The News – Military top brass vows continued support to all state institutions

Rawalpindi – Panjab – Pakistan, 13 November 2018. Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday chaired 215th Corps Commanders’ Conference at GHQ.

Inter Services Public Relations, the media wing of the military, in its statement said, the forum reviewed geo-strategic environment and security situation of the country.

“Progress of ongoing operations, fencing along Pakistan-Afghan border, situation along Eastern Border including Indian ceasefire violations deliberately targeting innocent citizens were also discussed”.

Efforts to continue for enduring peace in the country while supporting all initiatives towards regional peace.

The forum expressed its resolve for continued support to all state institutions for ensuring writ of the state and rule of law.


The Tribune – Anti-Sikh riots*: Delegation meets President over notifying name of SIT member

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 13 November 2018. A delegation of eminent citizens, including former Army chief J J Singh and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, met President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday and requested him to ask the Supreme Court to immediately notify the name of third member of the SIT formed to supervise probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.

Besides Lekhi and Singh, the other members of the delegation included Supreme Court senior advocate Rupinder S Suri, Rajasthan additional advocate general Gurcharan S Gill and former MLA R P Singh.

“The SIT which was supposed to give its report within two to three months is not able to function in absence of a member and we have gone to give the representation to the President of India that there should be an immediate notification to name the member,” Lekhi said.

It the letter, the delegation insisted that he asks the apex court to immediately notify the name of third member of the Special Investigation Team formed to monitor further probe into 186 anti-Sikh riots cases of 1984 mainly in Delhi and other states.

“We, the concerned citizens are making this fervent appeal to you for your urgent intervention as things have indeed come to a very sorry pass,” the letter, signed by Lekhi, Singh, Suri and Gill, said.

The SIT has been empowered to examine afresh evidence in cases, which had even been closed. The constitution of the new SIT, however, was delayed as a former IPS officer refused to be its member.

* These were not riots but state sponsored pogroms, comparable with the November 1938 ‘Kristallnacht’ pogroms in Hitler’s Germany.

Associated Press of Pakistan – Sikh body slams Indian diplomat’s interference as a US state declared ‘Sikh genocide day’

New York – State of New York – USA, 13 November 2018. A Sikh advocacy group has protested to the US State Department against what it called was an attempt by the Indian Consul General in New York to interfere in the state of Connecticut’s legislative process, after it declared November 30 as “Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day” to commemorate the killings of thousands of Sikhs in India following the 1984 assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards.

Dawn – Foreign Office confirms talks between Pakistan, Canada over Aasia Bibi

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 13 November 2018. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Aasia Bibi, recently freed from prison following the overturning of her blasphemy conviction by the Supreme Court, in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart on Monday, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Tuesday.

“The Canadian FM appreciated the Supreme Court’s courageous decision and the Prime Minister’s positive speech,” the tweet added.

In a second tweet, the FO spokesperson added: “FM Qureshi said that Aasia Bibi is our national and Pakistan fully respects her legal rights”.

The confirmation of talks between the two governments on the issue came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government was talking to Pakistan over potentially offering asylum to Aasia Bibi.

“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau had said in an interview to AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.

Aasia Bibi has been ‘taken under protection’ by the Pakistani state after the overturning of her conviction prompted a wave of protests by religio-political groups.

After her release from prison, she has been flown to a “safe place”. Several governments have offered to grant her family asylum.

Her husband has appealed in particular to Britain, Canada and the United States, claiming that Aasia Bibi’s life would be in danger as long as she lives in Pakistan.

FM Qureshi meets with Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister, discuss possible ways forward for her “repatriation”

FM Qureshi also met Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister on Tuesday in Islamabad and informed her about the government’s efforts regarding her sister’s case, Radio Pakistan reported.

Dr Aafia was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of United States personnel and is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It is a US federal prison for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.

In a tweet shared on Tuesday, FM Qureshi said that he had asked the Pakistani Consul General in Houston to seek regular consular visits and to “ensure Dr Aafia] Siddiqui’s well being in line with her legal and human rights”.

