Sikh Federation UK – Trudeau’s visit to Sikh homeland eagerly anticipated

Focus will be on what he says about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India and their campaign for greater rights

London-UK, 16 February 2018. Sikhs in Canada and other parts of the globe have been in private communications directly and indirectly with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and some of the Sikh Ministers and Liberal MPs accompanying him before his week-long trip to India that begins tomorrow on 17 February.

Trudeau will be accompanied by his four Sikh Ministers, Harjit Singh Sajjan (defence), Navdeep Singh Bains (innovation, science and economic development), Amarjit Singh Sohi (infrastructure and communities) and Bardish Kaur Chagger (small business and tourism), who is also the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and a number of other Sikh MPs.

As far as the worldwide Sikh community is concerned the peak of Trudeau’s visit to India is when he is in Punjab and the Sri Harmandr Sahib Complex on 21 February with his 35-member media delegation from Canada.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh who last year accused all Sikh Ministers in Trudeau’s Cabinet of being Khalistani sympathisers and refused to meet Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan will face a major dilemma by being seen to make a U-turn.

Every word Trudeau speaks about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India when he visits the Sikh homeland will be closely watched and dissected by Sikhs not only in Canada, but other parts of the globe.

Privately and publicly there is no doubt the Indian authorities and media will challenge Trudeau on his perceived backing or otherwise for those campaigning for a separate Sikh homeland, Khalistan.

They will also try and get his views on the recent restrictions imposed by Gurdwara management committees in Canada on Indian government officials where he will no doubt have a carefully prepared response.

How Trudeau responds to questions about Sikhs in Canada could determine his political future as he will be conscious that his Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper in his November 2012 visit to India pushed back strongly when challenged by the Indian media.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper said merely advocating for a Khalistan homeland was not a crime and should not be confused with the right of Canadians to hold and promote their political views. He added that “we can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression.”

It will also not be lost on India that Canada, alongside Italy and Pakistan are leading a counter-proposal at the UN to have more non-permanent members that in essence is designed to stop India and others becoming permanent members of the UN Security Council.

There is no doubt Trudeau will need to walk a fine line during his India visit given the media hype of him being a close ally of the Sikhs. The fact that economic trade between Canada and India is relatively small will help Trudeau stand up to pressure from New Delhi during his visit given the line taken by his Conservative predecessor.

Trudeau also knows next year he will be up against Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), who will have most to gain if Trudeau fails to at least go as far as Stephen Harper in defending the rights of Sikhs in Canada to be able to highlight the atrocities by the Indian authorities i.e. the failure to release Sikh political prisoners who have served their terms and have the freedom to advocate for Khalistan.

Another human rights case that is certain to come up is the case of Jagtar Singh Johal where Liberal MPs have been vocal and the Canadian government has also officially raised concerns.

Trudeau is certain to face questions about the Sikh Genocide motion passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament last year that was led by politicians belonging to his Liberal Party who have subsequently been promoted.

He will come across as weak on a crucial human rights issue if he chooses to distance the Liberal Party at the federal level from those of his party at the provincial level.

Trudeau should address this challenge head on and point out the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in late December 2014 referred to what happened to the Sikhs in November 1984 as ‘Genocide’.

He continued that ‘justice would be meted out to the victims only when the perpetrators of the crime are punished’ and ‘that until these persons are punished, victims will not get relief’.

It would also be an opportune moment for Trudeau to ask what the BJP government is doing to address the recent revelation of the sting operation that has exposed Congress politician Jagdish Tyler.

He has now been heard confessing to the killing of over 100 Sikhs and separately implicated Rajiv Gandhi by disclosing the two toured the streets of Delhi during the peak of the Sikh Genocide..

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) <sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk>

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Asian Image – Critically acclaimed documentary ‘1984: When the Sun Didn’t Rise’ to be shown across the UK

London-UK, 7 February 2018. A critically acclaimed documentary on the 1984 Sikh genocide will be shown across the UK in a month long tour.

The tour of ‘1984: When the Sun Didn’t Rise’ is being facilitated by Nishaan, a University Sikh student network. Twenty universities and 12 Gurdwaras will show the film.

Created by Teenaa Kaur over a five-year period, the documentary follows the lives of women of the infamous ‘widow’s colony’, an area on the outskirts of Delhi given the name for the amount of women left without husbands following the 1984 Sikh genocide.

