The Times of India – Row over civil surgeon’s circular

Bharat Khanna

Patiala, 22 August 2017. The Patiala civil surgeon’s circular asking the medical officers (MOs) in the district to remain prepared for a quick emergency response in anticipation of clashes between Sikhs and the dera followers after the August 25 CBI verdict in the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has drawn severe criticism on social media where it got circulated.

“It is completely a matter of rule of law. Sikhs are not in the picture then how can anyone blame the community for any probable clash?

It is not a matter related to the Sikhs. It is a conspiracy of the government to pollute the matter and make it an issue between the Sikhs and the dera followers. We have always raised our voice for peace,” said Gurdeep Singh, United Akali Dal general secretary.

However, Patiala civil surgeon Dr Balwinder Singh said that he had just forwarded the letter as received from the office of the deputy commissioner. “I had cited the letter issued from the DC office on August 16.” Patiala DC Kumar Amit could not be contacted for comments.

The Tribune – Writer Sangat Singh of ‘Sikhs in History’ fame dead

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 20 August 2017. Writer Sangat Singh who acquired fame for his books on the history of the Sikh community passed award here. He was cremated on Sunday.

Singh, who retired as an officer in the Ministry of External Affairs wrote “Sikhs in History” and also on events around the 1984 riots.

Former chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh recalled that Sangat Singh wrote extensively on the happenings of 1984 and brought new facts in his book which became very popular in Sikh diaspora.

He travelled a lot for lectures on Sikh history.

The bhog ceremony will be on August 26 in Gurdwara Greater Kailash, Part-2, New Delhi, he said.

The Hindu – Open-ended USA presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan on notice, bigger role for India: Trump’s South Asia policy

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” Mr Trump said.

Varghese K George

Washington, 22 August 2017. Unveiling a new strategy for South Asia on Monday that has many elements of continuity from the past, President Donald Trump said the USA troops would stay in Afghanistan for an open-ended period of time and America would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s policy of harbouring terrorists.

Mr Trump said America’s strategic partnership with India will deepen in South Asia and the Indo-Pacfic and demanded that India make more financial contribution for the stabilisation of Afghanistan. The President linked this demand to India’s trade surplus with America saying, India makes “billions and billions of dollars” in trade.

In agreeing to continue with American engagement in Afghanistan, Mr. Trump deferred to the advise of conventional military planners in his administration. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” the President said, adding that once he studied the Afghanistan situation, he changed his mind.

He did not announce any increase in troops, but said the military will have more operational autonomy to pursue terrorists, and commanders have been given authority to attack whenever they chose to.

“…we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.

These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American arms,” the President said, indicating willingness for a new wave of American offensive against Islamist groups in South Asia.

The News – Entire nation pays glowing tribute to Dr Ruth Pfau

Karachi, 19 August 2017. The entire nation pays glowing tribute to Dr Ruth Pfau, who dedicated her entire life to fight leprosy in the country.

Her death has created a vacuum that is not easy to fill, PML-N, Karachi chapter, said in a statement on Saturday.

The services rendered by Dr Ruth for the ailing humanity would be remembered in golden words in history. It was Dr Ruth’s relentess efforts that included Pakistan on the WHO’s list of countries that had controlled leprosy.

In 1996, Pakistan became one of the first countries in Asia to achieve this goal.

PML-N Karachi General Secretary Khawaja Tariq Nazir, Abdul Hameed Butt and others said that Dr Ruth’s long struggle had almost eradicated the deadly disease from the country.

Earlier, Dr Ruth’s state funeral was performed with national honours at Karachi’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and others attended the burial ceremony of Dr Ruth.

For more information on Ruth Pau go to : – French national Pal Singh granted full release from Punjab jail

Sikh24 Editors

Patiala-Panjab-India, 19 August 2017. Prisoner welfare organization, Sikh Relief, have announced that Bhai Pal Singh, a French national, has been granted a full release after being incarcerated for seven years in jail, where he endured much physical and mental pain.

Bhai Pal Singh was arrested when he was conducting humanitarian work in villages across Punjab, trying to raise awareness against drugs and promoting Sikh principles.

With Bhai Pal Singh’s dedicated and determined work, many of Punjab’s youth that he came in contact with gave up drugs. He was dedicated to helping a new generation of Sikhs in Punjab. This reportedly upset the Punjab Government and led to the unwarranted arrest and detainment of Bhai Pal Singh.

