The News – Three million Afghans in ‘urgent’ need of food: UN

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 15 October 2018. At least three million Afghans are in “urgent” need of food and could face famine if they do not get help, the United Nations warned Monday, as the war-torn country battles the worst drought in living memory.

A dry spell mainly across northern and western Afghanistan has devastated crops, livestock and water supplies, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

The drought comes at a terrible time for the country, which is already grappling with a 17-year conflict and preparing to hold a parliamentary election that is three years late.

The United Nations is spearheading international efforts to reach 2.5 million of the three million most in need of food by mid-December, UN humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan Toby Lanzer told AFP.

“Those people are surviving on less than one meal a day and in all likelihood that meal is bread and tea,” Lanzer said.

Lanzer said the three million people hardest hit were in the “emergency” phase four of a widely-used food insecurity index, one level below famine.

The figure was “among the highest in the world” and required “the most urgent response”.

“If we don´t (reach them) there´s a risk that these people go into level five,” Lanzer said.

Aid groups distributed basic commodities, including wheat flour fortified with minerals, vegetable oil and lentils, to 600,000 people last month, Lanzer said.

They hope to reach another 600,000 by the end of October.

Another eight million people were in the “crisis” phase three of the food insecurity index, which includes people with “food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition”.

Lanzer said the figures were “far worse than we had anticipated” and he warned the situation could worsen as temperatures plummet during the winter months.

The drought affecting more than half of Afghanistan was triggered by a huge shortfall in snow and rain last winter.

Many of the displaced have set up makeshift tents in camps on the edge of urban areas, including the western city of Herat.

Afghan officials and foreign aid groups are struggling to meet demand for food, shelter and health services.

People at the camps told AFP in August they had been surviving on a diet of bread and tea for months because they did not have enough money to buy fruit, vegetables or meat.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/381270-three-million-afghans-in-urgent-need-of-food-un

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Sikh24.com – Tens of thousands pay homage to martyred Sikh youths at Bargari

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 14 October 2018. Tens of thousands of Sikhs today commemorated the third death anniversary of Shaheed Bhai Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Shaheed Bhai Gurjit Singh Nikke Sarawan at Bargari.

Contrary to the expectations among political circles, the today’s gathering didn’t seem less than the earlier gathering held at Bargari on October 7.

Notably, Shaheed Bhai Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Shaheed Bhai Gurjit Singh Nikke Sarawan had attained martyrdom in unprovoked firing opened by the police cops on peacefully protesting Sikhs at Behbal Klan on October 14, 2015.

Prominent Panthik leaders and AAP leaders enthusiastically participated in this tributary program held in the grain market of Bargari.

Addressing the gathering, all the leaders took on the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) for undermining the temporal Sikh institution by playing in the hands of anti-Sikh powers. They also criticized the Congress led Punjab government for not taking any action against the killer cops.

Rebel AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, SAD (Amritsar) president S Simranjit Singh Mann, UAD president Bhai Mohkam Singh, General Secretary S Gurdeep Singh Bathinda, Bhai Satnam Singh Manawa, Bhai Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, S Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singh Wala, Bhai Balwant Singh Gopala etc addressed the Sikh gathering on this occasion beside the Sarbat Khalsa appointed Takht Jathedars.

The presence of Punjab Congress leaders Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria was noticed in the other tributary programs organized by the families of martyred Sikh youths in their native villages.

Interacting with media, the Punjab Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said that the Punjab government is planning to build memorials of Shaheed Bhai Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Shaheed Bhai Gurjit Singh Nikke Sarawan in their villages.

Terming the Behbal Klan tragedy as the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy of 21st century, Bajwa said that the Punjab Government is duty-bound to give justice to the victims of Behbal Klan and Kotkapura firing incidents and the perpetrators would be behind the bars very soon.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/10/14/tens-of-thousands-pay-homage-to-martyred-sikh-youths-at-bargari/#.W8TH3_ZoTIU

Sikh24.com – DSGMC member Avtar Singh Hit elected to head Patna Sahib management board

Sikh24 Editors

Patna – Bihar – India, 15 October 2018. The SAD(Badal) affiliated DSGMC member Avtar Singh Hit was elected to head the Takht Sri Patna Sahib Management Board on October 14. He has replaced the former SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar who was elected as president of the committee about two and half years ago.