Teenaa Kaur is an independent director/producer and screenwriter with a wide range of experience in documentary genres.

Teenaa Kaur said, ‘I am delighted to be able to take my film to the UK, where the issue of the Sikh genocide of 1984 is important to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.

“I hope to be able to provide audiences with a deeper understanding of those living with the lasting traumas of the genocide and to challenge racial discrimination in any form.”

Jaspinder Singh said of the tour, ‘It is an honour to be able to help people watch such an important film for anyone who values human rights and social justice.

“We thank all the University Sikh Societies and Sikh organisations involved for making this happen.’

http://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/15924999.-/

Sikh Federation UK – UK Government failing 30-year old Scot torture victim held in Indian jail for 3 months without charge

London, 1 February 2018. Today Jagtar appeared in court for the 24th time, but still no evidence has been presented and no charges have been forthcoming.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) that took over the case six weeks ago from Punjab police was reprimanded by the judge today for delays and failing to produce the correct paper work.

Martin Docherty-Hughes the MP for 30-year old Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton and Jagtar’s elder brother also today met with Mark Field, the Foreign Minister responsible for relations with India.

Mark Field was told the UK Government was failing to protect Jagtar from ill-treatment and not doing enough to secure his release and return home.

Foreign Minister Rory Stewart gave assurances in the House of Commons on 21 November of ‘extreme action’ against the Indian authorities in relation to the torture of the 30-year old Brit.

However, three months following Jagtar’s abduction on 4 November, allegations of third degree torture, denial of an independent medical examination, lack of private access to consular staff and no charges the Foreign Office is being accused of deliberately wasting time and negligence.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The Foreign Secretary has failed to issue a statement or meet Jagtar’s family and Sir Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner to India has also been silent.”

“Mark Field has been photographed winning and dinning with Indian government representatives and more concerned with trade and protests against the Indian PM, Narendra Modi when he visits Britain in April.”

Yesterday a report titled: ‘Beyond discretion, The protection of British Nationals abroad from torture and ill-treatment’ was released in Parliament by Redress, a human rights organisation dedicated to securing justice for torture victims.

More than 100 British citizens a year are subjected to ill-treatment in foreign jails, but many struggle to get the Foreign Office assistance they need.

At the launch in Parliament organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Human Rights those present heard from Richard Ratcliffe on his campaign in the case of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British mother jailed in Iran.

Others that spoke included Gurpreet Singh Johal the brother of Jagtar Singh Johal and Billy Irving one of the Chennai 6 who were scathing in Britain’s approach with India.

Several Sikh representatives spoke about Jagtar Singh Johal and India as well as Martin Docherty-Hughes the MP for Jagtar Singh Johal, Liz McInnes the Shadow Minister responsible for relations with India and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi the MP from Slough.

All speakers in relation to Jagtar Singh Johal and the Chennai 6 agreed that the British Government was failing to provide strong enough protection to its citizens when they are unjustly jailed and tortured In India.

The 75-page Redress report highlights the specific cases of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran, Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege in Ethiopia and Jagtar Singh Johal in India and accuses the UK Government of “a failure to speak out in the face of serious human rights violations” that “seriously weakens the protection of its own nationals and risks legitimising abuses.”

Bhai Amrik Singh continued:

“We are deeply concerned with the time taken by Foreign Office officials to act upon Jagtar’s allegations of third degree torture and their failure to gain private access since his abduction three months ago.”

“Consular officials appear to simply be relying on physical signs of torture and ignoring the relentless psychological torture Jagtar has been under.”

“Although the Indian authorities have been torturing and mistreating Jagtar the UK Government has become complicit without taking the ‘extreme action’ they promised MPs in Parliament to protect him.”

“The Foreign Office must immediately intervene or there is likely to be a mass protest later this month in London due to their negligence and also will increase the number of protesters when the Indian PM attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April.”

A very broad coalition is being put together involving the Chennai 6 and Scots in general to protest against the treatment of British citizens tortured and jailed in India.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)
sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk

Evening Standard – Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn back campaign for London memorial to Sikh soldiers

Robin De Peyer

Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn have joined forces to call for a memorial in London commemorating the contribution of Sikh soldiers during the two world wars.

