The Tribune – Fearless Freda

Freda Bedi, an Englishwoman, was a leading anti-colonialism campaigner, who later became a pioneering Buddhist nun. A new book chronicles the life of this legendary woman who was actor Kabir Bedi’s mother.

Sarika Sharma

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 10 February 2019. When Freda Houlston confided that she was going to marry the handsome Sikh student she’d been seeing, her best friend, Barbara Castle, replied: ‘Well, thank goodness. Now at least you won’t become a suburban housewife!’

Freda had refused to fit into that groove; in fact, she had refused to fit into any groove. She broke the mould not once, but repeatedly in the coming decades. An Englishwoman, she was jailed in India as an anti-Raj political detainee and later became a pioneering Tibetan Buddhist nun, says former BBC journalist Andrew Whitehead, who traces her life in a biography to be released this week.

Aptly titled The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, the book has been published by Speaking Tiger. It draws on the papers in the possession of her movie star son, Kabir Bedi, besides archives of The Tribune, for which Freda wrote regularly.

Freda, from a shopkeeper’s family in the English Midlands, fell in love with Baba Pyare Lal Bedi, an Indian fellow student at Oxford University. In the spring of 1933, they married at Oxford Registry Office, in spite of the disapproval of her family and disciplinary action by her college.

From the moment of her marriage, Freda Bedi regarded herself as Indian and dressed in the Indian style, even though it was another year before she first got to set foot on Indian soil. By then, the husband and wife had edited four books about India’s claim to nationhood.

Freda grew up in an atmosphere of Fabian Socialism, when Laski and the London School of Economics dominated the intellectual life of the English-speaking people.

Baba Bedi was a communist and militant nationalist, and also a champion hammer thrower. All these and a speech by Mahatma Gandhi at Oxford were to determine her anti-imperialist stand that she was to adhere to for the rest of her life.

In India, the Bedis were to become a noted left-wing couple. They set up home in Lahore where Freda decided to teach English at the Fateh Chand College, while Baba Bedi wrote, lectured and organised political activities.

She told a Tribune correspondent in May 1970: “For years we lived in a thatched hut in Model Town. There was no other way to live if one wanted to be active in politics. We could not have stayed with the ICS brother of my husband even though the doors of TD Bedi were open to us.

We would only have been causing embarrassments. Nor could we lock ourselves in the small town of Kapurthala. The city of Lahore was the capital and there we spent some of our best years.”

In the years to come, she was to sway people with her oratory. It is said thousands thronged her meetings to listen to a white Oxford graduate denounce British imperialism. Gandhi was to later handpick her to be a satyagrahi.

Whitehead says during the World War II, both Freda and Baba Bedi were jailed for opposing the war effort and British imperialism. While Baba Bedi spent 15 months in detention, Freda spent three months as a political detainee (a satyagrahi) at Lahore women’s jail in 1941.

Interestingly, the magistrate had given light imprisonment to the Indian satyagrahis. However, Freda got hard labour, probably to demonstrate strictness to the British who went against the establishment.

“She recorded her jail experiences in her first book: Behind Mud Wails. Some of these were stories of the inmates who had worked with her. The English language professor protested against the women jail being described as ‘female jail’.

A mild elite agitation changed the name to ‘women’s jail’. Baba Bedi in the Deoli detention camp had a longer term to serve behind barbed wires,” The Tribune story had reported.

The Partition blizzard, which blew the inhabitants of old Lahore to various places in India, was to send the Bedis to Kashmir. That was to be her new battleground. The two became politically involved in Kashmir, living there for five years.

They worked closely with Sheikh Abdullah. “Freda would dress in a burka to make contact with underground left-wing nationalists and enrolled in a women’s militia,” says Whitehead.

The next turning point in Freda’s life was to come in the 1950s when she encountered Buddhism while working in Burma for the United Nations. Whitehead says, in 1959, she persuaded Nehru to send her to help improve facilities for the tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees who had escaped on foot across the Himalayas.

