The News – Sikh pilgrims meet PBIT chairman

Islamabad – Pakistan, 20 February 2020. A group of 140 Sikh pilgrims, including socialites and investors living in England, met Chairman Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan at a breakfast here on Wednesday.

They discussed matters of mutual interest, investment and tourism in Pakistan with particular reference to religious tourism.

The Sikhs led by Sardar Ranjit Singh Rana, described the opening of the Kartarpur corridor by the incumbent Government as a great step for the Sikhs.

Sardar Ranjit Singh said that the way Pakistan was focusing on Sikh religious tourism, especially by Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan and his company Centaurus, Pakistan would surely become the best place for tourism. “I have been here three times this year and have been hosted by PBIT chairman”, he said.

He said that the Sikh community was grateful to Prime Minister Imran Khan, his Government, and Chairman PBIT Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan for their gesture.

Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan said that the way in which Pakistan’s actions regarding religious freedoms are being appreciated in the world is the core spirit of religion of Islam.

Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized on protection of rights of non-Muslims and made their lives easy,” he said saying that no one could find greater act of tolerance than that.

He said that the honesty and affection shown by Chief of the Army Staff for Navjot Singh Sidhu was widely criticized in India, but General Bajwa fulfilled his promise.” Thanks to their initiative, the dignity of Pakistan has increased in the world,” he said.

He said the Sikh community also stands with Kashmiris all over the world, while it is regrettable that the Modi’s Government attitude towards Muslims in the neighboring country is sad and condemnable. – UN chief António Guterres to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib next week

Sikh24 Editors

12 February 2020. Lahore – Panjab – India, Latest media updates reveal that the United Nation’s chief António Guterres will visit Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib during his visit to Pakistan next week. It is learnt that Mr António Guterres will arrive in Pakistan’s national capital Islamabad on 16 February and will probably visit Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib on February 18.

Sharing the development with media, Pakistan’s Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq informed that António Guterres will address an event on sustainable development and climate change Islamabad on February 16 besides attending bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

It may be recalled here that António Guterres had welcomed the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan, saying it paved the way for interfaith harmony and understanding.

“We welcome #Pakistan and #India opening #KartarpurCorridor today connecting two key Sikh pilgrimage sites, paving way for interfaith harmony and understanding by facilitating visa-free cross border visits by pilgrims to holy shrines,” spokesperson for the Secretary-General had tweeted.

UN chief António Guterres to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib next week

Dawn – Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used against anyone, says DG ISPR

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 05 January 2020. Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor on Sunday, while speaking to ARY News, said that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used against anyone and will play its role to secure peace in the region.

Major Geneneral Ghafoor said the aforementioned sentiments had been expressed by both the Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“Pakistan will not be party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone,” he said, quoting Prime Minister Imran.

The director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in reply to a question regarding the killing of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani in a US strike on Friday, said the regional situation had been altered and Pakistan would play its role in helping peace prevail.

Major General Soleimani was killed on Friday morning in a US strike on Baghdad’s international airport, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries. Shortly after, General Bajwa in a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had emphasised the “need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement” following the killing of Soleimani.

Discussing the phone call between the army chief and Pompeo, Ghafoor said General Bajwa had said two things.

Firstly, he said that the region was improving from very bad conditions, adding that the Afghan reconciliation process is very important for this improvement. He added that Pakistan would play its role in this and wants the focus to remain on the issue.

Secondly, he said the army chief had told Pompeo that tensions in the region should be reduced. He said all relevant countries should move forward with constructive practices and dialogue. “Pakistan will support all peaceful efforts and hopes the region doesn’t go towards another war,” he quoted the army chief as saying.

Responding to a question regarding rumours that Pakistan would participate in the war by supporting the United States against Iran, Ghafoor said such rumours were circulating on social media. He clarified, however, that this was not the first call [between Pompeo and Gen Bajwa].

“From the Afghan reconciliation process to the regional security, the army chief has an important role,” he said, adding that the Foreign Office had also issued a statement. The Foreign Office via a statement had also expressed “deep concern” over the tensions, urging all sides to exercise restraint.

“My request to the people and media would be to only pay attention to statements from an authentic source,” he said, adding that they should not pay attention to “propaganda” and “rumours of enemies of the country”.

“India is playing the lead role in spreading these rumours,” he said, adding that he had read an Indian news article that Pakistan had ditched Iran and the resumption of Pakistan’s participation in a US military training and educational programme.

“In our bilateral relations with America, training cooperation was suspended. For the past four to five months, America has been talking about restoring this because training engagement in military to military cooperation goes on.

“Linking something that has been going on for quite a few months to this incident is part of that propaganda campaign.”

