Tolo News – Six people released from Taliban prison in Ghazni

The Ministry of Defense says the operation was conducted in Giro district in Ghazni Province.

Ghazni – Ghazni Province – Afghanistan, 30 August 2019. At least six civilians were released from a Taliban prison in a special operation by the Afghan National Army in the central province of Ghazni.

The operation was conducted in Giro district, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The statement said that a Taliban fighter was arrested and a weapons cache belonged to the group was destroyed during the operation. – Demolition of Ravidas Temple: Sikh bodies announce to hold Solidarity March with Ravidasia community in Jalandhar on 03 September.

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 August 2019. Taking serious view of the demolition of Bhagat Ravidas Ji temple in Delhi, the Sikh bodies SAD (Amritsar), Dal Khalsa and United Akali Dal today resolved to take out a March in Jalandhar on 03 September to express their solidarity with Ravidasia community and to send message to Delhi government that nothing short of reconstruction of temple would soothe the hurt sentiments of aggrieved community.

Addressing the media today, Kanwar Pal Singh and Prof Mohinder Pal Singh said demolition of temple was as painful and hurtful to Sikhs as it was to Ravidasia community. They said Bhagat Ravidas Ji’s hymns are part of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, hence both the communities have shared bonding.

“Moreover forceful demolition of any holy place irrespective of religion leaves lacks of its disciple and followers in pain and stress. We condemn the government’s move and fully stand by Ravidasia community in this hour of crisis,” they said.

They said their groups will cooperate with Ravidasia community in their future action program to build temple in case government fails to reconstruct the same at original location.

They further said before taking out the solidarity march in Jalandhar, they would hold convention at Gurdwara Guru Teg Bahadur where speakers will share their views and concerns on the matter. They have invited BSP and Bahujan Mukti Morcha representatives to attend the convention.

Replying to a question on CBI’s U-turn in Bargari sacrilege case, the Dal Khalsa leader said it was matter of grave concern that justice eludes Sikhs even after four years of painful event and despite three SIT’s constituted by both past and present governments.

“All probe panels (SIT) and the CBI were working on political lines thus making mockery of justice. Their findings contradict each other leaving us in no doubt that the factionalism within police hierarchy has marred their professionalism and credibility,” he added.

Demolition of Ravidas Temple: Sikh bodies announce to hold Solidarity March with Ravidasia community in Jalandhar on Sep 3

Ieper Visit – Fortifications – King William I – Van den vos Reynaerde – Menenpoort

De Inundaties van Mesen
16 August 2019

The area outside the city walls that was inundated in case of siege

King William I of the United Netherlands 1815 – 1830
16 August 2019

1822 memorial stone for King William I

Van den vos Reynaerde
16 August 2019

Evi kissing Reynard the Fox

And Tibert, the cat

Thus he came to Malpertus
And found Reynard in his house

The Menenpoort
16 August 2019

The Menen Gate seen from the city walls

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – Punjab government to negotiate with Sikh community over alleged forced conversion of 19-year-old girl

Asif Chaudhry

Nankana Sahib – Panjab – Pakistan, 30 August 2019. A high-level committee, headed by Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, has been constituted by the provincial government in order to negotiate with a 30-member committee formed by Pakistan’s Sikh community in relation to a case pertaining to the alleged forced conversion of a Sikh girl, it emerged on Friday.

According to a memorandum sent to inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab by the district police officer (DPO) of Nankana Sahib, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed in the Nankana police station on August 28 against six people who were accused of abducting and forcefully converting 19-year-old Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur.

The police subsequently traced the suspects to Lahore and detained one of them. Three of the suspects obtained pre-arrest bail while two others are at large, the memorandum said.

The police were subsequently contacted by Sheikh Sultan, Kaur’s advocate, who told them she had embraced Islam, was given the name Ayesha, and then contracted marriage with Mohammad Hassan, one of the main suspects, of her own free will.

Sultan further said that he had filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court on behalf of Kaur against her family and local police, accusing them of “illegal harassment”.

The girl also submitted a written statement in the court, stating that she had converted to Islam and married Hassan of her own free will. She also accused her family of “wanting to kill her”. She is currently housed in Darul Aman, Lahore, as per the orders of an additional sessions judge.

The DPO, in his memorandum, attached the “relevant documentary and video proof of the nikah and the girl’s conversion to Islam”. Copies of the documents from the National Database and Registration Authority, which show that Kaur is 19 years of age, and the nikahnama were also attached.

Following the girl’s statements in court, the Sikh community has demanded that the police bring her back to her parents’ house irrespective of the conversion being forced or consensual.

The DPO informed the IGP that the Sikh community was “agitating against the incident and videos of family of the girl [were] also viral on social media and international media”.

“It is requested that concerned quarters may kindly be taken on board so that Sikh community could be engaged and pacified timely as the community has announced to protest if their demand is not honoured,” he wrote.