The Sikh Relief organization (formerly SOPW – Sikh Organization for Prisoner Welfare), were instrumental in funding Pal Singh’s defense attorneys and fighting his case through court. They made the announcement regarding his release on bail earlier today.

In a press release from Sikh Relief, chairman Balbir Singh Bains said, “It has taken years for the justice system to acknowledge the right to liberty of those who are demonstrably innocent, even if only granting bail, pending an appeal.

The Indian justice system would benefit society greatly if it worked with an organisations like ours and helped heal the mistrust of the Sikh community that feels oppressed by the judiciary and political classes.”

Eurasiareview – Remembering 1947 Partition: where do India and Pakistan stand now? – Analysis

Vincent Lofaso

21 August 2017. Seventy years ago, India and Pakistan were divided into two separate nations by the British, which led to one of the world’s largest migrations of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in history. The violence has killed and separated millions.

Hindus were afraid they wouldn’t be welcomed in Pakistan while Muslims were afraid they wouldn’t be welcomed in India. Seventy years since separation, three wars have been fought between the subcontinent countries, and they eventually became nuclear powers.

The bitter tensions still remain, but it is vitally important for both India and Pakistan to move forward towards normalization.

Are India and Pakistan Still Living in the Past?

The British announced that India would be divided based on religious majority areas as well as considering the opinions of Princely States that were ruled by the Maharajas.

The Maharajas decided whether to be a part of India or become a part of the Muslim majority country of Pakistan, but the problem was that the Muslim majority areas were both in the west and the east of the subcontinent. Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of the British Raj, was the officer who oversaw the partition.

The 1947 partition of India and Pakistan changed the dynamic of history, but Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs who felt like minorities in certain areas decided to move and this resulted in around a million casualties during the migration, and around 14 million fled their homes on both sides of the border.

Shortly after partition, India and Pakistan went to war in 1948, and in 1971, another war broke out in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Ever since the 1971 war, Kashmir has been divided by the Line of Control (LOC).

When Cyril Radcliffe drew out the international borders of the two new nations, he did not finish the project, and after the Punjab was divided in half, Kashmir’s fate was unclear after partition.

Now that separation turned into a reality, why can’t India and Pakistan live together? There is a Hindu majority in India and a Muslim majority in Pakistan, but it remains unrealistic that the trajectory of India-Pakistan relations will change because of competitive nationalism.

For example, on the Kashmir issue, many Pakistanis want this issue to be resolved first before any more dialogue between India and Pakistan can be facilitated. However, many Indian elites wanted a peaceful resolution than the Pakistani elites because the Pakistani elites were dominated by the military, and wanted to continue the conflict.

In 2017, we still see a hardening of tensions on both sides of the border, and there is a lack of appetite for a rapprochement or engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad. The rise of nationalism is still a significant reason why many Indians and Pakistanis are living in the past.

Normalization is the Only Way: For Better or Worse

The wounds of 1947, which India and Pakistan thought they had dealt with in their own ways, have reopened. An area that both sides have a huge disagreement on is on the terrorism issue.

India blaming Pakistan for smuggling terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba across the border in Kashmir, and Pakistan accusing India of supporting separatist movements in Baluchistan.

On this issue, both countries need to start dialogue from which both New Delhi and Islamabad are running away, and both countries are being run by hawks that are only building on competitive nationalism and negative attitudes that only make relations worse.

For the time being, there is no real solution to any normalization of creating an atmosphere for dialogue where India and Pakistan can discuss serious global issues.

At this moment, India-Pakistan relations do not look very hopeful, but relations cannot get any worse than what we are seeing right now. For seventy years, both countries have failed to talk to each other because they play the blame game at each other instead of using peaceful dialogue to resolve regional and global issues.

In addition, India and Pakistan need to invest in each other, and they are two of the world’s bigger countries that never trade with each other.

In fact, South Asia is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world when it comes to trade, so the trade issue remains to be an unexplored area for New Delhi and Islamabad, but it can be a good start to accelerate a normalization process.

The example that inspires Pakistanis to think about better trade relations is India’s trade relationship with China because even though there have been some disagreements on border disputes between India and China, they hold strong trade relations that have produced growth in their respective countries.

There could possibly be a good appetite for Pakistani goods and services in India while there can be a need for Indian products and services in Pakistan.

Beyond trade, India and Pakistan should think about new ideas, and intellectual engagement.

