Tolo News – Five people killed in Wardak explosion

Twelve others were also wounded in the explosion that targeted a military repair facility.

Maidan Shar – Wardak province – Afghanistan, 27 October 2018. At least five people were killed in a suicide attack early Saturday in Maidan Wardak province, police said.

According to police the attack took place at an army repair workshop in Maidan Shar city.

Police said that 12 others were wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, another source said that at least seven people were killed, and 33 others were wounded in the attack.

Taliban claimed responsibility. – United Sikhs call upon Canadian Prime Minister and House of Commons to provide asylum to Afghan minorities

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 26 October 2018. United Sikhs this week announced a call to action in the House of Commons alongside several members of Parliament to address the increasingly desperate plight of religious minorities in Afghanistan.

After gaining the support of several policy stakeholders, including MPs Garnett Genuis, Elizabeth May, Cheryl Hardcastle, Harold Albrecht, Lisa Raitt, Arnold Viersen and Bob Saroya, following a series of targeted terrorist attacks against Sikhs over the summer, the non-profit human rights organization is now calling upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urgently process asylum for minorities facing religious persecution.

“I was very pleased to join with so many members of various opposition parties, including the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, to table a petition in the House of Commons in support of persecuted minority communities in Afghanistan,” said MP Genuis, who led the news conference on Wednesday.

“The cross-party engagement on this will hopefully help to move the ball forward and bring about government action, in terms of advocacy, and in terms of facilitating the private sponsorship of refugees by the community here in Canada.”

The news conference comes within weeks of a written human rights statement the organization submitted to the United Nations during a Human Rights Council Session held in Geneva, Switzerland last month.

The three main areas of concern for religious minorities in Afghanistan, as outlined by United Sikhs, are personal safety/security, religious freedom, and the right to life.

As recent as last month, a marked uptick of attacks against Hindus and Sikhs across Afghanistan have become increasingly brutal. On Sept. 1, Satnam Singh and his son, who are both identifiable Sikhs, were shot and killed in their own shop in the Herat Province.

This is believed to be the second marked attack on the Sikh minority after the Taliban orchestrated a suicide bombing on July 1, in which 13 Hindu and Sikh dignitaries were targeted and killed while on their way to a meeting with government officials in Jallalabad.

“The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating for religious minorities,” said Jagdeep Singh, United Sikhs Director of Human Rights Policy, during the news conference.

“Sikhs are forced into segregation and Muslim conversion, and Gurdwaras (Sikh schools of spiritual learning) are regularly attacked by the Taliban and other extremist groups. In 1992, historic records indicate 60,000 lived in Afghanistan (down from 200,000 at one time). Today, there are as few as 1,200 in the country.”

In conjunction with the news conference, a petition of thousands of Canadian residents was formally submitted in the House of Commons, led by MP Garnett Genius, urging the Prime Minister to expedite asylum and grant the local Sikh and Hindu community with requested sponsorship.

“This petition calls for the government to do more to advocate with our Afghan counterpart for the rights of these minorities, and it also asks the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan,” Genius stated to the Speaker while submitting the petition during regular proceedings on the House of Commons floor.

“The community here in Canada is ready to sponsor these communities. It’s been three years, it’s time for action.”

“At one time, Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and today, less than 5,000 remain,” said MP Harold Albrecht in support of the petition presented.

“We’re calling on the Minister, pointing out to the Minister, that he already has the power, by legislation, to allow vulnerable minorities to come to Canada as privately sponsored refugees directly from the country where they face persecution, and further urging the Minister to raise the persecution faced by this community with the Afghan counterpart and to strongly advocate for more to be done to protect them.”

Building upon this effort, United Sikhs will formally request a meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. In addition, the organization will continue to raise the issue with members of Congress in the United States and Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

We should not forget the plight of the Shia Hazaras, an ethnic and religious minority despised by most Afghans, whose mosques are regularly bombed by Taliban and other violent groups.
Man in Blue

Gent Sint-Niklaaskerk – Gent Prison

Gent Sint-Niklaaskerk
Week of Peace
26 September 2018

Programme put together by IWG

Coupure/Nieuwe Wandeling
Gevangnis Gent – Dag van de Bezoeker

Is this still the coupure ?

The road is on the left – the park along it straight ahead

Free range chickens and rooster ?

