The News – Saudi Shura council members meet PM and president, assure support on Kashmir

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi met with the Saudi Shura Council members on Friday, where in the meeting with the latter, the KSA delegation reiterated support for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Saudi Shura Council Chairman Dr Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh met with the president in Islamabad. Dr Al-Sheikh said that efforts are underway to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.

During the meeting with the top government officials, matters of mutual interest between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were discussed. The president said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have brotherly relations and share common stance on regional and international issues.

He also said that 2.3 million Pakistanis settled in the Kingdom are contributing to the socio-economic development of Saudi Arabia.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/579516-pm-imran-president-meet-saudi-shura-council-members

Dawn – Mob besieges Dawn offices in Islamabad

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 03 December 2019. A few dozen unidentified people on Monday staged a protest outside Dawn offices over publication of a news report regarding the ethnicity of the London Bridge attacker who stabbed two persons to death last week.

The charged mob, carrying banners and chanting slogans against the newspaper, remained outside the office building for nearly three hours, besieging the premises and making the staffers hostage.

They prevented the employees from entering or leaving the building and demanded a written apology. Some of the protesters also misbehaved with the newspaper as well as Dawn TV employees when they arrived at the office.

Security guards at the media house had to lock the gates to prevent the protesters from entering the premises before police and officers of the capital administration arrived.

After lengthy negotiations with the newspaper management in the presence of an assistant commissioner, the protesters finally agreed to disperse after hurling warnings.

Meanwhile, the incident was widely condemned by leaders of various political parties, parliamentarians and journalist bodies.

Chairman of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Kokhar has also taken notice of the besieging of Dawn offices by the unidentified persons and directed the inspector general of police Islamabad to submit a report on the issue to the committee by December 6. He had also sought details of the action taken by the police against those who had besieged the media house.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in a statement condemned the incident, saying that “no one should be allowed to attack media outlets in the name of protest”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari demanded “action against the crowd which attacked the newspaper office and vowed to side with the journalist fraternity”.

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb called for a high-level investigation into the incident to identify and punish the perpetrators.

In a statement, Ms Aurangzeb said it was imperative to set a precedent by awarding strict punishment to those who attacked the newspaper office so that it should act as a deterrent in future.

“Such actions are unacceptable in any civilised society,” she said, pledging that the people, politicians and media will join hands in the fight against such elements.

National Party (NP) Punjab president Ayub Malik termed it as an “attack on media freedom”. He also called for strict action against the “unidentified persons” for holding the newspaper employees hostage. He asked the government to identify the people with the help of video footages available on social media.

Meanwhile, office-bearers of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the National Press Club (NPC) also condemned the incident.

Newly-elected president of the PFUJ-Afzal Butt Group Shehzada Zulfiqar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi demanded an inquiry.

The incident, they said, was an eye opener for the government and must not be ignored.

NPC President Shakil Qarar, in a statement, said working journalists would not allow curbs on press freedom, and asked the government to take steps for the protection of media persons.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1520079/mob-besieges-dawn-offices-in-islamabad

Dawn – Supreme Court asks government to explain legality of internment centres

Nasir Iqbal

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 16 November 2019. The Supreme Court questioned the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the functioning of internment centres without authorisation for three months last year during the hearing of a petition on Friday against the KP-Action in Aid of Civil Power Ordinance.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who heads a five-judge Supreme Court bench, cautioned Attorney General Anwar Mansoor a number of times that he must satisfy the court about the legality of the matter. Otherwise, he warned, it would cause problems to the government.

And in a lighter vein the chief justice told the AG that he needed to “do more”.

The Attorney General retorted that “in Pakistan we always have to do more”.

The joint challenge to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ordinance, brought by PPP stalwart Farhatullah Babar, rights activists Afrasiab Khattak, Bushra Gohar and Rubina Saigol, seeks scrapping of the ordinance since it “impinges upon fundamental rights”.

In addition to the petition, the larger bench is also seized with the federal government’s appeal against the 17 October 2018, Peshawar High Court (PHC) decision holding the ordinance as ultra vires. The verdict also held as illegal the provincial government’s decisions to continue with laws in the erstwhile Pata and Fata.

The issue cropped up when it came to the notice of the court that the 25th Constitution Amendment came into effect on May 31 last year after removal of Article 247 (7) from the Constitution and merger of both the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) with KP.

Prior to the 25th Amendment, the tribal areas were administered under Article 247 of the Constitution, authorising the president to make regulations for peace and good governance in Fata and Pata.

Later the KP Assembly adopted the Action in Aid of Civil Powers Regulations giving protection to internment centres and other actions taken by the armed forces to deal with terrorism.

