The Asian Age – ‘Not a sign of weakness’: Pakistan Army chief on Imran Khan’s India offer

Army Chief said peace benefits everyone and it is time to fight disease, poverty and illiteracy instead of fighting against each other.

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 23 December 2018. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has backed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s peace initiatives, saying the new government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as Islamabad’s weakness.

Addressing the passing out parade of Midshipmen and Short Service Course at the Naval Academy in Karachi on Saturday, Bajwa said that Pakistan was “a peace loving country and believes in peace”.

Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Khan’s government to achieve peace between Pakistan and India, the army chief said peace benefits everyone and it is time to fight disease, poverty and illiteracy instead of fighting against each other.

“Our new government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as our weakness,” Bajwa said.

The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 71 years, has always wielded considerable power in the matters of foreign policy.

“Wars bring death, destruction and misery for the people. Ultimately all issues are resolved on the table through negotiations that is why we are trying very hard to help bring a lasting peace in Afghanistan by supporting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace plan,” Bajwa said.

He also warned that Pakistan is yet to get out from terrorism or sabotage phase of an unannounced war against it.

“Like the terrorists before; the protagonists of the new threats are at times, our own people. Mostly misguided by ambitions, blinded by hate, ethnicity or religion or simply overawed by social media onslaught, some of our own boys and girls readily fall victim to such dangerous or hostile narratives,” Bajwa said.

Referring to hybrid warfare, the army chief said information and modern technology has changed the nature of warfare now being waged and has tilted the balance in favour of those nations that have embraced the change readily.

“But frankly speaking, even that will not be sufficient as the ever-increasing threat of hybrid war, to which we are subjected to, will need a totally new approach and change of traditional mindset,” he said.

American Sikh Council – Save Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara from the modernizing brigade!

Kartarpur Sahib in the last 30 days has seen intense construction activity based on the master plan that the Pakistan government has promised to implement as part of the ‘Kartarpur Corridor’ agreement with its neighboring country on the East.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has extended an olive branch to Sikhs in East Punjab and the diaspora, to break the ice and change the vitiated atmosphere of the past. All governments talk of peace but rarely do politicians act upon realistic initiatives which can bring about long term change and amity.

PM Imran Khan must be thanked again for his sagacity to open the doors to Kartarpur Sahib and other historic Sikh gurdwaras across Pakistan with more ease.

Now that there seems to be sea change in the relgio-political atmosphere, Sikh businessmen with deep pockets from the UK, US and other places seem to be descending upon Kartarpur Sahib in droves hoping to cash in on the influx of visiting Sikhs from everywhere. This is the last thing that the Sikhs need!

It is understandable that the Pakistan government is trying to find various cooperative ways to move the needle forward to promote religious tourism but it is critical, that in all the excitement the most important element should not be lost; i.e., that the complete preservation of Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara complex and the surrounding environment needs to be kept in its pristine state.

Sikhs want to see, touch and feel the holy ground as it was 500 years ago so that it touches the soul with indescribable feelings of multiple emotions and recharges the Sikh spirit.

That simply cannot happen with a modernized upgraded version of the five centuries old deeply religious site which tugs at the heart of every Sikh.

There are nearly 200 historic gurdwaras currently in Pakistan and most in need of serious repair and many are either abandoned and/or being used as offices/homes by squatters. Most of the gurdwaras are owned by the Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board and operated by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandak Committee.

In the recent days well-wishers of the ‘panth’ have started an online petition, which has already garnered over 8,800 signatures but we have to continue to get as many more as possible.

Sikhs everywhere can do the following:

Keep up the support going by signing the above petition.

Have every organization across the diaspora send a request to the Prime Minister of Pakistan via registered letter(s) – His Excellency Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan, and the email is . The petition contains the overall suggestions that can be used to send the letter(s).

All the historic Gurdwaras are being torn down and gaudy marble laced buildings are replacing and completely destroying precious living history of the Sikh Faith with the original physical structures, the trees, the immediate landscape is being purposely destroyed by the ‘powers to be’ with the help of their sinister proxies, who are primarily ‘kar-sewa gangs’ prevalent in East Punjab.

Even the SGPC and DGPC, is hand in glove in destroying any vestiges of old history relating to the Sikh Gurus and other important historical figures, all in the name of saving and beautifying these historic gurdwaras.