For example, urbanization is a serious problem in both countries because both countries are going to have dozens upon dozens of cities with population zones of larger than five million people, and some of these places like Lahore are not built to hold so many people.

Urbanization has been a topic that is ignored in the entire region and Indians and Pakistanis need to sit down to talk through these serious issues.

India granted Pakistan ‘most favored nation status’ when it comes to trade, but this is still a two-way street.
Despite being offered ‘most favored nation status’, there are still a wide range of non-trade and non-tariff barriers that prevent Pakistani goods and services from reaching India and the hawks from Pakistan see these barriers as an argument against opening up trade with India.

Trade can solve a lot of problems, but there is also no real opposition in India to a more open trade relationship with Pakistan.

There is still a tremendous outburst of nationalism on both sides of the border, but a big concern that is not mentioned much is building cultural links.

People being able to share cultural links like Bollywood actors and writers is a new thing that is trending in the relationship, but what we have never had in the past seventy years, even in a hostile political climate, an easy intercourse of Indians negotiating with Pakistanis and meeting each other.

Both peoples do recognize that there are commonalities, but there are worries that cultural links can shut down for example, Pakistanis not being able to act on Bollywood, and it is these kinds of trends that are concerning about shutting down these commonalities.

There are many reasons for this. One is the idea of Hindu nationalists abandoning all things that are Pakistani and they fail to distinguish problems between the military and intelligence wings with the vast majority of Pakistanis. For example, Hindu nationalists take the terrorism issue and use this issue as a target to all aspects of the India-Pakistan relationship.

Plowing Through Resistance

If we look at the current hostilities between India and Pakistan, India has strengthened its relationship with the United States, especially on the security side, and Pakistan is a part of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

However, the more India gets closer to the United States, China does not feel comfortable about it, and the more China invests in Pakistan, the more concerned Washington feels about this.

New Delhi is not necessarily concerned about the One Belt, One Road Initiative, but it is concerned about the transfer of nuclear technology from China to Pakistan.

However, on one hand, India should not be concerned about Pakistan’s economic relations with China because the OBOR and CPEC can bring some much-needed foreign direct investment to Pakistan and these projects can also develop Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure.

Many international experts believed that Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi could have turned out to be transformational leaders and at every stage in which they made some efforts towards bringing the countries together, they also gave into resistances domestically and internationally.

One of the lessons from the Modi-Sharif era is that moral leadership, which can plow through domestic opposition, is incredibly important and every time the two leaders tried to make an effort for normalization, the environment for dialogue seemed to change.

Whilst Sharif and Modi failed in the normalization process and gave into their domestic constituencies, future leaders in India and Pakistan can stilt make a difference on moral leadership for a better future.

Dawn – Christian teenager arrested in Punjab over alleged blasphemy

Wazirabad-Punjab-Pakistan, 20 August 2017. A Christian teenager was arrested and imprisoned for allegedly burning pages of the Holy Quran in a village near Wazirabad, Punjab, officials said Sunday.

Alipur Chattha police station official Asghar Ali told AFP: “On the night of August 12, police received a complaint that a Christian boy had been found burning pages of the Holy Quran outside a shrine.”

Ali claimed the 18-year-old had been caught “red-handed” shortly after the complaint had been registered against him, AFP reported.

“He is in jail now,” Ali told Al-Jazeera.

The incident was confirmed by another local police official, Pervaiz Iqbal, who is investigating the case.

“When the police took the suspect into custody and brought him to a police checkpost, a crowd of around 200 men gathered outside… demanding the culprit be handed over to them,” Iqbal said.

He said the suspect had been “secretly moved” to a police station in Wazirabad where he was interrogated and allegedly confessed to his crime.

The teenager was charged under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, Iqbal added, referring to a law that hands life imprisonment to “whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom, or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose”.

He will stand trial.

Blasphemy is a sensitive charge in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger mob lynchings and violence.

A man was sentenced to death for committing blasphemy on Facebook in June.

In May, a 10-year-old boy was killed and five others wounded when a mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a Hindu man charged with blasphemy for allegedly posting an incendiary image on social media.

At least 65 people have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

The Asian Age – In shadow of terror, Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day

Ghani welcomed dozens of Afghan officials for a morning ceremony at the presidential palace

Kabul, 20 August 2017. Afghan security forces were on high alert on Saturday as the war-weary country, reeling from a number of high-profile deadly attacks, marked its independence day with muted celebrations.

