India quitting SCO security meeting left ‘bad taste' — Pakistani national security chief 

South Asia adviser in the U.S. Institute of Peace's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention Moeed Yusuf testifies during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee May 5, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP)
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Updated 16 September 2020

India quitting SCO security meeting left ‘bad taste' — Pakistani national security chief 

  • India’s foreign ministry says New Delhi exited the virtual meeting after Moeed Yusuf presented a 'fictitious' political map
  • Pakistan in August approved a new map that shows areas in the disputed Kashmir valley to be a part of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s de facto national security chief Moeed Yusuf has said that India leaving a meeting of national security advisers of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Tuesday had left a “bad taste.”

India’s foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said New Delhi exited the virtual meeting hosted by Russia after Yusuf, “deliberately projected a fictitious map that Pakistan has recently been propagating.”

“This was in blatant disregard to the advisory by the host against it and in violation of the norms of the meeting,” he said. 

In August, Pakistan’s cabinet approved a new political map that shows areas in the disputed Himalayan Kashmir valley to be a part of Pakistan, a move that has irked neighboring India which also lays claim to the territory.

The Muslim-majority Kashmir region has been at the heart of more than 70 years of animosity since the partition of British-ruled India into Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India in 1947.

Tensions reached a new high in August last year, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took away Indian-administered Kashmir’s special privileges, provoking anger in the region and Pakistan.

In a tweet about the SCO meeting, Yusuf said he had highlighted “unilateral and illegal actions” in the disputed Kashmir territory that were “a threat to regional peace and prosperity.”

“Bizarrely, my Indian counterpart chose to walk out of Pakistan and Russia's speech,” Yusuf tweeted. “Left a bad taste at a forum whose whole spirit is cooperation.”

“Pakistan is committed to SCO as a platform for regional cooperation,” the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement. “We are actively playing a positive and constructive role and following the SCO charter to not let our bilateral relations with any country impact our engagement with SCO.” 

“Today, at the meeting of NSAs [national security advisors] of SCO member states, India tried to vitiate  the atmosphere by objecting to Pakistan's official map,” the statement said. “The map reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to the UN Security Council Resolutions and the supremacy of the UN Charter.”

India had in November released a map that had claimed parts of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir.

The next meeting of SCO security advisers is scheduled for September 17.


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.