– Dal Khalsa welcomes decision to ban Indian officials in Canada, US and UK

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 9 January 2018. Supporting wholeheartedly the decision of Sikh Organizations and Gurdwara Managements in Canada, US and UK banning the activities of Indian consulates in Gurdwaras in their respective countries, the Dal Khalsa said the decision is part of the Sikh resistance against New Delhi’s onslaughts.

Party leaders H S Cheema, H S Dhami and Kanwar Pal Singh said the gurdwara committees and organizations in their collective wisdom has taken rightful decision to ban all types of activities within gurdwaras carried by Indian diplomats stationed in these countries.

They slammed those who were labelling the decision as communal and not in tune with Guru’s philosophy. Contesting all false propaganda being made by misguided Sikhs and Indian officials, they clarified that “Anyone is free to pay obeisance and partake langar. There’s no bar on anyone to visit Gurdwaras purely for darshan-didaree”.

They said the practice of Indian diplomats indulging in socio-religio activities to penetrate into Sikh rank and file was an open secret. Going against the ethics of diplomacy, these officials in consulates invoke huge amount from their unaccounted funds in gurdwara elections to ensure that “their men” get elected.

This decision of Gurdwara’s will curtail unwarranted interference and sinister designs of Indian diplomats to some extent.

They said sleuths of intelligence departments working undercover as diplomats play dirty tricks to create misunderstanding and bad blood among Sikh nationalist groups and personalities. There was a need to counter India’s hidden mischief.

They blamed diplomats for preparing blacklist of Sikhs who take part in protests against rights abuses and repressive policies of the Indian government. They said such lists were usually used for witch-hunting or luring Sikhs to do New Delhi’s bidding. These diplomats deny visas to those Sikhs to visit their homeland that refuses to follow New Delhi’s dictates, they added.


The Indian Express – 16 more gurdwaras in Canada, 96 in USA ban entry of Indian officials

American Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee claims nod from 96 gurdwaras in US, says number could rise.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 9 January 2018. Days after 14 gurdwaras in Canada’s Ontario province banned the entry of Indian government representatives, more gurdwara management committees in Canada and the US followed suit and barred Indian officials, RSS and Shiv Sena members from entering gurdwaras under their control.

An announcement in this regard was made on Sunday at New York’s Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society right after a religious congregation organised to observe death anniversary of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, who were given death penalty killing former PM Indira Gandhi.

Sikh Coordinator East Coast and American Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee representative, Himmat Singh, said, “Total 116 gurdwara management committees had participated in teleconference on Saturday night and 96 of these gurdwaras had confirmed agreement to proposal to bar entry of Indian officials in the gurdwaras, along with representatives of RSS and Shiv Sena.”

He claimed that some gurdwaras couldn’t confirm due to technical glitches in teleconferencing. “We have been getting emails of many gurdwaras and numbers will increase further,” claimed Himmat Singh. Surjit Singh, US president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), headed by Simranjit Singh Mann, also supported the resolution to ban entry of Indian officials.

Himmat Singh added,”Following Ontario gurdwara committees, we have been making it official that Indian officials will not be allowed for any intervention in management of gurdwaras in US. There will be no ban if someone visit Gurdwaras in personal capacity as devotee”. Similarly, 16 gurdwaras in British Columbia and Alberta provinces of Canada passed a similar resolution on 4 January.

A statement released by these gurdwaras read, “This initiative was moved forward in western Canada by Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar (Surrey, BC) and Gurdwara Dasmesh Culture Centre (Calgary, AB) and a total of 16 Gurdwaras in BC & Alberta agree and support that sewadars of Gurdwara Sahibs reserve the right to bar access to the stage and entry to officials of the Indian government.

This would include, but not be limited to, Indian elected officials, Indian Consular officials, and members of organisations like RSS and Shiv Sena”. It said, “To be clear, no individual is being banned from Gurdwara Sahibs, but Indian representatives in official capacity will not be permitted to address the sangat”.

The statement added: “Although this policy of restriction exists informally, it is due time for a formal declaration.

This step is being taken not to restrict access to the Guru, but rather to ensure that the Gurdwara Sahib remains independent from the interference of corrupt officials who represent a government that for the last four decades has committed genocide against the Sikh community and has never had positive intentions in dealing with Sikhs as a separate nation of people”.