There was an increased police presence in the capital Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani hosted a private ceremony for Afghan dignitaries.

“All of our police units are on the highest state of alert and they are placed everywhere across the city,” Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said.

“We have increased the number of police checkpoints in and around the diplomatic quarters (too),” he added, amid fears that the Taliban would mark the anniversary with a large-scale attack.

August 19 commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, which granted Afghanistan full independence from Britain, although the country was never part of the British empire, after three bloody wars.

While Afghanistan’s red, black and green tricolour flag adorned many Kabul streets, the day was largely going unobserved by ordinary Afghans, who are frustrated by the deteriorating security situation and the lack of progress by the US-led international coalition forces.

As in recent years there are no public ceremonies planned in the capital. The city has been on edge since a massive truck bomb ripped through its diplomatic quarter during morning rush hour on May 31, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians, in an unclaimed attack.

Taliban insurgents are currently at the peak of their summer fighting season and have launched several deadly assaults around the country in recent weeks.

Ghani welcomed dozens of Afghan officials for a morning ceremony at the presidential palace and laid a wreath at the independence minaret inside the defence ministry compound.

“A very happy Independence Day to everyone in AFG,” Ghani said on Twitter.

“This day was earned with lots of sacrifices. We must pay homage & celebrate this legacy.”

The Tribune – No grant, SGPC-run college won’t take Dalit students

Kulwinder Sandhu, Tribune News Service

Moga, 19 August 2017. At least 27 Dalit students have been denied admission in BA (final year) course by the SGPC-run Guru Nanak College here.

These students have failed to deposit their annual tuition fee because the state government has not transferred the post-matric scholarship amount into their accounts.

Moga SDM Charandeep Singh, who is inquiring into the complaint of the students, said a compromise was reached between the college authorities and the students in his presence on August 4, according to which the students would pay the fee in instalments of Rs 5,000 each.

However, the college has backed out, asking the students to pay the entire amount to seek admission.

Backed by the Punjab Students’ Union (PSU), the affected students have launched an agitation against the SGPC and the college.

District Magistrate Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia had asked the SDM to sort out the issue, but the college authorities were adamant and not willing to cooperate with the administration.

Mohan Singh Aulakh, district convener of the PSU, alleged the government had not released the scholarship to the affected students for the past over two years.

The students alleged that the college was demanding Rs 22,000 from them as annual tuition fee even though they were eligible under the post-matric scholarship scheme. “We belong to poor families and our parents can’t afford to pay the fee,” they said.

The SDM has asked the social welfare officer to look into the matter.

The Times of India – Doklam standoff: Chinese clip mocks Sikhs, called racist

I P Singh

Jalandhar, 19 August 2017. Amid the Doklam stand-off on the Bhutanese border, the state owned Chinese news agency Xinhua has put out a three-minute video in which an actor mocks India by dressing up as a Sikh soldier.

The actor in a Sikh turban and a shabby beard clowns around on screen while the anchor attacks India in the clip titled “7 sins of India”.

The video has been uploaded on Xinhua’s site and Twitter handle at a time when India has posted burly Sikh and Jat soldiers at the Doklam tri-junction in a bid to intimidate Chinese soldiers.

The anchor in the clip starts by saying that it has been two months since Indian troops illegally crossed into China.
“The whole world is trying to wake India up but China has realized that it is impossible to awaken a guy who is pretending to be asleep,” she says and shows a man with the ill-fitting turban saying in a mock Indian accent: “Nobody’s blaming me because I’m asleep.” He then snores amid canned laughter.

UK-based Sikh Press Association called the clip, “blatant mockery of the Sikh identity”. UK-based Sikh Press Association said, “It is sad to see just how low Chinese media have stooped in using the Sikh identity as a pawn in their state propaganda against India.

Sikhs make up less than 2% of India’s population, so to use a mocked-up image of a Sikh as the face of propaganda targeted against India shows just how ill-informed Xinhua is.” Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh said, “It is racist and reflects poorly on the Chinese state-owned media. Despite the stand-off India should raise the issue with China.”

The anchor in the clip also calls Doklam undisputed Chinese territory and alleges that India is trampling on international law. She mockingly asks, “Didn’t your mama tell you never break the law?”

The clown also says, “He is building a path in his garden, I am in danger,” which is followed by another bout of laughter.The clip claims that India is holding a small neighbour like Bhutan to ransom in the name of protecting it.