The Tribune – Pakistan accuses India of delaying delegation-level talks on Kartarpur corridor


Gurdwara Darbar Sahib
Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 25 April 2019. Pakistan on Thursday accused India of delaying the delegation-level talks to finalise the agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said, “Pakistan is keen that the Kartarpur Corridor becomes operational as per the schedule. However, the meetings are delayed as the Indian government is not willing to hold the delegation-level meeting at this juncture.”

On April 16, India and Pakistan held a meeting on technical aspects of the proposed corridor. At the nearly four-hour-long meeting, which took place in makeshift tents at “Zero point” of the proposed corridor, experts and technicians from both the countries discussed timing for completion of bridge, alignment of roads and engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points.

After the meeting, Faisal said that work is proceeding rapidly on the Pakistani side on the Kartarpur corridor.

“In view of paucity of time, we are keen to hold the meeting to finalise the draft agreement at the earliest. The meeting is specifically to discuss differences related to proposals of both countries for operationalising the corridor and to align positions to build convergence. We hope India will agree to hold a meeting at the earliest,” he had said.

In November 2018, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district. The corridor is scheduled to operationalise on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/pak-accuses-india-of-delaying-delegation-level-talks-on-kartarpur-corridor/763696.html

The Telegraph – India to stop share of river water flowing into Pakistan, tweets Gadkari

Move comes a week after Pulwama suicide attack

New Delhi – India, 21 February 2019. Minister Nitin Gadkari, in a series of tweets, has said that India will “stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan”.

The tweet said: “Under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Sri Narendra Modi ji, our Government has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Panjab.”

Gadkari, who is in charge of road transport and highways, shipping and water resources and river development & Ganga Rejuvenation, in a second tweet tried to explain details of some projects.

“The construction of a dam has started at Shahpurkandi on the Ravi river, Pathankot District. Moreover, UJH project will store our share of water for use in J&K and the balance water will flow from 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states.”

The mention of stopping water to Pakistan has come exactly a week after a Jaish-e-Mohammad car-bomb suicide attack killed 40 CRPF jawans in Pulwama.

The Indian government has blamed Pakistan for the attack. Islamabad has denied any hand in it.

Since then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have spoken of revenge.

On the other side, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned that if India attacks Pakistan, it will retaliate.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/india-to-stop-share-of-river-water-flowing-into-pakistan-tweets-gadkari/cid/1685136?ref=top-stories_home-template

The Asian Age – Jailed ex-Pak PM Nawaz Sharif’s wife, Begum Kulsoom, dies in London

The 68-year-old former first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017

Shafqat Ali

Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan, 11 September 2018. Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away in London on Tuesday after suffering from complications related to cancer.

The 68-year-old former first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017. She married Nawaz Sharif in April 1971.

Begum Kulsoom had contested and won NA-120, a traditional bastion of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) after the seat fell vacant following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court (SC) in the Panama Papers case.

Crucial to the PML-N, she ensured the party remained functional during the most difficult of times. She contested for the NA-120 seat despite her failing health and secured 59,413 votes and defeated Yasmin Rashid of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).

During her husband’s exile after the 1999 military coup by Pervez Musharraf, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz took over reins of the party and served as its president from 1999 to 2002.

Referring to her mother, Maryam Nawaz had said that she had dauntlessly challenged a usurper when “most men did not”. Born into a Kashmiri family in Punjab, she graduated from Forman Christian College University.

Nawaz and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz married in 1971 and had four children; Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Asma.

On 23 August 2017, UK doctors confirmed that Kulsoom Nawaz was suffering from cancer and was shifted to London for medical care. Since then, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz have been making trips back and forth to visit ailing Kulsoom Nawaz. On June 15, she was placed on a ventilator after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Both her sons Hassan and Hussain reside in the UK and cared for her while Nawaz and Maryam attended near daily hearings of the corruption trial.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Kulsoom Nawaz.

In a statement, he said all facilities will be provided to the family and heirs of Kulsoom Nawaz as per law.

