The Asian Age – Americans mourn killing of Indian-American Sikh police officer in Texas

Family, friends and strangers prayed on Saturday at Dhaliwal’s memorial off Willancy Lane in northwest Harris County.

Houston – Texas – USA, 29 September 2019. Lt Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal put the Sikh imperative of selfless service on display for all and touched a nation with his example, a senior US official has said.

Americans mourn killing of trailblazing Indian-American Sikh police officer in Texasn unbridled outpouring of grief from many Americans over the gruesome killing of the first Indian-American police officer in Texas.

Dhaliwal, 42, who made national headlines when he was allowed to grow a beard and wear a turban on the job in the US state of Texas, was gunned down while conducting a mid-day traffic stop in northwest of Houston on Friday. Family, friends and strangers prayed on Saturday at Dhaliwal’s memorial off Willancy Lane in northwest Harris County.

Dhaliwal’s youngest sister Ranjeet Kaur joined the crowd and lit a candle for her brother. She remembered a man who loved his job. “He was a really great person. He didn’t deserve all this. He was a great person. He helped everybody. He never said no. He does as much as he can. I think this was the wrong time and the wrong place,” Kaur was quoted as saying by an US news channel.

Reacting to Dhaliwal’s killing, US acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said, “We mourn alongside colleagues, friends and family of Lt Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, 1st Indian-American in Texas to serve as a police officer while maintaining articles of faith.

“Dhaliwal put the Sikh imperative of selfless service on display for all & touched a nation with his example,” she tweeted.

A 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s office and its first Sikh deputy, Dhaliwal was taken by helicopter to a hospital where he died, a decade after becoming the force’s first Sikh and pushing for a historic expansion of religious rights in the department.

Dhaliwal worked with United Sikhs, a global humanitarian relief and advocacy nonprofit, to help organise the donation of truckloads of supplies for first responders after Hurricane Harvey. “Sandeep was a trailblazer for the Sikh-American community.

He served not just the Sikh community here in Houston with honour and dignity, but all of his community,” Bobby Singh, south-east regional director for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund said on Twitter.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner called Dhaliwal “a bold and groundbreaking law enforcement officer in the eyes of our county, our state, our nation”. Texas senator Ted Cruz said the state was “mourning a hero”.

In 2012, Washington DC became the first major US police force to make explicit accommodations for Sikhs to preserve their appearance on duty. An estimated 500,000 Sikhs live in the US as a whole. “Community-led candlelight vigil was held tonight in honour of Deputy Dhaliwal. Please continue to keep his family & his Texas family in your thoughts & prayers.

Deputy Dhaliwal was loved by this community,” County Major Mike Lee said in a tweet. “A grateful community remembers fallen Texas Deputy Dhaliwal. This makeshift memorial is growing as a steady flow of people have come from throughout the community to show their support. Deputy Dhaliwal loved serving this community and they loved him back,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted.

Starting as a detention officer in his late 20s, Dhaliwal was promoted to a deputy in 2015. The father of three young children was a practising Sikh. In 2015, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office made an official policy that allowed Dhaliwal to wear his beard and turban on duty. “As a Sikh American, I felt the need to represent the Sikh community in law enforcement.

It will give me the chance to open up the conversation,” ,” Dhaliwal told a news channel said at the time. There are 25 million Sikhs around the world and about 500,000 in the US, according to civil rights group The Sikh Coalition. – Sindh High Court orders judicial probe into murder case of Hindu girl Namrita Chandani

Sikh24 Editors

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 25 September 2019. The Sindh High Court has ordered judicial investigation into the murder case of Hindu girl Namrita Chandani, who was found dead in her hostel room on 16 September. Notably, Namrita Chandani was in the last year of her degree in Dental Surgery at Bibi Asifa Dental College in Larkana city.

A report published by a Pakistani media outlet reveals that the Sindh High Court has directed the sessions and district judge to investigate the murder.

It is learnt that the move came following the intervention of the Sindh state government. Earlier, the Sindh state government had directly ordered the sessions and district judge to begin probe into this murder case however, he had refused to do it and had said that he can only start investigation on the directions of the high court.

Sindh High Court orders judicial probe into murder case of Hindu girl Namrita Chandani

Sint-Niklaas – Berchem – Adventure travel organised by the NMBS

On my way to Antwerpen – Berchem we had to change trains in Sint-Niklaas and went from there via Mechelen to Berchem. This only resulted in a 20 minute delay.

