Dawn – Pakistan foreign policy 101

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Op/Ed, 26 January 2019. Foreign policy is the external aspect of national policy. It covers the whole gamut of global, regional and neighbourhood developments, movements and strategies.

When national policy is substandard it puts a ceiling on the success of foreign policy no matter how good it is.

Similarly, given the external dependency of Pakistan’s national policy, it cannot achieve its goals without a prioritised and resourced foreign policy.

Some aspects of external policy are primarily dealt with by specialised ministries, departments and services.

But the Foreign Office should not be held responsible for the negative consequences of bad decisions it had no part in taking. This often happens and is always at the cost of the national interest.

This is obvious. Yet in practice it is usually ignored. Why? The main reason is the unwillingness of corrupt or weak governments to take any risks for good governance, including good foreign policy.

This is the soft state syndrome. It is often a prelude to a failing state. It precludes serving the national interest. Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?

If the political system is made participatory and inclusive it will eventually find the right answers. If it remains elitist, exclusive and exploitative it will not. Changing the system, however, involves risk-taking.

Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.

India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.

The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.

Russia in partnership with China is a significant counter-force to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.

The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.

Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.

The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.

Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.

India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.

These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.

Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.

Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.

Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.

Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.

Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.

The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.

China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.

The China agenda

Chinese concerns are growing. They need to be addressed. Chinese and Pakistani ‘dreams’ need to be integrated into a shared vision through mutually reinforcing policies. The BRI is the context for CPEC. Similarly, CPEC is the context for the transformation of Pakistan.

Sensitive issues can be dealt with confidentially, judiciously and on the basis of complete mutual trust.

The US: It is a strategic ally of India. India is focused on Pakistan. The US is focused on China. America cannot be a strategic partner for Pakistan. But its friendship is beneficial while its hostility is harmful. Pakistan must work with the US for an Afghan settlement, in consultation with China.

Afghanistan: Pakistan cannot eliminate India from an Afghan settlement process. Nor should it try to. If Pakistan plays its cards right it will always have a stronger hand than India in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban despite their current military successes are not the future of Afghanistan. Unless they cooperate for a settlement they cannot become a 21st-century asset for Pakistan.

India is justly regarded as a large neighbour with a small heart. Many Afghans see Pakistan similarly despite the massive Afghan goodwill accumulated during the Soviet occupation. Why?

Pakistan need not create a two-front situation for itself. Being large-hearted towards a smaller neighbour is actually good strategy. Specific issues are more easily resolved when the fundamentals are okay.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.

ashrafjqazi@gmail.com

www.ashrafjqazi.com

https://www.dawn.com/news/1459874/pakistan-foreign-policy-101

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Tolo News – Kabul trilateral meeting agrees on joint anti-terror efforts

The three sides reiterated their firm commitment to implement activities and projects agreed under practical cooperation.

Kabul – Afghanistan, 15 December 2018. Foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China met in Kabul on Saturday to continue their efforts on “building political mutual trust and support reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism”.

A joint statement released after the Second Afghanistan-China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers Dialogue, reads that the three sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations, deepening cooperation and advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and other regional economic initiatives.

According to the statement, Afghanistan, China and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Counter-Terrorism to advance their cooperation in this respect.

The statement says that the three sides reiterated their strong resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and without any distinction.

The statement reads that the three sides reiterated their support to an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led as well as an inclusive peace process.

Meanwhile, the three foreign ministers agreed to jointly continue their efforts for building political mutual trust and support reconciliation, development, cooperation and connectivity, society cooperation and counter-terrorism as the three areas of the trilateral cooperation.

The foreign ministers addressed a press conference in Kabul on Saturday where they stressed the need for mutual cooperation and a joint effort to end violence in the country.

Addressing the press conference, Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said the meeting was focused on security and counter-terrorism and that they emphasized on security, ending violence, and implementation of Afghanistan-Pakistan action plan.

“We discussed regional peace and regional projects to connect the countries. The projects will improve economic development. We hope china will implement economic projects in Afghanistan,” Rabbani said.

He said one of the main goals of the trilateral meeting is to work for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Rabbani said security and fighting against terrorism as well as creating political reconciliation were discussed in the meeting.