16 more gurdwaras in Canada, 96 in US ban entry of Indian officials

Huffington Post – Simran Jeet Singh on ‘Congregation’: Sikh professor and activist talks racism, running and his faith

He runs along New York City streets partly so people can see him

Emma Prestwich

Sikhism and Islam are two different religions, but according to one scholar and activist, people sometimes can’t tell the difference between practitioners of the two faiths.

Simran Jeet Singh is clearly Sikh, he wears a turban and has a beard, but he says Sikhs have still been targeted for Islamophobic hate.

“We very much fit the stereotype of what a Muslim terrorist might look like,” he says.

And at least one recent American survey backs up that idea. When shown a photo of a turbaned man, 20 per cent of respondents said they thought he was Muslim, according to research published in 2015 by the National Sikh Campaign.

But Singh isn’t bothered that he might be mistaken for someone else. He thinks it’s his duty as a Sikh to stand up against hate wherever he sees it.

“I’m very proud of the Sikh tradition of standing up for injustice, and essentially absorbing injustice for other oppressed communities,” he told HuffPost Canada’s “Congregation” podcast.

A dad in his early 30s, Singh is someone who isn’t content to quietly follow his tradition.

He’s an award-winning scholar and religion professor who is often asked to comment on social and political issues. He was part of a “Daily Show” segment in 2016 about Sikhism.

This recent tweet even got attention for his response to racist trolls:

My mom just joined Twitter and saw all the racist messages where people tell me to “go home” and “go back to where I came from.” She wanted me to thank you all. She really wants me to move back to Texas.

Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) December 5, 2017

On an episode of “Congregation,” he talked with news editor Emma Prestwich about his faith, how growing up religious can make it hard to be assertive, and how he reacts to racist comments.

You can listen below, or on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. Please leave us a review!

Dawn – $2bn in military transfers on the line after US suspends aid

Washington DC-USA, 6 January 2018. US President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze aid to Pakistan could affect almost two billion dollars’ worth of assistance, a senior administration official said on Friday, substantially more than first thought.

After an announcement designed to force Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus to cut support for the Taliban and other Islamist groups, the official said that both US military assistance and Afghanistan coalition funding to Islamabad could be suspended.

It is “approximately two billion worth of equipment and coalition support funding that is in play,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

After more than a decade of simmering US anger at links between Islamabad and the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate, President Donald Trump is trying to draw a line in the sand.

On the hook is almost $1bn of US military equipment that has allowed Pakistan access to advanced military technology, but also funding that is meant to pay Pakistan for helping get US and NATO material into Afghanistan.

Analysts believe the United States is highly unlikely to freeze all that funding, which totals $1.9bn, according to the source.

US officials have already indicated that there could be “exemptions” for programs deemed vital to US national security, likely including cash for keeping Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safe.

But nevertheless, the total figure of $1.9bn is much higher than first indicated and is a signal of Washington’s seriousness.

The senior administration official said “all options are on the table” when it comes to further moves, including stripping Pakistan of its status as a “major non-NATO ally” or calling in vital IMF loans.

The Indian Express – Will not allow Amarinder Singh’s smooth participation in Harvard conference: SFJ

“Amarinder’s government is following in the footsteps of the Badals whose government also filed frivolous criminal charges against SFJ campaigners in 2016. The Punjab CM will not have a smooth participation in Harvard conference, we can assure that,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Advisor of SFJ.

Man Aman Singh Chhina

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 5 January 2018. Hardliner group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has announced that it is gearing up to mount a legal challenge against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who will be visiting the United States of America in February to participate in Harvard University’s annual India conference.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Advisor of SFJ, said that the organisation will hold protests on February 10 and 11 when Amarinder comes to the Harvard University to take part in the conference.
“Captain Amarinder’s government is responsible for torture and persecution of Sikh nationalists who are campaigning for referendum in the state of Punjab,” he said.

Pannun said that SFJ will campaign in the coming days to portray Captain Amarinder as “Hitler of Punjab” and will initiate a letter writing campaign to Harvard University faculty to apprise them about the Punjab government’s action against those who are campaigning for referendum.

“Amarinder’s government is following in the footsteps of the Badals whose government also filed frivolous criminal charges against SFJ campaigners in 2016. The Punjab CM will not have a smooth participation in Harvard conference, we can assure that,” said Pannun.