Sint-Niklaas NMBS
07 September 2019

We got to Sint-Niklaas in the doubledecker train on the right

The all station train from Gent Dampoort is to take all
Antwerpen bound passengers to
Berchem and Antwerpen Centraal

Platform full of disappointed passengers

Berchem – Lokeren – Dendermonde – Gent-Sint-Pieters 
07 September 2019

Antwerpen Berchem

Antwerpen Centraal – Roosendaal (NL)

IC to Hasselt

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – ‘In solidarity with Kashmiri women’: Activists, academics, writers from 30 countries issue statement

They urged the Indian government to ‘step back from its current aggressions and end the violence and militarisation that has failed to resolve the dispute’.

Scroll Staff

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 26 September 2019. A group of 500 individuals and organisations of feminists, women’s rights and democracy activists, lawyers, academics, students, writers, and journalists from across the world have issued a statement in solidarity with the women of Kashmir.

They have urged the Indian government to roll back its decision to restrict public movement and block communication networks in Jammu and Kashmir.

Their statement came a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the United Nations General Assembly. At an event in Texas on Sunday, Modi defended his government’s recent decisions regarding Kashmir and criticised Pakistan.

He also asked the huge audience at the NRG Stadium in Houston to give a standing ovation to Indian parliamentarians who, in August, approved the decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.

“Women have been at the forefront of Kashmiri struggles for freedom, justice, truth and accountability for widespread human rights violations particularly sexual violence and enforced disappearances,” said those signed the statement.

“Today the women of the world stand with them in resisting the forces of tyranny, militarism and violence. They urge the Indian government to step back from its current aggressions and end the violence and militarisation that has failed to resolve the dispute since 1947.”

Some of the well-known signatories are academics Nivedita Menon, Nandini Sundar, Kalpana Kannabiran, activist Meena Kandasamy, and organisations such as Urgent Action Fund, Global Fund For Women, and Our Bodies Ourselves. The statement has been endorsed by individuals and organisations from 30 countries, from South Asian nations to the US, Iran, Indonesia, Israel, Palestine and Uganda.

They alleged there was “credible and mounting evidence of a healthcare and humanitarian crisis, civilian deaths, pellet blindings and other injuries in attacks by Indian armed forces, torture, molestations, arbitrary arrests, and the severe curtailment of freedom of opinion, expression, and information; assembly and movement; and religious freedoms”.

The signatories pointed out that the civil and democratic rights of Kashmiris stood suspended, including their right to determine their future. “One particularly insidious justification for the illegal constitutional changes has been that they will benefit women, Dalits and sexual minorities by granting them constitutional rights so far denied to them,” they added.

“This bolsters colonial tropes of a backward Muslim majority region whose women and minorities are in need of rescue by the civilisationally superior people of India,” they said.

“Moreover, it is based on outright falsehoods, misinformation, and false equivalences, that are being deliberately amplified, including by high state functionaries, despite being repeatedly debunked by experts and lawyers.”

The statement opposed the co-option and weaponisation of the languages of women, Dalit and queer liberation to justify the oppression of Kashmiris.

The Hindu – Centre to release 8 Sikh prisoners in November

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 28 September 2019. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that he met Home Minister Amit Shah and pressed for commuting the death sentence of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh assassination case convict Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Eight Sikh prisoners, lodged in different jails in the country for committing crimes during the militancy in Punjab, will be released by the government as a goodwill gesture on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November.

The central government has taken a decision to grant a special dispensation to nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country, an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) added that through a special remission, the death sentence of another Sikh prisoner has been commuted to life imprisonment.

Reprieve for Rajoana

Though the names of the prisoners were not revealed by MHA, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa told The Hindu that he met Home Minister Amit Shah last week and pressed for commuting the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Rajoana, a member of banned terror group Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief Minister Beant Singh, is the only Sikh prisoner on death row in a militancy related case.

The Akali Dal, a BJP ally, has been demanding the release of Rajoana and other political prisoners. Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal led a delegation that met Mr Shah on June 6 and sought Rajoana’s release. The execution of his death sentence was stayed on 28 March 2012 on the intervention of the Badal government.

On Saturday, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted, “I’m grateful to PM Sh@narendramodi ji & HM @AmitShah ji for heeding my repeated requests & commuting death sentence of a Sikh prisoner into life term and releasing 8 others prematurely ahead of the #550thparkashpurab. This step will heal wounds inflicted on #Sikhs.”