The Prime Minister has directed Pakistani High Commission in London to assist in provision of all necessary facilities to the heirs of the deceased.

PML-N leaders said her funeral will be held in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is likely to be allowed to attend the last rites.

http://www.asianage.com/world/asia/110918/jailed-ex-pak-pm-nawaz-sharifs-wife-begum-kulsoom-dies-in-london.html

Dawn – Civil society in Islamabad protests ‘forced resignation’ of economist from advisory council

Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan, 11 September 2018. Members of the civil society on Monday staged a protest outside the National Press Club against the ‘forced resignation’ of Dr Atif Mian from the recently-constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

Participants of the protest, organised by Awami Workers party (AWP), decried the PTI government’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ claim.

Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar described government’s action as stepping on a ‘slippery slope’, adding that “if the government remains on this place it will continue to be blackmailed by the religious elements”.

The civil society activists spoke against the ‘removal’ of a world-renowned economist from the council on the basis of religious affiliation.

Dr Farzana Bari said it was the duty of all Pakistanis to speak up against the systematic use of religion as a political weapon that had now reached epidemic proportions.

AWP leaders Alia Amirali and Ammar Rashid said progressive forces must come together to challenge the status quo.

They said that the AWP welcomed efforts of all progressive forces within and outside the parliament to work together to initiate efforts for curriculum reform and banning of hate speech on media.

Other speakers included Dr A H Nayyar and Tahira Abdullah who slammed the PTI government for taking a U-turn on Atif Mian’s appointment and welcomed all erstwhile PTI supporters who are now starting to realise that building ‘Naya Pakistan’ is nothing but a hollow slogan.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1432139/civil-society-in-islamabad-protests-forced-resignation-of-economist-from-advisory-council

538. Man in Blue – If Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minister of India International Relations

Before tackling the subject I want to introduce two assumptions.

Assumption 1: The BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections will either have a majority of the seats in the Lok Sabha or will be near to having such a majority.

If the BJP is the biggest single party but depends on the support of a number of smaller parties to form a government, it will not be able to implement its nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

Supposition 2: Narendra Modi as PM will be like Narendra Modi the Gujarat CM, and will follow a nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

His record in Gujarat worries us greatly, and many of his statements and posturing in the campaign confirm our worries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and international relations

India has problematic relations with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Deterioration of the already problematic relations with Pakistan will have a negative effect on India’s relation with many other countries in the world.

I will tackle India’s relations with Pakistan first.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s civilian governments were never in control of the security forces, and its various security forces do not always sing from the same hymn sheet either.

In India the government has more control over the security forces, but border incidents along the international border or along the ‘Line of Control’ between the Pakistan and Indian controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir are not necessarily always reported correctly to Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority and is adjacent to other Muslim majority parts of pre-partition India, should have been part of Pakistan from 1947 going by the partition agreement. What the majority of the population of Jammu & Kashmir want is another matter. For many ‘Azad Kashmir’ should be an independent state and not a part of Pakistan.

Even ‘moderate’ Indian and Pakistani governments have taken positions on Jammu and Kashmir that make compromise near impossible. Just to maintain ‘status quo’ needs governments that practice a lot of self-restraint and are willing not to get provoked by incidents between the security forces of both countries or between Indian forces and ‘militants’.

With Narendra Modi at the helm an already fraught situation is bound to get worse. Going by newspaper reports the BJP has always been more stridently anti-Pakistan than the Congress led UPA government.

Politically aware people on both sides of the border are worried about another India – Pakistan war fought in the planes of Punjab, this time between two nuclear armed opponents.

There are two areas where the India – Pakistan border or the Line of Control has not been clearly defined.

Sir Creek is a 60 mile strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands on the border between Sindh and Gujarat. Pakistan claims that the line follows the eastern shore of the estuary while India claims a centre line.

In the Karakoram Mountains in the Himalayas are located the Siachen Glacier and the Saltoro Mountains, where there is disagreement over the location of the LoC.

