Tolo News – Khalilzad meets with Ghani on first leg of regional visit

The presidential palace said Khalilzad will likely return to Kabul after visiting Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 11 November 2018. President Ashraf Ghani met with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday night, the presidential palace said in a statement on Sunday.

According to the statement, Ghani was briefed on the envoy’s schedule over the next week, which will see him visit a number of countries in the region.

Ghani thanked Khalilzad for the work he’s doing to bring about peace and discussed issues around his second trip to the region, the statement added.

The statement said it is expected that Khalilzad will return to Kabul to give feedback to Ghani after visiting Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE.

Khalilzad was in the region last month, stopping first in Kabul before visiting four other countries and meeting with the Taliban in Qatar.

After wrapping up his trip he returned to Kabul and briefed the government on his meetings. He also called on the Afghan Government and the Taliban to establish official negotiating teams.

Steps have been taken with regards to this.

On Saturday, the office of the Chief Executive of the National Unity Government welcomed efforts by Khalilzad to bring about peace.

One of the CEO’s spokesmen, Omid Maisam, said the only way to ensure peace in Afghanistan is to put pressure on the Taliban and on countries which are supporting the group.

“I hope that the efforts by Mr. Khalilzad will continue as it is, so that we will witness tangible results,” said Maisam.

The US State Department said last week, Khalilzad, along with a delegation, will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar between November 8 and 20.

The Tribune – Akali Dal expels MP Brahmpura, Ajnala, their sons from party

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 November 2018. The Shiromnai Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday expelled its MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, his son Ravinder Brahmpura, former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala and his son Bonny Ajnala from the party.

The decision was taken in the core committee meeting of party.

Brahmpura, MP from Khadoor Sahib, had last month quit from the party posts of senior vice-president and core committee member, citing “age and deteriorating health”.

He had confessed that he was unhappy with the pardon to Sirsa dera chief (rescinded later) in a blasphemy case and the Bargari sacrilege incidents.

Brahmpura had been gunning for party president Sukhbir Badal and former minister Bikram Majithia, accusing the duo of “destroying” the reputation of the party, Akal Takht and the SGPC.

He had also accused the two leaders of running mafia and managing pardon for dera chief and Bargari killings.

“When dera supporters were protesting, the SAD didn’t even warn them, but when Sikhs were protesting peacefully at Bargari, cops were ordered to open fire at them,” Brahmpura had claimed.

Brahmpura and Ajnala along with former Cabinet minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan had virtually raised a banner of revolt saying “all was not well within the party”, a day after veteran leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had resigned on 30 September.

Earlier this month, Shiromani Akali Dal had expelled Sekhwan, a two-time minister, from the primary membership of the party minutes after he had announced his resignation as senior vice-president and core committee member.

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Halmaal Gurdwara – Braemkasteeldepot

24 October 2018

Train to Landen via Brussel Luchthaven

Doubledecker IC to Kortrijk

Train to Eupen via Leuven

Halmaal Gurdwara
24 October 2018

Divan Hall

Swaran Singh outside Gurdwara

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

27 October 2018

Tram to Melle Leeuw !

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Telegraph & Argus – Forgotten heroes of WW I: The Indian Army

Karen Pickering

Bradford – West Yorkshire – UK, 11 November 2018. Never have so many fought for so long, and been recognised by so few, as the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus who fought with the British from 1914 to 1918.

They came from the villages of British India, in total 1.5 million of the Indian Army, a surprisingly significant number equivalent to around a quarter of the British Army, and more than all the Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Caribbean troops combined.

Yet in the hundred years since the Armistice with Germany to end the First World War, the Indians have been largely neglected.

Historian George Morton-Jack’s new book, The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, the Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War, is the first global narrative history of the Indian Army’s part in Allied victory. It tells the personal stories of the brothers Mir Mast and Mir Dast alongside those of Sikh and Hindu soldiers.

The war evoked by the familiar poems, plays, comedies, novels, films or history books, from Wilfred Owen, Journey’s End and Blackadder to Birdsong, War Horse and Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War, is a white man’s war, characterized by the mud and madness of the western front.

However, the Indians were there too. And they served much more widely – in what are now some fifty countries, fighting a war that was truly global like the Second World War.

In autumn 1914, as the Germans invaded France and Belgium, the Indians under their British officers made up one third of the British Expeditionary Force on the Franco-Belgian border.

At Ypres (Ieper) they saved the Allies from a disastrous defeat, crucially filling gaps in the thin trench line against the year’s last German offensive bidding for a decisive victory in the west.

“Each man was worth his weight in gold,” the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French, said of the Indians at Ypres (Ieper), he knew they had arrived in the nick of time, on British Cabinet orders, by ship and rail via Bombay, Karachi, Cairo and Marseille.

Indeed, at Ypres (Ieper) on 31 October 1914 the Indian Army won the first of its eighteen Victoria Crosses of the war, awarded to the 20-year-old Muslim machine gunner Khudadad Khan, from the village of Dub in what is now Pakistan.

From the winter of 1914 to 1917, the Indians continued to fight the German Army on the western front to help liberate occupied France and Belgium.

They also fought the Germans in China and tropical Africa, from what are now Cameroon to Tanzania, in Allied offensives to capture German colonial possessions.