He said that the Afghan government hopes that Pakistan and China will cooperate with Afghanistan’s peace process and that now the time has come to show practical support.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to solve their problems through peaceful ways, adding that the three sides agreed to fight jointly against terrorist groups.

“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan efforts for peace and we call on the Taliban to join the peace process,” Chinese Foreign Minister said. “Cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China is import to bring peace in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stressed the need for mutual trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan and called for ending the “blame game” between the two countries.

“I came here to make trust bridge and reach peace and stability. Any improvement in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan,” he said. “I am here to boost our bilateral trade.”

He said they agreed in the meeting to fight jointly against terrorism.

According to him, one of the main goals of the trilateral meeting is to work for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“I am here to engage with Afghanistan and your happiness lies in my happiness. That is my mindset. Let’s not stick to the past and stop putting finger on Pakistan,” Qureshi said.

It was the second meeting of the three foreign ministers after their kick off meeting in Beijing last year.

The three foreign ministers are expected to meet in Islamabad next year.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/kabul-trilateral-meeting-agrees-joint-anti-terror-efforts

The New Indian Express – First India-Nepal passenger train on broad gauge likely to begin from December

The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district in Janakpur Zone of south-eastern Nepal, which is a 34 km stretch.

New Delhi – India, 04 November 2018. The first passenger train to run on broad gauge between India and Nepal is likely to run from December this year, sources in the railways have told PTI.

The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district in Janakpur Zone of south-eastern Nepal, which is a 34 km stretch.

An immigration check-post is likely to be established at Jayanagar station manned by either the Bureau of Immigration or the state government.

No visa will be required for Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the border through this stretch, a source said.

The Nepalese authorities have informed the railways that the section will be opened with four trips and will ply in eight to 16 hour shifts.

While the first train is to be a passenger train, the Nepalese have stated that they want to run both passenger and freight trains on this section.

Nepal will take rolling stock, rakes, coaches and others, on lease from India for the purpose, another source said.

The ministry of external affairs have had several inter-ministerial meetings with the railways, government of Nepal and other stakeholders on this.

More meetings to finalise logistics are likely to take place.

The move is being seen as part of efforts to counter China’s plans to forge rail links with Nepal.

After Beijing decided to extend its railway network up to Kathmandu, New Delhi proposed the construction of new railway links during Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s recent visit to India.

Nepal and India have plans for four cross-border railway links, including one to link Raxaul to Kathmandu.

The Jayanagar-Kurtha rail line was originally built during the British Raj to transport logs from forests at Mahottari to India.

At that time, the line from Jayanagar in Bihar to Bijulpura in Mahottari was 52 km long.

More than 15 years ago, floods swept away the Bighi bridge, disrupting railway services on the 29-km stretch from Janakpur to Jayanagar.

The Rs 5.5-billion (Nepalese Rs 8.8 billion) project is divided into three phases.

The first includes construction of a 34-km segment between Jayanagar and Kurtha, the second comprises construction of an 18-km segment from Kurtha to Bhangaha in Mahottari district, and the third comprises construction of a 17-km segment from Bhangaha to Bardibas.

Of the total length, only three kilometres is in Indian territory.

The sale of tickets, the source said, will be through an unreserved ticketing system and passenger reservation system in Nepal which will be facilitated by the railways.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/nov/04/first-india-nepal-passenger-train-on-broad-gauge-likely-to-begin-from-december-1894204.html

Dawn – Joint Pakistan-India drills leave Sidhu critics red-faced

Jawed Naqvi

New Delhi – India, 25 August 2018. Hindutva groups have slammed former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for hugging Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa recently, but a joint military exercise against terrorism under way in Russia involving contingents from India and Pakistan has left the critics red-faced.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has praised Mr Sidhu’s friendly gesture for being present at the swearing-in ceremony where the latter embraced General Bajwa who had made friendly comments about peace between the two countries.

Rightwing activist Sudhir Kumar Ojha, known for indicting celebrities, alleged in a petition filed with Muzaffarpur’s chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Hari Prasad that Mr Sidhu insulted the families of Indian soldiers killed by Pakistan’s army by hugging General Bajwa and sitting next to Azad Kashmir’s president Masood Khan on Saturday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Mr Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, especially his hug with Pakistan army chief, was “shameful”. Mr Sidhu is a minister in the Congress government in Punjab.

