Tolo News – USA – Russia and China reach ‘consensus’ on Afghan peace

United States, Russia and China envoys said they support a second round of intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha.

Siyar Sirat

Kabul – Kabul Province, 26 April 2019. The trilateral meeting between special envoys of United States, Russia and China in Moscow on Thursday ended with a “trilateral consensus” on the Afghan peace process, reads a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

It was the second trilateral consultation on Afghanistan in Moscow, in which US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, Chinese Special Envoy Deng Xijun, and Russian Presidential Representative Zamir Kabulov discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and the ongoing peace process.

According to the statement, the three sides agreed on the following matters:

  • The statement reads that the three sides respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan as well as its right to choose its development path. The three sides prioritize the interests of the Afghan people in promoting a peace process.
  • The three sides support an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and are ready to provide necessary assistance. The three sides encourage the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks with a broad, representative Afghan delegation that includes the government as soon as possible. Toward this end, and as agreed in Moscow in February 2019, we support a second round of intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha (Qatar).
  • The three sides support the Afghan government efforts to combat international terrorism and extremist organizations in Afghanistan. They take note of the Afghan Taliban’s commitment to: fight Daesh and cut ties with Al-Qaeda, ETIM, and other international terrorist groups; ensure the areas they control will not be used to threaten any other country; and call on them to prevent terrorist recruiting, training, and fundraising, and expel any known terrorists.
  • The three sides recognize the Afghan people’s strong desire for a comprehensive ceasefire. As a first step, we call on all parties to agree on immediate and concrete steps to reduce violence.
  • The three sides stress the importance of fighting illegal drug production and trafficking, and call on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take all the necessary steps to eliminate the drug threat in Afghanistan.
  • The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process.
  • The three sides call for regional countries to support this trilateral consensus and are ready to build a more extensive regional and international consensus on Afghanistan.
  • The three sides agreed on a phased expansion of their consultations before the next trilateral meeting in Beijing. The date and composition of the meeting will be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

The Tribune – Pakistan accuses India of delaying delegation-level talks on Kartarpur corridor

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib
Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 25 April 2019. Pakistan on Thursday accused India of delaying the delegation-level talks to finalise the agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said, “Pakistan is keen that the Kartarpur Corridor becomes operational as per the schedule. However, the meetings are delayed as the Indian government is not willing to hold the delegation-level meeting at this juncture.”

On April 16, India and Pakistan held a meeting on technical aspects of the proposed corridor. At the nearly four-hour-long meeting, which took place in makeshift tents at “Zero point” of the proposed corridor, experts and technicians from both the countries discussed timing for completion of bridge, alignment of roads and engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points.

After the meeting, Faisal said that work is proceeding rapidly on the Pakistani side on the Kartarpur corridor.

“In view of paucity of time, we are keen to hold the meeting to finalise the draft agreement at the earliest. The meeting is specifically to discuss differences related to proposals of both countries for operationalising the corridor and to align positions to build convergence. We hope India will agree to hold a meeting at the earliest,” he had said.

In November 2018, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district. The corridor is scheduled to operationalise on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Bosnia – Sarajevo

Walkabout in Sarajevo
10 April 2019

The river miljacka, a masjid and the yellow fortress


The Konya tram

The Konya tram

Poster at the Emperor’s masjid

Emperor’s masjid

More Bosnian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Gulf News – Why UK never said sorry for Jallianwala Bagh

Sometimes in the history of nations, remembrances are as important as the apology itself

Ravi Menon

Dubai – United Arab Emirates. 25 April 2019. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed people in Amritsar on 13 April 1919. Recently the country marked the 100th anniversary of this terrible tragedy, possibly one of the worst atrocities of British colonial rule.

And yet no apology has come from Britain. And perhaps never will!

Nanak Singh, who survived the massacre of April 1919 writes: ‘At Dyer’s command, those Gurkha troops, gathered in a formation tight, my friends. Under the tyrant’s orders, they opened fire. Straight into innocent hearts, my friends. And fire and fire and fire they did, some thousands of bullets were shot, my friends.

Like searing hail they felled our youth. A tempest not seen before, my friend.’ Now, cast your mind back, close your eyes and imagine; Nanak Singh almost recreates that moment: Thud, thud and thud! After this searing experience, barely 22 and left for dead, he crawls back to life to become one of the best-loved Punjabi writers; penning 59 books. An irony of many parts.

Meanwhile, Sergeant W J Anderson who witnessed first-hand the brutal massacre writes, “When fire was opened the whole crowd seemed to sink to the ground, a whole flutter of white garments, with however a spreading out towards the main gateway, and some individuals could be seen climbing the high wall.

There was little movement, except for the climbers.” Sergeant Anderson was the bodyguard of Brigadier General R H Dyer, who gave that infamous order to shoot at sight.

This barbarous act was not an arbitrary step taken by Dyer, he was within his right to do so, under the notorious Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, also called the Rowlatt Act, a legislation that sanctioned the use of emergency measures for indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review.