Gent Prison – Dag van de bezoeker [visitor]
Volunteers stand at the gate and offer a small present, coffee or tea
and if required listen to the visitor’s stories

Gent Prison – Dag van de bezoeker [visitor]
Organised by the Protestant prison chaplain

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Published in: on October 28, 2018 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The Asian Age – Amritsar shows us our moral vacuum

Shiv Visvanathan

The tragedy of Amritsar is that we can get away with the story that no one was responsible in a causal sense

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 27 October 2018. The train tragedy in Amritsar needs a retelling because there is something strange about news today. The papers are full of scandal and outrage, of disaster and scapegoating. One would think there is a great demand for justice and care.

But once the blame game as a ritual is over, once the scapegoats are nailed, interest in a disaster fades.

There are two ways of looking at such an event. One is to set up a committee to investigate the event, list out the causes rationally and propose a set of reforms. This is more a ritual which signals the state is back after a long absence.

The other way is to look at the event the way it is consumed and consider how people responded. There are different time segments that we have to consider here. In a moment of crisis, there is a tremendous flow of energy, anger and emotion like a waterfall is waiting to be harnessed.

The melodrama of the blame game exhausts and traps most of the energy. Eventually, like Navjot Singh Sidhu after the Amritsar tragedy, we tote it up as God’s wrath. Faith in God also adds up in a strange way to sense that disasters, even those which are manmade, claim no accountability.

I realise causation is difficult to establish. Do we blame the railways for allowing the pandal so close to the tracks? Do we blame the police for their failure to control the crowd? In a festive moment, where no one is anticipating such a tragedy, how does one assign blame?

Yet do we dismiss the Amritsar event, where 61 people died, as an act of God? Will that do? It is not only a question of responsibility. It is a question of whether such an event could have been prevented.

Think of a public space. Does it have rituals of safety? Does human life count in these cases? Are 61 deaths to be dismissed as a meaningless event, an act of chance or a strange combination of circumstances where no one was responsible?

Most events in India become just part of the anarchy and the disorder of our lives does not allow for any rational narrative.

This brings one to a different set of questions. Suppose we had some kind of heuristic analysis about such events as a man-made possibility rather than something for the gods. Would that require a different culture of value and meaning? In our current culture, the 61 dead are political football in an electoral system which is looking for any issue.

But suppose we were to suggest that Indian democracy values votes not lives that we write odes to citizenship and empowerment but we are indifferent to the cost of lives. People dying in disasters, accidents and communal violence are written off. I do not think our society feels any sense of responsibility for them.

The railways immediately accused the dead for being “trespassers” and disclaimed any responsibility. Politicians, as political and moral luck would have it, will claim that they left the area a mere 10 minutes before the disaster took place, and were therefore ignorant to the accident or innocent.

There are two sets of problems here. Everyone wants to disclaim responsibility and no one wants to sit and ponder whether Amritsar requires a new civics.

I describe civics as a moral and social relationship; a rule game that demands accounting and opts for a wager that human life is worth something. If the dead are only treated as erasable or obsolescent, nothing is going to add up. Think of a simple question how much is the worth of human life and how can society make it more worthy.

I am not proposing a cost benefit analysis or an invasion of ambulance-chasing insurance firms. Putting a price to life commoditises it, but can we put number as a metaphor for concern? Let us reverse the question what society and governance have to do to atone for the meaningless death of 61 lives?

Is an act of mourning or commemoration enough? Do we accept responsibility for families of the dead? Do we promise each other that such an event will not happen again?

To do that we have to value life not look at a human being as friend, kin, worker, citizen or neighbour but as person, as a set of untold stories. If such a person is potentially priceless, how does one create a civic response to an event like the Amritsar tragedy?

We need to move from politics to civics, to a sense of community with rules. A certain minimum competence is required. A wise administrator once told me that to an ordinary MLA roads and trees are sources of opportunity and corruption. Between cutting trees and building useless roads, we create landslides.

Yet landslides are seen as God sent. We never ask the wider contextual question of what are the man-made forces that increase the probability of a disaster. Was Amritsar a disaster waiting to happen? I think so it was an accident which was not quite accidental. How do we minimise the disaster of such an event?

I think we begin with civics and civilisation before we move to politics or policy programmes. We have to begin with life and human life and the way we value it. Only then are we a moral community. The cities have become amoral communities because they show no responsibility for the other. The Gandhian idea of the last man should cover all.

