The Asian Age – ‘Not a sign of weakness’: Pakistan Army chief on Imran Khan’s India offer

Army Chief said peace benefits everyone and it is time to fight disease, poverty and illiteracy instead of fighting against each other.

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 23 December 2018. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has backed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s peace initiatives, saying the new government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as Islamabad’s weakness.

Addressing the passing out parade of Midshipmen and Short Service Course at the Naval Academy in Karachi on Saturday, Bajwa said that Pakistan was “a peace loving country and believes in peace”.

Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Khan’s government to achieve peace between Pakistan and India, the army chief said peace benefits everyone and it is time to fight disease, poverty and illiteracy instead of fighting against each other.

“Our new government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as our weakness,” Bajwa said.

The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 71 years, has always wielded considerable power in the matters of foreign policy.

“Wars bring death, destruction and misery for the people. Ultimately all issues are resolved on the table through negotiations that is why we are trying very hard to help bring a lasting peace in Afghanistan by supporting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace plan,” Bajwa said.

He also warned that Pakistan is yet to get out from terrorism or sabotage phase of an unannounced war against it.

“Like the terrorists before; the protagonists of the new threats are at times, our own people. Mostly misguided by ambitions, blinded by hate, ethnicity or religion or simply overawed by social media onslaught, some of our own boys and girls readily fall victim to such dangerous or hostile narratives,” Bajwa said.

Referring to hybrid warfare, the army chief said information and modern technology has changed the nature of warfare now being waged and has tilted the balance in favour of those nations that have embraced the change readily.

“But frankly speaking, even that will not be sufficient as the ever-increasing threat of hybrid war, to which we are subjected to, will need a totally new approach and change of traditional mindset,” he said.

The Tribune – Harsimrat Kaur needs to check facts, says Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 26 February 2019. As Union minister Harsimrat Badal has been trying to ward off controversy against her great-grandfather Sunder Singh Majithia, Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa today said she needed to check her facts related to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Talking to the media, the minister, who has been maintaining that Sunder Singh Majithia had honoured General Dyer after the massacre, said, “It was not the Sikhs who got Majithia appointed as the SGPC head in 1925 as claimed by Harsimrat.

In fact, he was not made chief but was given the title of Sarbrah in 1925 by the British government for toeing their line.”

Reacting on the controversy of a viral audio of Cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu trying to bully a Punjab Police DSP, Randhawa said an inquiry should be conducted against both.

Sint-Truiden NMBS – Flanders Expo – Ledeberg – Zwijnaarde

Sint-Truiden NMBS
08 February 2019

DoubleDecker IC train to Blankenberge

First floor: a room with a view !

Flanders Expo
11 February 2019

Tram 1 to Wondelgem or Evergem

De Lijn Tram 1 and buses 76, 77 and 78

Ledeberg – Botermarkt
15 February 2019

Ledeberg Wijkcentrum De Knoop

Zwijnaarde Bibliotheek
16 February 2019

First departing tram at track 2
Tram 2 from Zwijnaarde to Melle Leeuw

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The People’s Daily – India shuts down airports in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Amritsar amid escalating tension with Pakistan

New Delhi – India, 27 February 2019. (Xinhua) Indian authorities Wednesday ordered closure of airports for civilian aeroplanes in Indian-controlled Kashmir and Amritsar of Punjab state in wake of the growing tension with neighboring Pakistan, officials said.

“The air traffic of civilian flights in all the airports here including Srinagar and Jammu have been suspended,” an official in Srinagar said, adding that “the civilian aeroplanes that are parked here will not be allowed to take off until further orders.”

Earlier on Wednesday a pilot and a co-pilot of Indian Air Force (IAF) were reported to be killed after an Mig-17 jet crashed in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Pakistan army said its air force shot down two Indian fighter jets inside Pakistani airspace, adding one of the aircraft fell inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir while the other fell inside Indian-controlled Kashmir.