The London Mayor said the memorial should take “pride of place” in the capital as it was announced that £375,000 has been raised for the project so far.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of a campaign for a National Sikh War Memorial in central London, he said: “Britain and the world owe a huge debt to the Sikh service men and women who fought alongside British troops during the First and Second World Wars.

“The heroic Sikh soldiers who laid down their lives for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today should get the recognition they deserve.”

More than 80,000 turban-wearing Sikh soldiers are estimated to have died fighting for Britain during the two world wars, with 100,000 more injured.

The campaign for a memorial to their efforts to be built in London has won the support of more than 27,000 people in an online petition.

It also gained cross-party backing from the likes of Labour leader Mr Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, and communities secretary Sajid Javid.

Labour’s Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who last year became the first turban-wearing Sikh to enter Parliament as an MP hosted the campaign launch on Tuesday evening.

“Memorials already exist in London for Soldiers from the Commonwealth, British India, Poland, African-Caribbean nations, and for the Gurkhas but none of a turbaned Sikh Soldier,” he said.

“Hopefully with the active support of the Government, the Mayor of London and the local authorities, we will in the very near future have a permanent national monument in a fitting central London location.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-and-jeremy-corbyn-back-campaign-for-london-memorial-to-sikh-soldiers-a3754496.html

The News – Indian authorities rattled by Kashmiri and Sikh protest in London

Saeed Niazi

London-UK, 28 January 2018. Two groups of protesters clashed outside Indian High Commission as Kashmiris and Sikhs jointly protested against Indian government actions while a group organised by the Indian officials attacked the protesters.

Sikhs and Kashmiris who traditionally demonstrate on India’s Republic Day outside the Indian High Commission in London to declare their desire for freedom from Indian occupation but for the first time Indian officials organised counter protest which turned into violence as pro-Indian protesters attacked Sikhs and Kashmiris.

Scotland Yard officials tried to separate the protesters and then called more force to take away pro-India protestors who were issuing threats and threw a few water bottles at the protesters.

Carrying placards accusing the Sikhs and Kashmiris of being terrorists, shouting “Modi, Modi” and howling abuse at their opponents the Indian protesters eventually beat a retreat once it was clear that they were getting a more than robust response from a spirited gathering of Sikh and Kashmiri self determination supporters.

India has been incensed at its diplomats being recently banned from speaking at many Sikh Gurdwaras in the UK, Canada and the USA. High Commission officers were also visibly stung seeing vans parked outside the London High Commission proclaiming “Khalistan Zindabad”, “Free Kashmir” and calling for freedom in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

Indian lobby complaints last week led to Transport for London issuing a circular to stop advertisement agencies from displaying these messages on public transport.

Lord Nazir Ahmed led the protestors and condemned the ‘extremist Hindutva’ elements that had sought to prevent peaceful democratic protest. Speaker after speaker said their communities would never be intimidated by such cowardly tactics.

Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, President of the Council of Khalistan said the international community, including the Commonwealth, should hold Modi to account for his own personal and his country’s diabolic record on human rights.

As a country that formally rejects the right of self determination (enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights), he said the role of responsible international bodies was to punish, not, reward India.

The conflicts arising from that illegal position had led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery. Dr Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch (UK) said India must “return the sovereign status of the shackled deserving nations viz the Kashmiris, Khalistanis and the nationalities of Eastern South East Asia”.

Lord Qurban Hussain, also participating in the protest, spoke of the need for the UN to intervene and bring peace to what is perhaps the most dangerous conflict zone in the world today.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/273844-indian-authorities-rattled-by-kashmiri-and-sikh-protest-in-london

The Asian Age – UK lawmaker launches campaign against India, claims minorities not safe

London-UK, 26 January 2018. One of the first British Muslims to be appointed to the House of Lords on Thursday launched a protest campaign against India, claiming that minorities in the country are not safe.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, raised in South Yorkshire and has regularly made common cause with “Kashmiri Pakistanis”, is leading the campaign that will involve five billboard vans traversing the streets of London.

On Friday, a group led by the politician will gather outside the Indian High Commission in London.

“It will be a peaceful demonstration by a small gathering because we cannot have very large numbers outside the High Commission,” he said.

The Indian High Commission in London said it has raised its concerns with the UK authorities, but the billboard vans are private vehicles and therefore not directly under state control.

Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, who was in London to attend the Education World Forum earlier this week, dismissed the protest as “fringe elements” keen to foment trouble.

Meanwhile, some pro-India groups have also organised a ‘Chalo India House’ demonstration in London to “celebrate India’s Republic Day by opposing anti-India lobbyists”.

http://www.asianage.com/world/americas/260118/uk-lawmaker-launches-campaign-against-india-claims-minorities-not-safe.html

Evening Standard – Tanmanjeet Dhesi: Britain’s first turban-wearing Sikh MP reveals ‘disillusioning’ extent of racial abuse

From having his turban ripped off at school, Tanmanjeet Dhesi went on to excel and has now reached the House of Commons. He tells Robin de Peyer about his journey from the Punjab to Parliament.

Robin De Peyer

London-UK, 21 January 2018. Standing up to deliver his maiden speech in the House of Commons after being elected as Britain’s first turban-wearing Sikh MP last year, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s sense of responsibility was acute.

“The hand of history, the huge excitement, anticipation and sheer expectations weigh heavily on my shoulders,” the MP for Slough told his new colleagues. “A glass ceiling has truly been broken and I sincerely hope that many more like me will follow in the years and decades to come.”

Within days, the speech had gone viral online, with millions watching his Commons address. While the majority of commenters praised Dhesi’s achievement as a positive symbol of multicultural Britain, others used the moment as an opportunity to air racist and, somewhat bizarrely, anti-Islamic views.

“There are those advocating the politics of hate and division,” Dhesi laments as he reflects on his first seven months in Parliament. “It’s so prevalent now it’s unreal. You’d think it should have lessened over the last decades… but unfortunately many individuals are talking about dividing people.

“You say in politics you’ve got to develop a thick skin, but sometimes it is disappointing and disillusioning.”

Dhesi’s journey to Parliament is not an ordinary one. His parents emigrated to Slough from the Punjab, India, in the late 1970s, and sent their son back to their homeland when he was four years old.

“They wanted me to get the best of both worlds,” the MP, dressed in a blue Fred Perry jumper and a sky blue turban, explains. “During holidays I used to come back to England, and they used to come back to the Punjab as well. It wasn’t a case of you were away for four years and that’s ‘see you later’.

“Even to this day I’m appreciative of that move. I know it must have been very, very difficult to part with their child at such a young age, but they did what they felt was right, and in hindsight I appreciate that.”

Aged nine, he came back to Britain, this time joining his parents in their new home of Gravesend, and the readjustment from his life in India was initially a difficult one. “When I was at school, someone tried to pull my turban off. But, fortunately, I didn’t let those events scar me.”

When Dhesi left his local grammar school, he did so with six A-levels and a place at UCL to study maths and management awaiting him. After graduating, he went on to study Applied Statistics at Oxford before completing an MPhil in the history and politics of south Asia at Oxford.

Now 39, he speaks seven languages: Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, French, German, Latin, Italian as well as his broad, south-east accented English.

Was he a swot at school? “I tell ya what, nah. I liked studying and thankfully I was good at it so I ended up getting lots of As and stuff, but that was also to do with the teachers as well.”

This self-effacement is a recurring theme during the course of a conversation with Dhesi, something he attributes to working for his dad’s construction firm on building sites as a teenager.

“My dad was old school, in the sense that for the first two weeks on site, even though he’s the gaffer and so on…. What he got me to do was to broom the site.”

His personable nature is in marked contrast to many others in politics today, and could explain his success in the race for the Tory target seat of Slough last June.

In many ways, the constituency summed up the Conservatives’ nightmarish election campaign in the run-up to June’s poll. Cabinet ministers descended on the area, and Prime Minister Theresa May chose it as her last stop on her campaign tour on the night before polling day, hinting at the Tories’ confidence in their chances at overturning large Labour majorities.

The plan, as did so many of the Tories’ others during the campaign, backfired, and Dhesi managed to increase his party’s share of the vote.

Despite his successes to date – Dhesi also set up his own business and served as Mayor of Gravesham in Kent, the pressure that comes with his position as a pioneer of the British-Sikh community is not lost on him.

“If I make a complete fool of myself, or don’t deliver what I’m trying to say, then that wouldn’t just reflect on me, that would be a representation of an entire community for some people. So there’s a lot of responsibility there.”

