BBC News – US military to cancel $300m in Pakistan aid over terror groups

The US military says it is cancelling $300m (£230m) in aid to Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad’s failure to take action against militant groups.

Washington DC – USA, 02 September 2018. President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the US while receiving billions of dollars.

Pentagon spokesman Lt Colonel Koné Faulkner said the US military would aim to spend the money on other “urgent priorities”.

The move, which needs to be approved by US Congress, is part of a broader suspension announced in January.

The US state department has criticised Pakistan, a key ally, for failing to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil, including the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Colonel Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the $300m aid, which had earlier been suspended, should be used elsewhere due to “a lack of Pakistani decisive actions” in tackling the issue.

The announcement comes just days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet the country’s new prime minister, Imran Khan.

In January, the US government announced it was cutting almost all security aid to the country.

The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, something that Islamabad denies.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan on the latest funding cut.

However, the military responded to January’s suspension by arguing that it “never fought for money but for peace”, and had targeted all militants at a “heavy cost of blood and treasure”.

Separately on Friday, the US said it was ending all funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) – which it described as “irredeemably flawed”.

Who are the militants Pakistan is alleged to support?

The Haqqani network is a militant group that focuses most of its activities on neighbouring Afghanistan, which has complained for years that Pakistan allows it to operate unimpeded from its soil across the border.

The group is linked to the Afghan Taliban, a hardline Islamist movement that poses a major threat to the Afghan government. Pakistani Taliban groups, while associated with the Afghan Taliban, focus on attacks within Pakistan.

Both the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban have launched attacks in Afghanistan that have killed US forces, and US officials have long argued that Pakistan, and specifically its ISI intelligence service, provides safe havens to them.

Why would Pakistan support them?

Pakistan has long been accused of using the Afghan Taliban to further its foreign policy interests in the country. The ISI first became involved in funding and training militants in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979.

Although since 2001 Pakistan has allowed its territory to be used to supply international troops during the war in Afghanistan, and co-operated with the West in fighting some terrorists groups like al-Qaeda, analysts say it has continued to give shelter and support to Afghan insurgents.

Its aim has been to limit the influence in Afghanistan of its chief regional rival, India. – Senior Akali leaders take on Sukhbir Badal for walking out of the Panjab Assembly

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 31 August 2018. In a major setback to the Badal clan, senior Akali leaders like Tota Singh, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhoondarh publicly objected over the working of their party president Sukhbir Badal.

Upset over the day by day maligning image of Shiromani Akali Dal, the veteran Akali leaders unjustified the Sukhbir Badal’s decision of walking out from the Punjab assembly during debate on Justice Ranjit Singh’s investigation report.

Addressing a press conference today, all these veteran Akali leaders said that the SAD legislators need to have faced the opposition in Punjab on August 28 instead of walking out of the house.

They added that although the Akali legislators were given very small time for speaking (14 minutes) but the SAD legislators committed a big mistake by leaving opposition free to attack their party.

Former Cabinet Minister Tota Singh said that he had even left a message to the SAD president Sukhbir Badal for not walking out of the house but it didn’t leave any impact.

Akali parliamentarian Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa admitted that the Congress and AAP have succeeded proving the SAD as an anti-Panthik during the debate in the Punjab assembly on August 28 over the investigation report of Justice Ranjit Singh.

It is learnt that the Akali leaders Tota Singh, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sewa Singh Sekhwan had also opposed the Sukhbir Badal’s move of walking out of the house in a meeting of SAD’s core committee held on August 29.

Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
21 July 2018

Free roaming cattle in the Gentbrugse Meersen

In spite of the drought the cows look healthy

Crossing the path

Cattle, trees and brown grass

The cows keep the Meersen healthy

Wonderful tree !

I messed up the sequence of the pictures
We jumped back to 20 July and will return to August
in due course.
Man in Blue

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

American Sikh Council – ASC supports the right to self-determination for Sikhs of Punjab

Newsletter – September 2018

The Indian regime has consistently denied religious freedom to the Sikhs in India since the Indian constitution was finalized in January 26, 1950.

Furthermore, the Sikhs were never signatories to the final document. Sikhs as a ‘people’ and as a legitimate political party were one of the three religious groups at the table in constant discussions with the British overlords till August 15, 1947.

