Security Better in Kashmir: President

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NEW DELHI:  The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast has shown “a perceptible improvement”, President Pranab Mukherjee said Thursday.

Addressing both houses of parliament, Mukherjee said the government was pursuing a two-pronged approach to deal with Maoists.

“The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast has shown a perceptible improvement,” he said.

Mukherjee said the number of tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir had gone up from 8.99 lakh in 2011 to 12.37 lakh in 2012.

Compared to 2011, the number of fatalities in incidents of terrorist violence declined by nearly half last year, he said.

The president said the government was committed to dealing with leftwing extremism in a comprehensive manner.

He said construction and strengthening of 400 police stations in the Maoist areas had been started.

“The first phase of the plan for improving road connectivity in 34 most affected districts at a cost of Rs.7,300 crore is likely to be completed by March 2015,” he said.

He said incidents of Maoist violence had shown a declining trend. The number of deaths in Maoist attacks had fallen from 611 in 2011 to 414 in 2012.

India has made progress towards normalization of relations with Pakistan: Mukherjee

TIES WITH PAK:

Emphasizing that India attaches the highest priority to relations with its immediate neighbours, President said New Delhi has made progress towards normalization of relations, strengthening mechanisms for bilateral trade and facilitating greater people-to-people contact with Pakistan.

President Mukherjee said the government’s foreign policy continues to be driven by the objectives of creating an enabling environment for our national development, ensuring the security of the nation and fulfilling our international responsibilities.

“We continue to seek peace, stability, cooperation and economic development in the sub-continent. We attach the highest priority to relations with our immediate neighbours. With Pakistan, we have made progress towards normalization of relations, strengthening mechanisms for bilateral trade and facilitating greater people-to-people contact,” said President Mukherjee.

“While we remain committed to taking the process forward, it is also important that Pakistan abides by its commitments and desists from acts that contribute to a trust deficit. As Afghanistan prepares for the political and security transition in 2014 and beyond, we will continue to help Afghanistan evolve peacefully and fight terrorism and extremism,” he added.

“We are making progress in our engagement with Sri Lanka, including in our efforts to resettle and rehabilitate the internally displaced persons there and to ensure a life of peace, dignity and equality for the Tamil people,” said President Mukherjee.

“In West Asia and North Africa, my government supports efforts to promote peaceful settlement of conflicts and resolution of disputes in a manner that accommodates the democratic aspirations of the people. We are also mindful of the fact that the Gulf region is home to nearly six million Indians who live and work there and that we depend on the region for the bulk of our energy requirements. We have further enhanced our political engagement with and economic assistance to countries of Africa,” he added.

President Mukherjee said ‘the strategic partnership with the United States has deepened, with progress across all areas of our relationship and we look forward to intensifying this engagement during the second term of President Obama’. Agencies

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