These individuals were convicted by various courts in the country for the offences committed by them during the militancy period in Punjab, the official added.

The decision was taken by the Central government as a token of goodwill in response to the long-pending demands of the release of Sikh prisoners articulated by various sections of the Sikh community from across the country.

A communication was sent on Saturday to State governments and Union Territories concerned for the release.

The Central government is also planning to release some more prisoners from jails across the country under the scheme for special remission to prisoners to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

So far, 1,424 prisoners have been released by States and UT’s in two phases (02 October2018 and 06 April 2019). The third phase of release is due on 02 October 2019.

The Pioneer – Afghan voters head to polls amid deadly violence

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 28 September 2019. Afghans voted in presidential elections amid tight security Saturday, even as insurgents attacked polling centres in a series of blasts across the country that left at least one person dead.

The first-round vote marks the culmination of a bloody election campaign that is seen as a close race between President Ashraf Ghani and his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive.

Wary authorities placed an uneasy Kabul under partial lockdown, flooding streets with troops and banning trucks from entering the city in an effort to stop would-be suicide bombers targeting residents as they cast their votes.

By midday, the toll appeared relatively light compared to previous elections, though Afghan national authorities provided little, if any, information about reported blasts.

One person was killed and two others wounded in an explosion near a polling centre in Jalalabad in the eastern province of Nangarhar, provincial governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said.

And at least 16 people were wounded in the southern city of Kandahar when a bomb went off at a polling station, a hospital director told AFP, while officials across the country reported several small explosions at other election sites.

The Taliban, who unleashed a string of bombings during the two-month election campaign, claimed to have hit several polling stations.

Having voted at a high school near the presidential palace in Kabul, Ghani said the most important issue was finding a leader who could bring peace to the war-torn nation.

“Our roadmap (for peace) is ready, I want the people to give us permission and legitimacy so that we pursue peace,” Ghani said.

Some 9.6 million Afghans are registered to vote, but many have little faith that after 18 years of war any leader can unify the fractious country and improve basic living conditions, boost the stagnating economy or bolster security.

Still, voters braved insurgent attacks and long queues to cast a ballot.

“I know there are security threats but bombs and attacks have become part of our everyday lives,” 55-year-old Mohiuddin, who only gave one name, told AFP.

“I am not afraid, we have to vote if we want to bring changes.” Abdullah and Ghani both claimed victory in the 2014 election, a vote so tainted by fraud and violence that it led to a constitutional crisis and forced then-US president Barack Obama to push for a compromise that saw Abdullah awarded the subordinate role.

“The only request I have from the election commission is that they ensure the transparency of the election because lots of people have lost their trust,” Afghan voter Sunawbar Mirzae, 23, said.

Voting in Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election was supposed to take place at some 5,000 polling centres across the country but hundreds have been closed to the abysmal security situation.

Many Afghans said voting had gone smoothly, triumphantly holding up fingers stained in indelible ink to show they had cast a ballot, but several said they had experienced problems.

“I came this early morning to cast my ballot. Unfortunately my name was not on the list,” said Ziyarat Khan, a farmer in Nangarhar. “The whole process is messy like the last time.”

Campaigning was hampered by violence from the first day, when Ghani’s running mate was targeted in a bomb-and-gun attack that left at least 20 dead.

Bloody attacks have continued to rock Afghanistan, including a Taliban bombing at a Ghani rally last week that killed at least 26 people in the central province of Parwan near Kabul.

The interior ministry says 72,000 forces will help to secure polling stations.

Election officials say this will be the cleanest election yet, with equipment such as biometric fingerprint readers and better training for poll workers to ensure the vote is fair.

Still, the US embassy in Kabul has said it is “disturbed by so many complaints about security, lack of an equal playing field and fraud” and many Afghans say they have no intention of voting, citing fraud and security fears.

Saturday’s poll was initially slated to take place in April, but was twice delayed because election workers were ill-prepared, and the US was leading a push to forge a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban.

That deal has been scuppered for now after US President Donald Trump pulled out and Afghanistan’s next president will likely face the daunting task of trying to strike a bargain with the Taliban.

Results are not expected until October 19. Candidates need more than 50 per cent of the vote to be declared the outright winner, or else the top two will head for a second round in November. Polls close at 3:00 pm (1030 GMT).