The army’s spokesman said that peace had been achieved in Pakistan after a lot of sacrifices, adding that the nation will play its role for peace in the region.

“We will not be part of any effort to ruin this peace,” he said.

Path India on will lead to its own destruction

Speaking about the new Indian army chief’s threatening statements against Pakistan, Major General Ghafoor said that Lt General Manoj Mukund Naravane had been newly installed as the army chief and is “busy trying to make a place for himself” but is not new to the institution itself.

“He knows full well the situation in the region and the capability of the Pakistan army. “He was part of the Indian force on 27 February as well. So he’s not new.”

Major General Ghafoor expressed hope that General Naravane “will no longer let go of reason”. “The Pakistan army knows how to defend the country and India also knows this,” he said. The army spokesperson said that Pakistan desires peace in the region but will make no comprises when it comes to safeguarding its security.

“The Indian army chief should, instead of giving such statements, end the clampdown in occupied Kashmir, end oppression there, and play his role in ending the ongoing tyranny in India due to the Hindutva thought,” said Major General Ghafoor.

He said that the path India is on “will lead to its own destruction”.

Dawn – India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Teritority – Pakistan, 12 December 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda.

The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday.

The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015, but not if they are Muslim.

Modi’s government, re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy, says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Imran stated that the bill was the latest of Modi’s attempts to promulgate his supremacist agenda, “starting with illegal annexation and continuing siege of IOJK [Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir].

Then stripping 2 million Indian Muslim in Assam of citizenship, setting up internment camps; now the passage of Citizenship Amendment Law; all this accompanied by mob lynchings of Muslims and other minorities in India”.

He warned that bowing down to a “genocidal supremacist agenda”, propagated by Nazi Germany, had once before lead to World War II.

“Modi’s Hindu supremacist agenda, accompanied by threats to Pakistan under a nuclear overhang, will lead to massive bloodshed and far-reaching consequences for the world,” he warned. “As in Nazi Germany, in Modi’s India dissent has been marginalised and the world must step in before it is too late to counter this Hindu supremacist agenda of Modi’s India [that is] threatening bloodshed and war.”

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh “because of religious persecution” before 2015. It does not, however, extend to Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.

Home Minister Amit Shah said it was not anti-Muslim because it did not affect the existing path to citizenship available to all communities.

Amnesty India, however, said the legislation legitimised discrimination on the basis of religion and stood in clear violation of the India’s constitution and international human rights law.

Dawn – US welcomes PM Imran’s ‘unambiguous, important’ statement on Kashmir

The US State Department on Thursday commended Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “unambiguous and important” statement, in which he warned citizens against joining the fight in occupied Kashmir.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 20 September 2019. Prime Minister Imran on Wednesday said that anyone wanting to go and fight in occupied Kashmir would do a great injustice to the Kashmiris by undermining their legitimate cause.

“Such an act would be an act of animosity towards the Kashmiris,” he had said while speaking to the media.

Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells, while welcoming the premier’s remarks, said: “Pakistan’s sustained commitment to counter all terrorist groups is critical to [regional] stability.”

The statement by Wells comes ahead of the address by the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers at the UN General Assembly on 27 September 2019.

Prime Minister Khan has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address, exposing the ethical and legal bankruptcy of India’s 05 August decision to annex the occupied valley.

Indian diplomats in New York and Washington have informed Indian journalists that Indian premier Narendra Modi will not talk about the 05 August action or its consequences. Instead, he would repeat New Delhi’s claim that Pakistan may send militants into the valley to take advantage of the volatile situation.

Prime Minister Khan has already made it clear that Pakistan not only opposes all such activities but has also increased its vigilance to prevent militants from taking advantage of the situation. Islamabad fears that India may use infiltrators to carry out violent attacks inside Kashmir and blame Pakistan.

‘India is stuck’

Prime Minister Imran, in response to a question on Wednesday, said that India, while stationing 900,000 troops in Kashmir, had always blamed Pakistan for instability in the occupied region.

“Anyone going from here will give them the pretext to blame Pakistan for cross-border terrorism and infiltrating terrorists,” he said, adding that India has previously accused Pakistan of cross-border terrorism.

“The entire world’s attention was drawn towards us, Pakistan. Now India is stuck.

“And the pressure is building up day by day.

“Now this is what I am going to say: anyone making any such attempt [to cross over into Kashmir to fight] would be an enemy of Pakistan as well as an enemy of Kashmiris,” he asserted.