On Tuesday, Pakistani army said Indian fighter jets violated the Line of Control (LoC) and released payloads in the Pakistani side.

India claimed that its air force had targeted a camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad group in Tuesday’s attack. The group was blamed for the 14 February suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed some 40 Indian paramilitary troopers.

Private airlines have issued statements about cancellation of flights after the decision to shutdown the airports.

Dawn – After Pakistan demonstrates military capability, PM Khan again offers peace and dialogue to India

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 27 February 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday afternoon addressed the nation and decision makers in neighbouring India to reiterate his message of peace and offer for dialogue.

The address came after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) successfully targeted non-military targets across the Line of Control earlier in the day to demonstrate Pakistan’s aggressive capabilities, and shot down two Indian Air Force jets after they crossed the LoC.

Two Indian Air Force pilots are currently in the captivity of Pakistan’s armed forces. One has been identified as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan. The other as yet unidentified pilot is receiving medical care at a military hospital.

“I wanted to take the nation into confidence over the developments since yesterday morning,” the premier said as he began his address.

“We offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I understood the pain of the families [who lost family members in Pulwama]. I have visited hospitals and seen the pain of people affected by violence. We have lost 70,000 of our own and I know what those who are left behind and those who are injured feel.

“[On that basis], we offered India that we would cooperate. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to let our land be used for terrorism. There is no dispute there. Yet, I had still feared that India would [ignore the offer and] still take action, and I had therefore warned India against aggression and said we will be compelled to respond because no sovereign country can allow that [violation of its sovereignty].”

“When India struck yesterday morning, me and the army chief spoke. We did not respond in haste, we did not have a complete assessment of the damage caused and it would have been irresponsible on our part as it may have resulted in casualties on their side. Once we assessed the damage caused, we were ready to take action.

“The sole purpose of our action [today] was to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same. That was the only purpose of what we did,” he said, referring to the engagement of non-military targets across the LoC.

“Two of their MiGs were shot down [by Pakistani forces] after they crossed over into our territory,” he noted.

“It is important where we go from here. From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom,” he continued.

“All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the US never expected the war on terrorism to last 17 years.

“I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Modi’s,” the prime minister continued.

“I once again invite you: we are ready. We understand the grief India has suffered in Pulwama and are ready for any sort of dialogue on terrorism. I reiterate that better sense should prevail.

“Let’s sit together and settle this with talks,” the prime minister concluded.

BBC News – Why a million Indian tribal families face eviction

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 22 February 2019. India’s 100 million tribespeople are, in the words of a historian, its invisible and marginal minority. Despite affirmative action, most of them continue to eke out a miserable existence in the heavily forested, mineral-rich states.

More than four million of them, by one estimate, live in protected forest areas, which comprise about 5% of India’s total land area. Some 500 wildlife sanctuaries and 90 national parks make up these protected areas. A 2006 law gives tribespeople and other dwellers living on forest land for three generations before December 2005 the legal right to live and work on the land.

Now India’s Supreme Court has ordered that more than a million such families living on forest land will have to leave soon. The top court has acted on information provided by 17 states. The states have carried out a three-step verification of more than four million occupancy claims, each requiring 13 different kinds of evidence, of each family living on forest land.

Some 1.8 million claims have been accepted and land titles handed over to families living on 72,000sq km of forest land, an area equivalent to the north-eastern state of Assam. But more than a million claims have been rejected, so an equal number of families face eviction. Environmental journalist Nitin Sethi calls this the “largest mass scale, legally sanctioned eviction of tribals in independent India”.

Wildlife groups had petitioned the court saying India’s limited forests were being encroached upon, and endangered wildlife was being further threatened by illegal squatters on forest land. They believe allowing people to live in scattered parts of forest land is also leading to to the break-up of large forests and fragmentation of the habitat.

They say the forest law provides for the resettlement of people living in national parks and sanctuaries, but none of this has happened.

“The law is meant for pre-existing forest rights only and thus is not a land grant or land distribution law,” says Praveen Bhargav of Wildlife Trust, one of the petitioners in the case.