Mr Sidhu clarified his stand on the issue.

“If someone (referring to General Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we will open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv (birth anniversary), what else I could do?”

Mr Sidhu while responding to the media queries: “If you are invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there,” he added.

Mr Ojha said it was unbecoming of Sidhu to attend the celebrations in the neighbouring country at a time when the nation was mourning the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“I have urged the court to book Siddhu under IPC sections 124 A, 153 B and 504 for hurting the nation’s sentiments and order for his arrest,” he said.

Imran Khan on Tuesday came out in support of Mr Sidhu.

“I want to thank Sidhu for coming to Pakistan for my oath taking. He was an ambassador of peace and was given amazing love and affection by people of Pakistan,” Mr Khan tweeted soon after Sidhu’s press conference.

“Those in India who targeted him are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent, without peace, our people cannot progress,” Mr Khan said.

To move forward, he said Pakistan and India must engage in dialogue and resolve their conflicts, including the Kashmir issue.

“The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading,” he said.

Mr Sidhu during the press conference said his visit to Pakistan was not “political” but just on a “warm invitation from a friend”.

In a first such event, military personnel from India and Pakistan are participating in an anti-terrorism exercise organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia. The exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation between member states to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and extremism.

The exercise will see tactical-level operation being carried out in an international counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism environment.

Around 3,000 soldiers from India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are taking part in the exercise.

The Indian contingent has 200 personnel, mainly from the infantry and other arms along with some from the Indian Air Force.

The training schedule for the Indian contingent includes target practice, house intervention drills, tactical and heliborne operations and combat conditioning, reports said.

They said the joint drills will build mutual confidence, interoperability and sharing of knowledge among troops of SCO members.

In previous editions, only Central Asian nations participated.

With India and Pakistan joining the exercise, SCO’s counter-terrorism mission has expanded to South Asia, a region in a grip of terrorism and extremism.

Former army officials loyal to the BJP were at a loss to explain why it was wrong for Mr Sidhu to hug the Pakistan army chief when contingents from the two countries were trying to sort out the menace of terrorism jointly.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1428802/joint-pakistan-india-drills-leave-sidhu-critics-red-faced

The Asian Age – Doklam face-off resolved through diplomatic maturity, says Sushma Swaraj

China claimed it was constructing the road within its territory to which India had objected saying the territory does not belong to China.

New Delhi – India, 02 August 2018. The Centre on Wednesday informed Parliament that the India-China face-off over Doklam was resolved through “diplomatic maturity without losing any ground” and status quo has been maintained.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told the Lok Sabha that the main objective of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping at Wuhan was to ensure mutual comfort, mutual understanding and mutual trust between the two leaders and all the three objectives have been achieved.

“We have resolved the Doklam issue with diplomatic maturity without losing any ground. There is no change in the status quo (on the ground). There is not an iota of change. The face-off at sight has been resolved on August 28, 2017,” she said during Question Hour.

The external affairs minister said the Wuhan informal summit was held without any agenda and without having any objections to discuss any specific issue.

Before the summit, the foreign ministers of the two countries decided that the leaders should not be restricted to any specific issue, she said.

“The decision to host Wuhan was taken not to resolve any issue but to create a conducive environment. Three main objectives were to ensure mutual comfort, mutual understanding and mutual trust. In all the three objectives, we have achieved success,” she said.

Ms Swaraj said as a follow up to the Wuhan summit, the Chinese defence minister is coming to enhance military cooperation while the foreign minister will arrive later this year as part of efforts to enhance the people-to-people contact. The first informal summit between Modi and Jinping was held at the Chinese city of Wuhan on April 27-28.

India and China were locked in a face-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for over 50 days after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the area. China claimed it was constructing the road within its territory to which India had objected saying the territory does not belong to China.

To another query, Ms Swaraj also made it clear that the boundary dispute between Bhutan and China was continuing and it was a matter between those two countries.

Trinamool Congress member Sugata Bose said that since the external affairs minister was not present in Wuhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House, he should make an intervention and disclose what had happened in his informal summit with the Chinese leader.

Ms Swaraj dismissed the suggestion, saying she was capable of answering all questions relating to the Wuhan summit.

