BBC News – Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 in tuition centre attack

Kabul – Afghanistan, 15 August 2018. Forty-eight people have been killed and 67 injured in a bomb explosion at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, the country’s health ministry says.

Police say a suicide bomber walked into the centre while teaching was under way and detonated his bomb belt.

Many of those killed are believed to be teenagers who were getting extra tuition as they prepared for university entrance exams.

The Taliban has denied involvement.

This latest attack came hours after the Taliban said it could no longer guarantee safe passage for Red Cross staff working in Afghanistan, amid a row over the treatment of Taliban prisoners in a jail in Kabul.

Taliban pulls protection for Red Cross

The attack on the education centre took place in a mostly Shia Muslim neighbourhood of Kabul.

The Shia community in Afghanistan has been repeatedly targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists of the Islamic State group, which views the Shia practice of Islam as heretical.

“We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot. The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre,” police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, local officials said at least nine policemen and 35 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military outpost in the northern province of Baghlan early on Wednesday morning.

Afghanistan has seen a recent upsurge in militant violence, including a major Taliban assault on the eastern city of Ghazni.

At least 100 members of the security forces were killed in the fighting at Ghazni, officials have said, with unconfirmed reports that dozens of civilians also died. – USA: two arrested in attack of Sikh man at Manteca park, including son of police chief

Alexa Mae Asperin

Manteca – California – USA, 09 August 2018. Manteca police have arrested two teens in connection with the attack of a 71-year-old Sikh man at Graystone Park Monday morning.

Police say numerous tips assisted authorities in identifying 18-year-old Tyrone McAllister and the 16-year-old boy.

McAllister is being processed at Manteca PD before being transferred to SJCO Jail on the following charges:

– Attempted Robbery
– Elder Abuse
– Assault with a Deadly Weapon

In response to inquiries about whether McAllister is the son of Union City Police Chief Darryl McAllister, the Union City Police Department issued the following statement:

“Chief McAllister confirmed that his estranged son, Tyrone Keith McAllister, is one of the two suspects arrested. Chief McAllister’s status as a law enforcement leader has no bearing or relation to the case whatsoever, but he is devastated by how much the nature of his son’s actions are such a departure from everything he has stood for in his personal life and 37 year career of compassionate, engaging police work.

He and his wife worked with Manteca PD to help track down and arrest Tyrone this morning, as Tyrone has been estranged from the family and their home for some time. Chief McAllister expresses deep concern for the victim and the victim’s family and he remains steadfast that his son, an adult, must be accountable for his actions.”

The teen is being processed at Manteca PD before being transferred to SJCO Juvenile Detention Center on the following charges:

Attempted Robbery
Elder Abuse
Assault with a Deadly Weapon

“The public’s assistance in providing information with this case was instrumental in identifying the suspects and allowed my investigators to make a quick arrest,” said Supervisor Sgt. Miller.

Surveillance video shows one of the suspects kicking the victim to the ground.

After the victim gets up to defend himself, the same suspect kicks him back down to the ground.

Police say the man does not speak English and could not tell officers what the men said to him.

Last week, two men beat a Sikh man in Keyes and spray-painted a neo-Nazi symbol on his truck in what police are treating as a hate crime.

Surjit Malhi says he was putting up campaign signs for local Republicans when two men ambushed him.

Knokke/Duinbergen – West-Vlaanderen

Knokke – West-Vlaanderen
14 July 2018

The Channel

Evi’s pick-nick – my sandals

Duinbergen – West-Vlaanderen
14 July 2018

De Lijn Line 0, Kusttram

Evi at the tram-stop

Tram-stop Watertoren

Direction Knokke

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The News – Hope for a religious corridor

Tridivesh Singh Maini

New Delhi – India, 15 August 2018. The Sikh community the world over is getting ready to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary in November 2019 of the First Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev.

Many would-be pilgrims wonder whether they will be able to visit their holy sites in Pakistan, including the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Narowal district, where the Guru spent the last years of his life.

Reviewing the preparations to commemorate the Guru’s 550th birth anniversary, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh said he would write to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, requesting that Sikh devotees be granted free access through a special corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan for at least a week during the main celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev.

Over the past two decades, civil society activists from Punjab, India, US organisations like the Institute of Multitrack Diplomacy as well as large sections of the Sikh diaspora, have called for visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.

In 2010, India’s Punjab assembly passed a formal resolution in support of a ‘religious corridor’ from India to Pakistan to facilitate visa-free pilgrimages.

The Pakistani government’s response has been positive. In May this year, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner to India, speaking at a function in Ludhiana stated, “We are considering India’s request to develop a corridor between the two religious sites”. However, a formal decision is awaited.

India too understands the relevance of the demand for the religious corridor, but cites ‘security issues’ as the main obstacle. Shashi Tharoor, head of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs and former minister of state for external affairs had visited Dera Baba Nanak, India, in May 2017.

Commenting on the demand for such a religious corridor, the committee stated that there was a: “….long-pending demand of people for establishment of an exclusive corridor from the Indian side to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through which pilgrims can pay homage without any visa or passport.”

Tharoor had commented that, given the current tensions between both countries, going ahead with this corridor appeared impossible.