Daily Sikh Updates – Sikhs becomes fastest growing minority in New Zealand

25 September 2019. Sikhs are the quickest developing religious minority in New Zealand, their number having multiplied in the previous five years, according to New Zealand’s 34th Census of Population and Dwellings report.

The Sikh populace in the nation was 19,191 of every 2013. It expand to 40,908 of every 2018.

The Sikhs as well as other religions, including Hindus and Muslims, have likewise seen an ascent in their numbers in the nation that has an all out populace of 48 lakh. The Hindu populace went up from 0.89 to 1.23 lakh and the Muslim from 46,149 to 61,455 in the five years.

Specialists state the previous decade saw enormous scale relocation from Punjab to New Zealand. Dr Rajesh Aggarwal, Associate Professor, Population Research, CRRID, Chandigarh, says on account of the confinements forced by European and Northern American nations, numerous adolescents picked to think about in New Zealand.

Indians have risen as the fourth biggest network with a 2.44 lakh populace. New Zealand European (30.25 lakh), Maori (7.77 lakh) and Chinese dialects top the diagram. The statistics covers the whole populace. Authority including in the nation returns to 1842. NZ’s first official national populace evaluation was completed in 1851.

Gent Dampoort NMBS – Adventure travel organised by the NMBS

Gent Dampoort NMBS
07 September 2019

Waiting for the train to Antwerpen

IC train from Antwerpen to Oostende

All station train to Antwerpen

IC train from Antwerpen to Oostende

All station train to Antwerpen

IC train to Sint-Niklaas
Due to works this train did not go to Antwerpen

In Sint Niklaas we had to change to the 07:55 train from Dampoort

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Panjab CM condemns killing of Indian-American Sikh police officer in USA.

Sandeep Dhaliwal was the first police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 September 2019. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday condemned the killing of an Indian-American-Sikh police officer in the USA State of Texas.

Sikh police officer who got permission to wear turban shot dead in Texas.

Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, who made headlines in the USA when he was allowed to grow a beard and wear a turban on the job, was shot and killed in an “ambush-style” attack in a “ruthless, cold-blooded way”, a senior official of Harris County said on Saturday.

“Deeply anguished to learn the ruthless killing of Deputy Sheriff of Harris County, Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal. He represented the Sikh community with pride and was the first turbaned police officer of America. My condolences to his family. RIP,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

Dhaliwal, who was in his early 40s, was the first police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the department, stopped a vehicle with a man and woman inside and one of them got out and shot him “ambush-style” at least twice in a “ruthless, cold-blooded way” on Friday.

The gunman and the woman were taken into custody, officials said.

Dhaliwal was married and a father of three children.

Since 2015, Dhaliwal was the “history-making” police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith. He was allowed to wear the turban and beard while patrolling the streets in order to bolster cultural diversity.

With this policy, one of the largest sheriff’s offices in the USA had affirmed that a person does not have to choose between their faith and a career of service.

Dawn – PM Imran Khan minces no words at UN, calls out Modi government for oppression of Kashmiris

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

UNGA – New York – USA, 27 September 2019. The highlight of his more than 45-minute-long speech was intense criticism of India for its annexation of occupied Kashmir and the continued restrictions imposed in the region.

The premier began his wide-ranging, at times apparently extemporaneous speech by saying he feels honoured to represent Pakistan at the world forum.

He said he would not have come to the UN if he did not feel that some “urgent issues” needed to be addressed.

Kashmir oppression

The issue which the prime minister talked in most detail about was the oppression of the people of occupied Kashmir.

“When we came to power, we swore that we would try to bring peace.

“We went to fight the war on terror and we faced losses of thousands of people.

“I opposed the war because in the 1980s we joined the struggle against the Soviets funded by western countries.

“The mujahideen were trained by the Pakistan Army and they waged the freedom struggle. The Soviets called them terrorists and we called them freedom fighters.

“In 1989 soviets retreated; the Americans packed up and left. Here we had indoctrinated them in jihad against foreign occupation and now that the US had taken over, we were supposed to tell them it’s no longer jihad.

“And so the US turned against us and it was a nightmare.

“Taliban were in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda was there; what did Pakistan have to do with it?

“When we came to power we decided we would dismantle what was left. I know India keeps alleging that these groups are there.

“I welcome UN observers, see for yourself.

“We now have a relationship with Afghanistan, Russia and then we wanted to mend fences with India.