Qureshi added that he had assured Dr Fauzia Siddiqui of his “full support” and said that the two had also discussed possible ways forward for Dr Aafia’s return.

The New Indian Express – 25 Dalits convert to Buddhism in Shamli alleging discrimination

Dalit leader Devidas Jayant, who also converted, said they had taken the step due to discrimination and atrocities against the community.

Muzaffarnagar – UP – India, 12 November 2018. Twenty-five Dalits converted to Buddhism in a ceremony in Shamli district, alleging discrimination against the community.

Dalit leader Devidas Jayant, who also converted, said they had taken the step due to discrimination and atrocities against the community.

Bodh bhikshu Bhante Pergyashil has performed the conversion ceremony, he said.

Circle Officer Rajesh Kumar Tiwari said the event had not taken place under any coercion and added that everyone had the freedom to follow any religion they desire. – Jallianwala Bagh massacre: How Colonel Dyer exploited the planned gathering as a ‘gift of fortune’

In a new book, Kishwar Desai writes about how the residents of Amritsar were manipulated and insufficiently warned before the massacre in 1919.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 12 November 2018. Since April 13 was a Sunday, many of the shops were closed in any case and the hartal was still on. With the constant presence of the army on the streets, few people would have been out in the morning.

However, at 9.30 am, Dyer decided to make two proclamations, neither of which was likely to have been heard. The Naib Tehsildar who was making the proclamations said he had halted at around 19 places where anywhere between 100 to 500 people had gathered.

Most of them, he said, were jeering, and it was doubtful if anyone grasped the importance of his words. He also mentioned that there were announcements of the Jallianwala Bagh meeting taking place simultaneously, or at least discussions about it.

There are also reports of people staying indoors when Dyer’s entourage passed by. In any case, the terms of the proclamations were unclear, perhaps deliberately so. They were read out to the beat of a drum by the Naib Tehsildar.

The first proclamation said:

The inhabitants of Amritsar are hereby warned that if any property is destroyed or other outrages committed in the vicinity of Amritsar it will be taken that incitement to perform these acts originates from Amritsar City, and such measures will be taken by me to punish the inhabitants of Amritsar according to Military law.

All meetings and gatherings are hereby prohibited and I mean to take action in accordance with Military Laws to forthwith disperse all such assemblies.

It was signed “RE Dyer, Brigadier General, Commanding Jullundur Brigade”.

This was a printed proclamation, as was the first part of the second one. But the final and most crucial part of the second proclamation, which spoke of dispersal by “force of arms”, was only read out.

The first part said:

It is hereby proclaimed to all whom it may concern, that no person residing in the city is permitted or allowed to leave the city in his own private or hired conveyance, or on foot without a pass from one of the following officers:

The Deputy Commissioner

The Superintendent of Police – Mr Rehill

The Deputy Superintendent of Police – Mr Plomer

The Assistant Commissioner – Mr Beckett

Mr Connor, Magistrate

Mr Seymour, Magistrate

Ara Muhammad Hussain, Magistrate

The Police Officer-in-charge of the City Kotwali

This will be a special form and pass

The next part of the proclamation, which was only read out, said:

No person residing in the Amritsar city is permitted to leave his house after 8.00 pm.
Any persons found in the streets after 8.00 pm are liable to be shot.

No procession of any kind is permitted to parade the streets in the city, or any part of the city, or outside of it, at any time. Any such processions or any gathering of four men would be looked upon and treated as an unlawful assembly and dispersed by force of arms, if necessary.

A note by Irving clarified, “I have put in the words ‘if necessary’ in the draft which I was asked to edit in legal language so as to bring it into line with ‘liable to be shot’ in paragraph 2.”

But did the addition of these words really have any preventive impact or was it only to protect Dyer and Irving?

This second (ambiguous) statement was read out in Urdu and Punjabi and it is the addition of the last two words that indicated that some kind of warning would be given before shooting.