“She set up a school for young incarnate lamas and in 1966, without telling her children, she was ordained as a novice nun, Sister Palmo. She later took a higher ordination, and was perhaps the first woman in the Tibetan tradition (western or otherwise) to be ordained as a full Buddhist nun.

She arranged for two young lamas to study at Oxford and persuaded her guru, the Karmapa Lama, to reach out to the West, accompanying him in 1974 on a pioneering rock star-style five-month tour of North America and Europe. She has been described as the seed of Buddhism in the West,” he says.

Freda died in Delhi in 1977 aged 66, bringing to end her very fruitful political, spiritual and personal journeys. Baba Bedi too took the spiritual path in later life and died in Italy in 1993.


Indian Express – British Sikh woman’s honour killing story hits UK TV screens

Aditi Khanna

Chandigarh – Panjab – 12 February 2019. The series recounts the story of some of the high-profile murders in the UK from the perspective of those who knew the murderer best, their family.

A high-profile honour killing case of a British Sikh woman who was taken to India by her UK-based family and then killed in Punjab over 20 years ago is set to be revived as a television documentary this week.

Surjit Kaur Athwal was perceived as bringing shame on her conservative Sikh in-laws from west London and taken to Punjab in December 1998 on the pretext of attending family weddings, where she was killed.

The 27-year-old’s mother-in-law Bachan Athwal and husband Sukhdave Athwal were sentenced to prison terms of 15 years and 20 years, respectively, for their role in her murder in 2007. “She will (Bachan) be out in around three years.

The thought makes me ill. She will still be welcomed in the Sikh community, meanwhile, I am in exile for turning on the family,” said Sarbjit Athwal, one of the key witnesses in the murder trial who has since divorced her husband, Sukhdave’s brother.

As Surjit’s sister-in-law, Sarbjit had been her friend and confidante and is one of the key people interviewed as part of ‘The Killer in my Family’ documentary to be aired on Thursday.

The series recounts the story of some of the high-profile murders in the UK from the perspective of those who knew the murderer best, their family.

“Whether it’s their father, sister, brother or ex-wife, we hear up close and personal what life was like with the killer in their life,” said Really, the channel set to air Surjit’s story this week.

Surjit didn’t want to marry Sukhdave and was pretty much pushed into it by her family. She had hoped, because of Bachan’s false niceness at the beginning, the marriage would be bearable, but it was a nightmare,” recalled 49-year-old Sarbjit.

“I grew up in the Sikh tradition, but I had not seen this level of control and difficulty.Surjit and I were treated like slaves,” she said.

Surjit had begun to rebel against the strict family and religious rules, wearing western outfits and going out with friends. When this behaviour was discovered by her husband and mother-in-law, she was beaten by them both.

However, it was when she finally demanded a divorce in 1998 that things came to a head. Her mother-in-law initially refused, but later agreed to the divorce on one condition, that she accompany her on a trip to India as a final act as daughter-in-law before being granted her freedom.

However, Sarbjit became aware of a sinister plan to have her sister-in-law murdered on this trip but was unable to warn her. Surjit’s brother Jagdeesh Singh had also tried to dissuade his sister from going to India, but she assured him that Bachan just wanted company on her on the trip to show one final image of unity at two family weddings.

Eventually, Sarbjit was able to free herself of her in-laws hold, which led to a Scotland Yard inquiry into Surjit’s killing. “She gave a vivid account of how Surjit was tricked or drugged into going on a trip and then driven to a remote location where she was strangled and thrown into the River Ravi,” Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll said in the documentary.

Bachan’s brother Darshan emerged as a suspect in India and was arrested by Indian police in 1999 in connection with Surjit’s disappearance. Her son, Sukdhave, tried to make a claim on a life insurance policy on his dead wife, taken out the very day she left for India, incriminating himself.

The mother and son, who denied the murder charges, were finally sentenced to imprisonment following a trial 12 years ago.