Tribespeople support groups say the implementation of the law has been faulty. They blame overzealous environmentalists and wildlife groups for the present state of affairs.

Advocacy group Campaign for Survival and Dignity says numerous official and independent reports have confirmed that “huge numbers of claims have been wrongly rejected and that forest officials, in particular, have a track record of illegally preventing people’s rights from being recognised”.

They blame Narendra Modi’s BJP government for “failing to defend the law”, and fear that the court order could easily become a pretext for forest officials to “attack” people who live in the forests.

There are fears that such a large-scale eviction of tribespeople, it has to be completed by 27 July, is likely to spark widespread unrest in states like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa, where a large number of of them live.

Such fears are not unfounded. An earlier eviction drive, between 2002 and 2004, to rid the forests of encroachers resulted in some 300,000 forest dwellers being forced out from lands, according to C R Bijoy, an independent researcher. Villages were set on fire, houses demolished, crops damaged and people killed in police shootings.

“Tribespeople and other forest dwellers become encroachers simply because their ownership rights have not been recorded and settled by officials as stipulated by forest laws,” wrote Mr Bijoy in a paper.

India’s tribespeople, according to historian Ramachandra Guha, suffer from what he describes as a “triple resource crunch”, living as they do in India’s “densest forests, along with its fastest-flowing rivers and atop its richest veins of iron ore and bauxite”.

Over the years they lost their homes and lands to dams, mines, and factories. Now a mass court-mandated eviction from forest land, again, proves how vulnerable they remain. – California Sikh student organizations seek an end to Indian interference on campuses

Courtesy: Daniela Cervantes, The Daily Californian

Sikh24 Editors

Op/Ed, 25 February 2019. As recently reported by The Daily Californian, the UC Berkeley Sikh Student Association (UCB SSA) and over thirty gurdwaras and organizations, have released a letter opposing a proposed nine-million-dollar endowment by the Institute of South Asia Studies funded by the Government of India.

A copy of the letter released by the UCB SSA is available on the Sikh24 site, see the link below.

UCB SSA’s letter notes that the Indian Government’s stance on the 1984 Sikh Genocide raises concerns about the impartiality of an endowed professorship in Punjab and Sikh studies.

Given an empirical record of donor influence from foreign governments, this alarmed members of the community who organized to ensure a future of Sikh studies that would explore Sikh thought, uninhabited by political ties.

This Berkeley controversy comes from a larger string of Sikh Studies chairs that the Government of India has attempted to create in the past years. According to the Ministry of Culture “Chairs in the name of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji will be set up in UK and Canada.”.

This comes after the Supreme Court of India has ruled that Sikhs and Jains are a branch of Hinduism. Which begs the obvious question, why does a country that doesn’t recognize Sikhs as an independent religion, want to set up Sikh Studies chairs abroad?

It is this strong desire for the future of Sikh thought, unabated by external influence, that drives the sentiment of the letter. The letter raises questions about the future of Sikh academia coming out of UC Berkeley if a chair is funded by an institution with active investments in denying aspects of history that structure material violence that persists today.

It cites the example recently of the Indian Consul General opposing the Fresno City Council’s attempt to recognize the 1984 Sikh Genocide and meeting with members to attempt to stymie passage. Ashok said, “Why is it now necessary again to rake it up and relive the whole thing?”

This reveals the stance the Indian government takes towards Sikh history: it assumes the violence of 1984 is relegated to the past, that people aren’t living the material reality born out of genocide and trauma but are rather “reliving” it because they try to “rake up” the past.

Such a stance has dangerous implications for a study of Sikh history that doesn’t assume a benevolence from the Indian government. It forecloses nuanced archival work if moves to study the violence that gets invisibilized are deemed an inappropriate way to study history.

To think that theorizing out of that violence is unproductive is a stance that is not impartial towards Sikh history.