The law had also mentioned Fata even though the 25th Amendment had merged both Pata and Fata in KP.

Realising the mistake, the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa promulgated the KP-Action In Aid of Civil Power Ordinance on 04 January this year by giving a retrospective effect to the law from September 2018 and by removing other deficiencies like mentioning of Fata in the earlier regulations.

But the Supreme Court was concerned why the ordinance ignored the period from 31 May 2018, when the 25th Amendment came into effect and provided protection only from September.

During the hearing, Justice Gulzar Ahmed regretted that the federal government granted some rights to the people of Fata and Pata through the 25th Amendment, but the provincial government took away those rights.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that the amendment had done much more than merging Fata and Pata with KP since it had introduced democracy in the erstwhile tribal areas by giving them representation in the assemblies.

The chief justice asked whether the constitution makers provided any transition clause in subsequent laws because after the 25th Amendment the legislature knew well about the mechanism and arrangements under which the internment centres function and that all these systems have to be taken care of by the provinces. Otherwise, the arrangement will be rendered unconstitutional.

The attorney general read out the regulation to establish facilities afforded to interned persons, e.g. visits by family members, letters after 15 days, clothing, imparting skills and rehabilitation.

Anwar Mansoor said he would produce a video at the next hearing to show how internment centres functioned and how international organisations like Unicef were working with them.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked whether the government had evidence that the people being interned were non-state actors.

“No country in the world accepts them any longer since they have no allegiance to any country, except the organisation for which they are working,” Justice Ahmed observed.

The AG said that there were certain things which he cannot disclose.

But the chief justice wondered whether the list of missing persons had been shared with the commission on enforced disappearances. He explained to the AG that the court was not seized with the performance of internment centres, but with the legal status of the arrangement.

Attorney General Mansoor replied that the state had to be protected by taking extraordinary steps and “we have saved the country from miscreants”.

“I will try to convince the court that internment centres are not unconstitutional,” the AG said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1517012/sc-asks-govt-to-explain-legality-of-internment-centres

Dawn – Foreign Office regrets India’s refusal to avail concessions for Sikh pilgrims

Baqir Sajjad Syed

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 08 November 2019. The Foreign Office on Thursday regretted that the Indian government had decided against availing “concessions” announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan for Sikh pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak.

“As a special gesture, Pakistan announced concessions on the auspicious occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak to facilitate pilgrims. This has been refused by India in blatant disregard of Sikh sentiments,” FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal tweeted.

“If India does not wish to avail these facilitative measures for pilgrims, it is India’s choice,” he said.

The spokesman’s reaction came after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the visit by Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur Gurdwara via the newly established corridor would be conducted in accordance with the agreed bilateral agreement governing the corridor’s operations.

MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar was quoted by Indian media as saying: “Sometimes they say passport is needed, other times it is not needed. We think there are differences between their Foreign Office and other agencies. We have a memorandum of understanding (MoU), it hasn’t been changed and as per it passport is needed.”

Spokesman says government was working on other initiatives for promoting religious tourism

Dr Faisal, earlier at his weekly media briefing, said that Pakistan government had as a “special gesture” waived off the passport requirement and the 10-day advance intimation for the pilgrims coming to the shrine. Moreover, $20 service charges per pilgrims were also waived off for 09 and 12 November.

The special concessions, which were announced by the prime minister through Twitter, were formally conveyed by the Pakistan government to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and the government of India.

The government is expecting around 10,000 Sikhs to visit the gurdwara on the occasion of the opening of the visa-free corridor on 09 November. These include Sikhs coming from India via the corridor, those coming through Wagah border crossing, and Sikhs living in other parts of the world coming here for the occasion.

In reply to a question relating to visas for Sikhs coming through other routes, the spokesman said: “Our missions abroad are also fully facilitating visa requests from Nanak Naamlevas”.

Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, he said, had been issued a visa and would be warmly welcomed at the opening ceremony. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had first shared the idea of opening Kartarpur Corridor with Mr Sidhu when he last year visited Pakistan for attending PM Imran Khan’s inauguration.

Later, Mr Sidhu also came for the groundbreaking ceremony of the project.

According to Indian media, the invitation card issued by the Pakistan government to Mr Sidhu carries serial number ‘0001’.

Dr Faisal said the government was also working on a number of other initiatives for promoting religious tourism. “Sikhs / Nanak Naamlevas, Hindus and Buddhist Monks have various holy sites in Pakistan and we are trying to tap this potential of religious tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to APP, the FO clarified that the passport waiver for Kartarpur pilgrims would extend up to one year as a special gesture on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Mr Faisal was responding to a question in connection with a statement by the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations in which he termed passport a must requisite for Indian pilgrims using Kartarpur corridor.