It is good to remember this case and the role that Jagdeesh Singh and Sarbjit Kaur played in getting the murderers punished. We are also reminded of the fact that honour killing are in no way part of the ‘Sikh way of life’.

The News – British Sikhs to invest millions in Pakistan

Myra Imran

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 February 2019. Pakistan’s leading business group and British Sikh Association has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to make a commitment of working together in the development of the infrastructure for the Kartarpur Corridor and other sites of religious importance in Pakistan for Sikh pilgrims.

Signed between British Sikh Association and Hashoo Group, the objective of MoU is to ink “Expression of Willingness” by both the parties to exclusively support each other in the initiation of development projects of The Kartarpur Corridor and Sikh religious sites and to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each party.

According the MoU, both parties will work together to develop a suitable master plan for the project and develop a 10-year development and marketing strategy for the project. It says that the detailed terms and condition will be set out by execution of separate agreements for selected projects.

Both parties will also collaborate and support each other in promotion of the project, land acquisition, press communications, marketing strategies and raising funds to budget the projects. They will also identify mutually acceptable investment opportunities connected with the project within Pakistan.

In 1504 CE, the founder of the Sikh Faith, Guru Nanak Dev Ji,founded the city of Kartarpur.

The city is a most sacred place in the Sikh religion. It is also the place where Guru Nanak lived the latter part of his life until his heavenly departure and where the holy shrine of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is located. The Sikhs feel that it is their birth right to be able to visit their holy shrines, which was sadly restricted since the partition of 1947.

A significant step to open the corridor was recently initiated when the Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural ceremony in August 2018.

During his visit he met Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa who made the offer that the government of Pakistan would open the Kartarpur Corridor from Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November 2019 as a gesture to the global Sikh community. The corridor will allow pilgrims visa free access.

The willingness and intent of both countries was enshrined with the foundations being laid for the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2018 by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu.

As a next step, for development of a permanent and sustainable corridor and related infrastructure, a delegation from Pakistan visited the UK to meet leaders from the British Sikh Community.

The Pakistani delegation included Ambassador Hameed Kidwai, Deputy Chairman of the Hashoo Group Murtaza Haswani, and Hashoo Group’s Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer Steven Henderson.

The Pakistani delegation met with Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd and Chairman of the British Sikh Association Dr Rami Ranger CBE, along with British Sikh Association President Amarjit Dassan, Vice Chairman Dr Ravi Gidar and Vice Presidents Jasbir Johal and Surjit Pandher. T

he Sikh Gurdwaras were represented by Gurmail Singh Malhi, the President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Southall, London.

A Parliamentary meeting was organised recently to share Kartarpur plans which culminated with the signing of the MoU between the British Sikh Association and Hashoo Group, signed by Dr Rami Ranger CBE on behalf of the British Sikh Association and Murtaza Haswani on behalf of the Hashoo Group.

In a statement issued after signing the MoU, Dr Rami Ranger said that it was a historic opportunity and one that he did not expect to see in his lifetime. “We are proud of the steps taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan and supported by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi for the development and opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, it will be great benefit to both countries and is a blessing for the Sikh Community”.

Ambassador Kidwai thanked Sikh community in Britain for their warmth and support and expressed confidence that this initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan would be appreciated by Sikhs throughout the world, as well as providing an opportunity for greater relations between Pakistan and India.

He said that the Kartarpur Corridor was the brainchild of Dr Rami Ranger, supported by Mian Tariq Javid, Saleem Sheikh and endorsed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Murtaza Hashwani, Deputy Chairman of the Hashoo Group, stated that the Hashoo Group is committed to making this historic project a success and as one of the leading businesses in Pakistan. “The Hashoo Group looks forward to supporting the British Sikh Association for the benefit of Sikhs globally,” he said.

BBC News – Sikh man held for carrying kirpan wants more education

A Sikh man who was stopped at an airport for carrying a ceremonial dagger has called for more education about the knives (kirpans)

The kirpan is carried by Sikhs as a symbol of their faith

Gatwick Airport – West Sussex – UK, 03 February 2019. Jagmeet Singh, from Wolverhampton, said it was “disheartening” to be reported for carrying a knife at Gatwick Airport as he picked up his family.