In a mark of the challenges faced by MPs of all stripes in the social media age, he admits he has been taken aback by the abuse he has faced since taking office.

“That’s one of the things I wasn’t expecting actually, the extent of abuse. No wonder they say a lot more people don’t think about coming into elected office.”

His constituency voted to leave the EU, despite Dhesi’s own backing for Remain, and he insists “that ship has sailed” when asked whether he still sees any route out of Brexit.

Instead, he plans to focus his energies on tackling discrimination. “You have got an amazing platform, where your views do get listened to, whether people agree with you or not. That’s a very privileged and powerful position to be in. That’s why it’s important we don’t let other people monopolise that.”

Judging by his maiden speech, Dhesi is up for that fight.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tanmanjeet-dhesi-britains-first-turbanwearing-sikh-mp-reveals-disillusioning-extent-of-racial-abuse-a3742746.html

I News – What it’s like to experience Islamophobia as a Sikh

London-UK, 4 December 2017. The programme My Week As a Muslim caused outrage this autumn. It’s easy to see why: a white woman was ““browned up” as a Muslim, complete with hijab, prosthetic nose and false teeth. Instead of “disguising” someone in such a crude manner, why not actually ask Muslims about their experiences?

It also stereotyped Muslims as “brown” when Islam is a faith, not an ethnicity. While I understood the controversy, the programme was also a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy. For just one week this woman experienced the intolerance many Muslims face on a daily basis.

This includes being abused, spat at and labelled a terrorist. There is an old adage that to truly understand someone you need to walk a mile in their shoes. This went a step further, by asking someone to a mile in someone else’s skin.

I don’t need to wear a prosthetic nose or false teeth to begin to recognise what Islamophobia feels like. Although I am a practicing Sikh, I have been mistaken for a Muslim on many occasions. People see my skin colour and turban, and in their ignorance assume that I am both a Muslim and a terrorist. If the leap of assumptions wasn’t so hideous it would be funny.

‘You killed three thousand people’ One of my worst experiences came on an ordinary Friday evening. It was a few months after the 9/11 tragedy, when the atmosphere in the UK was one of fear and anger. I was on the Tube on my way to meet friends, with my headphones in and oblivious to everyone else. So far, so normal.

A man became extremely aggressive, shouting “you killed three thousand people”. He called me “scum” and every other name under the sun, becoming increasingly belligerent and threatening. I was left with an unwelcome dilemma: should I defend myself against the false “charge” of being a Muslim or the preposterous inference that all Muslims are terrorists? I was stumped.

As my fellow passengers became increasingly concerned for me, an American man, who I know was only trying to help, stepped in, also thinking I was Muslim. “Leave him alone, I’m an American and we all hated them [Muslims] at first but now I’m not angry. It wasn’t their fault.”

My attacker was by now screaming, his face turned red. He was about to punch me. He would have succeeded if a passenger hadn’t stepped in to defend me as I ran towards the platform, squeezing past the slamming doors.

Despite my best efforts to tap into the British spirit to keep calm and carry on, I was left completely shaken and it remains one of the most frightening experiences of my life. I didn’t report it, at the time I just wanted to get out of the situation. And I’ve regretted it ever since.

Always report

Reported hate crimes have risen by 29 per cent in the past year From then on, I’ve made it a principle to report any time I face hate crime. The police have not only taken it extremely seriously, but I have found even just the act of reporting cathartic and empowering. I deserve to take a stand and say “enough”.

Too often victims of hate crime stay silent. Statistics show a 29 per cent rise in hate crime over the past year and a rise in Islamophobia specifically. Despite this, there are still serious challenges with underreporting. Some think they won’t be taken seriously or feel unsure if what’s happened even constitutes a crime.

As someone who has been affected, as well as in my personal experience as a barrister, my message is simple: report it. Whether it’s online or offline, attacks on the basis of race or faith should never be tolerated. And if you see someone being targeted – step in. Hate crime is thankfully not endemic in our society and despite some horrible exceptions Britain is characterised by tolerance and respect.

The fact that hate crime is on the agenda shows that it is not acceptable in our society. Not only is the Government monitoring statistics but the police actively encouraging people to come forward by making it easier to report crimes, including setting up online apps. This all points to Britain’s proud history of creating a liberal society where all are treated equally under the rule of law.