The additional information that people would be shot if they were out after 8.00 pm, also made it confusing for most. Many who heard it may have thought that people would only be shot after 8.00 pm if they were still on the streets.

In any case, the proclamation was made at 19 places, none of which were close to Jallianwala Bagh or even the Golden Temple – the most crowded part of the city and an area where even visitors were likely to throng to.

For the residents of Amritsar who wanted to attend, the fact that a respected local elder and barrister, Kanhya Lal, was going to address the assembly meant they could expect to receive some “sound advice”.

Kanhya Lal himself said in his evidence to the Congress Committee: “I heard that some men (who have not been traced up to this time to my knowledge) had on the 13th April, proclaimed that a lecture would be given at Jallianwala Bagh by me.

This led or induced the public to think that I should have given them some sound advice on the situation then existing.”

A boy with a tin can had also gone around announcing that Kanhya Lal would preside over the 4.30 pm meeting at Jallianwala Bagh. He too could not be traced later. Neither could Hans Raj, the person said to have called the meeting, be questioned about the meeting, as he became a government witness in the “Amritsar Conspiracy Case”.

He did not give evidence before the Hunter Committee as he had left for Mesopotamia by then.

Some historians suspect that Hans Raj was used to gather a crowd because Dyer wanted a large number of people to be “punished”.

That the meeting was going to be held at 4.30 pm was confirmed at 1.00 pm to Dyer, who remained at Ram Bagh till at least 4.00 pm, and later said, “I went there as soon as I could. I had to think the matter out. I had to organise my forces and make up my mind as to where I might put my pickets.

I thought I had done enough to make the crowd not meet. If they were going to meet I had to consider the military situation and make up my mind what to do, which took me a certain amount of time.”

The “military situation” meant he must have asked for a map of the area and studied how he could attack the enemy, with maximum impact. He was proud of his technical skills.

Something of what was going through his mind is in his biography, The Life of General Dyer, written by Ian Colvin, in close association with Dyer’s wife, Anne, in 1929. Puzzled about how to attack the “rebels”, he had exulted over the “gift of fortune” when the “rebels” decided to congregate in an open space.

He wanted to take “immediate action” on the Amritsar “mob” which had tasted blood and “began to feel themselves masters of the situation”. He realised that he needed to bring a sizeable crowd together, but how could he do it?

In the narrow streets, among the high houses and mazy lanes and courtyards of the city the rebels had the advantage of position. They could harass him and avoid his blow. Street fighting he knew to be a bloody, perilous, inconclusive business, in which, besides, the innocent were likely to suffer more than the guilty.

Moreover, if the rebels chose their ground cunningly, and made their stand in the neighbourhood of the Golden Temple, there was the added risk of kindling the fanaticism of the Sikhs. Thus he was in this desperate situation: he could not wait and he could not fight.

The fact that the rebels themselves chose to go to an open space, where they could be corralled in was an unexpected “gift of fortune”: something he could only have hoped for and not devised. As his admirer Ian Colvin said, now the enemy was within easy reach of his sword.

“The enemy had committed such another mistake as prompted Cromwell to exclaim at Dunbar: ‘The Lord hath delivered them into my hands.’”

For Dyer, this was not a murderous attack on defenceless, innocent people. For him the people assembled were all guilty; it was a state of war, in which he wanted to teach them a “moral” lesson. He assumed all of those present at Jallianwala Bagh to be guilty without any idea of who they were.

Dyer’s planning was impeccable. He ensured that he conscripted soldiers who were sufficiently removed from Punjab so they were able to shoot without compunction. He deliberately took no British troops, because he wanted no blame to fall on them. He took none of the other commanders, what would have happened if they resisted his orders?

He was thus accompanied by twenty-five Gurkhas and twenty-five Baluchis armed with rifles. These were fierce fighters and the Gurkhas, especially, were incredibly loyal. They had no connections with Punjab, they did not even know the language.

Aware that if the crowd rushed towards him, there might be hand-to-hand combat, he took forty Gurkhas armed only with khukris. He was prepared for a bloodbath. Knowing fully well that they would not fit into the entrance, he took two armoured cars.

