The News – Iran says Afghan Taliban were in Tehran for peace talks

Tehran – Iran, 31 December 2018. Iran said Monday that the Afghan Taliban have visited Tehran for a second round of peace talks in just a few days aimed at bringing an end to 17 years of conflict.

Iran has made a more concerted and open push for peace in neighbouring Afghanistan since US President Donald Trump indicated there would be a significant withdrawal of American troops.

“Yesterday (Sunday), a delegation of Taliban were in Tehran and lengthy negotiations were held with Iran´s deputy foreign minister (Abbas) Araghchi,” said spokesman Bahram Ghasemi at a televised news conference.

That came just days after Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran´s Supreme National Security Council, visited Kabul and told reporters that talks had been held with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Republic has always been one of the primary pillars of stability in the region and cooperation between the two countries will certainly help in fixing Afghanistan´s security issues of today,” Shamkhani told the conservative Tasnim news agency.

There have been reports in the past of talks between Iran and the Taliban, but they have typically been denied by Tehran.

Ghasemi said Iran´s priority was “to help facilitate negotiations between Afghan groups and the country´s government”.

The current peace push will be viewed with concern by hawks in Washington, who fear that Trump´s planned withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan will cede regional influence to Iran.

An American official told AFP on December 21 that Trump had decided to pull out “roughly half” of the 14,000 US forces from Afghanistan, but the White House has yet to confirm the widely-publicised move.

Senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham met with Trump on Sunday and urged him to delay any withdrawal from Syria to make sure “Iran doesn´t become the big winner of our leaving”.

Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, told ABC: “Iran has increased influence across the region now. If you pull American influence out, you´re likely to have greater instability.”

´Peace development´

The Taliban also met with the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the United Arab Emirates earlier in December, but refused to meet a delegation from Afghanistan.

Araghchi will travel to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, Iran´s foreign ministry said, without giving further details.

“Considering our long border with Afghanistan and the cultural and historical ties, and our important role in the region´s stability, the Islamic republic was interested… to enter and play a more important role in peace development in Afghanistan,” Ghasemi added.

Iran and Afghanistan share a nearly 600-mile border, and have had a complex relationship in recent years.

The Tribune – Persecuted in Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas at home in Qadian

Ravi Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service

Qadian (Gurdaspur) – Panjab – India, 30 December 2018. The curtains came down on Sunday on the three-day annual Ahmadiyya convention (Jalsa Salana), which was attended by more than 20,000 people, including those from Pakistan, Jordan, Libya, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US.

Out of these, 6,000 had crossed the Wagah Border.

There are nearly 17 lakh members of the community scattered across the globe with over a lakh settled in India. Rabwah (Pakistan) was the community’s headquarters before members were shifted to Qadian after Partition.

The consensus at the convention “was to be loyal to India, a nation that offers shelter to all”.

“The rules at the gathering are strict. Discussions about the pros and cons of other religions are firmly banned. The only religion we know is of universal brotherhood and that is what we discuss in the conference,” said spokesman K Tariq Ahmad.

The town has been abuzz with activity since Friday when the conference commenced. Community-run guest houses sprung up in every nook and corner and community kitchens started operations almost everywhere.

There are stories abound of how Ahmadiyyas are humiliated in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is the only country which has not accepted our link with Islam. We are treated as third-class citizens and as such we are always exposed to humiliation.

We are obliquely referred to as the ‘Qadnani group’. We find solace here in India. Whatever knowledge we have gained is spent on making India a better place to live in,” said Shiraz Ahmad, Secretary of Education.

Den Haag: Parallelweg – Holland Spoor

Parallelweg – Holland Spoor
21 December 2018

Tram 9 to Vrederust

NS Sprinter EMU

NS Sprinter and Tram 12 to Holland Spoor

Tunnel to Leeghwaterplein

Tunnel to Leeghwaterplein – Holland Spoor

Tram 17 to Wateringen – Holland Spoor

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

American Sikh Council – Keeping Kartarpur Sahib in its original condition and form!

Press Release, 29 December 2018

Kartarpur Sahib the place where the founder of the Sikh Faith Guru Baba Nanak Sahibji, spent 18.5 years of his life as a farmer, a householder, a husband, a father while spreading the word of love, humanism, universal sisterhood and brotherhood and making sure that his followers learnt how to raise their voices against any kind of tyranny, be it state repression or social discrimination.

The ‘Enlightener’ who brought the ‘revealed word’ of the One, with the message of love and truth through ethical conduct, so that the teeming masses could rise above the myriad issues of divisiveness and start becoming more humane and human and get on the path to become a ‘Sikh’.

The soil, the water, the trees, the farms, the entire environment reminds every Sikh of not only the founder their faith but an ‘Enlightener’ who was concerned with the practical reality of all humans, rather than trying to save our souls.

Guru Baba Nanak Sahibji brought about a revolutionary change in the thinking of the multitudes through true servant leadership by inculcating those values in the mostly downtrodden to create a community of dynamic, empathy driven, upstanding individuals who would have a spine to stand up for the meek and the weak; anywhere and everywhere. No other place can be more inspiring for a Sikh than Kartarpur Sahib!