Dawn – PM Imran, US Senator Sanders call attention to India’s ‘unacceptable’ actions in occupied Kashmir

Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday raised the plight of Kashmiris, who have been living under a lockdown for four weeks in occupied Kashmir, while separately addressing the 56th Convention of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Houston – Texas – USA, 01 September 2019. Speaking at the event, Sanders, a Democratic presidential hopeful for the US Elections 2020, termed India’s move to annex occupied Kashmir as “unacceptable”.

“I am also deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir where the Indian government has revoked Kashmiri autonomy, cracked down on dissent and instituted a communications blackout.

“The crackdown in the name of security is also denying the Kashmiri people access to medical care. Even many respected doctors in India have acknowledged that the Indian government-imposed restrictions on travel are threatening the life-saving care that patients need,” he said.

“The communications blockade must be lifted immediately and the United States government must speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian law and in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people,” the senator stated.

Prime Minister Imran in his address, via video link, spoke about the need to understand the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party, said to be a parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“I am trying my best but from ISNA’s platform you have to make the concerted effort to make people understand this phenomenon which has taken over India. You have to make the Western societies understand the RSS.”

He said that the RSS party believed in the racial supremacy of the Hindu civilisation and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from India, and urged people to research and find out about its origins.

“After the recently won elections by the BJP, they have come back as a stronger force. We are talking about a country of over a billion people with nuclear weapons taken over by an extreme ideology.

“What the Nazi party proved was that a small, highly organised ideologically motivated group could actually take over a country.

“That is what has happened in India. An extreme ideology has taken over India.

“The BJP government wants to change the demography; change a Muslim majority province into a Muslim minority province by bringing in outsettlers to come in and change the demography. This is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 49. You cannot change the demography of an occupied land.”

“We believe what is happening in Kashmir is that RSS goons have been let loose amongst the population,” the premier said, urging ISNA to raise awareness about what was happening in occupied Kashmir.

“I am afraid that this ideology is not going to stop here; they have let out a genie out of a bottle. It is not going to go back in; this genie of hatred, of Hindu supremacy.

“It’s not just Muslims who are going to be at threat.

“We fear in Pakistan that we are not dealing with a rational government in India,” Prime Minister Imran stated, adding: “We believe that the sort of oppression they will do in Kashmir and are already doing, they will need to divert the world’s attention to Pakistan and we believe as they did in February, they will take some sort of an action, an attack in Pakistan.”

Prime Minister Imran said that he had asked the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to play its role. Additionally, he said he would raise the issue at the United Nations General Assembly.

He urged ISNA to make people aware of what was going on in India.

Dawn – Minority Day: Those who convert others by force do not understand Islamic history, PM says

National Minority Day – Aiwan-e-Sadr – Islamabad, 29 July 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others, and those who do so “know neither the history of Islam, nor their religion, the Quran or Sunnah.”

The premier made the remarks while addressing an event around the National Minority Day hosted at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad.

The premier said that Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life was a road map for people to follow till the day of judgement. He explained that the Prophet himself had given minorities religious freedom and protected their places of worship, “because the Quran orders that there be no compulsion in religion”.

“How can we then take it into our own hands to forcefully convert someone to Islam, either by marrying [non-Muslim] women or at gunpoint or to [by threatening to] kill someone because of their religion?” he asked.

“All these things are un-Islamic. If God hadn’t given his messengers the power to impose their beliefs on someone, who are we [to do so]?” he asked, explaining that the messengers’ duty was only to spread the word of God.


The premier said that since coming to power, he had said that the Riasat-i Madina was the only model for Pakistan, which had been created in the name of Islam.

Imran shared that Allama Iqbal had said that when a Muslim rises, they aspire to this model (the model of the state of Madina), and when they fall, they deviate from this model.

“This is why I want this model to be studied in the country. What was the Riasat-i-Madina? We are trying that universities teach courses on the Riasat-i-Madina,” he said.

According to Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran also said that though the government was merely implementing the law against previous leaders, they were raising a hue and cry.

Addressing the ceremony, President Dr Arif Alvi also reiterated that the ideas of the Riasat-i-Madina be brought to Pakistan.

The News – Afghan president to visit Pakistan on 27th

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be visiting Islamabad on June 27 for a daylong trip.

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 05 June 2019. He has spoken of mending ties with Pakistan and given an undertaking to open a new chapter in Pakistan-Afghan relations.

Ashraf Ghani who has made the announcement in his Eidul Fitr message is coming to Pakistan when it has been complaining of presence of elements in the Afghan tribal areas who are bent on creating disturbance inside Pakistan.

Such elements are working at the behest of Indian terror sponsoring intelligence agency RAW.