This was more for effect and, if things got out of hand, for escape. He also placed pickets all along the routes to the Bagh so people could be shot even if they escaped.

As the Hunter Committee admitted in its report to the British Parliament in 1920, “It appears that General Dyer, as soon as he heard about the contemplated meeting, made up his mind to go there with troops and fire” because they had “defied his authority” by assembling.

The fact that they may have been unaware of his prohibitory orders was not important for him. He wanted to create a “wide impression”.

He said, “If they disobeyed my orders it showed that there was complete defiance of law, that there was something much more serious behind it than I imagined, that therefore these were rebels, and I must not treat them with gloves on. They had come to fight if they defied me, and I was going to teach them a lesson.”

In his defence, British historians have said that he took a very small force and that he was surprised by the crowd that he found, forcing him to react the way he did. This is contrary to the facts.

He had carefully calculated how he would spread the force available to him all around the city and an aircraft flying over the meeting had already conveyed to him the strength of the crowd.

He stationed around fifty men to protect his Ram Bagh base, and also dropped off five pickets of forty each en route to Jallianwala Bagh. It was thus that he was left with “fifty rifles, forty armed Gurkhas and two armoured cars”. But he also had another fifty stationed at the Kotwali, which was not very far from Jallianwala Bagh.

Of course, the people assembling at the Bagh had no inkling of his plan, while he knew about their meeting. The CID, based in the Kotwali, were keeping a close eye on the assembly, as they had been asked to do. They too did not request people to leave, or stop them from going to the Bagh, following the morning proclamation by Dyer.

This would have added to the confidence of the gathering at Jallianwala Bagh, as the police would have watched them assemble and done nothing about it. Some members of the CID and a few police constables were even seen at the gathering, as was normal.

It is also interesting to note that despite the large presence of the army and the discomfort and deprivations they had been subjected to, the people of Amritsar still had faith in the system, in each other and, to a large extent, the British.

They were defiant, but also sombre, after the deaths on April 10, they could not imagine that a peaceful gathering, so close to the Golden Temple, on the festive day of Baisakhi could become a bloodbath.

The events of April 10 were seen as an aberration. The two days of calm that followed had given them false hope, leading them to believe that things had calmed down and they could carry on with their satyagraha.

Excerpted with permission from Jallianwalla Bagh, 1919: The Real Story, Kishwar Desai, Westland.
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The Hindu – Explosion in front of high school rocks Kabul

Blast took place close to where Afghans have been protesting against Taliban attacks on the minority Hazara ethnic group.

Kabut – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 12 November 2018. Casualties are feared after a huge explosion rocked Kabul on Monday close to where scores of Afghans had been protesting against Taliban attacks on the minority Hazara ethnic group.

The blast struck in front of a high school in the downtown area of the Afghan capital, the interior ministry said.

A photo shared on the popular WhatsApp messaging app showed several bodies lying on the ground.

“It was a huge blast near Istiqlal high school, very close to where the demonstrators were gathering,” witness Qais Nawabi told AFP.

A police officer at the scene said he could see 10 to 15 casualties on the ground, as well as body parts.

“It is hard to see whether it was a suicide attack or a bomb [that had been planted],” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Hundreds of protesters, including university students, had taken to the streets of Kabul to demand the deployment of reinforcements to Hazara-dominated districts in Ghazni province which have been attacked by the Taliban.

Hazaras are not just an ethnic community, most of them are also Shia Muslims.
To learn more about Hazaras you should  read ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini.
Man in Blue

Tolo News – Khalilzad meets with Ghani on first leg of regional visit

The presidential palace said Khalilzad will likely return to Kabul after visiting Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 11 November 2018. President Ashraf Ghani met with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday night, the presidential palace said in a statement on Sunday.

According to the statement, Ghani was briefed on the envoy’s schedule over the next week, which will see him visit a number of countries in the region.

Ghani thanked Khalilzad for the work he’s doing to bring about peace and discussed issues around his second trip to the region, the statement added.