Pannun said SFJ will also look into the ways and means of serving a Canadian court’s summons on Amarinder over a defamation case which has been filed by SFJ against him.

Will not allow Amarinder Singh’s smooth participation in Harvard conference: SFJ

NextShark – Fox Just Aired an insanely racist segment mocking of Sikh Indians

Carl Samson

Thursday, 4 January 2018. Fox has come under fire after Desi-American rapper Heems exposed an offensive segment in “Whacked Out Sports” that made fun of Sikhs while pulling off a fake accent.

The segment depicted Holla Mohalla, a sacred Sikh festival commemorating the religion’s martial history. It also marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year.

Started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, the festival reminds followers of valor and defense preparedness. In essence, it is celebrated to reaffirm fraternity, as per All About Sikhs.

“Whacked Out Sports” zoomed in on a Nihang, a “saint soldier” showcasing feats from Gatka, the martial art of the Sikhs.

The segment quickly went downhill as narrator Tom Gottlieb made disparaging comments about the Sikh religion and went on with a mock translation of the Nihang’s Punjabi interview in “standard brownface pseudo accent,” according to 1Des Daily News.

The Hindu – USA suspends aid for Pakistan; officials say decision reversible

The total amount in question could exceed a billion dollars, though no official figure was provided.

Varghese K George

Washington DC-USA, 5 January 2018. The United States on Thursday said it was suspending all security assistance to Pakistan until it “takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.”

The announcements from State and Defence Departments followed a public condemnation of Pakistan by President Donald Trump on January 1 for sheltering terrorists.

The total amount in question could exceed a billion dollars, though no official figure was provided. The decision will delay, and perhaps eventually deny, pending payments to Pakistan under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and the reimbursement by Pentagon for logistical support in the Afghanistan war, or the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

U.S. civilian assistance programmes in Pakistan are not included in the suspension and exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if they are “determined to be critical to national security interests,” administration officials said.

The harshest measure appears to be the decision to keep the entire CSF for 2017 in suspension. Of the total $900 million CSF earmarked for 2017, $400 million is tied to a certification that Pakistan is taking adequate measures against the Haqqani Network.

Pakistan was unlikely to get that component as it has failed to get the certification since 2015. A Pentagon spokesperson said the entire $900 million for 2017 would be in suspension. In normal course, CSF disbursements are not due for several months now.

Defence and State Department officials were, however, categorical that all these measures were reversible and Pakistan could get this money if it changed its behaviour. “….this is something that I really want to reiterate: Everything that we’re talking about is reversible,” a State Department official, speaking on background, said.

Cmdr. Patrick Evans, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, said these funds “will be frozen but not cancelled.” “….as we continue to hope Pakistan will take the decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that we seek,” he said.

State Department officials said the $255 million in FMF for 2016 that has been kept in a separate account since September will remain there for now. A decision on a similar amount for 2017 is not due until September 2018. “The suspension is not a permanent cut-off at this time.

Security assistance funding impending deliveries will be frozen, but not cancelled, as we continue to hope Pakistan will take the decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that we seek. We do not intend to reprogram any funds at this time,” a State Department official said. This means that these funds could be available to Pakistan at a future date.

The announcements on Thursday appear to be rushed, in order to follow through on Mr Trump’s new year tweet. Asked during a press interaction at the Pentagon whether he was in favour of cutting off the Pakistan aid, Defence Secretary James Mattis said: “I prefer not to address that right now because it’s obviously still being formulated as policy. But I’ll give my advice on it to the President”.

Mr Mattis said he did not foresee a situation of Pakistan blocking access for American troop movement and supplies for Afghanistan. “We have had no indication of anything like that,” he said in response to a question.

The Pentagon and the State Department officials left the door open for reconciliation with Islamabad. “Pakistan remains an important country in the region and in the world, and has historically been a vital partner for the USA.

The United States acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan’s successful efforts to combat militants that threaten the Pakistani state, such as the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS.

And Pakistan has sacrificed a significant amount, including tens of thousands of military and security officials, as well as civilians killed in the fight against terrorism over the last couple of years,” a State Department official said.