“This is the formal position of Foreign Office and the ISPR statement is also in line with it,” he said.

Asked if Pakistan would like to open similar corridors with Kargil and Ladakh to facilitate meeting of families living across the border, he said Pakistan had no objection on opening of more passages, however India’s hesitation in holding discussions on several matters was a major hurdle in that.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515580/fo-regrets-indias-refusal-to-avail-concessions-for-sikh-pilgrims

Tolo News – Thousands continue sit-in; Pakistan Prime Minister won’t resign

Rehman accuses Khan of bad governance and demands the government follow Islamic laws.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 05 November 2019. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who galvanized tens of thousands of followers to march on Islamabad, met Monday with opposition politicians and agreed to continue their sit-in even after a deadline he imposed for the Prime Minister to resign passed without Imran Khan stepping down.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s followers, many of them students of his religious schools, started out last week from the southern port city of Karachi, marching to Islamabad where they have since camped out on the city’s outskirts for three days.

Rehman accuses Khan of bad governance and demands the government follow Islamic laws. Khan has ignored the protesters’ demands, saying he won’t be driven from power. But he has allowed Rahman’s rally to go on, provided it remain in its designated area.

The firebrand cleric delivered a late-night speech Monday before a crowd of thousands, saying the opposition had agreed the sit-in should continue, but that no other action was agreed upon.

That includes following through on Rehman’s threats to have protesters march on the so-called Red Zone, which is home to Pakistan’s government, the prime minister’s residence and foreign embassies. Rehman said the opposition would decide when the protest would end.

Authorities have stepped up security in the capital and brought in large shipping containers to block roads and protect the Red Zone.

Bilal Bhutto-Zardari, the co-leader of the left-leaning Pakistan People’s party, once led by the late Benazir Bhutto, has said his party will not join Rehman in the sit-in. While his party supports Rehman’s call for Khan to resign, it is not ready to take part in the sit-in, he said, without elaborating.

Rehman has come under attack by human rights activists who have criticized his fiery speeches as well as his refusal to allow women at his protest march. Even women journalists were barred from the rallies until an outcry forced him to relent.

Rehman’s radical religious schools have provided men for both the Afghan Taliban militant group and the anti-government Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

In his speeches, Rehman has attacked the minority Ahmadi sect, and Ahmadi homes and places of worship are often targeted by Sunni militants who consider them heretics. There are about half a million of Ahmadis in Pakistan, which has a population of 220 million and which declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974.

Rahman has also staunchly defended a controversial blasphemy law that carried a death sentence for anyone found guilty of insulting Islam.

https://tolonews.com/world/thousands-continues-sit-pakistan-prime-minister-won%E2%80%99t-resign

The Tribune – Pakistan rejects reports about presence of terror camps in Narowal district

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 04 November 2019. Pakistan on Monday rejected as “baseless” the media reports about the presence of alleged terrorist “training camps” in Punjab province’s Narowal district near the famed Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, calling them a “malicious” propaganda campaign.

According to reports, intelligence agencies have spotted terrorist training activities in the border district of Narowal in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the same district where Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is situated.

Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that “Pakistan completely rejects baseless reports in a section of the Indian media, attributed to ‘intelligence sources’.”

It said Pakistan’s Kartarpur spirit is aimed at facilitating Nanak Naamlevas (followers), especially Sikhs, to visit one of their most revered places of worship and promoting inter-faith harmony.

“The content of the media reports in question is part of a malicious propaganda campaign in India that cannot be condemned enough,” the FO said.

It said that unfounded allegations about Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib being used for any purpose other than worship are a deliberate attempt to misrepresent Pakistan’s goodwill gesture, undermine the corridor initiative, and hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs all over the world.

“We have no doubt that such mischievous attempts would be rejected with the contempt that they deserve,” according to the FO.

The Kartarpur Corridor is scheduled to be inaugurated on November 9.

The corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur district of Indian Punjab with the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara located in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/pak-rejects-reports-about-presence-of-terror-camps-in-narowal-district/856256.html

Hindustan Times – 1,100 Indian Sikhs arrive at Pakistan’s Panja Sahib

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 04 November 2019. More than 1,000 Sikhs from India arrived at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Pakistan’s Hasanabdal city on Sunday as part of the Nagar Kirtan, a religious procession, held to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The gurdwara in Punjab province was decorated with colourful lights and pilgrims offered prayers.

Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) deputy secretary, shrines, Imran Gondal said that more than 1,100 Sikhs crossed the border through Wagah on October 31 via Ludhiana and Amritsar, Dawn reported.

The Sikh pilgrims visited Gurdwara Janamasthan, Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda Farooqabad and other shrines. The pilgrimage will conclude at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where a gold palanquin, Palki Sahib, will be installed.

“Around 1,300 visas issued for the Nagar Kirtan are over and above the contingent covered under the Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974, between Pakistan and India,” Gondal was quoted as saying.

Gondal said the board along with the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the district administration, has made accommodation arrangements for the pilgrims. Attock district police officer Shahzad Nadeem Bukhari said that multi-layered security plans are in place.

The Kartarpur Corridor, to be opened on 09 November, will connect the Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara in Indian Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, 4 km from the border, in Narowal district of Pakistan Punjab.

Meanwhile, a 178-member delegation has arrived in Pakistan from the UK to take part in the celebrations at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on November 12. The gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, who spent 18 years there.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/1-100-indian-sikhs-arriveat-pakistan-s-punja-sahib/story-cg6donZntmxtybnLiXsYAL.html

India Today – Navjot Singh Sidhu accepts Imran Khan’s invitation to Kartarpur Corridor inauguration

Sidhu said the Sikh community all over the world looks forward to visit the holy shrine associated with their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 31 October 2019. Former Indian cricketer and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has accepted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s invitation to attend the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on 09 November.

According to a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) press release, Sidhu thanked the Pakistan Prime Minister for inviting him to the inauguration. “I’m grateful to the prime minister for inviting me to the historic inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor,” he was quoted as saying.

On the directives of Imran Khan, PTI Senator Faisal Javed had contacted Sidhu and extended the invitation. Sidhu said the Sikh community all over the world looks forward to visit the holy shrine associated with their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak.

“The Kartarpur Corridor agreement sends a positive message to millions of Sikhs around the world,” he is quoted as having said by the Pakistani media.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/sidhu-accepts-imran-khan-invitation-to-kartarpur-corridor-inauguration-1614283-2019-10-31

Dawn – 900 000 troops in occupied Kashmir there to terrorise 8m people, not fight terrorism: PM Imran Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday once again drew attention to the situation in occupied Kashmir, criticising Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for thinking he could “get his agenda of annexation” by using force to silence Kashmiris.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 18 October 2019. In a post shared on Twitter, the premier said: “Modi is riding a tiger, he thought he could get his agenda of annexation by using 900,000 forces to silence Kashmiris.

“You don’t need 900,000 troops to fight terrorism; you need them to terrorise 8m Kashmiri people.”

In a subsequent tweet, the prime minister said the Indian premier was now “fearful” because “he knows the moment the siege is lifted, there will be a bloodbath, which would be the only way to subdue the Kashmiri people”.

Frustration, anger and fear have been growing in occupied Kashmir since 05 August, when the Indian government stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew and a communications blackout.

While some call and text services for mobile phone services were previously restored in the region, text messaging services were again blocked on Tuesday.

The clampdown has now continued for over 70 days.

According to Radio Pakistan, Friday is being observed as Kashmir Day across the country to express solidarity with Kashmiris. In this regard, sirens were rung at 3 pm and people stood up to express solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren.

Last month, addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Imran had criticised India for its annexation of occupied Kashmir and the continued restrictions imposed in the region.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511557/900000-troops-in-occupied-kashmir-there-to-terrorise-8m-people-not-fight-terrorism-pm-imran

Dawn – Pakistan to invite Manmohan Singh to Kartarpur corridor inauguration

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday announced that Pakistan has decided to extend an invitation to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, which is scheduled to be opened in November.

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 30 September 2019. “Kartarpur corridor is an important project, the prime minister has a personal interest in it,” said Qureshi in a video message.

“After consultations, Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration, who we hold in high regard. He will represent the Sikh community.”

“On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I invite him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor,” said Qureshi, adding that the government also intends to send Singh a formal written invitation.

The foreign minister also invited Sikh yatris in his message, saying: “We also await the Sikh yatris to come and take part in the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.”

Earlier this month, Pakistani project director Atif Majeed had said the visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur, Pakistan, would be inaugurated on 09 November, just ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on 12 November.

It was also announced that Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the Kartarpur corridor.

Pakistan has kept the corridor project insulated from the recent tensions with India over annulment of Article 370, subsequent repressive actions in occupied Kashmir and intensified ceasefire violations on the Line of Control. The project had also remained unaffected by the previous episode of escalation between the two sides following the Pulwama attack in February.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1508197/pakistan-to-invite-manmohan-singh-to-kartarpur-corridor-inauguration