The statement said it is expected that Khalilzad will return to Kabul to give feedback to Ghani after visiting Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE.

Khalilzad was in the region last month, stopping first in Kabul before visiting four other countries and meeting with the Taliban in Qatar.

After wrapping up his trip he returned to Kabul and briefed the government on his meetings. He also called on the Afghan Government and the Taliban to establish official negotiating teams.

Steps have been taken with regards to this.

On Saturday, the office of the Chief Executive of the National Unity Government welcomed efforts by Khalilzad to bring about peace.

One of the CEO’s spokesmen, Omid Maisam, said the only way to ensure peace in Afghanistan is to put pressure on the Taliban and on countries which are supporting the group.

“I hope that the efforts by Mr. Khalilzad will continue as it is, so that we will witness tangible results,” said Maisam.

The US State Department said last week, Khalilzad, along with a delegation, will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar between November 8 and 20.

The Tribune – Akali Dal expels MP Brahmpura, Ajnala, their sons from party

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 November 2018. The Shiromnai Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday expelled its MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, his son Ravinder Brahmpura, former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala and his son Bonny Ajnala from the party.

The decision was taken in the core committee meeting of party.

Brahmpura, MP from Khadoor Sahib, had last month quit from the party posts of senior vice-president and core committee member, citing “age and deteriorating health”.

He had confessed that he was unhappy with the pardon to Sirsa dera chief (rescinded later) in a blasphemy case and the Bargari sacrilege incidents.

Brahmpura had been gunning for party president Sukhbir Badal and former minister Bikram Majithia, accusing the duo of “destroying” the reputation of the party, Akal Takht and the SGPC.

He had also accused the two leaders of running mafia and managing pardon for dera chief and Bargari killings.

“When dera supporters were protesting, the SAD didn’t even warn them, but when Sikhs were protesting peacefully at Bargari, cops were ordered to open fire at them,” Brahmpura had claimed.

Brahmpura and Ajnala along with former Cabinet minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan had virtually raised a banner of revolt saying “all was not well within the party”, a day after veteran leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had resigned on 30 September.

Earlier this month, Shiromani Akali Dal had expelled Sekhwan, a two-time minister, from the primary membership of the party minutes after he had announced his resignation as senior vice-president and core committee member.

Dawn – Aasia Bibi case: JuD says it believes in legal recourse

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Lahore – Pakistan – Panjab, 11 November 2018. The Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) has some reservations over the Aasia Bibi issue but it also has respect for the national institutions including the judiciary and that’s why it did not join the recent protest.

Explaining the low profile of the JuD in the otherwise violent protests by religio-political parties, party spokesman Ahmed Nadeem told Dawn that the party issued protest call for Friday last two days after the court decision was announced.

But as the protests started going violent, the JuD decided to restrict itself to Friday sermons instead of coming on the roads.

“The day the decision was announced, the party consultative body was already in meeting. It discussed the decision threadbare and consulted senior lawyers on the issue. After the consultation, the party thought that it was legal mistake and can only be rectified through legal process.

After all, the trial court sentenced her to death after a long trial. Later, the Lahore High Court upheld the sentence. Now the Supreme Court has set her free, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

“The JuD was of the opinion that the quantum of the benefit of the doubt (whether it was reasonable or not) can only be judged by lawyers and only they could plead it before court. So, instead of taking to the street, the party decided to wait for exhaustion of the legal process.

That is precisely why the JuD chief was the first to demand a review petition. Others (Mufti Munib, Sirajul Haq et al) followed him the next day,” says Mr Nadeem.

Substantiating his claim of non-violence being party philosophy, Mr Nadeem said the party kept its cool even when the government took over its charity organisations. It only challenged the decision in court.

It did not go violent when its leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was arrested in January this year and the party chief himself had directed his men to stay peaceful and concentrate on Kashmir Day.

“It only goes to prove that the party respects the legal process and will wait for its exhaustion,” he said and added: “It was very much part of a day-long (Friday) peaceful protest but went quiet when protests turned violent.”