Jammu, Apr. 28 (ANI): Power and prestige rest easily on his slim shoulders. Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a third generation politician from the Abdullah family.  But, he says he wants this trend to stop with him.
Abdullah said: “I don’t want my kids to be in politics. If they do make that decision, then I won’t be politics. They can then start at whatever level they want. But I wouldn’t want them to do it. It is time we get away from this, for the simple reason – why should anybody go through life with this belief that they have a god given right.” 
But when I asked him if dynastic politics had helped him get where he was, he didn’t fake outrage. In fact, he was disarmingly candid.

Jammu, May 3 (ANI): It is not a happy city. The winter capital of the strife-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir has too much angst to pass off as just another temple town of India, seeking to profit from tourists who come here either for pilgrimages or for its climate. 
Spring is indeed beautiful in Jammu. The well manicured lawns in the up-market localities where huge houses owned by either serving or retired government employees have large blossoms and chirping birds. Traffic stops for police and army officers and senior politicians. There is an overpowering presence of government here.
I travel to the outskirts of the city, to Basti Chak Bhoopat, a hamlet occupied by Hindu refugees who fled from the newly formed country of Pakistan in 1947. There are about 20,000 ‘West Pakistanis’ as they call themselves, along the 200 odd kilometers of the Line of Control (LOC) in this region. They are the ‘nowhere people’ of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Sweety''s NRI encounter 2011  6  13

New Delhi, June 13 (ANI): Hallelujah! Cousin Annie is here from New York. Mom called to say, "Annie is dying to meet up with you, her favourite, absolute favourite cousin from back home".  Hmm. Did I smell a rat, or was it her Chanel No.5 already? I had one day to get myself organized.

Crystal vases dusted. Check. Silver polished. Check. Cushions plumped. Check. Fresh flowers (orchids, not gladioli or tube roses please...that is so not classy) In went the Corelle crockery (for ordinary guests) and out came the Wedgewood. Nothing but the very best for Annie (actually she is Anuradha who became Annie as soon as she took off from Palam Airport...uff ho.what later became Indira Gandhi Antarashtriya Havai Adda).

Srinagar, June 20 (ANI): The slogan ‘Khoon ka badla June mey’ (the murders of 2010 shall be avenged in the summer of 2011) had instilled fear in the hearts of all those who wished well for Kashmir.

In all honesty, this is what brought me to Srinagar this June. I wanted to see for myself that the people who least wanted that slogan to be put into effect were the Kashmiris themselves, especially, the people of Srinagar who bore the maximum brunt of protests and police action last summer, over 130 dead and double the number injured; millions lost in revenue and children forced to miss almost two semesters of schooling.

But in June 2011, the story is diametrically opposite. There are no outstation journalists; just outstation tourists here. The airport is unable to handle the heavy influx of tourists from all over India. Hotels are running at 100 percent occupancy.

Onboard special flight to Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is visiting Islamabad for two days for talks with her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir, said on Thursday that all efforts are being made to secure the release jailed Pakistani national Dr. Mohammed Khaleel Chisty.

Speaking to mediapersons accompanying her to Islamabad, Rao said: "We are in touch with the Government of Rajasthan for release of  Dr. Chisty. The Rajasthan Government is siezed of the matter. We expect a satisfactory outcome."

Onboard special flight to Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Thursday said that she was looking forward to her two-day visit to Pakistan capital Islamabad for bilateral talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir. She said that she would be going there with an open mind and added that her focus would be on ways to normalise ties between the two countries.

Interacting with mediapersons onboard her special aircraft, Rao said: "I am pleased to visit Pakistan. It is an important visit. It is the penultimate leg of resumed dialogue process. I bring the best wishes to the people of Pakistan."

Onboard special aircraft to Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is visiting Islamabad for two days for talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, said on Thursday that India is looking forward to the return of six Indian sailors of the M.V. Suez, who had recently been freed by Somali pirates after payment of a ransom.