These disputed territories are of no great economic value, but in spite of that it is very difficult to get both parties around the table and agree on a compromise.

China

There are areas of Pakistan controlled Jammu and Kashmir which have been ceded to China, causing unhappiness in India. The border between India and China in Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir) is disputed and there are Chinese claims on parts of or all of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese government is aggressively nationalistic and claims territories all around it, including large parts of the surrounding seas and islands therein.

PM Manmohan Singh and External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid have been handling recent incidents in Ladakh and visa problems for people from Arunachal Pradesh diplomatically, firmly insisting on India’s version of the border without indulging in non-diplomatic shouting matches.

There has only been one India – Chinese war so far, and both parties would be mad to indulge in another, but if either party feels that its honour requires military action, even if it is meant to be a limited one, things could easily get out of hand.

And Mr Modi and organisations like the RSS and the Bajrang Dal are not known for subtle approaches and self-restraint.

Bangladesh

There are border issues between the two countries, but I feel that the complicated relation between the two countries is mostly based on the Indian intervention in the East – West Pakistan conflict. Without the help of India the struggle for independence would have lasted much longer, but it is not easy to accept big brothers help.

There are additional problems about river waters, about the treatment of Hindus in Bangladesh and about illegal immigrants from Bangladesh settling in neighbouring India states like Assam.

The Shiv Sena, a Maharashtra party to the right of the BJP, claims that all Bengali speakers in Mumbai are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and wants to return them to that country.

There are serious issues between the two countries and the chances are that a Modi government, encouraged by the Trinamol Congress in West Bengal, will not improve matters.

But it seems unlikely that the existing tensions will erupt into an armed conflict.

Sri Lanka

What we are facing here is an equation between the Delhi government, the Tamils from Tamil Nadu, the Tamils from Sri Lanka, specifically those from the north-east of the island and the Colombo government.

The central governments in Delhi and Colombo have both a record of centralising tendencies, and opposition to movements that emphasise local cultures and local autonomy.

Since Congress lost its overall majority in the Lok Sabha India has been governed by coalitions that usually include parties from Tamil Nadu. These parties have supported the efforts of Sri Lanka Tamils to have more political and cultural autonomy.

Tamils speak a Dravidian language and are mostly Hindus. The majority of the Sri Lankans speak Sinhalese (an Indo-Germanic language like Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu) and are Buddhists, while the majority of the Indians speak Indo-Germanic languages and are Hindus.

Rajiv Gandhi sent an Indian Peace Keeping Force into Sri Lanka and changed from peacekeeping to fighting the Tamil Tigers, which led to his assassination in 1991.

At the moment the UPA government is forced by the Tamil Nadu political parties to be highly critical of the treatment of Tamils after Sri Lanka won the civil war against the Tamil Tigers.

What Narendra Modi and the BJP will make out of this is hard to predict. Will they go with the fellow Indo-Germanics who are mostly Buddhists, or with the mostly Hindu Dravidians? And how will these choices work out domestically? As we have also said about the other issues discussed above, strident nationalism and Hindu supremacist attitudes will certainly not be helpful.

526.The Man in Blue – Afghan Sikhs in Belgium

Last year we had a scare both in the Netherlands and Belgium when Afghan Sikh refugees were ordered to return to their country. There is now no more talk about returning to Afghanistan, but that does not mean that there are no more problems.

We have a growing Afghan Sikh community in Belgium and many of them live in the Antwerpen area. In the ‘ethnic minority’ neighbourhoods of Antwerpen you find more and more shops run by Afghan Sikhs.

But there are Afghan Sikhs who’s application for asylum have been rejected, who get no or little government support, and whose future is uncertain. I have studied a few of the files, and although I am not a lawyer I think that I understand what is ‘wrong’ with these families from the legal point of view.

Many Afghan refugees do not travel directly from Afghanistan to Europe, but often go via Pakistan, India or Russia. In India there is little risk of being sent back to Afghanistan, but the Afghan Sikhs usually do not get any kind of resident status.