Even today after 71 years, Sikhs in India who have fought peacefully for their civil, religious and economic rights but have still not received any kind of a reprieve. A glaring example: ‘Article 25 (b)’ of the Indian constitution states, “Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains come under the purview of Hinduism.”

The Sikh Faith a distinct and independent world religion is not legally recognized by the Indian state. Therefore all personal, property, and all other rights are subsumed and subservient to the Hindu religious law – permanently.

Since, for all legal purposes Sikhs are Hindus, the Indian regime treats it as such and continually interferes covertly and overtly in the internal religious affairs by trying to dilute the distinct élan of the faith, so that a liberty loving people can never be free.

The Indian regime has brutally attacked the most historic gurdwaras across Punjab, including the holy Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, Punjab in 1955 and in 1984 with complete impunity, while murdering tens of thousands of innocents, simply to remind the Sikhs that the ‘coterie of upper caste Hindus’ (CUCH) are their masters.

Punjab the land of the Sikhs was never a part of India. Out of the over 550 independent sovereign kingdoms, the Sikh empire was the last to be conquered and annexed to the British Empire on March 30, 1849. Later the same British handed over a truncated section of the original Punjab to the ‘CUCH’, while all the solemn promises made to the Sikhs in public by the same ‘CUCH’ were reneged with impunity.

Sikhs have got nothing other than subjugation and exploitation all these years. Also while seeking redress to a myriad of issues they have been specifically targeted with persecution and extreme violence to create a permanent fear psychosis so that no Sikh dare dream of an independent country.

Seven decades of protests by ordinary citizens who happen to be of the Sikh Faith, with hundreds of thousands butchered through pogroms and ethnic cleansing from 1984 – 1998 in Punjab and elsewhere with no justice in sight, it is time to say, ‘enough is enough’!

Every human being on the planet has the freedom to live and practice whatever belief they choose with absolutely no interference from the state. In the last seventy years many governments have changed in India but what is constant is the ‘CUCH’ who control the levers of power and steadfastly practice the diabolical ‘caste system’ and refuse to acknowledge the liberty loving Sikhs as equals.

The innate fear of the ‘CUCH’ is that if the ‘revelatory and revolutionary Sikh Faith’ is inculcated to the teeming oppressed masses in modern India, the tables of power would be upended and the insidious blood sucking apparatus called ‘Hindu caste system’ would be broken permanently.

According to ‘Article 1’ of the international covenant on civil and political rights, “All peoples have the right to self-determination.” No power in the world can suppress the rights of anyone who choose to determine their own destiny. Governments can only keep people together if their rule is benign!

If the law has no teeth or the law is subservient to the machinations and the whim of the sleazy politicians, then ordinary people will rise to remove the yoke of slavery. Modern India claims to be a free and democratic country – if so why are they fearful one or many plebiscites.

A good government never has to worry! Only a tyrannical government will be petrified of a persecuted minority wanting to leave the union.

Even a peaceful and lawful ‘Referendum 2020’ has made the Indian regime put the state of Punjab on ‘red alert’ and the Indian Armed Forces on standby to clamp down on all ordinary Sikhs, because putting up posters of the ‘Referendum 2020’ is equated with anti-national activity in so-called democratic India.

The censoring and shutting down of various forms of electronic social media is extremely common and the censoring and blackening out of sensitive news is akin to communist China.

Minorities are treated with a particular disdain and Sikhs have got the short end of the ‘Brahminical stick’ regularly. The very peaceful Hindu goddess Durga is armed to her teeth while riding a lion, yet it is the blood of minorities and particularly Sikhs that is quenching her unending thirst for power.

No outside power need waste their time on the dismemberment of modern India, because the ‘CUCH’ has created Hindutva, a deadly virus which will self-destruct, while mobilizing even more minorities to stand up and fight the totalitarian oppression which is suffocating legitimate dissent.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) supports any and all peaceful means of self-determination which includes the liberty and freedom to legally practice one’s faith. Sikhs for Justice from the US is one such entity which is leading the charge for plebiscite.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) applauds Sikhs for Justice’s noble and sincere effort to educate the public and keep the movement peaceful and legitimate in order to get complete freedom for the Sikhs of South Asia.