Fears were expressed at a UCB SSA board meeting that the future of scholarship would be directed away from analyzing the past and directed towards forging a collective Indian future that washes away the past, even as its material implications persist.

If the scholars produced by UC Berkeley assume such a stance, then critical thought loses its focus. One would mistake farmer suicides to be a structural depression rather than a continued symptom of genocide.

One would confuse the drug epidemic in Punjab to be a result of situational poverty, not a symptom of the ongoing disposability of Sikh youth while the Indian state diverts away resources.

1984 exceeds temporal conscription, it’s not located in a particular time and place, it’s not June of thirty-five years ago, but is rather yesterday, today, and tomorrow all around the diaspora.

This is especially alarming coming off the heels of a similar situation at UC Irvine where the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) funded four chairs which prompted the Ad Hoc Committee on Endowed Chairs to advise that UCI reject the funding because DCF’s public statements were severely biased and that “DCF is unusually explicit and prescriptive on appropriate disciplinary formations.”

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Hoepertingen Gurdwara – Sint-Truiden NMBS

08 February 2019

Track 9A IC train to Kortrijk

Hoepertingen Gurdwara
08 February 2019

Master Hans and his pupils having langar

Master Hans and his pupils having langar

Guru Ram Dass Sikh Study & Cultural Centre
Smisstraat 8
– B-3840 Borgloon

Sint-Truiden NMBS
08 February 2019

Platform along track 1
Platform along track 2 and 3

Watching out for the train coming from Genk

IC to Leuven, Brussel, Gent, Brugge and Blankenberge

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Globe and Mail – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wins Burnaby South by-election, clearing key hurdle ahead of federal campaign

Ian Bailey

Burnaby – British Columbia – Canada, 25 February 2019. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh won a seat in the House of Commons, clearing a critical hurdle for his troubled leadership and triggering the start of an urgent effort to renew his caucus.

In his victory speech, Mr Singh derided the Liberals and the Conservatives for presiding over a series of governments with a goal of enriching corporations while neglecting ordinary Canadians. He urged his supporters to hang on to the energy that they put into his winning campaign, noting they will need it for the upcoming federal election.

“I know it’s been a long slog, but I hope you have more left in the tank. We have just eight more months to let the people know they can choose a government that stands up for people and not corporations, that doesn’t give handouts to SNC-Lavalin,” Mr. Singh said in reference to the scandal currently enveloping the Liberals.

Mr Singh secured 39 per cent of the vote, comfortably ahead of Liberal Richard T Lee’s 26 per cent and Conservative Jay Shin’s 22 per cent.

Mr Singh’s victory will help quell rumblings within his party over his future. Previous NDP leader Tom Mulcair said in January that it would be difficult for Mr Singh to stay on as leader if he lost Burnaby South.

The former Ontario provincial politician has faced criticism about his seeming unfamiliarity with federal issues and his handling of internal caucus matters, particularly his decision to kick Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir out of caucus for alleged misconduct, which infuriated many NDP stalwarts in the province seen as the cradle of the party.

Under his leadership, the NDP has plunged to its lowest standings in public opinion polls since 2000, when it won just 13 seats. The party is mired in debt and its fundraising is sluggish. At least 11 of the 44 MPs who won seats for the party in 2015 have announced they won’t seek re-election this fall.

Despite Mr Singh’s win, the party’s troubles were evident in another by-election result Monday: In a loss heavy with symbolism, the NDP was defeated in the Outremont riding they had held since 2007.

Liberal contender Rachel Bendayan held more than 42 per cent of the vote with two-thirds of the riding’s polls reporting results, with the NDP’s Julia Sanchez running second with just over 25 per cent.

The riding had been a Liberal stronghold until Mr Mulcair scored an upset in a 2007 by-election. His victory turned Outremont into a beachhead for the NDP, which helped to launch the Orange Wave that swept the province in 2011 and boosted the party to Official Opposition status for the first time in its history.