“I have friends in India and I love going to India. So when my party came to power, we reached out to India and (said) let’s resolve differences through trade.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there were terrorist attacks from Pakistan. We said well we have attacks in Balochistan from your end.

“Unfortunately we didn’t make any headway. Our foreign minister was at the UNGA but they cancelled the meeting.

“Meanwhile a 20-year-old Kashmiri boy blew himself up at the Indian convoy. And India blamed us.

“I spoke to the Indian public on television. I said if you give us any iota of proof, we will immediately take action, because we have clamped down on these groups. They bombed us (instead), and we retaliated.

“We immediately returned the captured Indian pilot, saying that we do not want an escalation.

“Rather than taking that as a peace gesture, Modi claimed that he had taught Pakistan a lesson; that their jets had killed 350 terrorists.

“Complete lies. They just killed 10 trees of ours which was quite painful given that we are growing all these trees.”

The prime minister pointed out that Modi’s entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative.

“In his election campaign, Mr Modi used words like ‘This is just a trailer. The movie is about to start’ and ‘I went into Pakistan and taught them a lesson’.”

He said that at the time, Pakistan chalked it up to just “politicians making statements” and that they would get back to the normal relationship with India post-elections.

The premier said that India did not respond to Pakistan’s overtures following Modi’s re-election as prime minister and soon it was discovered that India was trying to push Pakistan into the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to bankrupt the country.

“That’s when we realised that there was an agenda and that agenda became obvious on the 5th of August when India went against 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions which say that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir have the right of self-determination,” he said.

“They went against the Simla Accord, which is about sorting out our differences through bilateral means.

“They actually went against the Indian Constitution. Illegally, they revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status and stationed an extra 180,000 troops there,” said Prime Minister Imran, providing the backdrop to India’s actions in Kashmir.

He said that the total number of security forces in Kashmir are 900,000 and they put eight million people of occupied Kashmir under curfew. He said that the answer to how anyone can do something like this lies in the RSS ideology followed by Modi.

“Now I must explain what RSS is. Modi is a life member of RSS.

“It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race.

“They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. They believe a golden age of Hindu rule was stopped by Muslims and then the British occupation.

“What kind of people bring in 900,000 troops for eight million people? These are human beings,” said Prime Minister Imran to applause from the audience.

“What comes with Aryan superiority is arrogance and it makes people commit mistakes and do stupid, cruel things like what Modi has done. “It is arrogance that has blinded Modi. Has he thought about what will happen after the curfew in Kashmir is lifted?

“What will he do? Does he think the people of Kashmir will quietly accept the status quo?”

“100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped. “The world hasn’t done anything.

“What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out. “Has he thought it through what happens then? Has anyone thought what happens when there is a bloodbath?

“What do you think they (Kashmiris) will think of the way they have been boxed in?”

He noted that even pro-India local leaders were taken out of Kashmir as part of the crackdown and 13,000 boys were picked up and taken to unknown locations.

“What will the people do then? They will take to the streets. The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns.

“And so Kashmiris will be further radicalised. There will be another Pulwama. And India will blame us.

“They are already blaming us. They said we have 500 terrorists lined up to go in.

“Why would we send 500 terrorists when there are 900,000 troops?

“There will only be further cruelty on Kashmiris. It will give them the excuse to chant on the mantra of Islamic terrorism.

“The whole world then turns away.

“How does Pakistan benefit from further increasing cruelty on the people of Kashmir?”

Prime Minister Imran Khan said there is no other narrative left for India. “Whatever happens we will be blamed.

“What does Modi think the 180 million Muslims of India are thinking? Aren’t they watching these Kashmiris stuck in?

“Don’t you think they too will be radicalised? Then there will be blame on us again.

“What about the 1.3 bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims? What do you think they would think?

“What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck. Are we children of a lesser God?

“Among the 1.3 bn Muslims someone will pick up arms,” he said, citing the analogy of a Hollywood film.

“Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam. Because they see no justice.

“I have pictured myself locked up for 55 days. There are rapes, soldiers going into rooms.

“Would I want to let this humiliation continue? I would pick up a gun.”

“You are forcing people into radicalisation,” he said, addressing the Indian leadership.

“This is one of the most critical times. There will be a reaction to this and Pakistan will be blamed.

“Two nuclear countries will come face to face.

“Before we head there the UN has a responsibility; this is why the UN came into being in 1945. You were supposed to stop this from happening.