“They (Pakistan) deny that they provide any kind of sanctuary to the Haqqani Network or to the Taliban. And they state that their leverage over the Haqqani Network and the Taliban is very limited. We disagree.

We believe that there is significant evidence that leadership of the Haqqani Network resides inside Pakistan and is able to plan and execute from Pakistan attacks inside Afghanistan.

So the disagreement is much more about those facts than it is on our overarching goals in the strategy,” the official said, adding that the U.S. has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take toward these ends. “We will continue these conversations with the Pakistani government in private,” he said.

Joshua T White, Associate Professor of Practice, South Asia Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, who served at the Obama White House as Senior Advisor & Director for South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, told The Hindu: “This suspension will no doubt put pressure on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, but I am skeptical that cutting a few hundred million dollars in assistance will induce Pakistan to make significant changes to its security policy.

Today’s announcement sends a signal about the USA administration’s intent to hold Pakistan to account in the public domain. Whether it accomplishes more than that is yet to be seen.”

Mr White noted that Pakistan has long been one of the top-five recipients in the world of the USA FMF. Under the CSF, the United States has paid out well over $10 billion since 2001, he said. “In addition, there are a number of smaller pots of money that support military training, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism cooperation, and law enforcement,” said Mr White.

Dawn – Trump’s tweet on Pakistan sparks war of words

President Donald Trump fumes at Pakistan, saying it thinks US leaders are fools.

Anwar Iqbal / Iftikhar A. Khan

Islamabad-Pakistan / Washington 2 January 2018. Ties between Pakistan and the United States, strained for the past several weeks, suffered a New Year setback on Monday when President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of being a liar, inviting a series of sharp responses from the Pakistani leadership.

In his first message, directed at a foreign nation in the new year, the president pledged to change the nature of a relationship he claimed was based on “nothing but lies and deceit”.

“We are making America great again, and much faster than anyone thought possible,” he wrote.

At 4:12am, on Monday, Mr Trump tweeted his warning to Pakistan: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools”.

Foreign minister says Islamabad will not do more after US president calls it ‘liar’

He said: “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The message was retweeted and liked by tens of thousands of his followers.

It took only an hour for Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif to come up with a rejoinder. “We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly Inshallah…Will let the world know the truth…difference between facts & fiction,” he tweeted.

The timing of Mr Trump’s tweet, at 4 in the morning and more than 12 hours after his last tweet, has caused much speculation in the US capital, with some linking it to reports of a further escalation in India-Pakistan tensions.

In a related development reflecting on worsening ties, the US ambassador in Pakistan was summoned to the Foreign Office and a strong protest over Mr Trump’s remarks was lodged with him, informed sources told Dawn.

Mr Trump’s tweets come a few days after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan had done enough and it was time for the United States and Afghanistan to do more. He was referring to accusation by the US and Afghanistan regarding the presence of militant bases in Pakistan.

He urged the US to “check India’s anti-Pakistan role not only from inside Afghanistan but also through the enhanced and increased ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary”.

His news briefing last week was considered the strongest-ever reaction from Islamabad since Washington began alluding to the possibility of unilateral action.

According to sources, Foreign Minister Asif soon after Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss the situation.

In an interview with a private news channel in the evening, Khawaja Asif said Pakistan had already done enough. “We have already said no more [to the Americans] so Trump’s no more is of no importance now,” he added.

“We are ready to publicly provide details of the US aid that has been received by the country,” said the minister, adding that Mr Trump was disappointed with the US defeat in Afghanistan and was accusing Pakistan in retaliation.

He suggested the US should try and negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan instead of using the armed forces.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan in a separate tweet said: “Pakistan as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16 yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust.

They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”

Khawaja Asif said: “The claim by Trump regarding the funds, if we account for it, they include reimbursements too for the services rendered by Pakistan.”

“Our land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which we were reimbursed. A proper audit took place for the reimbursements,” he said. He asked the US to hold accountable those who failed in Afghanistan.

He also said that only Afghanistan’s neighbours can find a peaceful solution for regional peace and security.

Asked as to what would be Islamabad’s response if the US carried out drone strikes in Pakistan’s settled areas, he said: “The country will defend its sovereignty”.

He said the foreign policy direction is dictated only by the national interest.

