The News – India needs third-party mediation on Kashmir conflict: Global Times

Beijing – China, 03 August 2019. The US is not the first country to offer to mediate on Kashmir conflict. Former South African President Nelson Mandela and incumbent Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg had also offered third-party mediation.

But India has paid no heed to any offer, which has escalated tensions in Kashmir, according to an article published by Global Times, a widely circulated Chinese newspaper.

Perhaps India should try to understand why the international community generally supports improving India-Pakistan relations through peaceful negotiations.

That’s because, during the more than 70 years of disputes, the two countries have always lacked an effective channel of negotiation. Clashes have erupted along the Line of Control, which had cost many innocent people’s lives.

Under such circumstances, China has always supported international mediation because the peace and stability of South Asia is of great importance. If the India-Pakistan disputes lead to war or even a nuclear confrontation, then the two peoples will become innocent victims. China’s national strategy and interests will be seriously harmed as well.

For example, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will face severe challenges in South Asia if the region suffers from war. China supports all countries, including the US, that sincerely aim at promoting peaceful negotiations between India and Pakistan, because this is also in line with China’s own interests.

The Tribune – 72 years after Partition, Pakistan opens Gurdwara Choa Sahib for Sikh devotees

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 02 August 2019. Seventy-two years after Partition, Pakistan on Friday opened the doors of the historic Gurdwara Choa Sahib in Punjab province to Sikh devotees, including from India, in the run-up to the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November.

Lying closed since 1947 after Sikh community members from the area migrated from Pakistan, the gurdwara in the Jhelum district of Punjab province was in a state of neglect.

The Gurdwara Choa Sahib, located close to Rohtas Fort, a UNESCO world heritage site, was reopened in a colourful ceremony in the presence of several high officials and community members.

The ceremony began with an ‘ardaas’ (prayer) and ‘kirtans’ (devotional songs) performed by Sikh community members. Dr Aamer Ahmed, chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) that looks after the holy places of minorities in Pakistan, was the chief guest.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee (PSGPC) president Sardar Satwant Singh was also present on the occasion.

“Gurdwara Choa Sahib has been opened for worship and visit. It is also opened for foreign Sikhs, whether they come from India or any other part of the world, they are welcomed to visit this historical place,” ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi told PTI.

The restoration work of the gurdwara is underway, he added.

Commissioned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the gurdwara was completed in 1834. It is believed that Guru Nanak, who was returning from nearby Tilla Jogian temples, stayed at the place, which was reeling under drought-like situation at that time.

Guru Nanak is said to have struck the earth with his cane and moved a stone, thereby revealing a natural water spring (choa) in the area.

Recently Pakistan also opened the centuries-old Shawala Teja Singh mandir in the eastern city of Sialkot for “worship”.

The mandir was also reopened after 72 years of Partition on the demand of the local Hindu community.

Gent: Muinkschelde and Langemunt – Gentbrugse Meersen

Muinkschelde and Lange Munt
17 July 2019

Muinkschelde – Bridge to nowhere – François Laurentplein

I was not patient enough to see a tram go across the bridge


Gentbrugse Meersen
18 July 2019

Purple flowers

More purple flowers

And yellow ones !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Khaleej Times – Selfless service, equality define Abu Dhabi’s first gurudwara

Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates, 03 August 2019. The facade of Gurdwara Mata Sahib Kaur doesn’t give any hint of a religious place.

A journey through the dusty lanes of M11 sector in Mussafah industrial area leads to Abu Dhabi’s first gurdwara, a place of worship for the Sikh community.

During the summer of 2017, two workshop plots gave way to the gurdwara. The facade of Gurdwara Mata Sahib Kaur, positioned between an array of workshops, hardware stores, Baqala and others, doesn’t give any hint of a religious place. There are no signboards or religious symbols placed outside.

But a walk through the gate, there’s instant introduction to Sikhism. There are volunteers sitting in a huddle polishing shoes and some cleaning footwear of believers who have come to pray.

Volunteers do selfless service like arranging the prayer hall and other proceedings, cleaning kitchen, plates, cooking and serving ‘langar’ (community kitchen), free turban training, maintaining the facility, including restrooms.

