The News – Siraj welcomes Saudi crown prince’s visit

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 February 2018. Ameer JI Senator Sirajul Haq has welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to the country and hoped that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would join hands to pull the Muslim world out of the mire of problems.

In a statement here, he said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were linked together in eternal bonds and the relations between them were time old and unshakable.

The two countries were like two bodies with a single soul, he added. The JI chief said that late King Faisal Shaheed considered Pakistan his second home and the grand Faisal Mosque and the International Islamic University in Islamabad were the manifestations of his love for this country.

Sirajul Haq said that both the countries were the centre of the Muslim Ummah’s hope.


Dawn – Fresh polio case in Punjab after two years

Asif Chaudhry

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 February 2019. A new polio case has surfaced after a gap of two years in Punjab and seven years in Lahore.

The case was reported from Shalamar Town where the crippling disease has affected eight-month-old Yashif who was said to be vaccinated soon after his birth.

The health authorities confirmed the boy had been diagnosed with paralysis in right leg.

A health official told Dawn the last case was reported in Jan 2017 in Lodhran district where a baby was declared positive for the polio virus.

The surfacing of the new case in Punjab’s capital has put a big question mark on the performance of provincial health authorities who are already facing allegations of taking inadequate precautionary measures.

The official said 29 environmental samples of polio virus were reported positive in Punjab last year.

He said seven environmental samples drawn from various cities of the province in Jan 2017 alone were declared positive.

Of them, four were reported positive in Lahore, two in Rawalpindi and one in Faisalabad. He said the virus returned to Faisalabad after a gap of two years or so.

Dawn – Domestic violence

Editorial, 13 February 2019. Once again, religious parties are creating hurdles in the passing of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill.

The bill was introduced in the provincial assembly early this week after being approved by the provincial cabinet in 2018.

The stated purpose of the bill is to prevent domestic violence against women and to protect them from sexual, psychological and economic abuse. If passed, women from KP or their guardians can file complaints to 10-member committees headed by district deputy commissioners, which will provide assistance to them.

Any person found guilty of abuse would be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to Rs30,000 (or both) under the Pakistan Penal Code.

Undoubtedly, this will be a welcome move for the women of KP who deserve just as much security as their counterparts in other areas of the country. But whenever such laws are discussed, opposition voices are raised using the rhetoric of ‘culture’ and ‘family’.

It was only last month that KP appointed its first provincial ombudsperson for sexual harassment, after much resistance from certain quarters.

In 2016, Punjab passed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, 2015. Over the years, Punjab has had the most instances of violence against women, or at least the most reported.

The law offers protection to women against a range of abhorrent crimes: domestic violence, emotional, economic and psychological abuse and cyber crime. Additionally, it provides protection, residence and/or monetary order in light of such offences.

Prior to this, Sindh had passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2013, and Balochistan passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2014. While these laws may have their deficiencies and loopholes, and are open to criticism and thus improvement, they are absolutely vital in recognising that violence against women is a crime in the eyes of the state.

Violence is another form of control, and there is no end to the many ways society attempts to ‘control’ women through judgement or coercion.

Inherent to these notions of control are knee-jerk reactions and deep-seated fears of women gaining independence, and men subsequently losing their power over them, which somehow translates into the breaking up of families for some. This is simply untrue.

And if families are indeed being kept together through fear and violence, that is not a healthy environment for any member of the unit to be in, in the first place, least of all the most vulnerable member, who has to suffer just to fulfil someone else’s abstract ideals.

Such regressive attitudes infantalise adult women by casting doubt on their decision-making faculties, and are used as a tool to justify oppression.

All women citizens deserve a life free of intimidation, harassment and abuse both within and outside their homes. Domestic violence is not to be taken lightly.

Pakistan Observer – Foreign delegation visits Harkishan Singh Fort

Haripur – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 12 February 2019. A 20-member delegation of Sikh devotees from America and Singapore Monday visited Harkishan Singh Fort Haripur and paid homage to their ancestors.

