The Hindustan Times – Not in Pakistan’s interest to let its soil be used for terrorism: Imran Khan

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was speaking to Indian journalists at the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 29 November 2018. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to allow anyone to use our soil for terrorism, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday, a day after he underscored unanimity within the country’s civilian and military leadership for better ties with India at the Kartarpur corridor event.

Khan, who spoke to a group of visiting Indian journalists at the Prime Minister’s office, said Pakistan could only try.

“We can try but the rest is up to India. What else can we do,” Imran Khan, who completes 100 days of his government today, said.

India has refused to resume talks with Pakistan, demanding that its neighbour first stop sponsoring terrorism in India.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had this week made it clear that India’s participation at a possible SAARC Summit in Islamabad would also depend on Pakistan’s approach towards terror and the Kartarpur corridor gesture wasn’t enough to resume bilateral dialogue.

In the past, Islamabad has suggested that India’s reluctance on resumption of dialogue was dictated the ruling BJP-led national coalition’s political compulsions ahead of next year’s general elections.

Imran Khan alluded to this perception on Thursday as well. Pakistan, he said, is willing to wait till after the Indian elections for any gesture from Delhi for resumption of bilateral relations.

Asked about the action taken by Islamabad against 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Prime Minister Khan said there were United Nations sanctions against his group.

“There is a clampdown on him,” he said. As for the Mumbai terror attacks case, PM Khan said the case is in court and the matter is sub judice”.

Imran Khan said people in Pakistan want peace with India.

“The mindset of people here has changed,” Khan said, according to news agency PTI.

Imran Khan said he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier and I would be happy to talk to him anytime. He remembers his first conversation with him as a “very good conversation”.

At his Kartarpur corridor event speech, Imran Khan had stressed that a “determined leadership” is needed in both countries to settle the Kashmir issue. The reference to Kashmir had riled New Delhi that hit back, condemning Khan’s effort to politicise “a pious occasion” with his mention of Kashmir.

Imran Khan said India needs to look at Kashmir differently and not as a territorial issue. Military solution and the use of force hasn’t worked in Kashmir, Khan said, adding that if nothing else, “we want the government of India to do something for the people of Kashmir”.×60/0

The Tribune – Corridor rekindles hope for Hussainiwala border

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur – Panjab – India, 28 November 2018. The positive development for visa-free corridor for Indian pilgrims, especially those belonging to the Sikh community, from Dera Baba Nanak in India to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib has rekindled hopes for the reopening of the Lahore-Hussainiwala border which has been lying closed since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

For the last almost five decades, lakhs of people belonging to both sides of the border have been clamouring for the re-opening of this trade-cum-transit route, which was the lifeline of the people before its closure in the aftermath of the war.

Former MLA Gurnaib Brar said as both India and Pakistan had taken a leap forward for restoring people-to-people relations by giving “nod” to the Kartarpur corridor, both the governments should also initiate the process for opening of this border to further give boost to the relations between the two countries.

Chander Mohan Handa, president, Beopar Mandal, said the government should actively look into more such people-to-people initiatives to build mutual trust and confidence, which might lead to an all-round thaw in the relations between two nations hitherto going through a rough patch for the last few years.

Closed since 1971 war

The Lahore-Hussainiwala border has been lying closed since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. For the last five decades, people belonging to both sides of the border have been clamouring for the re-opening of this trade and transit route.

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Man in Blue – Navjot Singh Sidhu criticised after alleged Khalistani leader shares photo with him on Facebook

The Congress leader denied recognising Gopal Singh Chawla, general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee.

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 28 November 2018. Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday denied recognising the alleged Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla after the latter posted a photo with the Punjab minister. The Khalistan movement seeks a separate homeland for the Sikh community.

Sidhu made the statement after returning from a visit to Pakistan. “They showered love so much there. Every day ten thousand pictures were clicked,” Sidhu said, according to PTI. “Among them who is Chawla or Cheema that I do not know.”

Chawla is the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee.

The Congress leader was in Pakistan to attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Katarpur corridor project. The corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of the country’s Narowal district, where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, died in 1539, to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab state.

His presence in Pakistan had drawn criticism from several quarters including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Singh said he had asked Sidhu to reconsider his decision but the minister chose to go ahead with the visit.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra rebuked Sidhu after the photograph with Chawla surfaced and called him a traitor. “The way Navjot Singh Sidhu is playing with India’s security, Indian history will never forgive him,” News18 quoted the BJP leader as saying.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Majinder Singh Sirsa said Sidhu had embarrassed Indians with his actions. “Despite the Punjab chief minister’s refusal to visit Pakistan because of cross-border terrorism, Sidhu travelled to Pakistan,” Sirsa told reporters. “His actions will have a long-term impact. Pakistan will take advantage of his presence there.”

