BBC News – Narendra Modi v Imran Khan: Who won the war of perception?

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 01 March 2019. With the release of the Indian pilot captured by Pakistan, tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries over the attack in Kashmir are expected to abate. So who won the battle of perception during the crisis?

On Thursday afternoon Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in parliament that Pakistan would release the captured Indian pilot as a “peace gesture”.

In Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was addressing a meeting of scientists. Moments after Mr Khan’s remarks, he responded with a sarcastic broadside against Pakistan, saying that a “pilot project had been completed” and “now we have to make it real”. While his supporters cheered, others found the remark cocky and tasteless.

India and Pakistan in ‘uncharted waters’

On Tuesday, hours after Indian fighter jets entered Pakistani territory and bombed an alleged terrorist training camp, Mr Modi had opened a packed campaign rally, crucial general elections are barely a month away, with a bravado-laced flourish. “I want to assure you that the country is in safe hands,” he told the meeting, to deafening applause.

Less than 24 hours later, Pakistan struck back, shooting down an Indian fighter jet in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and capturing pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

While both sides were under immense pressure to calm tensions, Mr Khan reached out and offered to release the pilot. Former Indian diplomat and strategic affairs expert K C Singh remarked that hawks in Mr Modi’s BJP and the Indian establishment “will be stranded by Imran Khan’s diplomatic reverse swing”.

(A reverse swing in cricket is the art of swinging the ball when it turns in towards the batsman rather than moving away from him. Mr Khan was one of the world’s finest cricketers in his sporting days).

Security crisis

Since he swept to power in 2014, Mr Modi has retained a vice-like grip over the narrative. Helping him is a largely obsequious local media, which faithfully boosts his image of a muscular nationalist.

So, many wondered why Mr Modi had chosen his bureaucrats and military to do the talking to the media and not addressed the people himself at a time when the country was on a knife-edge and awash with rumours of an imminent war with a nuclear-armed neighbour.

Among those miffed were India’s main opposition parties. Twenty-one of them criticised Mr Modi for continuing to attend election meetings and political events and even launch a mobile app during, what was arguably, the biggest security crisis of his tenure.

Many believe that Pakistan had blindsided Mr Modi with a quick and brazen retaliatory attack in which it brought down an Indian fighter jet and captured the pilot. Over the next two days Mr Khan called for de-escalation of hostilities, talked about peace and announced that the pilot would be freed.

K C Singh says the Pakistani prime minister portrayed a picture of “dignified moderation and readiness to settle differences through talks” and took everyone by surprise with his decision to send back the Indian pilot.

Mr Khan spoke to his people and defence officials kept the media updated regularly. The prime minister, many analysts in India say, came across looking as a “reasonable leader” by not trying to corner India, and allowing an exit route for cessation of hostilities.

Mr Modi appeared to lose control of the narrative. “Any which way you spin it, Pakistan’s attack took India by surprise,” says Srinath Raghavan, historian and author, most recently of Fierce Enigmas: A History of the United States in South Asia.

Consider this. India struck Pakistan in the middle of the night in what was a retaliatory action for the attack in Pulwama on 14 February in which more than 40 Indian troops were killed. Pakistan’s response was swift and audacious, striking India in broad daylight the next day.

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The Tribune – Management board of Takht Patna Sahib – Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Commission

Board meet of Patna Sahib Takht on controversial Jathedar today

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 04 March 2019. The management board of Takht Patna Sahib may take a significant decision pertaining to controversial Takht Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh in its meeting scheduled for March 5.

Giani Iqbal Singh had withdrawn his resignation hours after submitting it to the general secretary of the board, M S Dhillon, and continued to perform his duty as Jathedar of the Takht.

While the seven-member committee, constituted by Akal Takht to probe allegations levelled against Giani Iqbal Singh has submitted its report, it was being viewed that this could be the base to initiate any move by the board.

It has been learnt that the three members of the committee had gone to Patna to record Giani Iqbal Singh’s statement over the charges against him, yet the latter refused to comment while asserting that he had already quit the position.

Sirsa likely to be new president of DSGMC

Syed Ali Ahmed, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 04 March 2019. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee’s (DSGMC) executive board members election is to be held on 09 March and Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who has been serving the committee as general secretary for the past six years, is likely to be elected as president.

