Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal | AP
CHANDIGARH: Delhi chief minister and national convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal put at rest the speculations on him being the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Punjab as he said that the chief minister of Punjab would be from the State itself.
The speculation was triggered following statement by Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia at a gathering in Mohali on Tuesday calling upon people to vote for Kejriwal who, he claimed, would solve all their problems.
Addressing a rally in Patiala, Kejriwal said he was the chief minister of Delhi and had huge responsibility. “I am Delhi’s CM, Punjab’s CM will be from Punjab,’’ he said. However, he said that whoever is made the Punjab CM, it will be his personal responsibility that all promises made by the Aam Aadmi Party are fulfilled. He added that the party could make him personally accountable for the affairs in the State.
He mocked at Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, saying he woke up thrice on Tuesday night after nightmares about the latter being Punjab chief minister. The AAP is seeking to wrest power in the State where the BJP-SAD combine has been at the helm for last ten years.
File picture of vehicles moving towards Jammu-Srinagar highway closed due to heavy snowfall in Kashmir valley. (PTI)
JAMMU: Over 13,700 foreigners, including Tibetans and Rohingyas Muslims from Myanmar, are settled in Jammu and Kashmir where the population of foreign nationals has increased by over 6,000 from 2008 to 2016.
As of January 6, 322 foreigners besides 13,433 Burmese and Tibetans are staying in Jammu and Kashmir, said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a written reply to a question by BJP MLA Rajesh Gupta in the state Assembly.
While 7,093 foreigners were staying in the state in 2008, they increased to 12,560 in 2014 and 13,755 in 2016, she said.
Of this number, 5,743 people are Burmese nationals (Rohingyas), 7,690 people are Tibetans and 322 are other foreigners, she added.
She said the foreign nationals have entered Jammu and Kashmir on their own and have settled in Jammu and Samba district.
“No Rohingyas have been found involved in militancy- related incidents. Seventeen FIRs have been registered against 38 Rohingyas for various offences, including those relating to illegal border crossings,” she said.
A European Union flag is hung behind the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as pro-Europe protesters take part in a March for Europe rally from Park Lane to Parliament Square, in London, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Photo|AP)
COLOMBO: The European Commission decided on Wednesday to restore trade concessions under the General System of Preference Plus (GSP-Plus) to Sri Lanka but on the condition that Sri Lanka fulfills its obligations in regard to the maintenance of human rights.
“Removal of customs duties would be accompanied by rigorous monitoring and conditional on continued commitment to sustainable development, human rights and good governance,” the commission said in a statement from Brussels.
The Commission proposed that a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products be removed by the European Union in exchange for the country’s commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance.
These one-way trade preferences would consist of the full removal of duties on 66% of tariff lines, covering a wide array of products including textiles and fisheries.
These preferences would come under a special arrangement of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP +. This arrangement is designed to support developing countries by fostering their economic development through increased trade with Europe and providing incentives to take tangible measures towards sustainable development.
The European Parliament and the Council have now up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “GSP+ preferences can make a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economic development by increasing exports to the EU market. But this also reflects the way in which we want to support Sri Lanka in implementing human rights, rule of law and good governance reforms. I am confident of seeing timely and substantial further progress in these areas and the GSP+ dialogue and monitoring features will support this reform process. This should include making Sri Lankan counter-terrorism legislation fully compatible with international human rights conventions.”
“Granting access to the GSP+ scheme does not mean that the situation of the beneficiary country with respect to the 27 international conventions is fully satisfactory. Instead, it offers the incentive of increased trade access in return for further progress towards the full implementation of those conventions, and provides a platform for engagement with beneficiaries on all problematic areas,” the statement said.
Sri Lanka had already benefited from GSP+ in the past. In 2010 the EU decided however to stop the preferential treatment for Sri Lankan imports due to the failure to address reported human rights violations in the country.
In 2015, the new government of Sri Lanka set out a path of major reforms aiming for national reconciliation, respect of human rights, the rule of law and good governance principles, as well as sustainable economic development.
The Sri Lankan government applied for GSP+ in July 2016 and the Commission’s assessment has concluded that it met the GSP+ entry criteria set out in the EU Regulations.
The statement noted that Sri Lanka has taken important steps to improve the respect of human rights and extend good governance. A significant development is the 19th Constitutional amendment, which re-establishes the independence of key institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission.
Sri Lanka has also taken concrete actions to among other things: ensure cases of missing persons are examined; offer better protection of witnesses and victims; release persons detained under controversial anti-terrorism regulations; combat child labor.
Sri Lanka has also re-engaged with the UN system, in particular the UN Human Rights Council, where it has made commitments to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights. Moreover, Sri Lanka has achieved most of its Millennium Development Goals, especially in health, education and gender equality.
At the same time, more needs to be done to improve on issues of concern. Sri Lanka must ensure its counter-terrorism legislation is fully in line with international human rights conventions. As a matter of priority, it must put a definitive stop to the use of torture by security forces and the related impunity.
The government must also see through policy and legislative processes to improve the rights of women and children, for example with regard to discrimination, domestic violence, minimum age of marriage, sexual exploitation, as well as harassment of trade unions.
All of these issues would be subject to GSP+ monitoring to ensure that positive progress continues to be made.
The EU is Sri Lanka’s biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s global exports. In 2015, total bilateral trade amounted to €4.7 billion. EU imports from Sri Lanka amounted to €2.6 billion and consisted mainly of textiles as well as rubber products and machinery.
KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will meet to discuss the Rohingya Muslim crisis next week in Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian official told AFP, as thousands continue to flee Myanmar.
Fifty-six OIC representatives are expected to attend the January 19 meeting which will be led by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who recently called on Myanmar to stop the “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as one of the country’s ethnic minorities, instead describing them as Bengalis — or illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh — even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.
There has been a large exodus of Rohingya from northern Myanmar’s Rakhine state after the army launched clearance operations while searching for insurgents behind deadly raids on police border posts three months ago.
Escapees from the persecuted Muslim minority in Bangladesh have given harrowing accounts of security forces committing mass rape, murder and arson.
The stories have cast a pall over the young government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, with Muslim-majority Malaysia being especially critical.
Myanmar’s government has said the claims of abuse are fabricated and launched a special commission to investigate the allegations.
In November, Kuala Lumpur summoned the Myanmar ambassador while around 500 Malaysians and Rohingya protested outside the embassy.
A senior Malaysian minister has also called on ASEAN, the ten-country Southeast Asia bloc, to review Myanmar’s membership, while the foreign ministry has accused Myanmar of engaging in “ethnic cleansing.”