Meanwhile the Indians served across the Middle East against Germany’s Islamic ally, the Ottoman Empire with its Turkish Army.

After initial battles on the Ottoman fringes of Egypt’s Western Desert, the Suez Canal, Gallipoli, Yemen and Iraq’s Basra province, the Indians attacked time and again in Allied advances to capture Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Gaza and Jerusalem.

“I cannot tell you how magnificent has been the work of the whole force,” Sir Stanley Maude, the commander of the Indian expeditionary force in Iraq, wrote home from Baghdad in April 1917, “the troops have fought like tigers.”

From the Indians’ viewpoint, British service certainly had its rewards. The primary attraction of military service for them as volunteers was dependable wages and pensions, which otherwise they would not have had to help their families survive in the villages of India’s poverty-stricken rural economy.

Yet serving the British also had painful disadvantages. While the ultimate sacrifice was demanded of the Indian troops on the battlefields, approximately 34,000 Indian soldiers were killed, they were colonial subjects and daily humiliated as racial inferiors, sometimes brutally so, denied the rights of the white soldier.

“We were slaves,” as one Sikh veteran, Sujan Singh, put it in old age in his Punjabi village.

The Indian recruits were racially segregated in their camps, ships and railway carriages on the way to the fronts; they had lower pay; they could suffer physical punishments illegal for white troops as inhumane; they could only hold regimental commands permanently inferior to their British officers; they had less home leave; and they had no vote in domestic elections.

Very few of the Indian troops deserted, it was risky with the punishments of lost pay and pension, or even execution by firing squad. Of those who did desert, the bulk were Muslims for whom the war against the Turks as their Islamic brothers was a source of serious moral anguish.

One of them was named Mir Mast, from what is now the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, whose story was quite remarkable.

Mir Mast showed outstanding courage with his regiment on the western front in winter 1914, winning a distinguished service medal for tenacious trench fighting, throwing grenades at German infantry at close quarters.

But in early 1915 he unexpectedly deserted his regiment, going over to the Germans across no man’s land. “When the war broke out with Turkey, I could not bear the news,” he later explained of his decision.

Mir Mast became a prisoner of war in Germany. He was held at a special camp for the Indians south of Berlin, where he promptly changed sides by volunteering to become a secret agent.

Under German officers he embarked on a covert mission to Afghanistan in order to bring the Emir at Kabul into the war against the British. So useful was Mir Mast as a spy in German service that his officer, a Berliner, awarded him a medal for devotion to duty.

This made Mir Mast probably the sole soldier of the First World War to be awarded both a British and a German medal. Mir Mast was in fact not the only prodigy in his family: his older brother Mir Dast was the second Muslim to win the Victoria Cross, at Ypres in April 1915.

By 1918, the Indian Army was a cornerstone of Allied grand strategy for victory over the Germans and Turks, with its men using their bayonets, grenades and machine guns mostly on the killing fields of Palestine and Syria.

As the Armistice of 11 November was signed in France, the Indians became occupiers of conquered enemy lands from the Rhine, Gallipoli and Istanbul to Damascus, Mosul and the Caucasus. Many of them continued to serve overseas with forces of occupation into the 1920s, until the peace treaties with Turkey were finalized.

The importance of remembering the Indians’ part in the war goes beyond the sheer size of the Indian Army’s contribution. British history should be fully inclusive of its Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of 1914-18, recognizing their sacrifices as much as anyone else’s.

The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, the Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War (Little,Brown, £25, ebook 12.99), is available at Waterstones, Bradford, or at

Dawn – Aasia Bibi case: JuD says it believes in legal recourse

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Lahore – Pakistan – Panjab, 11 November 2018. The Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) has some reservations over the Aasia Bibi issue but it also has respect for the national institutions including the judiciary and that’s why it did not join the recent protest.

Explaining the low profile of the JuD in the otherwise violent protests by religio-political parties, party spokesman Ahmed Nadeem told Dawn that the party issued protest call for Friday last two days after the court decision was announced.

But as the protests started going violent, the JuD decided to restrict itself to Friday sermons instead of coming on the roads.

“The day the decision was announced, the party consultative body was already in meeting. It discussed the decision threadbare and consulted senior lawyers on the issue. After the consultation, the party thought that it was legal mistake and can only be rectified through legal process.

After all, the trial court sentenced her to death after a long trial. Later, the Lahore High Court upheld the sentence. Now the Supreme Court has set her free, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

“The JuD was of the opinion that the quantum of the benefit of the doubt (whether it was reasonable or not) can only be judged by lawyers and only they could plead it before court. So, instead of taking to the street, the party decided to wait for exhaustion of the legal process.

That is precisely why the JuD chief was the first to demand a review petition. Others (Mufti Munib, Sirajul Haq et al) followed him the next day,” says Mr Nadeem.

Substantiating his claim of non-violence being party philosophy, Mr Nadeem said the party kept its cool even when the government took over its charity organisations. It only challenged the decision in court.

It did not go violent when its leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was arrested in January this year and the party chief himself had directed his men to stay peaceful and concentrate on Kashmir Day.

“It only goes to prove that the party respects the legal process and will wait for its exhaustion,” he said and added: “It was very much part of a day-long (Friday) peaceful protest but went quiet when protests turned violent.”