Indian flag pulled down by pro-Khalistani protesters at London mission; MEA summons UK diplomat
The tricolour flying atop the Indian High Commission in London was pulled down by a group of protesters waving Khalistani flags and chanting pro-Khalistani slogans on Sunday evening.
Scotland Yard, headquarters of Metropolitan Police, said it was “aware” of an incident in the area but is yet to issue an official statement.
India has, meanwhile, registered its strong protest with the British government over the safety of its diplomatic mission and questioned the lack of sufficient security at the premises.
Images of shattered windows and men climbing the India House building were circulating on social media and videos from the scene show an Indian official grabbing the flag from a protester through the first-floor window of the mission, while the protester is seen waving a Khalistan flag hanging off its ledge.
MEA summons UK diplomat
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the senior-most UK diplomat in New Delhi was summoned late evening on Sunday to convey India’s “strong protest” at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements against the Indian High Commission in London.
“An explanation was demanded for the complete absence of the British security that allowed these elements to enter the High Commission premises. She was reminded in this regard of the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention,” the MEA said in a statement.
“India finds unacceptable the indifference of the UK government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK. It is expected that the UK Government would take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in today’s incident, and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” it said.
The banned terrorist organisation, Sikhs For Justice, is conducting a so-called “Referendum 2020” amid a crackdown on pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh in Punjab.
Pakistan’s defence budget increased by 16%
The Pakistan government has proposed a roughly 16 per cent increase in the defence budget as the country continues to face internal and external security challenges, the media reported.
Interestingly, all three services — Army, Navy, Air Force — were given an equal increase in the budget, although the military takes the major share given its size and the role, The Express Tribune reported.
Pakistan’s defence spending is now 1.7 per cent of its GDP, showing a decline compared to last year.
The defence spending in 2022-23 was around 2 per cent of the country’s GDP, the size of which has grown due to the rebasing of the economy, The Express Tribune reported.
Defence spending has always been the subject of discussions with some seeking greater transparency and open debate about the military’s budget.
In recent years, the government provides more details about the defence budget.
However, there has never been open debate within the parliament on the subject.
Observers believe that the increase in the defence budget is justified given the impending external and internal security challenges, The Express Tribune reported.
Despite the US troops withdrawal from neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan still deploys thousands of troops along the western border as well as in the erstwhile tribal areas to deal with the threat of terrorism.
The budget document shows that defence outlay for 2023-24 would be 1,804 billion PKR compared to the revised defence spending of 1,591 billion PKR earmarked for the outgoing fiscal year.
PM Narendra Modi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Discuss Defence & Global Issues On Call
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephone conversation with Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A number of issues were discussed, said a tweet by PM Modi. “Spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince & PM HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Discussed boosting ties in connectivity, energy, defense, trade & investment, and exchanged views on regional and global issues,” said PM Modi in his tweet.
The Prime Minister also lauded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s support in the evacuation of Indians from the conflict torn Sudan. “Appreciated his support in safe evacuation of Indians from Sudan and for Haj,” the tweet by PM Modi read.
Recently, India had launched Operation Kaveri to rescue the Indians stranded in Sudan. Close to 3,000 people were rescued by India from Sudan.
At an MEA press briefing, foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra had said in May regarding the rescue efforts, “What we did was that as soon as the fighting broke out in Khartoum, our Embassy in Khartoum immediately alerted. As it turns out, they pretty much reached out to almost all of them by and large.”
The government of India had put to task a high-level diplomatic team. India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan were overlooking the rescue efforts carried on by the Indian Air Force and security forces.
Erdogan calls for promoting dialogue over Turkey’s accession to EU
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the necessity of promoting dialogue for his country’s accession to the European Union (EU) in a phone talk with Charles Michel, the president of the European Council.
“It is necessary to increase contacts at all levels with a concrete and positive agenda in the direction of Turkey’s full membership to the EU, which has great strategic value for Europe,” an official statement quoted Erdogan as saying.
The EU’s “fair treatment and supportive perspective” for Turkey’s full EU membership would open up new horizons in relations between Ankara and the block, the statement said.
During the phone conversation, Erdogan also underlined the importance of updating the customs union agreement between Ankara and Brussels, ensuring visa-free for Turkish citizens within the EU, and strengthening bilateral cooperation on migration management and counterterrorism, it added.
Turkey started accession talks with Brussels in 2005, which have been at a standstill for several years following a prolonged state of emergency declared by Erdogan in the wake of a botched coup aiming to topple his government in 2016.
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