He will be the first Jat DSGMC president in the history of the Delhi Gurdwara Act, sources said.

Sirsa, who is BJP MLA from Rajouri Garden, is also national spokesperson for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and considered to be close to the party high command, Sukhbir Singh Badal, sources said.

According to the sources, he has created history by defeating SADD president Paramjit Singh Sarna, former president of the DSGMC twice. He gained popularity by helping people in his assembly as well as his DSGMC ward Punjabi Bagh.

Senior leaders in the Delhi unit of the SAD are of the opinion that Sirsa’s quality is that he never lingers the work. He helps everybody without giving second thought. Another thing that moves round-the-corner that if he is elected president financial condition of the DSGMC will be improved much.

Now the question before the committee members is who will be general secretary of the committee. A rumour moves round-the-corner that Harmeet Singh Kalka is likely to be elected as general secretary. During previous tenure he was vice-president, the sources said.

At present, Kalka is serving the committee as working president.

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Brussel Zuid

19 February 2019

EMU to Gerardsbergen

Track 10 IC train to Brussel and Brussel Luchthaven

Brussel Zuid / Midi
19 February 2019

Ottignies via Brussel Schuman

Couloir secundaire – Secondaire gang

Brussel Zuid

Doubledecker train to Kortrijk via Zottegem

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Published in: on March 6, 2019 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Pakistan Observer – 96 Sikh pilgrims arrive to attend religious ceremonies

Staff Reporter

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 05 March 2019. A group of around 96 Sikh pilgrims reached Pakistan via Wagah border to attend their religious ceremonies. As per details, Sikh pilgrims hailing from Canada, US and England reached Lahore from New Dehli on Monday.

The pilgrims asserted that they are not frightened at all after coming to Pakistan in the wake of recent Pakistan-India escalation. “We feel like we have come to our second home,” pilgrims said after arriving in Lahore.

After visiting their religious places in Lahore, the group of pilgrims will depart for Nankana Sahib. The visit will be concluded after five days, after which the Sikh pilgrims will leave for India via Wagha border.

Moreover, the government of Pakistan has also accorded approval to Sikh pilgrims from India for their visit to the country and approved the schedule of Baisakhi festival 2019 due in April.

According to Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Pakistan will issue visas to 3,000 Indian Yatris for pilgrimage for 10 days. Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued special directives for the arrangements of Baisakhi Festival.

It is worth mentioning that recently a US-based Sikh advocacy group denounced India’s violations of Pakistani airspace and assured Pakistan of full support against Indian aggression.

Dawn – Amidst tension, Pakistan-India to go ahead with team visits for Kartarpur corridor discussion: FO

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 05 March 2019. As tensions continue to prevail between Pakistan and India, the two neighbouring countries will exchange visits by their respective delegations this month to discuss the draft agreement on the Kartarpur corridor, the Foreign Office said in a press release on Tuesday.

The information was part of messages conveyed to Acting Indian High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia, who was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for a meeting today by Dr Mohammad Faisal, the director general for South Asia and Saarc.

According to the statement, a Pakistani delegation will visit New Delhi on March 14. This will be followed by a visit to Islamabad of an Indian delegation on March 28.

Earlier in January, Pakistan had shared its draft of the proposed agreement on the Kartarpur corridor with India and called for initiation of negotiations for its finalisation. In February, after a bit of wrangling over the venue of the talks, the two countries had agreed in principle on reciprocal visits of officials for negotiating and finalising the agreement.

The announcement from the FO comes a week after the Indian Air Force (IAF) violated Pakistani airspace following the deadly attack targeting Indian security forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area.

Amidst rhetoric by Indian officials in the aftermath of the attack, Pakistan had called back its High Commissioner in India for consultations on 18 February.

The Indian envoy was informed today that the Pakistani High Commissioner to India would be returning to New Delhi after completing consultations in Islamabad, according to the FO statement.

Pakistan’s “commitment to the continued weekly contact at the Military Operations Directorates level” was also conveyed, the FO spokesperson said.

In January, when asked if channels of communication with the Indian Army were continuing to avoid any miscommunication or misunderstanding, Major General Ghafoor, the chief of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had said the “weekly DGMO hotline and on required bases, Border Flag Meetings are on routine between both sides”.