“I feel like we are back in 1939 when Czechoslovakia was annexed.

“Is the international community going to appease or stand up for justice or humanity.

“If a conventional war starts between the two countries, supposing a country seven times smaller is faced with a choice to surrender or fight to the end.

“When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders.

“This is a test of the UN. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right of self-determination.

“This is the time not to appease but to take action.”

He said the very first action that India needs to take is to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir and then release all detained prisoners.

“And then the world community must give the Kashmiris the right of self-determination,” the prime minister stressed.

‘Humans facing huge catastrophe’

The first issue addressed by Prime Minister Imran in his speech was climate change. “So many leaders spoke about climate change but I feel there is a lack of seriousness to tackle the issue.

“Perhaps some of the leaders who can do a lot do not realise the seriousness of the situation. There are a lot of ideas but they are nothing without funding,” said the premier.

He noted that Pakistan is in the top ten list of countries who are most affected by climate change.

“We depend on our rivers and 80 per cent of our water comes from glaciers. The glaciers are also in India in the Himalayas, Karakorum and the Hindu Kush.

“If nothing is done, we scared humans are facing a huge catastrophe.

“In my country where I came into power in KP we planted one billion trees and plan to plant 10bn to counter global warming effects.

“One country cannot do anything, it has to be a combined effort of the world.”

He said the countries contributing to greenhouse gas emissions must be pushed and the UN must take initiative.

Money laundering ‘devastating developing world’

Prime Minister Imran said the second issue he was speaking about is even more critical, that of illicit financial flows.

“Every year billions of dollars leave the poorer countries and go towards rich countries, siphoned off by the ruling elites of the western world.

“This is devastating the developing world. It is impoverishing them. The rich-poor gap is growing because of them.”

He regretted that the seriousness with which money from drugs or terror financing is treated is not accorded to money laundered from poor countries.

“In my country, when I took charge of our government a year back, our total debt went up four times in the ten years preceding that.

“As a result, the total revenue we collected in one year, half of it went into debt servicing. How are we going to spend money on our human beings, 200 million people, if half the money is going into debt servicing?

“Our country was plundered by the ruling elite. And they could easily get their money out. And when we locate properties in western capitals bought by this money through corruption and money laundering by these corrupt leaders, we find it so difficult to retrieve it.”

He said that if the money was retrieved it could be spent on human development.

“But it is so difficult owing to the laws protecting these criminals. We do not have the sort of money to have expensive lawyers and spend millions and millions of dollars. We need help from the rich countries.

“It is critical. The rich countries must show political will. They cannot allow this to happen.

“How can the poor countries spend money on human development when this money can easily leave our countries?

“Unless the rich countries intend to build walls to stop economic refugees from coming as we see right now, they must take action. They must take action now.

“Corrupt elites must not be allowed to park their money abroad. Why do we have these tax havens?

“Why shouldn’t rich people pay taxes? Why are they legal, these secret accounts?

“Sooner or later there will be a crisis if the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer.

“I hope the UN takes a lead on this. The IMF and ADB must find a way.”

‘Islamophobia is creating divisions’

Addressing the prevalence of Islamophobia, Prime Minister Imran said it has grown at an alarming pace.

“Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab is becoming a weapon; a woman can take off clothes but she can’t put on more clothes.

“It started after 9/11 and it started because certain western leaders equated Islam with terrorism.

He questioned the use of the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ saying: “There is only one Islam.

“What message does this (the term) send? How is a person in New York going to distinguish between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims?

“This radical Islamic terrorism used by leaders has caused Islamophobia and has caused pain for Muslims.

“In European countries it is marginalising Muslims, and this leads to radicalisation.

“Some of the terrorists were from marginalised Muslim communities. We Muslim leaders have not addressed this issue.

“The basis of all religions is compassion and justice which differentiates us from the animal kingdom.”

He said religion was viewed differently in the west, which was why the reaction in the Muslim world to content maligning Islamic personalities was not understood.

“I hear such strange things that Islam is against women and minorities.

“In the first state of Islam, Madina, the state took responsibility of the weak, taxed the rich, spent money on the poor [and] announced that all human beings come from Adam hence they were equal.

“The Prophet, Muhammad PBUH lives in our hearts. The holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it gives them (Jews) pain.

“That’s all we ask. Don’t use freedom of speech to cause us pain,” he concluded.