November 21, 2018

Japan to end five-year peacekeeping mission in South Sudan 

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Japanese peacekeepers landed in South Sudan in the first such deployment of the country’s troops overseas with those expanded powers in nearly 70 years. (Photo | AP)

TOKYO: Japan is ending its peacekeeping mission in troubled South Sudan after five years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Friday.

Abe said Japan would not renew the mission after the current rotation returns in May. The 350-person team has focused on road construction.

The team, which arrived in South Sudan in November, was Japan’s first with an expanded mandate to use force if necessary to protect civilians and U.N. staff. The Japanese military’s use of force is limited by the post-World War II constitution.

Abe said Japan would continue to assist South Sudan in other ways such as with food and humanitarian support, and will keep some personnel at the U.N. peacekeeping command office.

“As South Sudan enters a new phase of nation-building, we have decided that we can now put an end to our infrastructure building efforts,” Abe told reporters.

The announcement came amid concern about the safety of the Japanese troops in South Sudan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, however, denied that led to the decision.

“The decision is a result of our comprehensive considerations and not because of the deteriorating security situation,” he said.

Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for South Sudan President Salva Kiir, said he was not aware of the Japanese decision. Japanese officials said Tokyo has notified both South Sudan’s government and the United Nations of its decision.

Japanese defense officials have recently come under fire over their reluctance to explain the deteriorating security situation in the area where Japan’s troops operate. The peacekeepers’ daily log from last July, which the defense ministry initially said had been destroyed, described nearby clashes and concern about becoming embroiled in the fighting. Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has repeatedly refused to acknowledge any local combat action.

Opposition lawmakers and peace activists have accused the government of trying to cover up the worsening safety situation. They say the government violated Japan’s war-renouncing constitutional principles by continuing with the mission despite the nearby fighting.

Japan’s earlier missions in South Sudan and other areas, including Golan Heights and Cambodia were limited to post-cease-fire assistance and noncombat roles.

The departure of the Japanese peacekeepers is a setback for international support of South Sudan’s government. In a speech last month, Kiir singled out Abe and Japan for “continued support to the government and people of South Sudan.”

Hopes were high that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the country plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 between forces loyal to Kiir and those loyal to his former vice president.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 has failed, and clashes last July between the two forces set off further violence, killing tens of thousands of people and forcing 3.1 million to flee their homes. An estimated 100,000 people are experiencing famine, and 1 million others are on the brink of starvation.

The U.N. Security Council decided in August to send 4,000 more peacekeepers after clashes the previous month killed hundreds in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. Some progress was mentioned in a U.N. secretary-general’s report this week.

Nobody needs to teach us the values of democracy and tolerance: Subramanian Swamy at Delhi University

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BJP leader and MP Subramanian Swamy (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Amid tight security BJP leader and MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday addressed students at the law faculty in Delhi University.

“Freedom of speech is a constitutional right but students in the last year’s episode of JNU were found inciting people against the country, the democracy in India is strong, nobody needs to teach us the values of democracy and tolerance” said Swamy addressing the students of Delhi University.

Addressing the students ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression under Constitution of India’ Swamy along with Supreme Court lawyer Monika Arora and former Chief Justice Patna High Court Iqbal Ahmad Ansari were present at the function.

Touching on the topic of Ram Mandir Swamy said, “There is only place of birth of Lord Ram and that is Ayodhya, a mosque can be made nearby but in that spot, there should be a mandir(temple). There is a difference between a Masjid and Mandir, mosque can be shifted to another location but a mandir cannot be”.

Earlier this week Swamy was supposed to speak at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce but the permission for the event was denied by the principal citing unauthorized invitation to the BJP leader.    

“Students of India will not allow this disease of so-called ‘Azaadi’ in the country. The constitution does allow a Right to dissent but you do not have the right to break India” said Monika Arora amid huge round of applause.

Swamy while parting asked the students to give more focus on the language of Sanskrit as most of the regional Indian languages are derived from it and it needs a better propagation in student community.

Kashmir border-crossing boys handed back to Pakistan

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Kashmir border-crossing boys handed back to Pakistan

  • 10 March 2017
  • From the section Asia

Faisal Hussain Awan (R) and Ahsan Khurshid (L)Image copyright

Image caption

Ahsan Khurshid (L) and Faisal Awan (R) had been held in India since September

India has returned to Pakistan two boys who strayed across the de facto border in disputed Kashmir and were then accused of links to a militant attack.

The boys were handed over at the Wagha border near Lahore and met their families, a Pakistani official said.

Indian officials detained them days after 19 soldiers were killed in the assault on a military base in Uri, in Indian-administered Kashmir.

But investigators subsequently cleared them of any involvement.

The Uri base assault on 18 September, involving gunmen armed with grenades, was the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in years. It led to a spike in tensions between India and Pakistan.

Indian officials initially suspected Ahsan Khurshid and Faisal Awan had acted as guides for militants belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad Pakistan-based militant group, Indian media reports said.

But a spokesman for India’s National Investigation Agency announced last week that their probe “did not reveal any linkage of the suspects with the Uri attackers”.

The teenagers had crossed over to the Indian side after a fight with their parents over their studies, he said.

Speaking to the BBC’s Aurangzeb Jarral ahead of her son’s release, Ahsan’s mother Raqeeba Bibi said she was very happy. “I always said that my son was innocent. It has been proved now,” she said.

She said her son had told her he was planning to go for a picnic at a Sufi shrine called Pir Kanthi, which is close to the Line of Control (the de facto border), before he was detained.

Ahsan’s uncle Chaudhry Qasim told the BBC he wanted both countries to “please make sure to find the truth before declaring each other’s nationals ‘terrorists’, because it causes a lot of pain and misery to the concerned families”.

Reports suggest Indian officials now believe a different Pakistan-based militant group was behind the attack. Pakistan has denied any link to it.

The territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Muslim-majority Kashmir has been running for decades. Both claim the territory in its entirety but control only parts of it. There has been an armed insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989.

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting the militant groups. Pakistan rejects this and says India has not shown evidence to support its claims.

Interview interrupted: Small kids derail dad's BBC chat 

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Screengrab from the video (YouTube)

LONDON: Two small children have lightened up a serious television interview on a weighty subject by barging into their dad’s office while he was on the air.

Professor Robert E. Kelly was talking to the BBC from South Korea on Friday to discuss the ouster of that country’s president when a small child danced into the room apparently unconcerned about the interview. The BBC anchor took notice and alerted Kelly. As Kelly was trying to shoo the child away, a baby scooted into the room in a walker.

Kelly laughed and apologized as a woman frantically dashed in to grab the kids. She later crawled back to shut the door.

Kelly was able to finish the interview, despite the sounds of a screaming child in the background.

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