During the visit to Harkashan Singh fort the Sikh pilgrims thanked civil society, journalists and social activists for giving them warm welcome.

The 20 member delegation visited various parts of the fort and also inspected the historical archive of the fort. The delegation was told that fort Harkishan Singh was constructed year before Haripur city.

The Hindu – New immigration checkpoint for Kartarpur Sahib corridor

Centre designates Dera Baba Nanak check post in Gurdaspur

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 11 February 2019. The Home Ministry has designated the Dera Baba Nanak land check post in Gurdaspur district, the exit and entry point in Punjab for visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, as an authorised immigration checkpoint.

In a notification, the Ministry said on Monday that anyone with valid travel documents could exit or enter through the check post.

“In pursuance of sub-rule (b) of rule 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, the central government hereby designates Dera Baba Nanak Land Check Post of District Gurdaspur, Punjab State as an authorised Immigration Check Post for entry into/exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers,” the notification said.

Sikh bodies have been petitioning both the governments to build a pilgrim corridor over the border from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to Kartarpur in the Narowal province of Pakistani Punjab. The plan is to complete the project by November 23, the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

On November 26 last year, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone of the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib Corridor (up to the International Border) at an event at Mann village in Gurdaspur district. On November 28, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the 4-km corridor on the Pakistan side, which is expected to be completed by 2019.

Pakistan Today – Former Indian Chief Minister lauds Prime Minister Imran Khan, criticises Indian government over renaming cities

News Desk, 11 February 2019. Former Indian Jammu and Kashmir chief minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti has lauded Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for his decision to name the Baloki forest reserve after Guru Nanak while slamming the Indian government for its regressive attitude.

Comparing the Pakistani government to the one in India, Mehbooba said that it was disappointing that the Indian government was only interested in changing the names of monuments and old cities bearing Muslim names while the Pakistani premier had proved to be progressive.

Taking to Twitter, she said, “How times change. Centre’s top priority is seemingly renaming historic cities & building Ram Mandir. On the other hand, heartening to see that Pakistan Prime Minister has initiated steps to name Baloki forest reserve after Guru Nanak ji & create a university under his name”.

Further, speaking to the Indian media on Monday, the former Indian CM once again drew comparisons between the two neighbouring countries and their recent actions.

”Monuments and old cities with Muslim names are being given Hindu names. There’s a race to build the temple. Muslims are killed in the name of cow vigilantism, instead of taking action, the central government puts them in jails under NSA like in MP. Politics is being done in name of Hindutva,” she said.

”In Pakistan, they formed an Act to save temples and want to name a forest reserve and a university after Guru Nanak ji. If you compare, you’ll feel that there is some kind of exchange between our nation formed on the foundation of secularism and Pakistan formed on basis of religion,” she added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Indian cities of Allahabad and Faizabad were renamed Prayagraj and Ayodhya, respectively.

Dawn – Refusing to learn

Umair Javed

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 11 February 2019. The brazen police-led harassment of academic and activist, Dr Ammar Jan, for his participation in a PTM-affiliated protest revealed once more the Pakistani state’s attitude and approach towards progressive politics.

While others have written and will continue to write about recent events, it is also worth zooming out and seeing these as part of the general approach towards political conflict in the country.

All disagreement on the distribution of resources (such as revenue, subsidies, and natural resources like water and gas), the distribution of rights (such as citizenship, law, personal and organisational freedoms, and other associated liberties), and the distribution of authority (who gets to decide the first two) can be categorised as political conflict.

Pakistan’s history shows one primary axis of political conflict, the state (or the centre) versus peripheral regions. These regions represent politicised ethnic collectivities, and thus the central question in political contestation has been over the distribution of resources, rights, and authority for these regions/ethnic groups.

Ethnic conflict was around when Pakistan became an independent state.

However, at varying points in the past, class conflict (especially during the 1960s and 1970s) and religious conflict (during the last two decades) has also coloured the political field.