Speaking to mediapersons onboard a special aircraft taking her to the Pakistan capital, Rao said: "We look forward to see our boys home. The sailors are landing in Karachi. Our counsellor, Suhel Aijaz Khan, is in Karachi to expedite the process."

Islamabad, June 23(ANI): Even as Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan were discussing confidence building measures about peace and security in the Foreign Office in Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said that Kashmir was the “jugular vein of Pakistan”.

While addressing a rally in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Gilani assured Kashmiris complete political, diplomatic and moral support.

“We will like to apprise the world that the people of Pakistan stand by their Kashmiri brethren and support their cause,” the Pakistani Prime Minister said.

Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan began deliberations in hot and sultry Islamabad this afternoon, but well before the talks began, officials of both countries have already issued statements saying nothing dramatic should be expected from these two day talks.

The statements said that the talks are but a step in the long and tedious process of finding common ground to build towards normalising bilateral ties.

While Indian and Pakistani bureaucrats try to gingerly discuss contentious issues like terror and Jammu and Kashmir without derailing the talk’s process, the media in Pakistan has by and large already shown its disenchantment towards the talks.

New Delhi, June 23 (ANI):  Embittered by yet another scandal involved with domestic help, the foreign office is reviewing its policy on maids and house staff for its diplomats said sources.

The latest fracas involves the Indian Consul General in New York Prabhu Dayal who has been slapped with forced labour charges by his Indian maid. Dayal has dismissed the charges as "complete lies."

The maid, Santosh Bhardwaj accused Dayal of treating her like a "slave".

Onboard special flight to Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is visiting Islamabad for two days for talks with her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir, said on Thursday that all efforts are being made to secure the release jailed Pakistani national Dr. Mohammed Khaleel Chisty.

Speaking to mediapersons accompanying her to Islamabad, Rao said: "We are in touch with the Government of Rajasthan for release of  Dr. Chisty. The Rajasthan Government is siezed of the matter. We expect a satisfactory outcome."

Islamabad, June 23(ANI): The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan -- Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir -- discussed all issues pertaining to terrorism during a two-hour long meeting held at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad on Thursday.

When asked specifically if the 26/11 Mumbai blasts and Samjhauta Express came up during the talks, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash refused to get into specifics.

Prakash said that all issues pertaining to security were discussed as mandated during the Thimpu talks between Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Islamabad, June 23 (ANI): State Foreign Minister (soon to be a full fledged minister) Hina Rabbani Khar today said that it was Kashmir that was the core issue between India and Pakistan, and if that was not clear to the people, not much headway could be made.

She said: "Kashmir is the core issue that divides the two countries...after all isn't that clear and can't we both agree on that. As far as terrorism is concerned, we are willing to address it, as it is something that is affecting the entire region. It is time we have a pragmatic approach towards these talks and not get stuck on status quo."

Islamabad, June 23(ANI): The talks between Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan -- Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir -- have been ‘substantive and forward looking’ and focused on all aspects related to peace and security, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said on Thursday.

“Foreign Secretary will be discussing all issues of interest for both countries. The pace of peace and security have been discussed. Terrorism is an issue that is confronting both the countries and has affected peace and security in both countries. The two Foreign Secretaries had very cordial discussions,” Prakash said in Islamabad.

Islamabad, June 24 (ANI): Welcoming the latest round of talks between India and Pakistan at the level of foreign secretaries, former Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi however said that progress in the bilateral relationship between the two countries could only be made if there was political will and a visionary political leadership to see it through.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to ANI on Friday, Qureshi said: “I’m happy that we are talking. I’m happy that the dialogue has resumed. I’m happy that we have agreed to discuss all issues that are outstanding between India and Pakistan. This is a positive development.”

Islamabad, June 24 (ANI): Talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan concluded here on Friday.

Indian and Pakistani government sources said that the spokepersons of the two sides would read out a joint statement at the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The two foreign secretaries – Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir - would address a joint press conference, and this would be followed by a question and answer session at the same venue.

Islamabad, June 24(ANI): India and Pakistan made major headway today in reducing the trust deficit with regard to Kashmir.

According to Indian government sources, major confidence building measures were discussed in a free, frank and candid manner.