It will be a travesty if the same heart-breaking ultra large marbleized complexes are constructed in West Punjab, because it goes against the grain of everything that Guru Baba Nanak stood for in his lifetime – namely, simplicity!

The American Sikh Council (ASC) sincerely appeals and requests the Pakistan government to make sure that the entire Kartarpur Gurdwara complex is ‘maintained in its present state’, without adding anything new and/or changing the original architecture in any shape or form.

Any changes and/or additions to accommodate visitors from lodging to restrooms and more must be done at a distance, i.e., completely outside the village of Kartarpur, and outside the 100 plus acres of land/forest areas around the river Ravi that belonged to Guru Sahibji, while retaining as much of its originality as possible, to be preserved for future generations.

ASC reiterates that Sikhs everywhere yearn to visit the Kartarpur Sahib and see the fields that our wondrous ‘Guru’ tilled with his own hands, the place where he lived, the trees he sat under and feel and touch their forehead on the same dusty soil that our ‘Guru’ walked on!

The American Sikh Council (ASC) again thanks the Prime Minister Khan and his government for opening the Kartarpur corridor and putting in so much effort in planning this unique peacebuilding concept.

The American Sikh Council (ASC) strongly supports every effort to maintain and preserve the original integrity of all the nearly 200 historic Gurdwaras, including the Kartapur Sahib complex across Pakistan.

Dawn – ‘Do not clash with the state’: PM Khan issues stern warning to agitators after Asia Bibi verdict

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday issued a stark warning to religio-political groups that have been agitating against the Supreme Court verdict to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of committing blasphemy.

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 31 October 2018. The premier addressed the matter in a short video message that solely focused on the Asia Bibi verdict and its aftermath. The message was broadcast on state-run PTV.

He said he had been “compelled” to communicate with the nation due to the reaction given and language used by a “small segment” in response to the SC verdict.

He sharply criticised the protests that broke out, and are still underway, across the country in response to the judgement, saying people’s livelihood was being harmed through the roadblocks and demonstrations.

“The kind of language used today… and the narrative that there should be opposition against the judiciary… It is my belief that the principles on which Pakistan was founded, if they are not adhered to Pakistan has no future.”

“Our faith is incomplete if we don’t love our Prophet [PBUH],” he said.

“Which government can function when people say that kill the judges, do away with the army?

“We are already facing such tough economic hurdles. We have yet to take a day off… we are struggling continuously to uplift the people [and] to improve the conditions of the underprivileged.”

Referring to the protesters who have disrupted routine life across the country, he said: “If the Supreme Court does not issue a verdict according to their wishes, will they come out on the roads?

“The people are to bear the brunt of this. The labourers who are reliant on daily wages… how will they survive?”

He urged the nation not to allow themselves to be “provoked” by the agitators.

“This is not a service being done for Islam. This is enmity taking place against the country,” Khan observed.

In a stern warning to the extremist elements, the prime minister said: “I appeal to these elements… do not clash with the state.

“I appeal to you, don’t harm this country in order to [increase your] vote bank.

“If you continue doing this… let me make it clear to you… the state will fulfil its duty [and] protect people’s properties and lives.

“We will not allow any vandalism [or] blockage of traffic.

“I appeal to you… do not take the state to a point where it has no option but to take action,” he concluded.

Prime Minister Khan’s address comes as supporters of various religio-political groups burnt tires and blocked roads across various parts of the country in reaction to the SC verdict.

For hours the acquittal was met with near silence on the country’s airwaves as broadcasters appeared to steer clear of covering the controversial topic.

One of the most vocal groups, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), called for “mutiny” against the army’s top brass and the assassination of the top court’s justices.

Severe traffic jams ensued, causing great diffculty to commuters who reported being stuck on the roads for multiple hours.

The Punjab home department as well as the Sindh and Balochistan governments imposed Section 144 across the respective provinces citing “threats to the law and order situation, sectarian harmony and public peace”. Paramilitary troops were deployed in Islamabad to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl has announced that it will hold countrywide protests on Friday in opposition to the SC ruling.

Twitter lauds PM’s ‘bold’ speech

The reaction to Prime Minister Khan’s address was overwhelmingly positive, with social media users describing it as “bold”, “no-nonsense” and a “clear message”.