A senior military official when contacted said it was time for a united front and single national narrative. He recalled that the ISPR chief in his presser on December 28 had said, “we are receiving threats but once it comes to Pakistan we all are one. No more do more for anyone. We fought two imposed wars”.

The ISPR spokesperson had clarified that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace. “Had we not supported, Al Qaeda would not have been defeated”, he had stated.

Another source said the federal cabinet will hold an emergent meeting today (Tuesday) to ponder over the situation arising out of the harsh remarks. A national response is expected after the cabinet meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The Indian Express – Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue at UNSC, links it to Palestinian crisis

“The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continue to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces,” said Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi.

United Nations, New York, 21 December 2017. Pakistan has once again raked up the Kashmir issue at the Security Council by trying to link it to the Palestinian crisis.

“Longstanding, internationally recognised disputes of Palestine and J&K continue to fester,” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi told the Council on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming General Assembly emergency session on Jerusalem.

Having failed so far to get any international interest in Islamabad’s version of the Kashmir dispute, she brought in the Kashmir reference while speaking of “efforts to change the status of Jerusalem” because of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise it as Israel’s capital and move Washington’s embassy there.

“The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continue to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continues to watch without addressing these egregious situations.

All resolutions of the Security Council must be implemented uniformly and non-selectively,” she said in a reference to a 1948 resolution of the Council on Kashmir. “Selective implementation weakens multilateralism and the credibility of the UN,” Lodhi said.

India maintains that the resolution has been made redundant by the march of history. The plebiscite proposed in the resolution could not be held because Pakistan would not withdraw its troops from areas it occupied, and since then Kashmiris have elected their legislators and leaders.

Moreover, the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan stipulates that all disputes should be settled bilaterally, precluding third party intervention. India did not respond to Lodhi’s comments. It has generally ignored attempts by Pakistan to talk about Kashmir at the UN as all member nations do not take notice of them.

One of those attempts in September, after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the General Assembly, backfired when Lodhi held up picture of an injured Palestinian girl claiming she was a Kashmiri.

Amid ridicule, Indian diplomat Paulomi Tripathi pointed out that Lodhi had “callously” exploited the picture of a Palestinian girl “to divert attention from Pakistan’s role as the hub of global terrorism”.

Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue at UNSC, links it to Palestinian crisis – Muslim Mayor Just Banned the Word ‘Christmas?’

Hoboken mayor-elect Ravi Bhalla is Sikh, not Muslim, and he didn’t ban the word “Christmas”.

The disreputable web site Last Line of Defense jumped into the “war on Christmas” fray in December 2017 by publishing a false article claiming that a “Muslim mayor” in New Jersey had banned the word “Christmas”.

Earlier this year, Hoboken, New Jersey elected its first Muslim mayor. Due to take office in January, Ravi Bhalla received a Christmas gift from the current mayor, Dawn Zimmer: a chance to make one mayoral decree at the annual Christmas gala at the Patrick C. Farley Community Center on 5th and Brussels.

Bhalla and Zimmer shook hands, then Bhalla shocked the roughly 200 citizens in attendance with his decree that “the word Christmas shall not be said at government functions.”

This article is wrong on several fronts.

First, Ravi Bhalla is not currently the mayor of Hoboken, as the article’s headline implies. He was elected in 2017 and will take office in 2018, (as stated in the body of the article).

Second, Bhalla is Sikh, not Muslim. Because he wears a turban, he is frequently subjected to Islamophobic rumors. For instance, Reagan Was Right, a sister web site of Last Line of Defense, published an article in November 2017 falsely claiming that Bhalla had vowed to “glorify Allah” with every decision he made in office.

Not only did Bhalla not ban the word “Christmas,” he used it himself in a post on social media wishing Christmas-celebrators a merry one and complementing schoolchildren on their carol-singing. He also posted about lighting Hoboken’s menorah for Hanukkah.

The Last Line of Defense brands this sort of Islamophobic content as “satire.” The footer of the web site contains the Google definition for the word.

Satire – noun

The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with “comedy,” you should really just move along.

The idea of a Muslim mayor’s banning the word Christmas is related to the claim that there is a “war” against the extremely popular holiday, which has never been banned in the United States.

Correction [19 December 2017]: Ravi Bhalla was not yet mayor at press time, as a previous version of this article implied.