In August, Sidhu had landed in a similar controversy after a photo showed him hugging Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. Sidhu, a former cricketer, was in Islamabad on August 18 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as the country’s prime minister.

He has since been often criticised for attending the ceremony, hugging Bajwa and being seated next to Masood Khan, the president of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which Islamabad calls “Azaad Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Hindu – Kartarpur corridor foundation laying event: India protests Imran Khan’s reference to Kashmir during ‘a pious occasion’

“It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India,” says the Ministry of External Affairs.

New Delhi – India, 28 November 2018. India on November 28 said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir during the pious moment of groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor was “deeply regrettable”. It asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral and inalienable” part of India.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the historic Kartarpur corridor, at Kartarpur in Pakistan on 28 November 2018.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and inalienable part of India.”

Pakistan must fulfil its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kind of support to cross-border terrorism from territories under its control, the MEA said.

Mr. Khan laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve,” Mr. Khan said at the event.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of pilgrims.

The Asian Age – Determination necessary to solve Kashmir issue with India: Imran Khan

Imran Khan said political leaders, army, all are on one page and wish to move forward for civilised relationship with India.

Kartarpur – Pakistan/New Delhi – India, 28 November 2018. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said Pakistan wants a “strong” and “civilised” relationship with India and the two countries can resolve all issues, including Kashmir, with determination as he laid the foundation stone for a historic corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.

Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev who is believed to have spent 18 years here.

The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak is said to have died.

“We want to move forward in our relations with India,” Imran Khan said while addressing the ceremony which was attended by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, government officials, Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri and foreign diplomats.

“If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why can’t India and Pakistan,” Imran Khan said.

He said Pakistan and India cannot understand the opportunities God has given to them.

Imran Khan said whenever he visited India, he was told that politicians are united, but the Army won’t allow the friendship between the two sides.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” Imran Khan asked.

“I assure you that we can solve this problem. But determination and big dreams are necessary. Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit,” he said and reiterated that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward in friendship.

Imran Khan said that there have been “mistakes on both sides” and asserted that the two sides should not live in the past.

“Where Pakistan and India stand today, we have seen such a situation for 70 years now,” Imran Khan said.

“We will stay stuck this way unless we break the shackles of the past and stop blaming each other,” he said, adding that the two neighbours must improve their ties.

He said the citizens of both countries want peace and it is just the leadership which needs to be on same page.

The Pakistan prime minister appreciated the joy on the faces around him.

“The happiness I see in you today, if I were to explain to my Muslim brother and sisters, is that imagine that you are standing 4-km outside Medina (a city in Saudi Arabia where the Prophet is buried) and cannot go in, and you are then given the chance to go. That is the happiness I see here.”

He assured the Sikh community that facilities at Kartarpur Sahib will be even better for 550th birth celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev next year.

“We will keep improving the Kartarpur darbar for you,” Imran Khan told thousand of Sikh pilgrims from both India and Pakistan who were present at the ceremony.

Imran Khan said India and Pakistan need more steps like this (Kartarpur Corridor) for peace in the South Asian region.

The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months.

Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.

Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who also attended the ceremony, said there had been enough violence and that the corridor would be a major opportunity to bring peace to the region.

Harsimrat Kaur, who also spoke on the occasion, said if the Berlin Wall can fall, hatred and mistrust between India and Pakistan can also end.

An emotional Kaur said the corridor will bring joy and peace to both countries.

Last week, Pakistan and India announced that they would develop the corridor on their respective side of the border to help Indian pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.

Pakistan had invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who thanked her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the invite and said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.

After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib. – Three siblings unite after seven decades at Nankana Sahib

Asif Mehmood, The Express Tribune

Nankana Sahib – West Punjab – Pakistan, 28 November 2018. Among the usual celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 549th birth anniversary, the Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib, Punjab witnessed an emotional reunion of siblings on November 25.

Two Muslim sisters, Ulfat Bibi, Mairaj Bibi, hugged and greeted their Sikh brother Sardar Beant Singh whom they had not met for over seven decades.

The family was resident of Paracha village near Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur, India) before the historic partition. However, in the partition a daughter and son went missing.

The family later migrated to Pakistan leaving behind their two children. The mother, Allah Rakhi, later contacted one of her former neighbors and learnt the whereabouts of her son Beant Singh.

Since then Beant Singh has been in contact with his sisters over letters and phone calls and only this year planned a pilgrimage to the Nankana Sahib’s Gurdwara Janam Asthan where he had the opportunity to meet his sisters.

Speaking to the media, Ulfat Bibi expressed the desire to be allowed to travel to India where she can meet her sister-in-law, nieces and nephews.