The two sides agreed that it was time to move ahead and be imaginative and innovative when dealing with the peace process in Kashmir.

Islamabad, June 24 (ANI): Following the conclusion of the two-day talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan – Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir – Indian Government sources said the atmospherics and chemistry between the two sides during the interaction were excellent, and added that both sides specifically discussed new ideas and ways to implement them.

Briefing media persons after the joint press conference, the sources said that among the new ideas discussed was to prevent a recurrence of a situation at sea, as was witnessed recently during the rescue operation of 22 sailors of different citizenry of the MV Suez, who had been released from the captivity of Somali pirates.

Islamabad, June 24(ANI): Satisfactory closure of the 26/11 trial will enable India and Pakistan to move on with the process of normalization of ties, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Friday.

Addressing a joint press conference in Islamabad with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, Rao said: “The issue of 26/11 is obviously of critical importance for us. We have already had a very useful discussion between the Home Secretaries and the Interior Secretaries of the two countries. That meeting has had a very good outcome and I did follow up on those discussions.”

Islamabad, June 24 (ANI): Former Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said it was wrong to say that multi-billion dollar aid coming from the United States was primarily being routed to the country’s defence forces for counter-terrorism operations. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview to ANI on Friday, Qureshi categorically said: “The bulk of the money that has come, has not gone to the army, it has not been given to the army”.

He specifically said that Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had given a breakdown of the money that Pakistan was receiving from the United States.

Islamabad, June 24(ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Friday that India will share the investigation report of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings with Pakistan.

Addressing a joint press conference in Islamabad with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, Rao said: “The Samjhauta train blast issue had also formed the subject matter of the discussion between the Home Secretary of India and the Interior Secretary of Pakistan, when they met a few months ago.”

“We have stated very clearly that once this investigation is completed, we will share the outcome with the Government of Pakistan,” she added. 

Islamabad, June 25 (ANI): Aap bhi mere talluq se zabaan bandh rakhein/main bhi koshish na karun aapki ruswaii kii (For the sake of propriety it would be better if you didn't discus your opinion about me and I will also try not to embarrass you by disclosing my views about you) The Indian and Pakistani Foreign Secretaries probably decided on this approach when meeting with the media at the end of their two days of deliberations on confidence building measures between the two countries.

The hastily reconvened joint press conference was harmonious and devoid of any surprise element; just as previous interactions between the media and Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir have been. Both are not given to dramatics and are known to not fall for any bait laid by journalists. Though Salman Bashir's comment to the Indian media last year that the evidence provided by India on 26/11 was "mere literature" was pilloried for a while, there was no cussedness or causticity visible this time.

New Delhi, June 29 (ANI): Last night, a repeat of the 2008 Mumbai attack took place in Afghan capital Kabul, in the overpowering presence of NATO troops. Nothing and nobody could prevent the Taliban suicide bombers from entering the Intercontinental Hotel, fully armed and shooting civilians with impunity while they played war songs from tape recorders.
The attack was markedly different from previous clumsily orchestrated attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan, where suicide bombers detonated explosives strapped on them, in crowded market areas.
This one was a perfectly executed operation which would have required sharp planning and trained foot soldiers who would have seen and accessed entry and exit points, the ground plan of the hotel and known about the presence of foreign diplomats who had gathered for an AF-NATO conference on withdrawal of foreign forces.

New Delhi, July 1 (ANI): Want to eavesdrop on a spousal conversation and thank God that you aren’t in an abusive relationship like this one? Read on.
Husband: Just what do you mean when you say that I can’t have access to the garage anymore? I thought we had decided that my car would be in the garage and yours in the driveway.
Wife: You cannot have access to my Shamsi garage anymore. You drive out from that garage and (drone) attack my interests. I allowed you use of that garage because I thought it would help me, you would run my errands. ‘That’ isn’t happening. Now, not only are you working against the children, Omar and Hakim, you are even causing damage to cousin LIBYAna.