American Sikh Council
P.O. Box 932
Voorhees, New Jersey 08043


The Hindu – For Sanatan Sanstha, all’s fair in the war for a Hindu Rashtra

Alok Deshpande and Gautam S Mengle

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 02 September 2018. The Sanstha, which advocates the setting up of a theocratic state, has called for the use of violence against those it considers obstacles.

“A third world war will take place between 2016 and 2018, marking the beginning of an end of anti-socials. Training to set up a “God’s kingdom” will continue from 2019 to 2022 and a Hindu Rashtra will be set up by 2023.”

These are not predictions from Nostradamus or a neighbourhood astrologer. This is the time table for the nation drawn up by Sanatan Sanstha, an extreme right-wing Hindu organisation, headed by Dr Jayant Athawale.

The outfit is under investigation for its role in the 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar and more recently by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) following the seizure of arms and crude bombs earlier this month.

Set up by a doctor couple, Jayant and Kunda Athawale, the Sanstha claims to be working towards the formation of a “Hindu Rashtra” since 1995. The outfit began with a focus on three States, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Known for its secretive style of functioning, entry into its ashrams is strictly by invitation only.

The Sanstha’s mouthpiece, Sanatan Prabhat, however, ensures that its followers know their enemies. Almost all political parties are termed opponents. The minorities, especially Christians and Muslims, are called the biggest obstacle in the formation of a Hindu Rahstra.

The police are not spared either. An article published in the June 9, 2013 issue of the daily says: “We cannot build a Hindu Rashtra without defeating police and the military.”

Investigations into Dabholkar’s murder revealed that the Sanatan Sanstha’s publications have been openly telling its members that violence against durjan (evil persons) is not actually violence at all.

The Sanstha’s book Kshatrabharma (Religion of Kshatriyas) gives a detailed plan of action against such durjan and their kin. “Instead of breaking one branch, if you cut the trunk, all branches will be dead,” the books states.

“If possible, try to stop these people by convincing them; but if that is not possible, then they should be punished,” it adds

Armed cadre

The book goes on to explain the need for imparting military training, including with fire arms, to members of the Sanstha. “If one fires the bullet while praying, it hits the aim. Arjuna used to pray to Shri Krishna while aiming with his arrow, hence he was the best archer,” explains the book.

Advocating an armed battle, the publication says Chhatrapati Shivaji did not set up the kingdom by winning elections. “We also have to build the Hindu Rashtra on the same path of battle,” it says.

A passage in the book asserts that the outfit will eliminate 5% of the durjan in the society by turning 10% of the population into its followers.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the murder Dr Dabholkar, e-mails traced to the computer at the residence of one of the arrested accused, Virendra Tawde, speak of building an army of 15,000 members.

Dr. Tawde is a member of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha. Amid claims that a section of police officers is involved with the outfit, the Kshatrabharma says: “The most infamous police department has 5% of our members. They will help us from inside.”

As per the timetable published in the Sanatan Prabhat’s June 9, 2013 edition, the years between 1999 and 2012 were meant to prepare people’s mind for the elimination of durjan.

During 2013-15, a physical, psychological and spiritual battle was to waged against these evil people. A third world war, natural calamities and elimination of durjan are supposed to take place between 2016 and 2018.

Thereafter, training for the functioning of a divine kingdom will take place from 2019-2022. Year 2023 is when the said kingdom will be established, the publication said.

Invisible leader

While Dr Athawale is seen as an incarnation of God by his followers, they are quick to point out that he has never made any such claim. Interestingly, he has not been in public for several years now.

A recent demand from the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil for a probe into Dr Athawale’s activities following the recovery of the arms cache, was dismissed by Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans, who said the ‘paratpar guru’ was busy in sadhana (meditation).

Mr Rajhans added that his disciples were capable of answering any question.

Under investigation for its alleged involvement in the murder of three noted rationalists and one journalist, Narendra Dhabolkar (2013), Govind Pansare (2015), M M Kalburi (2015) and Gauri Lankesh (2017), the Sanstha has always advocated the need to oppose ‘thinkers’.

An article in Sanatan Prabhat for instance says: “It’s a crusade. Revolutionary battle is inevitable to set up Hindu Rashtra. You will claim heaven if you die in this crusade and if you win, you will win the Earth.”