“This is what Sikhs are. All are equal. Even a rich man will be sitting and polishing shoes of others. This shatters whatever arrogance one has. The entire place is run by volunteers.

We have 2,000 to 3,000 people coming daily and on weekends and public holidays around 5,000 to 6,000 people come here. Food is prepared for everyone and all supplies, groceries are brought by volunteers,” chief coordinator Harjinder Singh said.

Harjinder noted the camaraderie between community members as reason for smooth functioning of the gurudwara. It was at his workshop which was used for first prayer gathering in 2004 and later two of his leased plots converted into gurudwara.

“In the beginning, workers from my Image Group of Companies used to pray in a small room. Soon devotees from neighbourhood joined. As the number of followers grew, we had to expand the area to accommodate everyone. And by June 2017, two plots of my workshop was converted into this gurudwara. There are eight to 10 rooms for kitchen store, visitors, few staff etc,” he said.

Hope for new land

Another coordinator Jaswant Singh said the recent decision by the Abu Dhabi Government to give legal recognition to non-Muslim worship sites has come as a blessing.

“Once we have the licence, we also hope to get a new piece of land to build a proper gurudwara. We hope this will be realised soon. We wish to have a multi-purpose facility with library, auditorium, meeting halls, garden, parking areas etc.

We don’t have enough space to accommodate all the followers during prayer,” Jaswant said and noted the place is open to people from all religion and faith.

“We have some Afghans, Pakistanis, Hindus, Christians and more who come to pray,” he said pointing to the banner hanging at the main entrance that reads: ‘First Allah created the light, then, by his creative power, he made all mortal beings’.

“We all are one,” Jaswant added.

Ashwani Kumar

The Hindu – Kashmir parties warn against plan to remove article 35A

Mehbooba Mufti leads a delegation to Raj Bhavan

Special Correspondent

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 03 August 2019. J&K parties on Friday warned the Centre against any dilution in the constitutional status of J&K, and sought the government’s clarification on the current “hysteria” in Parliament.

“India has finally failed to win over the love of J&K, which rejected divisions on religious grounds and chose secular India. The gloves are finally off, and India has chosen territory over people,” Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti said.

She said the PDP always believed that any concession or a final solution on J&K had to come from India. “But today, the same country seems to be preparing to rob J&K of whatever little is left to protect its unique identity,” she said.

National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah questioned the government move to shift pilgrims and tourists out of J&K. “State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses are being deployed to bus people out from Pahalgam and Gulmarg. If there is a threat to the yatra, why is Gulmarg being emptied,” he asked.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence in the Parliament over the issue.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the removal of Article 35A was to change the demography of the State. “The provision was negotiated by the regional electoral parties and is an article of faith, which should not be breached.

Such measures will not change the reality that Kashmir is an issue and has to be resolved. The word is asking India and Pakistan to resolve it and there are also offers to mediate,” he told a Friday congregation in Srinagar.

Mehbooba leads all-party delegation

Ms Mufti arranged late evening meetings with rival National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone, Mr Tarigami and J&K Peoples Movement head Shah Faesal. Later, Ms Mufti led a joint delegation of these parties to meet Mr Malik.

Ms. Mufti sought to dispel rumours fuelled by the government order asking the tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to leave as soon as possible.

“After a brief discussion, we called on Mr Malik ji and requested him to dispel rumours that have caused a sense of panic in the Valley,” said Ms. Mufti.

Mr Faesal, while questioning the government advisory, said, “Should Kashmiris also migrate to other places or is it that our lives do not matter?”

Meanwhile, sources said Dr. Abdullah extended support to Ms. Mufti. Dr. Abdullah is likely to convene an all-party meet in Srinagar after Mr. Omar Abdullah returns to the Valley.

‘Serious and credible inputs on terrorist attacks’

After meeting leaders of the parties, Mr Malik informed the delegation that there were serious and credible inputs regarding terrorist attacks on the Amarnath Yatra.

“It is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens. Unnecessary panic is being created by linking this to all kinds of other issues. A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. The political leaders should ask their supporters to maintain calm,” he said.

The Governor said he himself had clarified matters on 35A yesterday in Baramulla.