New Delhi, July 21 (ANI): There are some embarrassed faces, some awkward silences in newspapers and television channels in North India. They belong to some of those journalists and academicians who availed the hospitality offered by Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who ran the Kashmiri American Council, also known as the Kashmir Center.
Fai and Zaheer Ahmad, a Pakistani-American now believed to be in Pakistan, were charged with conspiring to act as unregistered agents of the Government of Pakistan. In other words, they acted as ISI (Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence) minions in the US. Fai has been hosting Kashmir conferences in the US for more than a decade where he would invite renowned journalists and intellectuals from India and Pakistan.

New Delhi, July 25 (ANI): Militants shot dead a civilian, Mohsin Ahmed Wani, in Sopore town of Baramulla district, while another person escaped an attack in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir yesterday.
Reacting sharply to the incident, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: "A young man was shot dead in Sopore yesterday for no apparent fault of his. Where the hell are all the irate voices??? Bloody hypocrites."
He also tweeted: "Mohsin was a businessman, doing business in Sopore. Shot by militants last night. No wonder my timeline is silent, as it wasn't by the army/police"

New Delhi, July 26 (ANI): The crisp Mysore silk saree, a small bindi in place, coiffed hair, minimal make up, a Fendi handbag and smart shoes…she has been running up the South Block staircase to the her office for 14-hour work days for the last two years now.
She does this with the same ease when she runs up Air India One, to fly with the Prime Minister to various capitals around the world for his summit meetings.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has a fascinating persona. She retires as foreign secretary at the end of this month, but only to take over as India's ambassador to the United States.

Khar The Bagwati 2011  7  26

New Delhi, July 26 (ANI): In a recent film, Zindagi na Miligi Dobara, the Hermes bag was named Bagwati by Farhan Akhtar, deifying the exorbitantly priced bag.
Hina Rabban Khar, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, was seen carrying a black Birkin by Hermes when she touched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi a few hours ago for the India-Pakistan foreign minister-level talks to be held tomorrow.
A Birkin bag costs anywhere from 9,000 dollars to 150,000 dollars. Khar has been seen sporting a tan coloured Birkin in the past for which she came in for criticism in a Pakitsani television show recently, where a commentator said that in a poor country like Pakistan, a foreign minister carrying such an expensive purse was an insult to the nation's image.

New Delhi, July 27 (ANI): A charmed Indian External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna on Wednesday invited Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to visit southern India, especially his home city of Bangalore, after she informed him that she had come to India twice before her latest visit.
Krishna extended the invitation to Khar ahead of the foreign minister-level talks being held at Hyderabad House here. The two leaders also delivered opening statements ahead of their talks.
According to sources, there was no awkardness between an elderly Krishna and 34-year-old Khar, who was recently appointed Pakistan's foreign minister after serving in a junior capacity in the Foreign Office for about five months. She was earlier a junior minister for economic affairs.

New Delhi, July 27 (ANI): Pakistan''s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has expressed her desire to explore southern India.

In an exclusive interview to Asian News International (ANI), Khar said: "Hopefully, one day I would like to come to see South India. I have been told by your people that it is another world altogether. Would be very interested in exploring that."

Responding to a question on how curtailing is it to be a woman politician in an Islamic country, she said: "I must confess I have not found it to be curtailing at all. I find it curtailing when too much attention is paid to being a woman, which sometimes takes away from the content and other values that you stand for. Some feel we have to be twice as good. As women politicians, I think we get far too much attention."

New Delhi, July 27 (ANI): Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in an exclusive interview to Asian News International (ANI) said that investigations into the Mumbai attack were on schedule and part of the
judicial process over which her government had no say.

She further said that it was faster than the investigations that India was conducting on the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case.

"You have to see we have a judicial process, why is it difficult for you to understand? It is similar to yours. I want to emphasize that on Samjhauta and compare it to Mumbai, you will find there is more progress," said Khar.