The airport said decisions on carrying a kirpan and blades up to 6cm (2.36in) were at managers’ discretion.

Mr Singh, who was detained by airport security staff, called for more training for staff and greater awareness.

“I could understand if there was a concealed weapon and someone was acting dodgy in some way,” Mr Singh said.

“But I’m a family man, picking up my family and I’ve got my kirpan on display.”

Gatwick highlighted Department for Transport guidance which said airport managers had “the discretion to prohibit any article which, in their view might be used or adapted for causing injury or the incapacitation of a person”.

It added: “The carriage of blades including kirpans and knives less than 6cm is at the discretion of the airport manager”.

Sukhdeep Singh, who works for education charity Basics of Sikhi, told the BBC a kirpan was “not a knife or weapon used to attack someone” but a religious honour symbolising defence.

In 2017, Drayton Manor theme park revoked its ban on knives after a Sikh family from Coventry was refused access when a man refused to remove his kirpan.

In March last year, Merlin Entertainments followed suit and allowed kirpans at all of its UK attractions apart from the London Eye.

Under current law, knives can be carried for religious reasons, but Basics of Sikhi wants to see more specific legal protections for Sikhs carrying kirpans, and has launched a campaign to educate the public.

The Home Office amended the Offensive Weapons bill, currently going through Parliament, “to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue,” a spokesman said.

Dawn – UK goverment tells India it won’t interfere in Kashmir Day event: report

London – UK, 01 February 2019. After the Indian government lodged a protest with the United Kingdom over a Kashmir solidarity event to be held in the British parliament on February 4, the UK government said it would not interfere in the matter, India Today reported on Friday.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during a media briefing on Thursday that Delhi had taken the matter of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan’s event, scheduled to be held in the House of Commons, highlighting human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir “very strongly” with the UK.

“We hope that they will understand our objections to the proposed conference and take appropriate action,” Kumar said. Describing the UK as “a friendly country and strategic partner”, Kumar said India was hopeful and “expected” that the British government would address Delhi’s concerns.

The UK, however, said it would not interfere in the matter, with the British High Commission (BHC) spokesperson in New Delhi asserting that “UK’s Members of Parliament are independent of the government; it is for individual members to decide who they meet and for what purpose”.

According to a press release issued by Foreign Office, the 04 February meeting will be followed by an exhibition in London to “highlight the centrality of [India-occupied] Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people by India which are being widely condemned and need to be immediately stopped”.

The meeting will be attended by MPs of both Labour and Conservative parties. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is also expected to attend the event.

The British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi told India Today that the UK government is aware that “Mr Qureshi is travelling to London to attend a number of private events. There are no plans for meetings with the UK Government during this visit.”

“The UK’s longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people’s wishes,” the spokesperson added.

The Telegraph – Survey reveals toll of sexual harassment faced by young women

Anne Gulland, Global health security correspondent

Kolkata – West Bengal – India, 30 January 2019. More than two thirds of girls and young women surveyed in four countries around the world have been sexually harassed over the last six months, according to a new study.

A survey of 2 560 young people aged between 14 and 21 in Brazil, Kenya, India and the UK carried out by charity ActionAid shows how sexual harassment is a global phenomenon, blighting the daily lives of young women and girls.

Nearly three quarters of the young people of both sexes surveyed had witnessed negative or offensive attitudes towards women in the last six months. And 65 per cent of girls had been sexually harassed over that period.

Examples highlighted by survey respondents included wolf whistling, catcalling (making comments of a sexual nature), negative comments about girls’ appearance, sexual jokes, sharing explicit photos online, sexting, groping, upskirting – the practice of taking a photograph up a skirt which has recently been outlawed in the UK – and being forced to kiss someone.

Despite the worldwide Me Too and Time’s Up movements which have shone a light on the sexual harassment women face in their daily lives, the survey shows that sexist and misogynistic attitudes are prevalent around the world.

