BBC News – Pakistan hit by deadly suicide attacks

Wednesday, 15 February 2017. At least seven people have been killed and several more injured in two separate suicide attacks in north-western Pakistan.

In the first, six people died when two suicide bombers targeted a government compound in the Mohmand tribal region.

Three of the dead belonged to a tribal police force, two were civilians and one a paramilitary soldier.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, said it was behind the bloodshed.

In the second attack on Wednesday, a bomber on a motorbike rammed a government van carrying four judges in the city of Peshawar.

The driver was killed, and the four judges were injured. They have been transferred to a nearby hospital.

Peshawar police chief Tahir Khan told media at the scene that the judges appeared to be the bomber’s target.

Pakistan has seen an upswing in militant attacks of late, after a period of relative calm.

On Monday, a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Lahore killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 100, most of whom are still being treated in hospitals.

The blast occurred when owners of medical shops were demonstrating against amendments to a law governing drug sales in Punjab province.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar said it had carried out the attack, as well as two gun assaults in Karachi on 12 February.


The Tribune – DSGMC Polls: State leaders ready for another battle

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 15 February 2017. With elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) scheduled for February 28, the three main political parties, the Shiromani Akali Dal, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, will be putting their might behind different factions trying to take control of the Sikh body in Delhi.

The issues being raised by the three factions in fray supported by these parties as well as a fourth faction headed by former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh and Hazoori Ragi of Harmandr Sahib Baldev Singh Wadala, are almost an echo of the issues raised in Punjab elections.

The desecration of holy books, the support sought from religious deras (against the tenets of Sikhism) and drug taint on certain leaders of the SAD are being played out against them by SAD (Delhi) led by Paramjit Singh Sarna and Panthic Sewa Dal led by AAP Kalkaji MLA Avtar Singh.

On the other hand, the SAD group led by Manjit Singh GK, who incidentally had looked down on the Dera support sought by his party for Punjab elections perhaps fearing its repercussions in Delhi gurdwara poll, is harping on the synchronised religious calendars being introduced by them for the DSGMC, construction of a 1984 Sikh carnage memorial and segregating Sikh religious affairs in Delhi from politics.

The SAD is putting its might behind the 46 candidates it has fielded for the election. All candidates fielded in different wards will be called tomorrow and asked as to who all from Punjab they want for canvassing in their wards.

Though the official line taken by AAP and the Congress is that they are not supporting any religious body, they maintain that their party leaders are free to support any of the candidates. However, it is believed that top Congress leaders will be putting their might behind the group led by former DSGMC president Sarna.

Sarna said though Capt Amarinder had campaigned for him in the last DSGMC election four years ago, “he is expecting that the leader might campaign for him even now, but in his personal capacity”.

Brabantdam – Gent-Zuid to Voormuide

19 January 2017


They are good at digging holes in this country !

Gent-Zuid to Muide
20 January 2017


Gent- Zuid – Tram 4 to Muide


Gent- Zuid – Tram 4 to Muide


Sint-Salvatorstraat – Tram 4 to Muide


Neuseplein – Tram 4 to Moscou


Voormuide – Temporary terminus of Tram 4

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Canada’s Minister Of Everything: Navdeep Singh Bains

Rachel Aiello

For Navdeep Singh Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, or, “The Minister of Everything,” as some say, the working relationships he has been cultivating are the beginning and the end of his political power and influence this year.

It is expected that in 2017, Navdeep will roll out the wide-spanning innovation agenda the Liberals see as a people-focused scaling-up of Canadian idea incubators and economic accelerators.

“It’s not going to be simply an innovation, science, economic development plan, it’s going to be a government-wide approach that’s really going to implicate industry, academia, and civil society as well, because we all need to work together,” said Navdeep, adding that the intended outcome will be “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

And he plans to achieve this in part by leveraging his contacts and connections, and likely cashing in some of his own political capital.

“I take pride in building those relationships and I think those relationships are really critical for not only developing a plan, but critically important when we execute and implement a plan,” Navdeep explained when asked where he sees his power stem from.

He is in charge of a multi-billion dollar department formerly called Industry Canada, now called Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Within his department he oversees the federal government’s six regional economic development agencies and has Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, and Bardish Kaur Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism reporting to him under the same departmental umbrella.

He is a member of four cabinet committees: Agenda, Results and Communications; Growing the Middle Class; Environment, Climate Change and Energy; and Defence Procurement.

Lobbyists say that he’s come a long way since stepping into the role. At first, they said, he seemed in a bit over his head but is now viewed as being a capable custodian of the portfolio. Those who have sat down with him, or whose clients have, say he understands business and interfaces well with industry representatives, prioritizing results.

One of the most-lobbied cabinet ministers, he’s viewed as accessible. It’s also said that he is quick to pick up the phone himself, and did so a great deal when he first became a minister.

“My style is very much built on, how do you create consensus? How do you bring people together? How do you first of all, value diversity?” Navdeep said, adding that he sees that combination of points of view as a key to unlocking better decision-making.

Because of his tentacle-like portfolio in a government-by-cabinet style of leadership, nearly all roads pass through Navdeep, who is liaising with nearly half of the cabinet on other priorities, like clean technology with Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr; procurement with Public Services Minister Judy Foote; and with International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau on expanding trade opportunities for Canadian companies.