In public debates in India the demands for an apology from Britain have grown and Britain over the years has made a series of gestures to acknowledge that this massacre was monstrous (Winston Churchill in 1920 termed it monstrous). Since then, in 1997 Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site, Prime Minister David Cameron in 2003 called it deeply shameful and Prime Minister Theresa May as recently as 2018 said it was a shameful scar on British-Indian history.

Yet the word “apology” has never been uttered; to wrench a “sorry” from Britain, a one-time imperium is perhaps a word too far.

Why so?

Lively discussion

Before we get to that, an extraordinary event took place recently when the main protagonists (two generations removed) faced off each other, not with pistols drawn, but to relive that tragedy, a 100 years on, through poetry readings and some lively discussion.

Nanak Singh’s grandson, Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri, and Sir Sidney Rowlatt’s grandson, Justin Rowlatt sat on the dais to give us renditions of the poem Khooni Vaisakhi as well as to tell us how far removed Imperial Britain was from its realm, the jewel in the crown, the Indian people.

This poignant poem by Nanak Singh takes us back to that horrifying afternoon of April 13, 1919, as the troops massed and fired mercilessly on a crowd that had gathered there not to start a rebellion but to celebrate Vaisakhi, a summer festival. Dyer and Rowlatt and the entire British establishment thought otherwise.

They were convinced this was an uprising as deadly and serious as the 1857 mutiny, when British India was on the verge of collapse. A tragedy, my reader, deep and dark, mired in misconceptions and fear: A tragedy, my reader, which could have been averted if only the occupier and the occupied understood each other.

Back to why an apology will never come?

“Never” is a word to be used sparingly and with trepidation. History is replete with strange twists and turns. But it is history that is at the heart of this obdurate refusal to say sorry. In Britain, the understanding of colonial history is shallow, but rich in English history.

Schoolchildren are taught about King Harold, the Stuarts, and the Tudors and the great wars, but the Amritsar massacre is but a minor footnote. The British public is unaware of what happened in India (at least the current generation) despite its great love for the country.

And as we saw, Britain felt then and even now that the Rowlatt Act was justified. This is what High Commissioner Dominic Asquith said recently: “You might want to rewrite history, but you can’t.” Easily said, but does that go far enough?

When asked this question, Ambassador Suri handled it with aplomb and finesse: “What is worth an apology if it is a wrench, it should come spontaneously from within, as an expression of remorse.” He then added tellingly: “Remembrances, my friend, are as important as apology. How many of us, Indians, know our history, my friend!”

Ravi Menon is a Dubai-based writer, working on a series of essays on India and on a public service initiative called India Talks.

The Hindu – Justice, not revenge, was my aim, says Bilkis Bano

The Gujarat riot victim terms the SC ruling a clear message

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

New Delhi – India, 25 April 2019. A day after the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to give Bilkis Bano ₹50 lakh as compensation, a government job and a house, the 2002 communal riots victim on Friday said revenge was not her aim while fighting the case.

“Justice and not revenge was my aim. Throughout I kept my faith in the Constitution, my rights as a citizen, and the Supreme Court has stood by me,” said Ms. Bano at a press conference here.

Asked about what kept her going for the past 17 years she said: “On March 3 during the riots I saw the devastation of my family, I lost my daughter. I had nothing more to lose and that gave me the courage to struggle on.”

She added that she is happy with the order and the exemplary compensation. “Now I hope I can give my child a stable home and life. I also hope that my daughter will grow up and become a lawyer who can defend others.”

“I also want to use part of the money to help other women survivors of hate and communal violence to seek justice. We hope to help educate their children, in whose lives the spirit of my daughter Saleha (who she lost during the riots) will live on,” said an emotional Bilkis, who had her husband Yakub by her side during the press conference.

Besides the media, the conference saw the presence of citizens from all walks of life, including women’s rights and human rights activists who said they were there to salute Bilkis’ courage, and at this dark time in India, when hate crimes and hate speech were on the rise, to celebrate this historic moment of hope for equal justice for all citizens of India, and for the victory of constitutional values.

Bilkis Bano speaking about the most difficult part of her ‘journey’ said: “The fact that I was forced to live in a hostile state was the most difficult part of the struggle. Today, everyone is asking me what I will do with the money. Well I would just want my life back. The fact that the courts acknowledge my pain itself is big for me.”

Not about money

“The Supreme Court’s order to me is not about the money. It is about the signal it has sent to the State and to each citizen of this country. The order’s clear message is that we have rights and that no State can be allowed to violate,” she said.

Bilkis Bano’s advocate Shobna, who represented her in Supreme Court, was also present.

“This case gives hope to women and the common man,” she said,. adding, “the order of the Supreme Court provides for the damages to Bilkis’s Constitutional right to life; right to bodily integrity; right to be protected by the State; and right to seek justice for wrongs suffered by her among others.”