“I am capable of answering all questions, irrespective of whether I was present there or not. I am fully aware of what was happening there,” she said.

Replying to a question regarding the South China Sea dispute, Ms Swaraj said India believed that the international sea route should be free for navigation.

http://www.asianage.com/india/politics/020818/doklam-face-off-resolved-through-diplomatic-maturity-says-sushma-swaraj.html

The Hindustan Times – Suggestion of India, Pakistan, China trilateral summit great idea: Chinese envoy 

The Chinese envoy to India Luo Zhaohui also said on Monday India and China cannot have another Doklam-like standoff and that the two countries need to narrow their differences.

New Delhi – India, 18 June 2018. Bilateral ties between India and China can’t take the strain of another Doklam episode, Chinese envoy to India Luo Zhaohui said on Monday, emphasising on the need to find a “mutually acceptable solution” on the boundary issue through a meeting of the Special Representatives.

The Chinese envoy said at an event in New Delhi that “some Indian friends” had suggested a trilateral summit comprising India, China and Pakistan was a “very constructive” idea.

Leaders of China, Russia and Mongolia hold a similar meet, he noted.

“This is a proposal suggested by some Indian friends and it is a very a good and constructive idea. Maybe not now, but in the future, that is the great idea.”

Dwelling on Sino-Indian ties, he said it is quite natural to have differences but they need to be controlled and managed through cooperation.

“We need to control, manage, narrow differences through expanding cooperation. The boundary question was left over by history. We need to find a mutual acceptable solution through Special Representatives’ Meeting while adopting confidence building measures,” he said.

“We cannot stand another Doklam (sic),” the envoy said.

He was delivering a keynote address on ‘Beyond Wuhan: How Far and Fast can China-India Relations Go’ at an event organised by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.

Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a 73-day stand-off at the Doklam tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China between June to August last year.

One of the immediate fallouts of the Doklam stand-off was the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra from Nathu-La side and the annual military exercise between the two countries. China also did not give the hydrological data of the Brahmaputra and the Indus river that originates in Chinese Tibet.

The envoy said on Monday China will continue to promote religious exchanges and make arrangements for Indian pilgrims going to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet.

Post-Doklam, there have been frequent high-level engagements between the leaders of the two countries.

This year alone, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met twice in the last two months in Wuhan and Qingdao.

Luo said the two leaders are also likely to meet on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit and G20 Summit later this year.

He noted that security cooperation is one of the three pillars of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, an eight-member grouping also comprising India, China and Pakistan.

The envoy added that relations between India and China have gone beyond the bilateral scope.

“We need to enhance coordination and cooperation in SCO, BRICS and join hands to tackle social challenges,” he said.

Responding to a question on India-China cooperation in Afghanistan, Luo said the two countries have identified a programme to train Afghan public servants and diplomats.

“This is a first step and in future, there is more…,” he said.

In the informal summit between Modi and Xi at the Wuhan, the two countries had agreed to work jointly on an economic project in Afghanistan.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/suggestion-of-india-pakistan-china-trilateral-summit-great-idea-chinese-envoy/story-0i90BTlkqOFZEC9Hqag62I.html

Dawn – Parties in Gilgit call for abolition of all federal taxes

The Newspaper’s Correspondent

Gilgit – Gilgit-Baltistan – Pakistan, 12 June 2018. A multiparty conference called by the Gilgit-Baltistan Importers and Exporters Association here on Monday declared illegal the imposition of all federal taxes, including the customs duty, on the GB people till settlement of the constitutional status of the region.

The MPC announced complete support for the over two-month-long boycott of the China-Pakistan trade by the GB traders, labourers and transporters, through the Khunjerab pass, against the introduction of WeBOC system at the Sust dry port.

Members of GBLA, representatives of political parties, including PPP, PTI, religious and nationalist leaders, lawyers, labour union leaders and civil society activists attended the conference.

On the occasion, President Awami Action committee Maulana Sultan Raees said GB people had unanimously demanded the due rights enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan. GB should be declared a tax-free zone till settlement of the constitutional status of the region, he demanded.

He warned of dire consequences if their demands were not met.

PPP president Amjad Hussain Advocate saidif Malakand division was exempted from taxes, then why federal taxes were imposed on GB people.