Ethnic, class and religious conflict are substantively different. The former lends itself to geographical secessionism, as it has at various points in the past. Class and religious conflict is more about the nature of the state.

Despite these differences, the approach of the dominant order of power, whether one calls it the ruling elite, or by its precise institutional edifice, the military and its junior partners, to ethnic and class conflict in particular has followed the same pattern: coercion, blowback, escalation, and suppression.

In one domain it has been successful, class conflict was coercively dealt with both by Bhutto and, more forcefully, by Zia through their assault on the labour and peasant movements. It is thus a figment of the past for old people, and fails to register in the contemporary imagination of young people.

It is a rare instance of the state succeeding with its bludgeoning approach to the point that the challenger no longer poses an institutionalised threat to the dominant order of power. Poor people are so burdened by the anxieties of basic subsistence that claim-making for a new social contract with the state does not figure into their lived reality.

Religious conflict has seen the most interesting history. It is where the state has remained the most accommodative, and used coercion only when the institutional interests of the military have been challenged.

Our constitutional and legislative history, and law books more generally, are a testament to the generosity of the state as far as religious claim-making is concerned.

But it is ethnic claim-making where the dominant order of power has persisted with a largely coercive approach and refused to exhibit any amount of learning. This is ironic (and frankly astounding) given the sheer number of occasions offered for a rethink.

Ethnic conflict was around when Pakistan became an independent state. It appeared forcefully when disputes emerged over the nature of constitutional design in the early years of independence; it displayed its strength in the first provincial assembly polls in erstwhile East Pakistan in the early 1950s.

It escalated during much of the 1960s, when legislative debates showed representatives of the (numerically dominant but politically peripheral) ethnic group, the Bengalis, warning the military-bureaucratic oligarchy of resource distribution imbalances.

And it reached its ultimate crescendo in the civil war that followed a failure of the dominant order to respect a democratic mandate.

But inexplicably, the stark nature of the outcome (an independent state) was insufficient to persuade the state that ethnic grievances could be handled in some other form.

So brute strength was used again in the aftermath of Bhutto’s NAP government dismissal in Balochistan, against Sindhi nationalists in the 1980s, against Urdu-speakers’ mobilisation in the 1990s, against the Baloch (again) from the mid-2000s onwards, and now against the mobilised Pakhtun youth of Fata.

The instruments of coercion have evolved to include smear campaigns, enforced disappearances, and heavy censorship, alongside the use of brute force.

There is no attempt to understand the underlying nature of the problem, ie the distribution of resources or rights, nor is there any other lens available to see the problem except that of national (in)security and nefarious foreign designs.

This is a logical outcome of decision-making remaining in the hands of an institution trained only to see all political conflict as a security and sovereignty-related issue. If the strategists running affairs of the state were to truly reflect on the country’s history, they would see external drivers of conflict as, at best, marginally influential.

The tragedy is that since 2008, the country has seen some marginal progress in the development of an institutional framework that provides for non-violent resolution of political conflicts.

Its most obvious forms are the limited workings of a civilian government, a functioning legislature, and the 18th Amendment that resolved some basic resource and authority-related conflicts.

But now we hear planted voices all day that this solution has weakened the centre, and thus weakened the country, a spurious correlation that has persisted for seven decades.

As a country that is constitutionally mandated to operate as a democracy, and with a history of failed attempts at coercion, accommodation, autonomy, and transparency are primordial tasks that should not require such vocal enunciation.

It is unfortunate that they do and that enunciation is done with little effect. And it will be an even more unfortunate riposte to history when in an attempt to centralise power further and bludgeon a ‘post-ethnic’ state into being, the dominant order removes even those moderately functioning platforms of conflict resolution that have emerged in the last decade.

The Statesman – Social activist seeks unseating of Farooq Abdullah from Lok Sabha

Khajuria urged the speaker that since it was an urgent and important matter, it should be taken up on a priority basis and action initiated against Abdullah as the term of the 16th Lok Sabha was nearing completion.

