Tolo News – Activists meet Balkh residents, insist peace will come

Aref Musavi

Balkh – Balkh – Afghanistan, 14 September 2018. The activists said their campaign for peace will continue to other provinces to pass on their message to everyone in Afghanistan.

Members of People’s Peace Movement held talks with Balkh residents in the north of Afghanistan as they arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif City on Friday after a 34-day walking journey, barefoot.

They said they are sure that peace will be “finally” ensured in Afghanistan.

The activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents and members of the provincial council in Ferdawsi Circle where they gathered and talked about peace. The activists went to the Blue Mosque as well.

Talking to the people, members of the movement said they have met many people during their journey from Kabul to Balkh and that everyone wants an end to the war.

“There is no power bigger than Almighty Allah’s. By having this in our minds, we left our homes to bring the people together and raise our voices for peace,”said Iqbal Khyber, leader of the peace movement.

Ehsanullah Quraishi, who joined the peace movement in Baghlan province, said there is no family in Afghanistan who has not suffered from the war.

“Afghans should follow the route to peace and should select a specific place for peace and come together there,” said Quraishi.

The peace activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents who stressed the need for unity among Afghans.

“By such moves, we can play an effective role in bringing peace to the country,” Balkh resident Rafiullah said.

“We should increase pressure on government and insurgents to bring peace to Afghanistan,” said Afzal Hadid, head of Balkh Provincial Council.

The peace activists said they will tackle any threats in their efforts for peace and that pressure from any group cannot stop them from their will.

The journey began in Helmand

The peace activists initially launched their protest in Lashkargah City after a suicide bombing outside a stadium in March. About a month later, a group of eight protestors left Helmand on foot for Kabul.

The activists walked through towns and villages, crossed provinces and met with local residents along the way. For 38 days, they walked and as they progressed, so their numbers grew.

About 700 kms later, the group of eight had grown to an estimated 100. They arrived in Kabul on June 18 and handed over demands for a ceasefire and peace to both the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The group gave the Taliban three days in which to answer and said if they failed to do so, they would embark on sit in protests outside diplomatic offices and missions in the capital.

The Taliban’s deadline passed without any response. The activists then held a three-day sit-in protest outside UNAMA’s office in Kabul. They sent a letter to the UN Secretary General António Guterres in which they asked him not to remain indifferent towards ending the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

From there, they moved on to the US embassy, where they stayed for nine days. The activists sent a letter to the American people, asking them to put pressure on the US government to end the war in Afghanistan.

The activists, whose ages range from 17 to 65, come from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others.

The activists also established sit-in protest camp in front of Iranian, Pakistan, Russian and British embassies as well as the office of the European Union in Kabul.

The movement called on Afghan allies to put pressure on Pakistan to stop its interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

The Tribune – Now, Harsimrat Kaur writes to Sushma on corridor

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 14 September 2018. Days after Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the Kartarpur corridor, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has sent a letter to her.

In the letter dated September 12, Harsimrat stated that the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor had been a long-pending demand of her party, Shiromani Akali Dal, and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

“Some statements have appeared in media by a minister of the Punjab Government who had visited Pakistan recently, claiming that the Pakistan Government had agreed and given permission for opening the passage to Sri Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara and it is now up to the Government of India to decide.

To verify the truth and veracity of this claim, I want to know if the Pakistan Government or their military head has consented to opening the corridor or given any indication of their willingness to do so to the Indian Government,” asks Harsimrat in the letter, without naming Sidhu who was in Islamabad in August for Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Sidhu had claimed later that Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had indicated that the matter was under consideration. However, so far, Pakistan has said no such formal request has been received from the Indian Foreign Ministry nor has Islamabad sent a formal proposal on the matter.

On Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson when asked about any formal communication from India replied he had no information about it. Earlier this month, in his letter to Sushma, Sidhu had written that India should make all possible efforts in response to Pakistan’s positive intent towards opening the corridor.