The ActionAid survey found that girls in Kenya were the most likely to face harassment with 74 per cent saying they had been exposed to it in the last six months, compared to 64 per cent in Brazil, 57 per cent in India and 48 per cent in the UK.

More than one in ten (12 per cent) of even the youngest girls interviewed in the UK (aged 14 to 16) said they worried about being sexually harassed every day, the survey found. This number increased to 41 per cent among girls the same age in Brazil.

Almost two thirds of 14-16-year-old girls and boys in the UK said they had witnessed misogynistic behaviour, such as negative comments about women’s appearance or sexual jokes about girls from those around them, including from family members and friends to strangers or teachers.

Sexual harassment was more tolerated in India than in the other countries: 16 per cent of respondents in India said that being forced to kiss someone was acceptable, compared to five per cent in the other countries surveyed.

And 15 per cent of Indian respondents said that upskirting was acceptable compared to six per cent in the other countries.

In Brazil, catcalling and wolf whistling are common with around 40 per cent of respondents being subject to one or other in the last six months.

Young people predominantly believe that education is the answer.

Overall 80 per cent support education as the way to tackle harassment of girls/women, backing educating boys in schools about how to treat girls (60 per cent), educating girls in school about how to report harassment (58 per cent), educating teachers about taking accusations seriously (45 per cent) and educating parents (41 per cent).

Girish Menon, ActionAid chief executive, said: “This research shines a worrying spotlight on how many young people witness or experience sexual discrimination and harassment.

“We know from experience that misogyny is not trivial. It happens because of deep-rooted beliefs that see women and girls as worth less, that their bodies exist to exploit, and control.”

Dawn – UK regrets Kashmiris, Sikhs’ anti-India protests

Our own correspondent

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2019. The UK government on Monday expressed regret after media reports emerged that India’s national flag was burnt during a demonstration by separatist groups outside the India High Commission in London on Republic Day, The Indian Express said quoting Press Trust of India (PTI).

“We are disappointed that anyone would choose to burn the Indian flag on any day, let alone the celebration of Republic Day, and we regret the upset that this will have caused,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson quoted as saying.

The spokesperson added: “We congratulate India on Republic Day celebration, and look forward to deepening our relationship further as we prepare to leave the European Union and forge new partnerships with key global allies.”

Videos and images of the protests showed a small group of pro-Khalistan supporters and Kashmiri outfit activists gathered outside the India House in Central London on Jan 26 waving placards against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chanting anti-India slogans, the report said.

Acknowledging that they had been made aware of the planned demonstration, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “On Saturday, 26 January a demonstration took place outside India House in Aldwych, WC2. An appropriate policing plan was in place.”

“There were no incidents of note and no arrests. No allegations of crime have been reported. We are aware of a social media video that appears to be from the demonstration outside India House in Aldwych on Saturday, 26 January. We are working to establish the exact circumstances of it,” the statement said.

The latest development, according to PTI, came after the FCO had earlier stated that Britain “does not condone” the burning of national flags.

“We are proud to be a country that fiercely protects the rights of individuals to peaceful protest and free speech as essential parts of a vibrant democracy, provided that demonstrators act within the law. We do not condone the burning of national flags, which is deeply offensive to most people,” an FCO spokesperson had said.

This is not the first time that such a thing has happened in the UK.

During Modi’s visit in April last year, pro-Khalistani demonstrators along with Kashmiri groups had assembled under the banner of a so-called ‘Minorities Against Modi’ group and desecrated the Indian flag in Parliament Square.

Even Dawn does not get it right: It is the flag burning that is regretted, not the demonstration itself !
Man in Blue

Dawn – Pakistan foreign policy 101

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Op/Ed, 26 January 2019. Foreign policy is the external aspect of national policy. It covers the whole gamut of global, regional and neighbourhood developments, movements and strategies.

When national policy is substandard it puts a ceiling on the success of foreign policy no matter how good it is.