He declared that not addressing GB traders’ demands was a conspiracy against the CPEC project and akin to crippling the local economy.

Shakeel Ahmed Advocate, President of GB Chief Court Bar Association, said the FBR had not accepted the Chief Court’s order regarding suspension of WeBOC at the Sust dry port, which was humiliation of the GB judiciary.

Malik Kifait, president of Diamer Grand Jirga, said GB people had unanimously rejected the WeBOC system.

PTI’s Najeebullah Khan, PPP’s Javed Hussain, and others also spoke on the occasion.

Javed Hussain said WeBOC had been introduced to deprive GB residents of the benefits of China-Pakistan trade and to facilitate traders from the outside.

Ashfaq Ahmed, president of GB importers and exporters body, said so far no official of FBR had contacted them for talks since the suspension of the trade at the Sust dry port, which reflected on their apathy towards the problems of the region’s traders.

The MPC adopted a unanimous resolution, declaring that if the GB traders’ demands were not accepted till June 20, a shutter down and wheel-jam strike call would be given in all the 10 districts of the region.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1413648/parties-in-gilgit-call-for-abolition-of-all-federal-taxes

The Hindu – China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the elephant in the room: Nirmala Sitharaman

However, there are now greater engagements between India and China, the Defence Minister says.

Special Correspondent

Chennai – Tamil Nadu – India, 09 June 2018. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the “elephant in the room” for India, but India does not view its bilateral relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relationship which “is getting intense”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

China-Pakistan prism

“There has been an increased dependence of Pakistan’s military on Chinese arms and ammunition. The fundamental reorientation of the China-Pakistan relationship is getting intense. (But) We do not view our relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relations,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

She was speaking at an international seminar on China’s geopolitics to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Chennai Centre for China Studies here on Friday.

Ms. Sitharaman said there was now a greater engagement between India and China, and with India’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the relationship was becoming stronger.

“There is now a greater scope for engagement, and engagement itself can be a very strong way in which the relationship can be bettered,” she said.

The Defence Minister further said that India had good bilateral cooperation with many members of the SCO. “There are many platforms available for engagement.

There is a reinvigoration, there are many mechanisms that are existing whether it is border personnel meet, the dispute redressal meets, crisis management study groups meet, are all actively engaging every now and then,” she said.

‘Create hotline’

However, having a hotline between the two countries would help disputes to be resolved faster.

“A hotline would definitely reduce the time consumed in reaching the empowered group of decision-makers in case there is a crisis at the ground level,” in a reference to the Doklam stand-off between the two countries.

She added that the two-day informal engagement between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan “will have some outcome in the short term, but without doubt in the long term the relationship will benefit from it”.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-pakistan-economic-corridor-is-the-elephant-in-the-room-nirmala-sitharaman/article24116209.ece

The Asian Age – India looks to China for speeding-up of Bangalore-Chennai train corridor

The proposal was made at the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) held in Beijing between the two countries.

New Delhi/Beijing, 15 April 2018. India has sought China’s assistance to speed up Bangalore-Chennai railway corridor besides redevelopment of Agra and Jhansi railway stations, a senior Indian official said on Sunday.

The proposal was made at the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) held in Beijing between the two countries.

“We offered them speeding up of Bangalore-Chennai railway corridor,” NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Sunday.

The SED was held between delegations headed by Kumar and He Lifeng, the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The proposal was made for increasing the speed of the corridor to 150 kmph.

India previously made a proposal to China for the redevelopment of Agra and Jhansi railway station. It has been re-emphasised at Saturday’s talks, officials said.

The Chinese side will respond after considering the proposals, they said.

Kumar said it was pointed out to the Chinese side that the railway station development plan is a big one involving about 600 of them. They can bid for any of them, he said.

However, there was no discussion in the just concluded SED about the collaboration to build high speed trains by China in India, he said.

China has been expressing interest to take up high speed train corridors in India and began conducting a feasibility study for New Delhi and Chennai high speed train corridor.

The first high-speed train corridor in India between Mumbai and Ahmedabad has been bagged by Japan.

China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network, with 22,000 km within the country linking various top cities.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/150418/india-looks-to-china-for-speeding-up-of-bangalore-chennai-train-corridor.html