Ulfat and Miraj have appealed Prime Minister Imran Khan to extend their brother’s visa if he cannot be granted Pakistan nationality.

Pakistan and India have decided to open the Kartarpur border corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims access to one of their holiest shrine Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib situated on the banks of River Ravi in a move that analysts say might thaw the frosty relationship between the two neighbors.

Ieper Armistice Day

Ieper Armistice Day
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Man in Blue

NDTV – Pro-Khalistan leader seen with Pakistan Army Chief at Kartarpur event

Gopal Singh Chawla, the pro-Khalistani leader, had earlier stopped Indian officials from visiting a Gurdwara in Lahore to meet Sikh pilgrims who had travelled from India.

Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 28 November 2018. As Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan talked peace and “civilized ties” with India at the Kartarpur corridor event today, the country’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was seen greeting a pro-Khalistani leader on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony.

Gopal Singh Chawla, the pro-Khalistani leader, had earlier stopped Indian officials from visiting a Gurudwara in Lahore to meet Sikh pilgrims who had travelled from India.

Chawla is reportedly the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. His name came up in investigations into a grenade attack earlier this month in Amritsar in which three were killed.

He is also believed to be close to terrorist Hafiz Saeed and has also been photographed with him.

Chawla’s presence at the ground-breaking ceremony attended by Indian ministers and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, raised questions.

Reacting to the photos of the pro-Khalistan activist with the Pakistan army chief, Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat said: “Everybody talks about giving peace a chance. You see what the government said today.

This (#KartarpurCorridor) is to be seen in isolation. It shouldn’t be linked to anything else.” He was underscoring Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement earlier today that the Kartarpur corridor between the two countries would not lead to talks unless Pakistan stopped sponsoring terror.

The Khalistan movement, which called for a separate Khalistan to be carved out of Punjab, saw large-scale violence in the 1980s until a heavy crackdown by the police.

The four-km corridor will provide a road from Gurdaspur in East Punjab to Kartarpur in West Punjab, to enable Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the famous Gurdwara across the border where Guru Nanak spent his final years.

Urging peace between the two nations at the event, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said: “We should have the determination and strength to improve our relationships and to live as good neighbours.

Today, I am saying that my party, I and my army are all standing together on one page. We want to move forward. We want a civilised relationship.”

Those who defend the right of self-determination of Jammu & Kashmir or Panjab are branded as terrorist by the Indian authorities and the Indian Media.
Man in Blue

Dawn – A car-unfriendly Pakistan? Yes, that’s how you make livable cities

Upper-class sensitivities have forced us to design cities that work for cars, not people.

Faizaan Qayyum

University of Illinois – USA, 28 November 2018. A recent piece I wrote on the transactions ban on non-filers and its impact on car buyers, as well as on the housing market, generated a series of interesting responses.

Some of us would like non-filers to be kept away from the privilege of owning a car, while others pointed out the exploitative state of our local automobile industry.

That the automobile sector in Pakistan is a sham is no secret. Our cars are poorly built, lack critical safety features and are relatively more expensive than comparable models around the world.

We are not conducting any research and development on new automobile technologies in Pakistan and, in fact, some of our cars are decades old even if assembled last month.

The question is, why are we so fascinated with personal cars to begin with? Our cities, their infrastructure, the middle-class lifestyle and our aspirations all reflect a strong desire for cars.

Under new urban paradigms and the latest economic and environmental research, this obsession is unhealthy.

Single-occupancy cars are the single most inefficient way to get from one place to another and a bigger cause of congestion and pollution than the street vendors we love to remove to facilitate these vehicles.

Almost like the cherry on top, we have no evidence to suggest that wider roads lead to lower congestion; quite on the contrary, the fundamental law of road congestion states that wider roads will lead to an equivalent increase in usage and therefore have no impact on congestion.

Our fascination with cars has also led us into some of the most ghoulish policy steps imaginable — in most contexts, anti-encroachment and road-widening and clearance operations are toxic to the very concept of city life.

Sadly for us, we have only had a handful of investments in workable transit systems in the country. Not a single Pakistani city can boast of a transit arrangement that facilitates and works for all its citizens.

The recent spate of metrobus systems in Lahore, Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar and Karachi are welcome additions, but design and construction are such that they serve as brutalist structures that divide the city.

They are targeted towards political mileage and meant to supplement, not substitute, the dominant model of wide highways, unlimited cars and unworkable cities that we have so painstakingly constructed over the past seven decades.

Consider the Lahore Metrobus. It runs on an elevated track for several kilometres , a physical travesty that has completely destroyed visual aesthetics of places around it. Where possible, the track was constructed at road level with obnoxious fences on both sides.

Interestingly, none of these strategies accorded priority to buses or people who use them; instead, the aim of both was to ensure the same or more space (number of lanes, lane width etc.) was available to private cars on the same roads.