While the party held onto just 16 Quebec seats in 2015, Quebec MPs still make up more than a third of the NDP caucus.

Mr Mulcair won the riding, but resigned in 2018 almost a year after Mr Singh became NDP Leader.

Mr Singh, brushed aside the loss in Outremont, saying the party “always knew” that contest was going to be tough.

But he said he will be heading to Quebec next week to talk about the NDP environment agenda, which he suggested may resonate in the province.

He also said voters in Quebec are as concerned as voters elsewhere in Canada about offshore tax havens, the government purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the access corporations like SNC Lavalin have had to the federal government.

“No one believes this is a good way to run a country,” he told a news conference following his victory speech.

Mr Singh had said he was comfortable not being in Parliament while he worked on managing the party. But his view changed amid the party’s troubles. Earlier this month, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress said the NDP is struggling to reach members of the labour movement and Canadians in general.

Hassan Yussuff told The Canadian Press that Mr Singh might find a “better groove” if he won a seat in the House of Commons.

Brad Lavigne, who helped orchestrate Jack Layton’s Orange Wave in 2011 as NDP campaign chief, said Sunday that victory in the by-election would be crucial for Mr Singh’s efforts to unite the NDP before the federal election in the fall.

Mr Lavigne said Mr Singh poured considerable personal energy into the riding through extensive door-knocking and meetings with constituents. The riding has voted NDP in the past both federally and provincially.

With a win in hand, Mr Lavigne said there is a lot of work in a short amount of time before the next federal election. Fundraising will be key, as well as building a team of candidates. Mr Lavigne said Mr Singh will have to “reintroduce himself” to the country and focus on key issues to form the underpinnings of the NDP campaign.

Mr Singh’s Burnaby South win comes as the Liberals have been under fire over the scandal involving SNC-Lavalin and the cabinet resignation of former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould. Mr Singh had called for a public inquiry into the situation.

Burnaby South was one of three by-elections called 09 January by Mr. Justin Trudeau. In addition to Outremont, there was a by-election in York-Simcoe, north of Toronto.

The seat was left vacant by the retirement of Peter Van Loan, who had held the seat for the Conservatives since 2004. Conservative candidate Scot Davidson captured just over 50 per cent of the vote with a majority of polls reporting results to Liberal Shaun Tanaka’s 30 per cent.

In Burnaby South, Mr Singh overcame challenges from Tory Mr Shin, a corporate lawyer, and the Liberal Mr Lee, a former Burnaby member of the provincial legislature representing the BC Liberals.

Mr Lee replaced daycare operator Karen Wang, who stepped down after her campaign circulated social-media material highlighting Mr Singh’s ethnic background.

The breakaway People’s Party of Canada, created last summer by one-time Tory leadership contender Maxime Bernier, faced its first electoral test in the by-elections and the results suggest it could be a spoiler that deprives the Conservatives of victory in tight contests.

While the fledgling party won less than two per cent of the vote in Outremont and York-Simcoe, it did surprisingly well in Burnaby South, where Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson won nearly 11 per cent of the vote after running on a campaign denounced as anti-immigration by her critics.

With reports from David Ebner in Vancouver and The Canadian Press

The Hindu – Pakistan denies IAF air strikes, vows to respond at the time and place of its choosing

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 26 February 2019. India has “committed uncalled for aggression”, says Pakistan’s top security committee

Pakistan said on Tuesday that it would respond to India’s claims of air strikes on targets on its territory.

A statement from Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) followed within hours of Mr Gokhale’s press briefing.

“Forum concluded that India has committed an uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing. To take the nation on board, the government has decided to requisition joint session of Parliament,” stated an official statement.

The NSC meeting was attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance and Chief of the Army Staff General Bajwa, among others. Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged people of Pakistan to remain prepared for all eventualities.

“Forum strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” the statement argued. It alleged that the Indian government initiated action for domestic compulsions.

The government of Pakistan said that they will take domestic and international media to the impact zone that was hit by Indian payloads.