S P Sharma

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 10 February 2019. A social activist, Sukesh Khajuria, has sought the disqualification of Farooq Abdullah from the Lok Sabha for allegedly making “seditious” remarks pertaining to Kashmir.

Khajuria has written a letter to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expedite the complaint against Abdullah which he made earlier. Earlier, the speaker had referred the complaint to the Committee on Petitions of Parliament, Khajuria said.

Khajuria urged the speaker that since it was an urgent and important matter, it should be taken up on a priority basis and action initiated against Abdullah as the term of the 16th Lok Sabha was nearing completion.

Khajuria had filed the complaint on the basis of news reports in which Abdullah had reportedly said that Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) now belongs to Pakistan while the other side belongs to India.

Pakistan Today – ‘The Betrayal of India’

India’s Devious Face

Jameel Farooqui

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 06 February 2019. In the contemporary world, countries’ foreign policy makers do not leave any stone unturned in promoting their national interests through their competitors’ imprudence. Here is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan whose intelligentsia misses the possibilities of stoking its narrative in the international arena.

History will record that when the journalists, analysts and anchorpersons of Pakistan were bemoaning the disqualification, subsequent punishment and Kot Lakhpat Jail of ousted prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, when Indian guns were spewing bullets on the LOC near Azad Kashmir, when the Sikh community of Indian Punjab was burning the Indian flag outside the Indian Council in Washington to promote its separation cause, had Pakistan wanted to it could have won a monumental political, social, technical and diplomatic ‘war’ on the foreign policy horizon.

What’s even more shameful is that we’re busy inquiring where Baba Rehmata has gone to after his retirement, what options of NRO does Nawaz Sharif have, how long would Imran Khan’s present cabinet last, what good is the Public Accounts Committee for, why did Fawad Khan sing the anthem for PSL4, when will Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan realise the error of his ways?

Amongst all these breaking headlines we have neglected an extremely significant book ‘The Betrayal of India’, and have continued to do so for a year and a half now, probably because Pakistan as a state is not part of our priorities or the fact that we are so engrossed in showcasing elements of entertainment on our news channels that we didn’t realise what we are losing along the way.

Had the contents of this book been used strategically, India would have experienced a colossal fall on the international level and the web of lies woven by Indian media regarding Mumbai attacks could have been dismantled. Fact of the matter is that truth will start dawning upon us only if we start realising that the conventional weapons of war have been done away with/that wars fought with tanks and bullets are a thing of the past now, now eons are spent in the image-building and branding of states, and multitudes of think tanks are employed for this purpose whose vision and mindsets are devoted to win the diplomatic warfront.

Elias Davidsson is a German Jewish author. His world renowned book ‘Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11’ containing some hard-hitting revelations stirred up a storm in the global arena. Davidsson has been heavily criticised in the west for his unconventional investigative style but a certain group of people respects Davidsson’s perspective and commends his findings.

On 26 November 2008 when the Indian city Mumbai was rattled with resounding explosions and bullets, the entire blame fell upon Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

Mumbai police had only just reported that the perpetrators of the attack had been arrested alive that the entire Indian media started raising hue and cry against Pakistan. In an effort to create a state-wide hysteria, the Indian media left no stone unturned in demonising the state of Pakistan.

With a heavy heart, we must acquiesce that India is far superior in utilising their lobbying tools, they are far-sighted, swift in action and aware of the art of propagation.

Pakistan’s news media added further fuel to the fire; they managed to paint the whole picture from Ajmal Kasab and his abettors’ alleged route from Pakistan via sea to Mumbai to the attack on different areas of the city including that on Taj Hotel.

(For the record, going against state policy and nationalism/patriotism, Ajmal Kasab’s alleged relation to Pakistan was established in a private news channel’s report).

If Pakistan is blamed, the state is subjected to international pressure and accused of state-sponsored terrorism. The aftereffects of this news haunt us to this day because India reiterates its narrative of Mumbai attack at every diplomatic event, conspiring to put external pressure on the state of Pakistan.