Sources have informed that the DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa played a key role in the election of Avtar Singh Hit as the president of the Takht Sri Patna Sahib Management Board. Avtar Singh Hit ran unopposed in the election as no candidate appeared to challenge his election as president of the management board.

Sikh24 has learnt that the other office bearers of the management committee are also affiliated to SAD (Badal). Dr Gurmeet Singh has been elected as the senior vice president while Inderjeet Singh got elected as a junior vice president. Similarly, M S Dhillon and M S Chhabra have been elected as general secretary and secretary of the management board respectively.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/10/15/dsgmc-member-avtar-singh-hit-elected-to-head-patna-sahib-management-board/#.W8TI6_ZoTIU

Dawn – Threats to Indus Delta highlighted

Shazia Hasan

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 15 October 2018. “All over the world, rivers naturally flow into the sea. But out here it is the sea flowing into the Indus Delta,” said environmentalist and researcher Nasir A Panhwar during his talk and presentation titled “Survival of the Indus Delta” at the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences on Saturday.

“The Indus Delta is a unique coastal system where the sea and the river meet, where the soil was very fertile due to the accumulation of silt from the river for thousands of years.

But after the diversion of the upstream water there the amount of silt has become less while bringing up various threats to the delta,” he said, while explaining that the delta included 17 major creaks starting from the Gizri Creek to Sir Creek.

“Due to the diversion there is a less fresh water flow in the delta now and so there is an intrusion of sea, a man made disaster,” he said. “Meanwhile, the rise in sea level is due to climate change, which is again man-made if we go into the depth of it,” he added.

“And because of the sea intrusion, the land is losing its fertility. The falling of the level of ground water has hurt agriculture. Farmers used to grow red rice here, which is no longer possible. Because of the non-availability of fresh water, the subsoil water if there is any is brackish,” he said.

“Fisheries too have been hurt as grazing land for livestock has also become scarce and the animals had to migrate. With the animals leaving, humans too have moved due to an increased lack of livelihood putting added pressure on urban centres.

Also frequency of cyclones and tsunami have made the poor people living in the area even more vulnerable,” he pointed out.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “We do sign but then we also forget,” said Panhwar. “The Indus Delta is also a signified Ramsar site which should have been taken special care of as it has national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and an important eco system,” he reminded.

“Another harm done to the Indus Delta,” the researcher said, “was the destruction of the mangrove forests, which provided a natural shield against cyclones and tsunamis along with being the breading ground for shrimp and several species of sea life,” he said.

Among the researcher’s recommendations were revisiting the water accord of 1991 by incorporating the environmental flow concept and declaring the Indus Delta as the fifth shareholder of water distribution, besides the four provinces.

He also said the Government of Pakistan must establish an Indus Delta rehabilitation programme with an independent body to implement it. The government should also ensure at least 10 million acre feet water down stream Kotri Barrage immediately till such a time as the precise amount of water is accessed through a detailed study.

A comprehensive assessment of losses must be carried out and communities provided adequate compensation and a development plan should be launched while recognising the communities’ rights over all the natural resources.

Earlier, Kaleem Durrani of Irtiqa said that despite all its problems, whether political or social, Sindh had never given up. “History is reminiscent of the fact that Sindh has always stood up to challenges dealt with them through the in-depth knowledge of its own people,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1439049/threats-to-indus-delta-highlighted

The New Indian Express – Amarinder Singh’s government didn’t punish culprits of Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege – Arvind Kejriwal

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Kejriwal alleged that it is unfortunate that Captain Amarinder Singh government has badly failed to punish the culprits of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

New Delhi – India, 14 October 2018. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused the Punjab Government led by Capt Amarinder Singh of having failed to punish the murderers of two people who died in a firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in the state during protest against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Kejriwal said, “On third death anniversary of Behbal Kalan victims Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, I offer condolences to their families.