Similarly, given the external dependency of Pakistan’s national policy, it cannot achieve its goals without a prioritised and resourced foreign policy.

Some aspects of external policy are primarily dealt with by specialised ministries, departments and services.

But the Foreign Office should not be held responsible for the negative consequences of bad decisions it had no part in taking. This often happens and is always at the cost of the national interest.

This is obvious. Yet in practice it is usually ignored. Why? The main reason is the unwillingness of corrupt or weak governments to take any risks for good governance, including good foreign policy.

This is the soft state syndrome. It is often a prelude to a failing state. It precludes serving the national interest. Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?

If the political system is made participatory and inclusive it will eventually find the right answers. If it remains elitist, exclusive and exploitative it will not. Changing the system, however, involves risk-taking.

Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.

India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.

The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.

Russia in partnership with China is a significant counter-force to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.

The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.

Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.

The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.

Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.

India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.

These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.

Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.

Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.

Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.

Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.

Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.

The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.

China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.

The China agenda

Chinese concerns are growing. They need to be addressed. Chinese and Pakistani ‘dreams’ need to be integrated into a shared vision through mutually reinforcing policies. The BRI is the context for CPEC. Similarly, CPEC is the context for the transformation of Pakistan.

Sensitive issues can be dealt with confidentially, judiciously and on the basis of complete mutual trust.

The US: It is a strategic ally of India. India is focused on Pakistan. The US is focused on China. America cannot be a strategic partner for Pakistan. But its friendship is beneficial while its hostility is harmful. Pakistan must work with the US for an Afghan settlement, in consultation with China.

Afghanistan: Pakistan cannot eliminate India from an Afghan settlement process. Nor should it try to. If Pakistan plays its cards right it will always have a stronger hand than India in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban despite their current military successes are not the future of Afghanistan. Unless they cooperate for a settlement they cannot become a 21st-century asset for Pakistan.

India is justly regarded as a large neighbour with a small heart. Many Afghans see Pakistan similarly despite the massive Afghan goodwill accumulated during the Soviet occupation. Why?

Pakistan need not create a two-front situation for itself. Being large-hearted towards a smaller neighbour is actually good strategy. Specific issues are more easily resolved when the fundamentals are okay.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.

Published in: on January 27, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Tribune – Hearing in Johal case on February 4

Moga – Panjab – India, 21 January 2019. The District and Sessions Court on Monday fixed February 4 as the next of hearing for prosecution evidences in a case of terror activities involving UK resident Jagtar Singh Johal and local gangsters Taljit Singh Jimmy, Ramandeep Singh Bagga, Dharminder Singh Gugni, Hardeep Singh Shera, Anil Kumar and Jagjit Singh Jaggi.

The charges against all of them have already been framed on 12 July 2018 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Arms Act. The case is linked to the targeted killing cases of two Dera Sacha Sauda followers in Faridkot district in 2016.

The Daily Times – PM’s fake envoy caught red-handed in London

Staff Report

London – UK, 19 January 2019. A fake envoy to prime minister was caught red-handed in London while representing the government of Pakistan at a ceremony organised to sign an agreement with the Sikh community.

Hamid Kidwai, who posed himself as Special Envoy to Prime Minister Imran Khan, was co-chairing a meeting along with Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall President Gurmail Singh Malhi when a journalist at the meeting asked him to prove his official identity first and that whether he has been formally designated by the government of Pakistan to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sikh community living in the UK for commercial hotel developments around historical Gurdwaras in Pakistan, especially Nankana Sahib and Karatarpur Corridor ahead of the 550th Gurpurb celebrations of Guru Nanak Devji.

“Yes, it is true that this ceremony has not been organised at the official level, in fact time was so short and things moved so fast that no discussion took place at the government level. But, we verbally discussed it with Prime Minister Imran Khan and he gave his consent for this visit.

On our return, this would be formalised,” a visibly perplexed Qidwai replied. “Yes, this is all verbal so far. But, will definitely be formalized once we are back in Islamabad and give our feedback to the prime minister,” he responded to further queries.