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A senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party has suggested that the issue of army presence in the Kashmir valley may be decided by a referendum of the people in the valley. The same leader had two years ago suggested a plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir where people must be free to decide whether they wish to stay with India or otherwise.

The integration of States was handled by Sardar Patel. There was, however, one exception. Issues relating to Jammu & Kashmir were substantially decided by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. The effects of his mismanagement of Jammu & Kashmir continue to leave their impact even today. Besides the grant of separate status, the idea of the ‘wishes of the people’ being taken into consideration was a Nehruvian suggestion. The same formulation was not applicable to the other princely States which integrated into India. With great difficulty the issue of plebiscite which was internationalized by Pakistan was linked to the territory wrongfully occupied by Pakistan. Today the issue of plebiscite is no longer a part of either the international agenda, a United Nations process or even the Indo-Pak bilateral talks.

The defence of India is a subject exclusively in the Central Government’s domain. It is neither a State Subject nor a subject to be handled at the municipal level. Maintenance of India’s sovereignty is a prime responsibility of the Central Government. The prime concern of the Indian state is to protect its own sovereignty and integrity. Kashmir has been a part of unfinished agenda of Pakistan emanating from partition. Pakistan has never reconciled to Kashmir being a part of India. Its’ attempt at internationalization of the issue failed. Having been defeated in conventional wars, in the last two and a half decades it has attempted a proxy war through cross-border terrorism. This is supplemented by local terrorist modules of misguided youths.

The BJP is commited to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s declaration that all issues would be resolved within the framework of ‘Insaniyat’. It is this philosophy which entails elimination of terrorism, dismantling of terrorist infrastructure, comfort, peace and a high quality of life to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The de-militarisation of the valley can take place only after this object is achieved. The army presence till then is necessary to protect both the territory and the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

It is Pakistan which has been suggesting the de-militarisation of the valley. Some separatist groups have been echoing that demand. It is regrettable that for a party like the Aam Aadmi Party which nourishes national ambitions, should adopt a position hostile to India’s interests. The issues of national security cannot be decided by populism or referendum. They can only be decided on security considerations. Till such time the infrastructure of terror remains, the presence of the army in Jammu & Kashmir is essential.

This leaves me with a last thought - political parties which emerge as a transient reaction to a given situation can be non-ideological. They evolve their ideology as they grow. This can lead to both speculative and serious concerns. The ideological position of the Aam Aadmi Party on various issues is not known. It is only after the elections that initial indications coming from its leaders show that it stands for nationalization of airports and natural sources, for a soft and weak position on India’s security issues and for high subsidies which will lead to higher taxation. Symbolism rather than substance has been displayed in the last ten days. I hope sensible elements in the Party seek to reverse this position. Otherwise the slope downwards will be faster than the movement upwards.

The above blog is shared by Shri Arun Jaitley on his blog. You can read the original blog here.

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INDIA-EU LEADERS' MEETING
May 08, 2021
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At the invitation of the President of the European Council Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting today.

The meeting was held in a hybrid format with the participation of leaders of all the 27 EU Member States as well as the President of the European Council and the European Commission. This is the first time that the EU hosted a meeting with India in the EU+27 format. The meeting was the initiative of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

During the meeting, the leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on a shared commitment to democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and multilateralism. They exchanged views on three key thematic areas: i) foreign policy and security; ii) COVID-19, climate and environment; and iii) trade, connectivity and technology. They discussed forging closer cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, tackling climate change, and reforming multilateral institutions. India appreciated the prompt assistance provided by the EU and its member states to combat its second COVID wave.

The leaders welcomed the decision to resume negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreements. Negotiations on both the Trade and Investment Agreements will be pursued on parallel tracks with an intention to achieve early conclusion of both agreements together. This is a major outcome which will enable the two sides to realise the full potential of the economic partnership. India and the EU also announced dedicated dialogues on WTO issues, regulatory cooperation, market access issues and supply chain resilience, demonstrating the desire to deepen and further diversify economic engagement.

India and the EU launched an ambitious and comprehensive ‘Connectivity Partnership’ which is focused on enhancing digital, energy, transport and people-to-people connectivity. The Partnership is based on the shared principles of social, economic, fiscal, climate and environmental sustainability, and respect for international law and commitments. The Partnership will catalyse private and public financing for connectivity projects. It will also foster new synergies for supporting connectivity initiatives in third countries, including in the Indo-Pacific.

India and the EU leaders reiterated their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and agreed to strengthen joint efforts for mitigation, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change, as well as providing means of implementation including finance in the context of COP26. India welcomed the EU’s decision to join CDRI.

India and the EU also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on digital and emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, Quantum and High-Performance Computing including through the early operationalization of the Joint Task Force on AI and the Digital Investment Forum.

The leaders noted with satisfaction the growing convergences on regional and global issues, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity and maritime cooperation. The leaders acknowledged the importance of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and agreed to closely engage in the region, including in the context of India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative and the EU’s new strategy on the Indo-Pacific.

Coinciding with the Leaders’ Meeting, an India-EU Business Roundtable was organised to highlight the avenues for cooperation in climate, digital and healthcare. A finance contract of Euro 150 million for the Pune Metro Rail Project was signed by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and European Investment Bank.

India-EU Leaders Meeting has set a significant milestone by providing a new direction to the Strategic Partnership and giving a fresh impetus for implementing the ambitious India-EU Roadmap 2025 adopted at the 15th India-EU Summit held in July 2020.