Highly unfortunate that Captain Amarinder Singh government has badly failed to punish the culprits of sacrilege of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the murderers of two innocents.”

On this occasion, two Punjab ministers Sukhwinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa along with two Congress MLAs Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon from Faridkot and Harminder Singh from Tarn Taran on Sunday visited the families of victims who died in the firing incident.

In Punjab’s Faridkot, a dharna was staged to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of the victims.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/oct/14/amarinder-government-didnt-punish-culprits-of-guru-granth-sahib-sacrilege-arvind-kejriwal-1885458.htm

The Tribune – Akalis ask Modi to seek UK apology on Jallianwala Bhag massacre

New Delhi – India, 13 October 2018. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask the British Government to tender an apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

In a letter to Modi, party’s senior vice-president Prem Singh Chandumajra said, “I request you on my behalf and on behalf of the people of Punjab to write to the UK Government on this issue and build pressure to take the matter to its logical conclusion.”

He said a campaign had been going on for the past several years in India and the UK in this regard.

“It is high time the Government of India seeks a formal apology from Britain for the heinous crime,” Chandumajra added.

The Centre has already decided to observe the massacre’s centenary at the national level next year.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/akalis-ask-modi-to-seek-uk-apology-on-jallianwala/667848.html

FirstPost – Punjab farmers say they have no option but to burn stubble, claim industries, vehicles contribute more to pollution

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 14 October 2018. Farmers in Punjab on Saturday claimed that industries and vehicles majorly contribute to air pollution and not stubble burning.

For the last few days, Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) have been experiencing pollution due to the burning of stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

However, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee district secretary Jarmanjeet Singh told ANI, “The farmers have no other option than to burn stubble. We will not let the government impose fines on farmers for stubble burning. Industries and vehicles majorly contribute to pollution, not farmers”.

Demanding a subsidy for farmers as per the directives of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), he said, “The Green Tribunal also said that farmers with two acres of land must be given tools free of cost.

The owners of five acres of land would be given Rs 5,000 subsidy while the farmers having land more than five acres will get an amount of Rs 15,000. But the government is doing nothing in this regard”.

Speaking on the suggested alternative of making cardboard out of paddy straw, another farmer explained that it is not a feasible option for them. “It (paddy straw) is just sand for us.

They say that cardboard can be made out of it but only if the government takes the initiatives. Labour is costly; they ask us for Rs 4000 per acre. Where are we going to pay this amount from?” he asked while speaking to ANI.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/punjab-farmers-say-they-have-no-option-but-to-burn-stubble-claim-industries-vehicles-contribute-more-to-pollution-5376751.html

The Hindu – #MeToo: M J Akbar threatens to take legal action against journalists who accused him of harassment

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 14 October 2018. Akbar attributed the allegations to motives other than the #Metoo movement’s aims to out sexual predators.

Union minister M J Akbar on Sunday threatened to take legal action against several women journalists who had accused him of sexual harassment at two newspapers where he had been editor.

There was no suggestion in Mr Akbar’s statement that he would resign from the Union Council of Ministers.

In a detailed statement to ANI, Mr Akbar, who returned this morning from Africa where he had been leading an Indian delegation on various events, said that “accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections.

Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action”.

Mr. Akbar attributed the allegations to motives other than the #Metoo movement’s aims of outing sexual predators. “Why has this storm risen a few months before the general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill,” he said.

“Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action,” he added. Referring to journalist Priya Ramani, who had first spoken about Mr. Akbar’s alleged behaviour with female colleagues, he said, “Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article.

She did not, however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a tweet, ‘never named him because he didn’t do anything’.”

“If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There is no story, but a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened. Some are total unsubstantiated hearsay, others confirm on the record that I didn’t do anything,” he added.