“I think it’s about relationships, I’ve spent a lot of time with people who care about progressive values and who want to move a progressive agenda forward. And for me I think it’s important to get the big things right, but little things matter as well: making sure you go out of your way to listen to people, wish them a Happy Birthday, talk about their families, get to know them on a personal level.

I think that dimension is so critical because politics is about people and if you don’t understand people and their point of view, and if you don’t engage with them in a meaningful way, you really can’t help make meaningful progress,” said Navdeep.

His ministerial mandate has already seen him restore the long-form census, expand broadband coverage, and attempt to stiffen the backbone of Statistics Canada.

Insiders said with more mandate commitments to be filled this year, the scrutiny will build, as will some stakeholders’ dissatisfaction with the outcome, but observers say Navdeep has the character to take it on the chin.

The file and responsibility he shoulders secures his place as an influencer, but it’s also because of his close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his inner circle that he’s viewed as a powerful and trusted cabinet adviser.
Navdeep was one of the first supporters for Justin Trudeau as party leader, and worked on his leadership campaign in 2013 by campaigning for him in the Greater Toronto Area (“GTA“).

Navdeep’ strong Toronto ties are another major source of his political power, sources said, adding that they keep him in the loop of many government decisions.

“He’s a very valued adviser of the Prime Minister and people know that, he’s really connected,” his former parliamentary secretary, Greg Fergus said, on his former boss’s reputation both on Parliament Hill and in the GTA.

“He’s just one super competent guy; he knows his file, he knows his issues, it’s very much a part of him,” added Fergus, who went on to list off a handful of books Navdeep read in the weeks after being sworn-in. Among the books was “Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

Fergus said Navdeep comes to meetings having done his homework enough to engage the stakeholder in the meeting, asking a few questions off the top to reassure them he knows what he’s talking about, but then will sit quietly and listen, taking notes in meetings and debriefing with his staff afterwards to go over what they heard and what they understood.

However, the liaising and question-asking may have a tendency to run long; Navdeep has a reputation for less-than-perfect punctuality, often carrying on conversations well into his next-scheduled meeting time, according to some insiders.

Before getting into politics, Navdeep, who holds an MBA and has his accounting designation, worked in accounting and finance at Nike and the Ford Motor Company, and was a visiting professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. He also has close ties to local charities and cultural groups in his riding.

“He’s always had a head for business, whether he was working at Ford or Nike, he was always interested in what made business tick,” said Matthew Rowe, who worked as his legislative assistant and communications director between 2007 and 2011.

Navdeep says he wasn’t political at a young age and was set on rising up the corporate ladder at Ford, but, in 2004 he wasn’t happy with the roster of federal Liberal candidates vying for the riding he resided in, so as he phrased it, he put his “turban in the race.”

He ran, and won, becoming the MP for what was then the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, Ontario, at age 26. He held that riding until 2011 when he was defeated alongside a number of his Liberal caucus-mates.

During those seven years as an MP, he had a taste of power as the Parliamentary Secretary to then Prime Minister Paul Martin; and then many critic portfolios while in opposition during the tenure of then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Navdeep said that after he lost the election, he spent days thinking his phone wasn’t working; he even had his wife, Brahamjot, call him to test it. Alas, it was simply a case of an abrupt change in lifestyle.

But Navdeep was re-elected in 2015 with 62.3 per cent of the vote. His riding is now called Mississauga-Malton, Ontario and that go-go-go, always-ringing-phone lifestyle has returned.

In fact, he says the part of the job he likes the least is the amount of time he’s away from home and his two daughters: Nanki who is nine, and Kirpa who is six. He said he’s found the time management hard, but has prioritized any time off by spending it with them rather than friends or other social activities.

Because of the toll on his personal life, when asked what his career and political aspirations were, Navdeep says he doesn’t see himself in politics long-term. “I have other dreams and hopes,” he said.

He added that after he’s fulfilled his goals as Minister, he would like to “pursue other paths,” perhaps in business or academia. He added that he may like to work more with youth, or in innovation, but wants to continue challenging current ideas.

The Hindu – Election Commission to probe ‘security breach’ in Punjab EVM strongrooms

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 16 February 2017. Acting on a complaint from the Aam Aadmi Party alleging a security breach in strongrooms in Punjab where the electronic voting machines (EVMs) are kept, the Election Commission has sent a team to probe the allegations and submit an inquiry report by Friday.

Will check CCTV footage

“The team will examine the CCTV recordings and logbooks of strongrooms where the EVMs are kept,” said an official. The Commission also directed the probe team to hold meetings with political parties in the districts concerned and take note of the issues raised by them.

On Tuesday, an AAP delegation met the Chief Election Commissioner and sought an inquiry alleging that the Returning Officer and some officials entered the strongrooms on the pretext of collecting certain documents, but were found moving the steel boxes in which the EVMs were kept.

Ensure compliance

The EC issued another order instructing the officials in Punjab to ensure compliance with its guidelines in accordance with the observations of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana on the safety and security of EVMs.

“The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) shall ensure that each of the instructions of the Commission is followed in letter and in spirit….except in the natural calamity situation, the Returning Officer or any other officer should not enter the strongroom beyond its inner perimeter,” said the order.

The Commission said prior permission from the CEO should be taken whenever there is any pressing need to entering the inner perimeter of the strongroom.