“It is pertinent to mention here that in the backdrop of India-Pakistan tension vis-a-vis [occupied] Kashmir, any such protest could damage image of the country internationally,” he added.

We should not dismiss the possibility that Jagjit Kaur really wanted to marry Mohammad Hassan
Man in blue

Dawn – ‘Dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir,’ writes PM Imran in New York Times

The premier, in an op-ed for The New York Times, says international community should think beyond trade, business advantages. “Dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” wrote Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his opinion piece for The New York Times.

The article, titled ‘The world can’t ignore Kashmir. We are all in danger’, was published on Friday, coinciding with the government’s call to observe Kashmir Hour across the country to show solidarity with Kashmiris in India-occupied Kashmir, whose rights were stripped by the Indian government earlier this month.

New York – State of New York – USA, 30 August 2019. Cities came to a standstill as tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets while the national anthems of Pakistan and Kashmir played across television and radio.

Traffic came to a standstill, traffic lights were switched off and trains stopped briefly as part of the premier’s campaign to draw global attention to the plight of the Kashmiris.

“We are with them in their testing times. The message that goes out of here today is that as long as Kashmiris don’t get freedom, we will stand with them,” Prime Minister Imran told thousands of demonstrators in the capital.

In the article, which was published shortly after his address, the premier reiterated the importance of dialogue.

“With the nuclear shadow hovering over South Asia, we realise that Pakistan and India have to move out of a zero-sum mind-set to begin dialogue on Kashmir, various strategic matters and trade. On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris,” he wrote.

“We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honoring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move toward a stable and just peace in the region.

“But dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” said the premier, referring to the lockdown and communications clampdown in occupied Kashmir since 05 August.

“It is imperative that the international community think beyond trade and business advantages. World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow,” warned the premier.

A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted – PM Imran Khan

“On July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps. After that, a meeting between our two foreign ministers was arranged on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2018, but India canceled the meeting.

That September I also wrote my first of three letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue and peace.

“Unfortunately, all my efforts to start a dialogue for peace were rebuffed by India. Initially, we assumed that Mr Modi’s increasingly hard-line positions and his rhetoric against Pakistan were aimed to whip up a nationalist frenzy among the Indian voters with an eye on the Indian elections in May.

“On 14 February a few months before those elections, a young Kashmiri man carried out a suicide attack against Indian troops in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The Indian government promptly blamed Pakistan.

“We asked for evidence, but Mr Modi sent Indian Air Force fighter planes across the border to Pakistan. Our Air Force brought down an Indian plane and captured the pilot. We struck back to signal we could defend ourselves but chose not to strike a target that would cause loss of life.

I made a conscious decision to show that Pakistan had no intent of aggravating the conflict between two nuclear-armed states. We returned the captured Indian pilot, with no preconditions.

Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement – PM Imran Khan

“On 23 May, after Mr Modi’s re-election, I congratulated him and hoped we could work for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.” In June, I sent another letter to Mr Modi offering dialogue to work toward peace. Again, India chose not to respond.

And we found out that while I was making peace overtures, India had been lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the “blacklist” at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which could lead to severe economic sanctions and push us toward bankruptcy.

“Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement. We were not simply up against a hostile government. We were up against a “New India,” which is governed by leaders and a party that are the products of the Hindu supremacist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the RSS.

“On 05 Aug 2019, in its most brazen and egregious move, Mr Modi’s government altered the status of Indian-occupied Kashmir through the revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.

The move is illegal under the Constitution of India, but more important, it is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan.

“And Mr Modi’s “New India” chose to do this by imposing a military curfew in Kashmir, imprisoning its population in their homes and cutting off their phone, internet and television connections, rendering them without news of the world or their loved ones. The siege was followed by a purge: Thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and thrown into prisons across India.

“A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted,” wrote the premier, drawing attention to the fact that “Kashmiris coming out in defiance of the curfew are being shot and killed”.

The News – Indian Supreme Court issues notice to Modi government

New Delhi – India, 29 August 2019. The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the federal government on all petitions challenging the revocation of Article 370 in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

The Indian Supreme Court held a preliminary hearing on 14 petitions, which relate to Article 370 and the subsequent lockdown in the region, Wednesday and said five judges will start a regular hearing in October.

“If notice is issued, it will have cross-border repercussions. It will be misused,” the solicitor general was quoted as saying.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogi and two other judges rejected the government’s opposition to a notice on the issue as this may be cited by Pakistan at the United Nations.

Attorney-General K K Venugopal said he and another law officer were representing the government before the court. “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change,” the judges were quoted as saying in media reports.

While hearing a petition by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin, which demands an end to communications restrictions in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK), the top court issued another notice to the government and asked for a detailed response within a week.

“It’s the 24th day of (the) blackout. Even a doctor speaking to the media was whisked away,” said Vrinda Grover, arguing on behalf of the petitioner. The bench ordered the government to inform the court about the media restrictions imposed in IHK.