Otherwise all we will have is fragmenting bureaucracies disowning all responsibility for disaster and insisting like the railway minister that the file is mentally closed. Only this sense of morality, trusteeship and the responsibility to the other creates a moral community.

What we saw in the train disaster in Amritsar was this absence of moral outrage, caring. We are looking for scapegoats like a mob but there was little sense of caring or responsibility. The tragedy of Amritsar is that we can get away with the story that no one was responsible in a causal sense.

But Amritsar cannot get away with the contention that no one was responsible in a moral sense. The train disaster is a fable for whatever is going on in India. Retelling the story would be the step in returning to a moral community. Without that electoral democracies are meaningless.

The writer is a member of Compost Heap, a group of academics and activists working on alternative imaginations.

Dawn – CM Buzdar forms 12-member body on south Punjab creation

Shakeel Ahmad

Multan – Panjab – Pakistan, 27 October 2018. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has constituted a 12-member executive council for the creation of south Punjab province.

According to a letter issued on 22 October, former MNA Chaudhry Tahir Bashir Cheema is the chairman of the council, while its members include Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan Mazari, Minister for Food Samiullah Chaudhry, MPAs Sahibzada Ghazain Abbasi, Syed Ali Abbas Shah, Sardar Shahabuddin Khan Seehar, Sardar Javed Akhtar Khan Lund and Nawabzada Mansoor Ahmed Khan, former MPA Mina Ehsan Leghari, agriculturalist Sardar Ali Raza Dareshak and three former civil bureaucrats, including Anwar Ahmed Khan and Javed Iqbal Awan. Athar Hussain Khan is the secretary of the council.

“The chief minister has been pleased to desire for constitution of an executive council on the creation of south Punjab province. The council will be on behalf of the chief minister,” the notification stated.

Governor says nation will soon get good news about new province

The council will identify all possible issues pertaining to the creation of a separate province and engage all relevant departments to provide assistance where required, address all legislative matters concerning the creation of the province with the support of law and parliamentary affairs department, engage all relevant stakeholders to muster their support for the task, develop consensus, coordinate all matters with the federal committee on the creation of south Punjab province and any other ancillary matter related to the purpose.

“The council, in pursuance of the aforementioned terms of reference, shall seek institutional support, information and expert advice from all through any provincial department, public sector organisation or local government in the Punjab.

The council shall have its office at the chief minister’s office, which shall be responsible for provision of necessary support to the council as and when required.

In view of the forgoing, it is requested that further necessary action(s) in the matter, including notification of the aforementioned council, may kindly be taken,” the letter issued by the secretary to chief minister (coordination), Dr Muhammad Shoaib Akbar, stated.

Earlier, efforts to establish a sub-secretariat in Multan had been initiated on the directions of former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to counter the demand for a south Punjab province.

Former governor Malik Rafique Rajwana was made the head of the committee that also included some parliamentarians, serving provincial secretaries and retired bureaucrats hailing from south Punjab and a retired judge.

Talking to Dawn, the former governor said that a list of all government employees belonging to south Punjab had been prepared.

“It was decided that special secretaries of important departments, including irrigation, agriculture, education, health and communication, will be deputed at the sub-secretariat,” he recalled.

He further said that recommendations were prepared on the directions of Mr Sharif and a draft handed over to relevant quarters. “But before any concrete measure was taken, the government got stuck in the worsening political affairs,” he said.

Mr Rajwana said that the purpose behind establishing the sub-secretariat was to counter the difficulties the people of south Punjab faced by visiting Lahore for their official work relating to major departments.

Meanwhile, incumbent Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has said that people will soon hear good news regarding the creation of south Punjab province.

He said this while addressing a gathering on Friday at Lal Sohanra National Park, about 35 kilometres from Bahawalpur, where he also planted a sapling in connection with the Green and Clean Pakistan campaign.

The governor claimed that the government would definitely establish south Punjab province and further claimed that under his party’s rule a huge change in the country would come about during the next two years when there would be no distinction between the poor and rich.

Punjab CM spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill says creation of south Punjab province warranted a rigorous process and could not be done haphazardly and added that no time-line could be given.

He was talking to newsmen in Lahore.

He said the committee, led by Tahir Bashir Cheema, would consult stakeholders and the government would also get their consent.

Majeed Gill from Bahawalpur and Mansoor Malik from Lahore also contributed to this report

Haryana – Panjab / Panjab – South Panjab
Man in Blue