Respect for those who are different is a value to be celebrated and it is clear that progress is being made in tackling the very antithesis to liberty: hate crime. We shouldn’t have to dress up as another ethnicity to know how important it is to defend the rights of one another. The only intolerance we should accept is for intolerance itself.

Jasvir Singh OBE is Co-Chair of the Faiths Forum for London and the Chair of City Sikhs, a national representative body for British Sikhs. He is also a practising family law barrister.

https://inews.co.uk/opinion/like-experience-islamophobia-sikh/

The News – Moot reaffirms faith in liberal Pakistan, opposes mainstreaming of militants

Murtaza Ali Shah

London-UK, 15 October 2017. The Pakistani government has been urged to take responsibility of all its citizens and protect their fundamental rights enshrined and guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan.

The call was made at the second annual “Pakistan: The Way Forward” conference organized here under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

Several prominent liberal and progressive intellectuals, human rights and social media activists and public figures spoke during the conference on their vision of a liberal and democratic Pakistan.

The speakers debated at length the policies of Pakistani government in many areas including domestic and international and expressed concerns at the current affairs of things, calling on the authorities to change course.

The speakers said that the space for free thinking and honest debate has shrunk and advocates of liberal, secular, progressive ideas and pluralism have come under attack from extremist groups.

Many speakers pointed out that the human rights situation has gone worse in the whole South Asian region including India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan where right-wing forces have taken control of decision making at the cost of vulnerable sections of the society.

They said that that while Pakistan has seen tremendous improvement in many areas over the last many years, it was not right that many groups and communities remained under threat and human rights denied to them.

The speakers expressed concern at attempts to mainstream extremist and banned organisations and made reference to the electoral gains two candidates made in NA120 by-election in Lahore.

Rashed Rehman, senior editor and human rights advocate, told this scribe that these groups posed direct and clear threat to the democratic system of Pakistan.

“It’s a dangerous development that these groups are being brought into politics. These groups don’t believe in democracy at all.”

It was discussed that to establish a true democracy in Pakistan, the federating units must be given maximum powers and the National Finance Commission Award should be giving more resources to provinces for local development as well as devolution of power.

The conference agreed that Pakistan needs a new national narrative, based on progressive ideas and detaches from religious extremism and militancy. Many participants complained that media has been used to issue fatwas on the dissenting voices.

Husain Haqqani told this scribe that those critical of current government policies are as patriotic as anyone else and they only wanted a pluralistic and progressive Pakistan.

He said that while the views of the liberal thinkers and intellectuals are open for criticism but it was not right that the dissenting voices were termed anti-Pakistan and agents of foreign forces.

He said growing intolerance posed threat to Pakistan and played out against Pakistan’s interests at the global level.

A joint declaration called on Pakistan government to listen to fresh ideas espoused by broad-minded Pakistanis and end relying on ideas peddled by the right-wing elements.

The declaration said that a “steady diet of conspiracy theories” had harmed Pakistan and it was time to revisit such policies which encouraged reactionary forces.

It said that a only a pluralist Pakistan at peace with itself would have a positive global and local image and for this purpose the decision makers should engage with those who believe in a liberal, secular and progressive vision of Pakistan.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/237158-Moot-reaffirms-faith-in-liberal-Pakistan-opposes-mainstreaming-of-militants

BBC News – Vijay Mallya: India tycoon faces new money-laundering charges

London, 3 October 2017. Indian drinks tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is charged with committing fraud in India, has been re-arrested in London.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday afternoon, after India issued new charges of money-laundering against him.

Mr Mallya denies any wrongdoing. The allegations are linked to the collapse of his airline, Kingfisher.

The 61-year-old left India in March 2016 more than Rs 1 billion (£755m) in debt, after defaulting on bank loan payments.

He was released on police bail after the hearing.

Mr Mallya’s monetary affairs are being investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Enforcement Directorate – which handles financial crimes.

He was originally arrested and bailed in April after India asked for his extradition in February.

The mogul has rejected claims that he fled his home country over circling creditors, saying outside court: “I have not eluded any court. If it is my lawful duty to be here, I’m happy to be here”.

Mr Mallya is a flamboyant figure previously dubbed “India’s Richard Branson” and the “King of Good Times” for his lavish lifestyle.

He built his fortune from Kingfisher beer, before branching out into Indian cricket and Formula 1 racing.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-41480692