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January 15th, 2009

Pranab Mukherjee calls for Diaspora's support in fight against terror

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called upon the Indian Diaspora's support in the cause.

Condemning the "recalcitrance" displayed by Pakistan in bringing the Mumbai terror attack perpetrators to justice, India's

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called upon the Indian Diaspora's support in the cause. Addressing the NRI/PIO community that had gathered in huge numbers at the Seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 in Chennai, he said on January 8, "I call upon you all to join us in playing the important role in taking forward our concerns to the world stage because these are concerns that you also share."

Excerpts from his speech: "The annual function gives us the opportunity to look at issues with a global perspective in mind because the diaspora the world over is here for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. Today, we can see a new found exuberance among Indians but this pride needs to be matched by humility as there is a long way for us to travel before we can truly achieve the swaraj that the Father of our Nation spoke of. Genuine swaraj, according to Gandhiji, was not simply freedom from oppressive colonial rule but freedom from hunger, from poverty and from deprivation. You are all persons of influence in your countries. For us, you are our ambassadors because it is through you that our voice is heard not only in civil society but also at high levels of political office in your country. I would, accordingly, urge you to take this message across to everyone: The fact that the diaspora can play an important role is demonstrated by the vigour and the success with which it campaigned for the India specific waiver that was granted late last year by the international community on the issue of civilian use of nuclear energy. I believe this was a historic achievement and one that all of us should rightly be proud of. It demonstrated the unique respect with which the international community holds India and how closely it listens to the voice of the non-resident Indian community.

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Britain asks Pakistan to take on Lashkar 'frontally'

Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, Rt. Hon. David Miliband, MP, with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi on January 13.

Britain has asked Pakistan to take on "frontally and politically" the Laskhare- Taiba, the suspected architects of the Mumbai carnage. "It's clear where the responsibility for the attack lies. Pakistan has a fundamental responsibility to tackle the roots of this problem," Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters after talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. "The responsibility of the Pakistan side is something we expect them to fulfill. Those who have been arrested must be brought to justice and, if found guilty, need to be punished," Miliband replied at a joint press conference when asked about what action Pakistan needs to take in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage for which India has blamed Pakistan-based elements. "They need to be taken on politically in a frontal and clear manner," Miliband, who was on a four-day visit to India beginning January 12, said when asked about media reports indicating that the banned outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a public front for LeT, has regrouped under a new banner. Nearly a month ago, when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited ndia to express solidarity, he had named the LeT as the perpetrator of the coordinated assaults on Mumbai. "What is also important is the response of the Pakistani government to LeT," he said, while underlining that Pakistan needs to adopt "a multipronged approach" to tackle LeT and terrorism. "It is clear that the Pakistani apparatus have the fundamental responsibility to tackle the roots of this organisation and to develop new strategies for doing so," Miliband stressed.

Asked about Pakistan's rejection of India's demand for handing over the Mumbai suspects to face Indian justice, External Affairs Minister Mukherjee replied: "Pakistan is obliged to implement all international commitments and resolutions against terrorism. Pakistan as a member of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) is required to implement the SAARC convention on terrorism." "I do hope that they act on materials and evidence we have given to them and bring the perpetrators to justice," Mukherjee said. "I do hope some of the fugitives will be handed over to India," he added. Mukherjee urged the international community not to see the Mumbai attacks "through the prism of India-Pakistan relations," but to regard it as a part of global terrorism, which does not respect national boundaries. "This is a problem that needs to be addressed collectively so that the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks are brought to justice," Mukherjee said.

Statement from Ministry of External Affairs

Referring to David Miliband's reference to Kashmir, a spokesperson at India's Ministry of External Affairs said: "Mr. Miliband is entitled to his views, which are clearly his own and are evolving. India is a free country and, even if we do not share his views, he is free to express them. However, we do not need unsolicited advice on internal issues in India like Jammu & Kashmir."

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PM launches Global Indian Knowledge Network

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurates the Seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 in Chennai.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on January 7 inaugurated the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 at Chennai. Launching a new initiative called 'The Global Indian Knowledge Network', the Prime Minister said that this network would connect people of Indian origin from a variety of disciplines to users at the national, state and local levels in India. The Network would facilitate transfer of knowledge and serve as a "virtual think tank" to generate new ideas on issues such as development, education and healthcare, the Prime Minister said.

Excerpts from his speech:

"We have congregated in the southern most state of India and in a city where traditions and culture blend with modernity and technology with great ease... I am sure many of you will be isiting the great temples at Mahabalipuram. They stand testimony to our sea-faring history. The ancient Tamil people, the ancient Telugu people, the people of Bengal and Orissa, have all sailed through the sea to our East, not to conquer lands but to conquer the hearts and minds of the people they came in contact with. This Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is our contemporary tribute to that great spirit, to that great heritage and to the excellent work you all continue to do as people of Indian origin in your respective countries. It is a tribute to your spirit of adventure and enterprise which have transformed you and the Indian overseas community into powerful agents of social and economic change and the world admiration in distinct lands. You come to this Conference from distant lands from all around the world. Our chief guest today, His Excellency Mr. Ramdien Sardjoe, the Vice President of Suriname, comes from the other side of our planet.

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