Putting aside India’s propaganda, Elias Davidsson has revealed some shocking facts regarding the Mumbai attack in his book ‘The Betrayal of India’. The book comprises 905 pages and every page reflects India’s hideous reality backed by strong evidences.

Through this book, Davidsson has tried proving that the Mumbai attack on 26 November 2008 was a scripted and hatched drama directed by the Indian and Israeli Intelligence Agencies, RAW and Mossad. The author has deemed ‘David Headley’, the most significant actor associated with this incident, a distraction from the actual event.

According to the first 300 pages of the book, the documented proofs and witnesses in the case of Mumbai attack actually prove that the whole incident was a drama.

Some of India’s greatest institutions including the central government, parliament, bureaucracy, army, Mumbai police, RAW, judiciary and media purposefully tried to cloak the truth of the attack; the book also contains shocking facts about anti-Pakistan thinker Henry Kissinger and US Foreign Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

The author claims that both these characters were privy to India’s scripted drama and such a drama where the statements of witnesses, identification of perpetrators, evidential objects and even the impressions given by common people are so incoherent and unfounded that anybody can deduce the facts by themselves.

Nowhere in these 300 pages has Davidsson given his personal opinion about the incident, rather 99pc of the material is based on concrete proofs and facts.

Elias Davidsson has done some groundbreaking investigative work but one cannot help but salute the Pakistani government and media that they did not even budge an inch. Should the Pakistani media that had so successfully picturised Ajmal Kasab’s alleged journey from the Pakistani soil and given the details of the Mumbai attack not have played on this breaking revelation?

What’s shameful is that this news piece was given a cursory place in the bulletin and neither the state machinery nor the media tried to make the most of it. There was no program on it. No documentary was made on it, nobody even bothered to conduct Davidsson’s interview on it.

As far as the state is concerned, the Pakistani government should have knocked on the doors of International Court of Justice and the United Nations to reveal India’s vile face, but for reasons unknown, this matter was silenced. And the silence continues.

With a heavy heart, we must acquiesce that India is far superior in utilising their lobbying tools, they are far-sighted, swift in action and aware of the art of propagation. Take for example India’s reaction on ‘Chhabahar’ and their relation with Afghanistan.

We are quite behind in lobbying techniques and tackling news at the international level for which the burden lies on our stakeholders.

The issues that are quite secondary for us are given unnecessary primary importance, our media faces the same dilemma. We are ignorant of our state’s working policy; Priya Prakash Varrier’s arched eyebrow remains the more significant issue for us than the revelations in Davidsson’s book.

If our state including ISPR and our government including the interior and foreign ministers continue playing with the same defensive policy on the diplomatic pitch instead of playing to their full advantage then our upcoming generations would have to face consistent defeats in this consular tussle.

The enemy is quite cunning and shrewd; if we remain entrapped in the farcical elements and frauds existing in our politics and government, the gravity of situation might shift this war from the diplomatic front to the borders.

I do not know whether this version of the story behind the Mumbai attacks is true, but I think it is useful to at least consider this version of the events.
Man in Blue

The Hindustan Times – Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s remark on minorities an insult: Government

New Delhi – India, 09 February 2019. India on Saturday rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that members of Indian minorities are treated like “second class citizens”, saying they were an “egregious insult” to all Indians.

Addressing a ceremony, Khan said his government would ensure equal status and rights to minorities in Pakistan, and would not allow them to be treated as “second class citizens” like minorities of India.

Responding to queries on Khan’s remarks, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “Pakistan PM’s remarks are an egregious insult to all citizens of India.”

Kumar said Khan “has yet again demonstrated his lack of understanding about India’s secular polity and ethos”. He added Khan “overlooks the obvious fact that adherents of all faiths choose to live under the democratic polity and the progressive Constitution of India.

India has eminent leaders of all faiths who occupy its highest constitutional and official positions. In contrast, Pakistani citizens of non-Islamic faith are barred from occupying high constitutional offices.

The minorities are often turned away from government bodies like the Economic Advisory Council of their Prime Minister, even in ‘naya Pakistan’,” he said.