Kartarpur Sahib can be called the first Gurdwara which was established in 1521. Bhai Dhuni Chand donated 100 acres to Guru Baba Nanak Sahibji where he started to till the land and use it for farming.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs that in Indian Punjab there is no Gurdwara left which is still standing and maintained in its original form, instead all the historic Gurdwaras are being torn down and gaudy marble laced buildings are replacing and completely destroying precious living history.

The original physical structures, the trees, the immediate landscape is being purposely destroyed by the ‘powers to be’ with the help of their insidious proxies, who are primarily ‘kar-sewa gangs’ prevalent in Punjab.

Even the SGPC and DSGMC are hand in glove in destroying any vestiges of old history relating to the Sikh Gurus and other important historical figures.

Guru Sahibji started a community of Sikhs who lived within the close vicinity of current complex. It would be heartening to see the department of archeology and various other associated entities if they could revive all the old structures in exactly the same way as it was during that period.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) sincerely appeals and requests the Pakistan government to make sure that the entire Kartarpur Gurdwara complex is maintained in its present state, without adding anything new and/or changing the original architecture in any shape or form.

Any changes and/or additions to accommodate visitors from lodging to restrooms and more must be done at a distance, away from the main complex so that the Kartarpur Sahib complex, the farms, natural areas in 100 acres of land that belonged to Guru Sahibji, and the forest areas around the river Ravi can retain as much of its originality as possible, to be preserved for posterity.

The powers to be on the Indian side through ordinary Sikhs and/or the kar-sewa touts will do their best to upgrade and modernize the Gurdwara complex and that needs to be kept at bay.

It has come to our attention that some among a long list of important Sikh historic religious sites in Pakistan are already under attack by the kar-sewa modernizing brigade. These and future attempts on destroying our living heritage must immediately be stopped in their tracks.

It is critical that the Waqf Board and the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandak Committee understand the legitimate concern of the Sikhs in diaspora. The religious heritage of a living faith must be preserved at any cost as the Sikhs have already lost more than 90% of it to the vagaries of politicians, divisions of land and time.

ASC reiterates its plea to keep the Kartarpur Sahib complex in its current simplicity as that is what Guru Baba Nanak Sahibji insisted on, his entire life. Sikhs everywhere yearn to visit the Kartarpur Sahib and see the fields that our wondrous ‘Guru’ tilled with his own hands, the place where he lived, the trees he sat under and feel and touch their forehead on the same dusty soil that our ‘Guru’ walked on!

The American Sikh Council (ASC) thanks the Pakistan government for opening the Kartarpur corridor and taking this proactive step towards peace and amity of two people who have so much in common, from language to food, from poetry to clothes and so much more.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) strongly supports every effort to maintain the original integrity of all important Gurdwaras, including the Kartapur Sahib complex across Pakistan.

A group of concerned citizens have started a Facebook page to monitor and report on the developments of the Kartarpur Corridor and to make concerned voices heard in regards to the development.

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The American Sikh Council is the umbrella organization representative of Sikhs in the United States. It is an elected body of Sikh Gurdwaras and institutions. Currently 74 Gurdwaras and other Sikh institutions across the nation are members of ASC. The major governing purpose of the organization is to represent the collective view of Sikhs in the United States. ASC works to promote Sikh interests at the national and international level focusing on issues of advocacy, education, and well-being of humankind.

Dawn – PML-N to launch movement for S. Punjab, Bahawalpur provinces

Our Correspondent

Dera Ghazi Khan – Panjab – Pakistan, 30 December 2018. The PML-N will launch a movement for the establishment of south Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces in assemblies and on the street in the early days of the upcoming year.

PML-N MPA Awais Leghari told a press conference on Saturday that his party would strive for the province consisting of Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions as his party was in the favour of two provinces Bahwalpur and south Punjab.

He said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was not serious in making the province and for that reason, it did not discuss the issue in the assembly.

He said Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi acted like a dictator when he rejected his three moves regarding the provinces. He demanded the speaker include his moves on the establishment of south Punjab province, and the closure of of the South Punjab Forest Company and the Fort Munro Development Authority on the agenda.

He said the PML-N would present constitutional amendments to both national and provincial assemblies on Bahwalpur and south Punjab provinces.

He supported across-the-board accountability from 1970, saying they rejected the on-going selected accountability.

He advised Prime Minister Imran Khan to see audit reports of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s tehsil nazim eras and he would think twice before praising the chief minister.

He demanded the establishment of joint investigation teams to probe into the matters of Aleema Khan and Aleem Khan.

He said mills were deducting 10 pc of the weight of sugarcane crops being supplied to them by farmers whereas the government had yet to take any action.

He demanded a probe into the installation of sugar mills in south Punjab’s cotton belt, without mentioning the court orders under which sugar mills of the Sharif family, set up in south Punjab, were declared illegal.

Contract: The Ghazi University has signed the contract of its master plan and supervision of the construction of campus with the National Engineering Services Pakistan.

At present, the university is housed in the Postgraduate College of Dera Ghazi Khan.