Mr Akbar’s statement seems to suggest that calls for his resignation were not going to be entertained by the Union government. He is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj later in the evening.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/metoo-mj-akbar-threatens-to-take-legal-action-against-women-journalists/article25220032.ece?homepage=true

Tolo News – Explosion targets Takhar election rally; Twelve killed

Takhar police said the incident took place in Rustaq district on Saturday afternoon.

Rostaq – Rustaq District – Takhar – Afghanistan, 13 October 2018. At least 12 people were killed in an explosion at an election campaign rally in Rustaq district in the northeastern Takhar province on Saturday afternoon, security officials confirmed.

A motorcycle bomb was detonated just before 2 pm local time targeting the campaign rally of Nazifa Beg, a candidate from Rustaq district of Takhar.

Takhar police said at least 12 people were killed and 32 others wounded in the explosion.

According to the provincial police, two security force members are also among those killed in the explosion.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, saying that the enemies of Afghans cannot weaken the will of the nation for the success of the democratic process of elections.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Kabul John Bass condemned the attack and called on the Taliban to condemn it. He said if the group is serious about peace process it will do the same and punish those responsible.

This is the third attack against the election campaign process this month. The parliamentary elections are scheduled for next Saturday.

The latest attack comes after an attack at a campaign office in Helmand province on Tuesday which claimed the lives of eight people including the election candidate, Saleh Mohammad Achakzai.

On October 3, an explosion targeted an election rally in Nangarhar, killing 14 people.

At least eight candidates have been killed in insurgent attacks since the beginning of July, soon after the candidate registration process was finalized.

On September 25, Nasir Mubarez, a candidate for the Kochis, from Kandahar, was killed by unknown armed men in a shooting in Kandahar City’s PD2.

On September 2, Anwar Niazi, a Parwan candidate, was killed and two others wounded when a magnetic IED was detonated against the vehicle they were traveling in. The incident took place in Kabul city center, in Shirpoor, in PD10, at about 7pm local time.

In August, Jalal Salehi, a candidate from Kabul, was killed during a security forces operation in Kabul’s Shakar Dara district.

Another candidate, former member of Ghazni provincial council, Sayed Obaidullah Sadat, was killed in Ghazni on July 14 by unknown armed men.

On July 1, the Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leader, Ottar Singh Khalsa, who was running for parliamentary elections, was killed in a suicide attack in Jalalabad city in Nangarhar province.

And on July 30, another Nangarhar candidate, Hayatullah Khan Rahmani, was killed when a suicide bomber targeted him in Rodat district in the province.

More than 2,500 candidates are running for 249 parliamentary seats in the October 20 elections.

https://www.tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan/explosion-targets-takhar-election-rally-12-killed

Sikh24.com – 484th Birthday Celebrations: 200 hotel rooms to be provided free of cost to pilgrims

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 October 2018. Keeping in view the upcoming 484th birth anniversary of fourth Sikh master Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji, the SGPC underwent a meeting with the owners of hotels situated in the vicinity of Sri Harmandr Sahib on October 12.

SGPC secretary Dr. Roop Singh took up the issue of accommodation deficiency for the pilgrims coming to pay obeisance at sanctum sanctorum from distant areas.

Understanding the situation, the hotel owners promised to reserve 200 rooms for providing free of cost accommodation to devotees. The Hotel owners have also promised to offer rooms at discounted rates to the pilgrims.

Sharing the development with Sikh24, Dr Roop Singh informed that the SGPC is making robust arrangements for providing luxurious pilgrimage to devotees this year. He added that the school and college campuses will also be used to provide accommodation to devotees arriving in the holy city on this auspicious eve.

Dr. Roop Singh further informed that the SGPC will celebrate the birthday of Guru Ram Dass Ji with a focus on creating social awareness.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/10/13/484th-birthday-celebrations-200-hotel-rooms-to-be-provided-free-of-cost-to-pilgrims/#.W8IJ8vZoTIU