Thus frustrated by the lack of progress in their case and their lack of opportunity to start a business or to get a real job, they decide to go to Europe, North America or even to Australia or New Zealand.

Many European countries use any excuse to reject refugee status applications, the refugees know that their case has been weakened by a stay in Pakistan, India or Russia and think to improve their chances by making up stories.

The authorities in charge of refugees do not have detailed knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan. The position of religious minorities (Christians, Hindus, Shia Muslims, Sikhs) and of women in that country is not improving.

The security situation is not good either, not even in the Kabul area. It is far from easy for Afghan Sikhs to go back to their traditional shops in the bazárs of Afghan cities like Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez, Ghazni or Kandahar.

Many of the Sikhs in Kabul and in other Afghan cities live on the Gurdwara premises due to lack of housing, many rely on irregular handouts from various sources.

This is the situation: I think I understand why European governments refuse refugee status to some of the Afghan Sikhs. But I also understand that sending members of religious minorities back to Afghanistan is not an option.

Sending people to Pakistan, India or even Russia is not a valid option either. The Russians usually send the refugees straight back to where they came from, and in Pakistan and India most Afghan refugees will not get any secure status, and therefore will not be able to build a future for themselves and their children.

Please Belgian and other European governments, show compassion !

454.The Man in Blue – Pakistan

We are of course also not without fools who think that political or religious differences should be solved through violence. So far the Sikh fools are less keen on murder then their Muslim counterparts. Both in the Sikh and the Muslim community there are not enough people who clearly denounce the use of violence.  

The reason that the governor of Panjab Salmaan Taseer has been murdered is that he was one of the very few high profile politicians who spoke out against the blasphemy law in Pakistan. If all politicians of what are supposed to be democratic parties, the PPP and the PML and their various split-offs, made a common front against the mad mullahs it would not be so easy to target one person.

If there was a credible democratic party in Pakistan, willing to face the military (and the ISI) and the mad mullahs they would have a very good chance to win election after election. If that party, or those parties, would also be seriously interested in the fate of the many poor to very poor people in the country, it or they could be assured of constant majorities in Parliament.

It would be even more wonderful if the parties would not be mainly interested in Sindh (PPP) or mainly interested in Panjab (PML). The PML was the party of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who always spoke about a Muslim majority country that was not ruled by mullahs (mad or not), which could be the homeland for all Muslims of the subcontinent and where non-Muslims would be equally respected.

The PML, dominated by the brothers Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, is even less likely to establish real democracy and an open society than the PPP. This party is dominated by rich Sindhis, who do not much like the mad mullahs, but who first and foremost stand for the interest of the landed gentry of Sindh.

These are the same people who go to the west begging for money for victims of the floods that badly affected Pakistan last year, but who mostly gave very little themselves. I strongly suspect that the same is true for the Sharif brothers.

Many of the problems that face Pakistan are entirely solvable. Pakistan has no need of wizards with magic wands. The need of the hour are people who care, who care about the country as a whole, who do not think that all the ills of the country are caused by India and who take a long view of politics. 

It is in the interest of India to have a strong and stable neighbour to its east. I suspect that Manmohan Singh knows this, just like Inder Kumar Gujral did. But Indian politics is dominated by people who think that all evil comes from Pakistan, who do not understand that the only way for the subcontinent to peacefully prosper is if all nations on it work together for a better future of their citizens.

If India and Pakistan were truly democratic countries there would be no need for Khalistan either.

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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431.Sikh Ultras in Panjab

Sikhs used to be terrorists, fundamentalists, agents of the ISI, but the new buzz word is ‘Sikh Ultras’. According to the Panjab Police, the Badal Dal, Amarinder Singh and the Tribune there are Sikh Ultras, mainly from Babar Khalsa, who want to revive the Sikh terrorism of the Seventies, Eighties and early Nineties.