New Delhi, Aug.3 (ANI): Zamaana badey shauq se sun rahaa thaa/ hum hii so gaye daastaan kehte kehte: Mir Saqib (The world was listening keenly to our conversation; it is we who got bored, repeating the same words).
Yet another Pakistani V.I.P visit, yet another joint statement, more huffing and puffing over Kashmir and it is over. Till the next time, next year. And yet, one can safely say that Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s visit to India in July 2011 was extraordinary in more ways than one.
The media went starry eyed. Who cares about straying fishermen in jails or patients wanting visas for medical treatment, there was hottie with a Birkin (supposedly a 17 lakh rupee bag) in town. But from the moment she landed, she made it clear that she wasn’t a pushover. Just like her predecessor S.M Qureshi.

New Delhi, Aug.8 (ANI): The Ramzaan month should really be in December. I mean, that is the time one can really enjoy Iftaar parties. I don't know why it is held in the hot and humid month of August. My hair is a mess and I feel so tired and all. Not that I am fasting or something, just that I have many Muslim friends who are fasting and they invite me to their Iftaar parties. I never refuse them. See, it is a very sensitive issue.

I am a very secular person no; I don't like to hurt anybody from another religion. Why, my cousin was once dating a Muslim boy and, I never made any snide remarks. I even had them over for dinner once and stayed clear of any talk of 'us' and 'them'. I dropped a few 'subhanallahs' and 'mashallahs' so that he felt at home. I am very considerate you know.

PTSD after Anna campaign 2011  8  29

New Delhi, Aug.29 (ANI): How does one just go about life after a major new story captivates a nation like the Anna fast?  A fortnight of obsessive and compulsive disorder of watching any and every bit of news. Absorbing one raucous TV debate after the other till one was saturated. And then, more of the same.
Scan social media sites for juicy gossip for behind the scenes activity of the Anna camp. Gaze through photographs in newspapers of kids balanced precariously on cycle handle bars wearing 'I am Anna' caps. Naked women tattooing Anna's name on their bare backs. Read op-eds that dissect the movement threadbare and still emerge confused as ever.

New Delhi, Sep.5 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh embarks on his first ever visit as the head of government to Dhaka tomorrow, heralding a new chapter in relations between India and its immediate eastern neighbour: A relationship which should have been warm and friendly and yet has been beset with complications.
Accompanying Dr. Singh are External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Chief Minister of Assam -Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Tripura - Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Meghalaya - Mukul Sangma and Chief Minister of Mizoram - Lal Thanhawla.

Dhaka, Sep.6 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today commended Bangladesh's rapid progress in recent years and its success in "eradicating poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease. 

These are achievements Bangladesh can be justly proud of," he said.

Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Sonar Bangla Hotel here, Dr. Singh said that Bangladesh was in the midst of a major socio-economic transformation, with its economy witnessing a steady growth during the last several years.

Dhaka, Sep.6 (ANI): While Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina failed to mention the contentious Teesta and Feni river waters issues even once during her address to the media after the signing of agreements with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, she made a passing reference to the issue in her speech at a banquet hosted in honour of Dr.Singh.

Sheikh Hasina said: "Through our discussions today....we have reached an understanding on areas as diverse as demarcation of land boundary, sharing of waters of Rivers Teesta nd Feni, connectivity, power, renewable energy, electronic media, education and conservation of hte common heritage of the Sunderbans."

Dhaka, Sep.6 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport shortly after 11 a.m.this morning on a two-day official visit.

Dressed in a blue and white cotton saree, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a loyal and steadfast friend of India, received him along with other senior officials.

Dr. Singh and his entourage, which include his wife Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Chief Minister of Assam -Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Tripura - Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Meghalaya - Mukul Sangma and Chief Minister of Mizoram - Lal Thanhawla, were welcomed at the airport by a gun salute and ceremonial guard of honour.

Dhaka, Sep.6 (ANI): Government sources on Tuesday indicated that India and Bangladesh are unlikely to sign a deal on the Teesta river waters issue during the current two-day visit to Dhaka of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, but could up with an interim agreement.

“We are still trying to find one solution that suits all. There will be no deal unless all are involved and are onboard. If all are not onboard, it cannot be implemented. One of the main states is West Bengal. We have to take them onboard,” said the sources.

About me
I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indias leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.
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