As India and Pakistan celebrate 71 years of independence, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, is just one illustration of how Partition led not just to mass migration and personal tragedies, but also how communities were separated from their historic religious shrines.

Sikhs in their Ardaas (daily supplication) continue to pray for access to gurdwaras in Pakistan. In 2006, they received a glimmer of hope when a bus service was launched between Amritsar-Nankana Sahib, under the regime of former Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

The Sikh diaspora has also continued to lobby with the Pakistani government to renovate the gurdwaras, as well as for easier access – which has been impeded by tensions between India and Pakistan.

As a new government led by former cricketer Imran Khan takes oath, it remains to be seen how ties between India and Pakistan will shape up. In recent years, Sikh pilgrimages to Pakistan have been largely unaffected except for more than three occasions in 2017, when religious pilgrims were sent back at the last minute.

The Guru’s 550th year celebrations provide a good opportunity for both the Pakistani and Indian governments to work together and set up a religious corridor for a week, as requested by the Sikh community worldwide.

Joint seminars could also be held where scholars from both sides may discuss the relevance of Guru Nanak Devji’s philosophy not just in the context of Punjab and the Sikh community, but all of South Asia, which is afflicted by similar problems of poverty, and intolerance and militancy in the name of religion.

The Pakistani government could also move ahead on the Baba Guru Nanak International Project that was initially to be set up at Nankana Sahib. The project was shifted to Islamabad, with the EPTB citing land acquisition as the main impediment.

Indian Punjab’s minister for culture and tourism, Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been invited for Imran Khan’s swearing in, himself a former cricketer, at a press conference on August 2 this year had rightly suggested that celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary could begin from Pakistan.

Said Sidhu: “That is where I see hope. I am seeing an ‘umeed ka suraj’ (dawn of hope). I see him (Imran Khan) as an instrument of realising the dreams. I want to take my Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to Nankana Sahib to start the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.”

To begin with, India and Pakistan could allow Sikh pilgrims access to Kartarpur Sahib as well as other religious shrines. Cultural links between the people of both countries are currently largely restricted to movies, TV dramas, ghazal concerts and cricket.

In this scenario, the Sikh heritage of Pakistan (especially the legacy of Guru Nanak Dev) is an important component that has been captured very well by books like ‘Walking with Nanak’ by Haroon Khalid and ‘Lost Sikh Heritage in Pakistan’ by Amardeep Singh.

The next step would be to start easing the visa process. One of the reasons the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service has not been successful is because it is so difficult to secure a visa for the other side. In this respect, setting up consulates in Amritsar and Lahore would be an important step.

Many believe that Guru Nanak Dev’s humanitarian philosophy can bring both countries closer. At this point, all eyes are on India and Pakistan to see whether they will make a break from the past to grab this opportunity – or continue to allow other issues to take centre stage.

The writer is a Delhi-based policy analyst associated with The Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India.

Dawn – PTI lawmaker submits resolution for south Punjab in provincial assembly

In an apparent attempt to fulfill the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s promise for the creation of a new province comprising the southern part of Punjab, a PTI lawmaker newly elected to the Punjab Assembly has submitted a resolution seeking the House recommend that the federal government initiate the process for the creation of a Southern Punjab province.

Arif Malik

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 August 2018. “This House strongly recommends to the federal government [that it] initiate the process of creation of Southern Punjab [province] immediately,” reads the resolution submitted by MPA Mohammad Mohsin Leghari.

The PTI had included the formation of a new province in south Punjab to their election manifesto in May this year while absorbing a political party calling itself the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM; the South Punjab Province Front).

The JPSM mainly comprised estranged leaders of the PML-N who had formed the platform for the single-point agenda of carving a new province from the southern parts of Punjab.

Under the PTI-JPSM deal, the PTI was to set in motion the procedures to create a new province in south Punjab within 100 days if it formed the government.

Interestingly, the PTI’s bitter opponents, the PPP and the PML-N, had also been vocal in their support for a new province in south Punjab.

During electioneering for the 2018 polls, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and PTI’s Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced their support for the new province on the same day.

Addressing a press conference on April 15, Qureshi had said that the PTI endorsed the demand for the creation of a southern Punjab province “not for linguistic reasons but on administrative grounds to mitigate the miseries and sense of deprivation being faced by some 35 million people living in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions”.

Similarly, Shahbaz Sharif, while talking to journalists, had gone a step further and said that his party had committed to the cause of reviving the Bahawalpur province as well as creating a South Punjab province.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also said in April that his party had raised the issue of the establishment of a south Punjab province.

“We will make a separate province (of south Punjab) and end the deprivation of this belt if you people support us,” he had told a political gathering in Multan.

He had also raised the slogan, ‘Ghinson, Ghinson, Sooba Ghinson’ (we will get the (new) province), in front of a cheering crowd.

According to Article 239 of the Constitution, the process of creating new provinces requires a two-thirds majority in separate votes in the two houses of parliament and then a further two-thirds majority in the provincial assembly of the affected province.

Given the current party position of arch-rival parties in the parliament, as well as in the Punjab Assembly, the creation of the province has become a complex issue.

The PML-N and the PPP, both a part of the opposition in Punjab and the Centre, will not easily let the PTI have the credit of a new province despite the fact that both of the parties had already endorsed the cause of a new province in south Punjab.