The bench, on another petition, refused a request from the federal government to appoint an interlocutor for IHK. The court allowed Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and a Kashmiri student who wanted to meet his parents to visit IHK, and asked both to file a report when they return.

The Indian and IHK administration were asked by the Supreme Court to respond in seven days after a petition sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication so that the media can function freely in the region.

Meanwhile, at least 66 Pakistani and international rights groups have endorsed a statement condemning the internet and communications blackout in IHK.

According to a Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) press release, some 66 human rights, digital rights, women rights, and feminist groups have supported a statement condemning the communications blackout in the occupied valley.

The statement called out the Indian government for its blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, movement and peaceful gatherings under a blanket network and internet shutdown in IHK since the evening of 04 August.

It was highlighted that the right to access communication networks is an important part for exercising democratic and fundamental rights, which the people of IHK have been denied.

The statement condemned the ambiguous application of community guidelines and content regulation by social media companies such as Twitter, silencing criticism of the Indian government.

“We recognise that the current situation is not an aberration, it is rather part of a systematic effort by the BJP-led government to silence and exclude dissent from the region; the current internet and network shutdown is part of a larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region; in 2019 alone, 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in IHK,” the statement read.

The statement was endorsed by organisations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), and the Digital Rights Foundation, as well as collectives such as Aurat March (Lahore and Karachi), the Women’s Action Forum (Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad), Women Democratic Front, Aurat Foundation, Aurat Haq, Girls at Dhabas, and War Against Rape (WAR), Lahore.

It was also endorsed by Joint Action Committee (JAC), Freedom Network, Media Matters for Democracy, Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights, and Pakistan Press Foundation. International organisations such as Freedom Forum Nepal, NetBlocks, Internet Sans Frontières (Internet Without Borders), and Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) also endorsed the statement.

The Tribune – Pakistan to finish Sikh pilgrims’ visa process for Nankana Sahib by 30 September.

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. Pakistan will start a month-long visa process starting September 1 for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries who plans to attend the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.

The decision was taken on Wednesday by the Religious Tourism and Heritage Committee (RTHC) during a meeting chaired by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar at the Governor’s House.

“The visa process for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries will start from 01 September and complete by 30 September in connection with the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak on November 12,” Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said.

Talking to reporters at the Governors’ House, Sarwar said: “Pakistan will complete the Kartarpur Corridor Project by November regardless of India’s willingness to work on it or not. The Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan will be facilitated in every way.”

He said the work on setting up a ‘tent city’ in Nankana Sahib would begin next week and funds had been provided for the completion of a road from Sacha Sauda to Nankana Sahib and work on the project would begin shortly.

Special shuttle service will be launched from the Wagah railway station to the birth place of Baba Guru Nanak.

Pakistan and India are still discussing the modalities regarding opening of the corridor at Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, for Indian Sikhs on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

On Sunday, Pakistan said that they are committed to complete Kartarpur Corridor, despite tense ties with India.

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to the PM Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Kartarpur is a sacred place for Sikhs and is the perfect example of interfaith harmony.

“Irrespective of India-Pakistan relations Pakistan’s doors are open to Sikh pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur,” Awan said on Sunday.

The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

Ieper Visit – Fortifications

16 August 2019

Evi/Pyar Kaur

Evi/Pyar Kaur

The Moat

De Inundaties van Mesen
16 August 2019

Inundaties – areas to be flooded as part of the defence system

The siege of Ieper by the English in 1383

Ieper and the flooded area

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The News – Sikh delegation arrives in Lahore

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. A 22-member Sikh delegation arrived here on Wednesday on the invitation of Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar Chaudhry to attend the International Sikh Convention being held at the Governor’s House on 31 August.

Talking to APP, Sikh delegation leader Sardar Gurucharan Singh said they had come with the message of love between both the nations in the time of tension. “We should promote love instead of hatred between Pakistani and Indian people,” he added.

He said that opening of Darbar Sahib Kartarpur corridor on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib was a praiseworthy initiative by the Pakistani government.

He said that eight Sikhs were coming by road from Canada to participate in the convention. The Sikh delegates will remain in the country till 04 September. They would visit different Sikh religious places.

The Hindu – Pakistan says it is in contact with India on granting consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. Nearly six weeks after Pakistan promised consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, Islamabad on Thursday said it is in contact with India on the issue.

On 01 August Pakistan Foreign Office said the retired Indian Navy officer on death row will be granted consular access the next day. However, the meeting, which was scheduled for 3 pm on 02 August did not materialise amid differences between India and Pakistan on the terms of the consular access to Mr Jadhav.

Mr Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.

Addressing a weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan and India were in contact on the “issue of granting consular access” to Mr Jadhav.

On 17 July the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

One of the conditions put by Pakistan reportedly was the presence of a Pakistani official when Mr Jadhav is allowed to meet Indian officials as part of the consular access.

India did not agree to the condition, making clear its position that the consular access must be “unimpeded” and should be in the light of the judgement by the ICJ.

Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Mr Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on 03 March 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.

However, India maintains that Mr Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.