Ahead of the recent investigations into its role in advocating violence, the Sanstha has been accused by former members for indoctrinating adherents. A former close associate and co-author with Dr Athawale of the Sanstha’s early books, Ashutosh Prabhudesai, a psychiatrist is among those who have left this “cult” on a bitter note.

Dr Prabhudesai has accused Dr Athawale of interfering in his marital life and influencing his first wife to divorce him. In an affidavit filed in a local court in Panaji in 2009, Dr Prabhudesai said his wife was being indoctrinated by Dr Athawale.

The accusation was echoed by Vijay Rokade, a resident of Khopoli near Mumbai. Mr Rokade approached the Bombay High Court in December 2011 claiming the Sanstha had applied “’Ericksonian Hypnosis” on its followers and that his wife had refused to return home after joining the Sanstha’s ashram at Panvel.

Mr Rokade’s complaint was backed up by similar complaints from four other families. The petitions have been clubbed and are now pending in the High Court.

ATS crackdown

The crackdown by the Maharashta Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) began on August 10, 2018 with the arrest of Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar from Nallasopara and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Pune.

Mr Raut is a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, while Mr. Gondhalekar is part of the Shri Shivapratisthan Hindustan, both right wing groups.

Mr Raut is known in Nallasopara as a “daring gaurakshak”, while Mr Gondhalekar’s outfit is headed by Sambhaji Bhide, who was booked for instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.

Though the Sanatan Sanstha has denied that any of the arrested accused are members of its organisation, it claimed that they work for the greater goal of Hindutva and participated in Sanstha’s programmes as a part of that objective.

However, Mr Raut was seen on the platform of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), a sister organisation of the Sanstha, to address a press conference against Kanhaiya Kumar in 2016. He also attended programmes organised by Sanstha.

The first seizure of eight crude bombs was on the night of August 9 from Mr Raut’s residence when he was picked up for inquiries. The next morning after he was formally placed under arrest, the ATS went on to raid a commercial space in Nallasopara owned by him.

The massive cache seized from Nallasopara included 12 more crude bombs, two gelatin sticks, four electronic detonators, 22 non-electronic detonators, safety fuse wires, 150 grams of a white powder wrapped in newspaper, two one-litre bottles labelled ‘Poison’, 10 batteries, a six volt battery, a cutter, a hacksaw, soldering equipment, three switches, two complete PCB circuits, a partially completed PCB circuit, six battery connectors, two battery containers, four relay switches, eight resistors, six transistors, lengths of wires, a multimeter, handgloves, adhesive solution and a hand drawn, partially complete circuit diagram.

The ATS’ seizures pointed to a State-wide, highly organised plan.

“The arsenal had obviously been stocked over time, and was being assembled by Mr Raut and Mr Kalaskar. We have information to indicate that they had help from others in this, and are working on identifying and apprehending these people as well,” an ATS officer said.

A day later, on August 11, the ATS also seized 10 country made pistols, along with six partially made pistols, ten barrels, three partially made magazines, seven partially complete sliding mechanisms and other gun parts from a commercial space owned by Mr. Gondhalekar.

The gunmen

Their interrogation, however, provided the first big twist in the tale. Mr Kalaskar, according to the ATS, confessed that he was “directly involved” in the 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and also named his co-accused, Sachin Andure. The ATS subsequently summoned Mr Andure, a resident of Aurangabad, for questioning and handed him over to the Central Bureau of Investigation after his alleged involvement was established.

The CBI said subsequent inquiries confirmed that Mr Andure and Mr Kalaskar had gunned down Dr. Dabholkar.

The ATS, also arrested two more accused — Shrikant Pangarkar from Jalna and Avinash Pawar from Ghatkopar in Mumbai.

On August 28 at a custody hearing, the ATS told the court that Mr Raut and his co-accused were planning to target the Sunburn festival in Pune and had also conducted a recce of the venue. Other targets of the accused, according to the ATS, included movie theatres in Belgaum where the movie Padmaavat was released.

On August 29, the CBI, while seeking additional custody of Mr. Andure, told the court that he and Mr. Kalaskar had links with the three accused arrested by the Bengaluru SIT for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, and that these links were being probed further.