There appears to be a Singh behind it all, loads of RDX and other evil stuff has been confiscated and some people have been arrested. Family and friends loudly protest their innocence and allege that the arrested persons have been tortured.

In the late nineties when I lived in Panjab stories about dangerous people who were smuggled in from across the Pakistan border by the ISI, carrying weapons, ammunition and explosives, kept popping up in the press. ‘After some time’ the arrested people were discretely set free, and the ‘confiscated’ weapons etc were redeployed in the next fake arrest of ‘dangerous Khalistanis’.

I do not live in Panjab anymore, and although I try to keep in close touch with events there, it is more difficult for me to judge the present stories. I have a working theory which fits in with impressions of the mood of people on the fringe of the Khalistani movement, and with past experience of Indian practices.

There are people on the fringe of the ‘established’ Khalistani movements in countries like Canada, the UK, USA and Malaysia who are angry that so many years after 1984 the culprits of the killings in Harmandar Sahib and in Delhi and other Congress ruled cities have not been prosecuted and that no real progress has been made towards establishing Khalistan.

They have no patience with the long term strategies of the established Khalistani organisations and are looking for action, in their home countries action against what are seen as anti panthic elements, but also direct action in Panjab itself.

When I visited Lahore in 1996 and 1997 I met ‘diaspora’ Sikhs who go to Pakistan and volunteer to go into the east Panjab and explode bombs or kill politicians. The persons I met never made it across the border, all they did was shuttle between Lahore and their Islamabad ISI contacts in the hope to progress their plans.

We all know that the Pakistani army and the ISI have never been under control of the Pakistani governments, not even of the military ones.

Looking at what is served up by the Panjabi press I think that that there might be at least one real incident with some kind of Khalistani connection, and that the rest are the usual scare stories and finds of the same weapons etc again and again.

The use of violence in India or elsewhere will not be of any benefit to the Sikh Qaum. Just like in the days of Indira Gandhi, Sikh violence will only give an excuse to politicians in India and elsewhere to implement anti-Sikh measures.

372.The Man in Blue – The North West Frontier Province

The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan is part of the inheritance of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, taken over in 1849 by the East India Company and after the 1857 Mutiny by the British Empire.

In the period before independence of India and Pakistan the leading political party of the NWFP would probably have preferred to be part of India. This might be because they were conquered by Panjabis in the past, and did not fancy being part of a state dominated by Panjabis.

It was good for the North West of India that Ranjit Singh conquered this border area of Afghanistan, and so controlled the Khyber Pass. But the Sikh Kingdom conquered the NWFP against the will of its population. It was ruled very harshly by the likes of General Paolo Bartolomeo Avitabile, an Italian general in the service of Ranjit Singh.

Avitabile was a ruthless ruler, summary executions became usual, and he had people executed by throwing them from the top of one of the city’s mosques. What was true then is true still : Pathans, whether in the NWFP or in Afghanistan are not the easiest to people to rule (and neither are Sikhs).

Under the Lahore Kingdom, under British rule and as part of Pakistan the so-called tribal areas were given a degree of autonomy because it was simply too difficult to control them. The Swat Valley which is very much in the news these days was a semi-independent princely state until 1969.

Although the valley does not have as turbulent a history as the tribal areas, part of the reason why there is support for the Taliban in Swat is that they were integrated in Pakistan without having any say in the matter.

I am just trying to give you a feel of the modern history of the NWFP and of the role played by the Sikhs. I have no brilliant suggestions on how to solve the present problems in the province.

Pakistan could of course give the NWFP back to Afghanistan, and maybe some parts of the border areas of Baluchistan as well. This will change the nature of the problems, but will not make them go away. Having violence in areas just across your borders is different from having them just inside your borders, but is not necessarily much better.

Pakistan should try to reach out to the people of the NWFP and their traditional leaders, bypassing the Taliban, and allow local autonomy in exchange for adherence to basic human rights.

I would be very surprised if this were to be accomplished by corrupt and incompetent Pakistani politicians like Ali Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.