Both of these strategies necessarily required demolishing all or parts of buildings along the route, narrowing or completely removing sidewalks and eliminating what little greenery existed along these roads.

Imaginary Ferozepur Road with road-level metrobus. Where width was not available, we simply built an elevated path while keeping (or increasing) available space for cars.

The two pictorial illustrations above should suffice to illustrate the horror of being a visitor to one of the buildings on this road, or a pedestrian, or, quite simply, someone who needs to cross the road on foot.

Ferozepur Road is practically the most unfriendly road for any sort of roadside activity even after the addition of the metrobus; much like M A Jinnah Road in Karachi, it is on the way to becoming a mere “transit channel” with no soul of its own.

With our approach, we are creating cities that have no life, no cosmopolitanism, no interaction between various classes, ethnicities, religions, genders and other groups — and no soul. Our cities are fast becoming sub-urbanised spaces that fail on every metric of actual city life.

Instead, let me suggest an exercise in re-imagination

Let us remove cars, roads and bridges from our ideas for urban growth and development. While we are at it, let us radically shift towards pedestrian, and bicycle-friendly streets, narrow roads, lots of formal and informal street activity and bus and transit systems that work.

Let us integrate these modes, foot, bicycle, bus, so commuters can utilise any or all of them on the same trip, reaching their destination without needing a car.

Our middle- and upper-class sensitivities have forced us to design cities that work for cars, not people. Those that work for people, on the other hand, are bicycle and pedestrian friendly and, let me assert, car unfriendly.

The actual departure is in how we imagine, design and construct infrastructure, changing which will fundamentally change our cities.

In other words, we need to reclaim spaces from the boulevards that we have shamelessly stretched through the middle of some of our most vibrant places.

These spaces are not insignificant by any measure. Automobile-centricity has an abhorrently high spatial cost for cities; in Los Angeles, for example, roads and streets alone occupy more than 35 per cent of the city’s total area.

If other car-centric facilities like parking lots are added, the city has devoted more than 59pc of its total ground space to cars.

The figure is 24pc for Lahore and 23pc in Karachi but it doesn’t include parking facilities and has increased rapidly in recent years.

Think of it like this: a quarter of Lahore or Karachi is just roads!

Whatever we reclaim from our roads can serve as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, green spaces and spaces for micro-entrepreneurs and informal businesses and stalls.

These spaces can serve a core city function: that of free flow of people, ideas, consumption goods, music, art and talent.

These flows make the city more livable and help realise the benefits of urban agglomerations that our current infrastructure fails to accomplish.

Such a change will be workable if complemented with upzoning around key transit corridors. This refers to increasing densities and diversifying usage of construction around the bus rapid transit (BRT) tracks like Ferozepur Road.

To fully realise the socio-economic benefits of the BRT, we have to allow for taller, mixed-use buildings that fulfil residential, commercial and retail functions.

These buildings need lively street fronts, nothing new or strange for our cities, and wide sidewalks that serve their own informal recreational, social and commercial purposes.

Our current model of sprawled sub-urbanisation that necessitates car usage is unsustainable and is contributing to making our air among the unhealthiest in the world.

It costs obscene amounts of money to facilitate car usage, and sub-urbanisation interacts with poor transit facilities to create a vicious cycle of inefficiencies.

We effectively subsidise car owners and drivers to the tune of billions of rupees through infrastructure, environmental degradation, traffic enforcement and management, rescue services and just the space that single-occupancy cars occupy.

Same topic: Cities, climate change and Pakistan’s extended urbanisation

I am not proposing to reinvent the wheel here. This idea builds on a long line of urban theory and practice that developed, partly, in response to large highways and car-centric infrastructure that American cities built in the first half of the 20th century.

The problems of sprawl are well-documented from cities around the world. For instance, the inability of our transit systems to connect people with places makes our cities inefficient labour markets.

Some progressive cities and localities in the US are now taking conscious steps to reverse decades of sprawl and car-centric growth and achieving spectacular results.

If it’s any encouragement, even our friends across the border have had their eureka moment and are now developing concrete transit-oriented master plans for several of their cities to supplement BRTs and other mass transit projects.

And what about the automobile industry? Where cars are the only way to access cities, it is unjust to block off low-income segments from buying them under the garb of formalisation.

But if our cities are equitable spaces that enable access without cars, and if we impose the true costs of driving on car owners, the industry will have to transform.

Automobile manufacturers may then be forced to think about why a country of 208 million people, with at least 10 cities of over one million, and large untapped demand for inter- and intra-city commute, produces less than 1,000 buses in a year.

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Faizaan Qayyum is a PhD student at the University of Illinois with research interests in cities, urban economic development and governance.

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