London Trafalgar Square

London Trafalgar Square
2020 Referendum
12 August 2018

It was not really raining, just a bit of drizzle every now and then

Panjab Referendum 2020

All peoples have the right of self-determination

Some people of Indian extraction did not agree

On the doorsteps of the National Gallery

Slowly more demonstrators gathered

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian and UK pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

FirstPost – Navjot Singh Sidhu must follow tenets of Sikhism before speaking on religion: SAD

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 15 September 2018. Senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra on Saturday said Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has no right to speak on Sikhism as he does not follow the tenets of the religion.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader’s reaction comes a day after Sidhu urged the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhs, to excommunicate former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal from the faith.

Sidhu had alleged that Parkash and his son, former deputy chief minister of Punjab and SAD president, had given orders to the police to open fire at protesters at Behbal Kalan in 2015 that led to the death of two people.

“A patit (apostate) like Navjot Singh Sidhu regularly disrespects his religion by trimming and dying his beard and performing religious rituals forbidden in Sikhism,” Chandumajra said in a statement in Chandigarh.

“He has the audacity to approach the sacred Shri Akal Takht Sahib to vent his hatred against practising Sikhs (Badals),” the senior Akali leader said.

“First follow the tenets of Sikhism yourself and maintain a proper Sikh saroop (character) before you even begin to talk about the religion. Stop trimming and dying your beard,” Chandumajra said further.

The member of parliament said it was Sidhu’s personal affair on how he chooses to appear as long as he does not “pretend” to be concerned about Sikh values.

“He has no right to speak on Sikh issues when he proudly defies the dictate of the tenth Guru Gobind Singh on the sanctity of hair and indulges in rituals and sacrifices strictly forbidden in Sikhism,” said Chandumajra.

The Badals might not cut or shave their hair, but practising Sikhi also includes living a simple and ethical way of life. This is not what the Badals do !

Dawn – Foreign Minister Qureshi, Afghan president discuss bilateral ties, regional security in Kabul

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday reached Kabul to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials during his maiden trip to any country after assuming his new responsibilities.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Pakistan, 15 September 2018. In his one-on-one meeting with the Afghan president, bilateral relations as well as matters relating to regional peace and security were discussed, Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi also held delegation-level talks with the Afghan side during which a range of issues concerning bilateral relations came under discussion.

The foreign minister separately met his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani. Delegations of both sides were present during the meeting.

Qureshi was quoted as saying during the meeting that Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to make joint efforts to meet their challenges.

He stressed that there is a great potential to further bolster relations and cooperation between the two countries, according to Radio Pakistan.

In his remarks, the Afghan foreign minister said a peaceful environment in Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital for regional peace. He said his country desires cordial relations with all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Earlier, Qureshi was received by Afghan military officials on his arrival in Kabul, according to a tweet by his party, the PTI.

“The talks are an important milestone in ushering an era of peace and regional stability and forming a partnership that will benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the tweet said.

Speaking to Dawn on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that Foreign Minister Qureshi’s day-long visit to Kabul aimed at improving coordination between the two countries.

“The main purpose of the foreign minister’s visit is to improve coordination on security-related issues between the two countries,” he added.

To underscore the importance of the trip, he said it would be Qureshi’s first visit to Kabul (after becoming foreign minister) and it showed that Afghanistan was on top of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

On September 3, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani had phoned FM Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister. He also extended him an invitation to visit Kabul.

Media reports earlier suggested that Qureshi would extend an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan to President Ghani to visit Pakistan.

Marked improvement in relations has been observed since Islamabad and Kabul agreed to operationalise the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), the new bilateral ties framework that, according to the Foreign Office, provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues.

During their phone conversation earlier this month, both Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Rabbani agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad.

Civil-military leadership discusses foreign policy, security challenges [bold]

Also on Friday, the country’s civil and military leadership sat together at PM Office to discuss foreign policy challenges.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, FM Qureshi, the foreign secretary and other senior officials were present at a high-level meeting chaired by PM Khan.

“Bilateral relations with certain friendly countries and issues relating to security came under discussion during the meeting,” said a brief statement issued after the meeting.

However, the information minister told Dawn that the meeting discussed issues related to foreign policy and security. “The participants also discussed the strategy for the future visits of some foreign dignitaries,” he added.

Moreover, he said, the army chief also briefed the meeting about his last visit to Kabul.

General Bajwa had travelled to Kabul in June and held a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ghani.