Ashraf Ghani said he would visit Pakistan on June 27 to open a new chapter in his country’s relationship with its neighbour and mend ties that are often characterised by mistrust and tit-for-tat accusations.

According to wire reports, President Ashraf Ghani in his Eid message said he had agreed to the visit after his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan last week on the fringes of OIC summit in Makkah.

“I hope the visit will be positive,” Ghani said.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the OIC summit, Prime Minister Imran and President Ghani exchanged views on bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.

Prime Minister Imran had reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, according to a PM Office statement.

The prime minister also underlined Pakistan’s firm support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for political settlement.

It is expected that the Afghan president will have an important meeting with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and will be guest at the banquet to be hosted by President Arif Alvi.

The visiting president will also meet President Alvi. President Ashraf Ghani will be heading a delegation consisting of stalwarts belonging to various Afghan outfits and organisations.

The sources said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s shuttle diplomacy had also played an important role in paving way for the visit.

President Ashraf Ghani will also visit India next month, the sources added.

Dawn – Pulwama: verify the facts

Najmuddin A Shaikh

Op/Ed 07 March 2019. While the armed forces on both sides remain in a state of high alert and are distrustful of each other’s intentions it does seem that some back channels contacts have brought acceptable assurances and permitted the resumption of bus and train services, and of contact on the Kartarpur Corridor.

Proving himself to be a statesman, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of the Indian pilot that Pakistan had captured after his plane was brought down and, in my view, facilitated the de-escalation that sane people on both sides desire and that had been the consistent endeavour of the major players of the international community.

Inflammatory rhetoric may remain part of the election campaign in India for another few months but, hopefully, it will not be allowed to get out of hand and will not provoke similar rhetoric in Pakistan.

‘Give peace a chance’: Prime Minister Khan responds to Modi

Many may argue that it is too early to expect objectivity but I believe it is now time for officials in both Pakistan and India to look closely at what actually happened in Pulwama on 14 February. They must see who the perpetrator was and how an organisation in Pakistan took it upon itself, in its various publications, to take credit for what, in terms of the language associated with militant incidents, was a ‘lone wolf’ operation by a Kashmiri freedom fighter/militant/terrorist.

Both Pakistan and India know that if there is to be economic development and stability in the region, then a reasoned approach has to be adopted.

Going by press reports, it would appear that an individual named Adil Ahmad Dar, with the help of local Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir, procured a Maruti van, packed it with 30 kilos of explosives (RDX) and rammed it into one of the vehicles of a convoy of military vehicles carrying personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, killing himself and 40 CRPF men in the process.

In a video recording released shortly after, he is said to have said that he was associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

A report in the Kashmir Times of 10 September 2017, had reported that one militant named Adil Ahmad Dar had been arrested and had been termed as a Hizbul Mujahideen fighter. Was this the same Adil Ahmad Dar who carried out the suicide attack or was there another Adil Ahmad Dar?

If this was another Adil then the police in India-held Kashmir should be able to say that the man arrested in 2017 is still in their custody and let him be interviewed. If, on the other hand, he is the same man who was arrested in 2017, one has to ascertain why he was released and why he was not under constant surveillance.

In either case, it seems that as of 19 February 2019, the US State Department relying presumably on its vast intelligence network was of the view that only the perpetrator had named himself as a JeM member. No Pakistan-based JeM connection was apparently known to the State Department.

Instead, the spokesman said, “As far as Pakistan goes, we’ve been in contact with Pakistan on this issue. We urge Pakistan to fully cooperate with the investigation into the attack and to punish anyone responsible”.

He did this after emphasising “we have a close, cooperative relationship with India, a security relationship, and that includes counter-terrorism operations”.

It is certainly true, as a perusal of the JeM publications after 19 February shows, that they claimed credit but this is exactly what Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State group and other terrorist organisations repeatedly did when attacks were carried out in their name.

They even claimed attacks that had not been explicitly associated with them. Still, that was to be expected and should have been recognised as such rather than leading to an assertion in virtually every report that the JeM’s claim of responsibility was established and provided the justification for a violation of Pakistan’s sovereign territory.

Pakistan must, however, take this element into account as it examines the dossier on the JeM that it has belatedly received from India. We must do so also if we are to make our National Action Plan fully operational and if we are to rectify the shortcomings pointed out in the recent deliberations of the Financial Action Task Force within the given time frame.

In one of his dispatches, this paper’s Delhi correspondent Jawed Naqvi talked of “truth being the first casualty” in times such as we have seen over the last three weeks. That has certainly been established by the nature of the coverage Pulwama and its aftermath have received.

And yet both sides know that if there is to be economic development in the region, if there is to be the sorely needed connectivity in the region, if there is to be the stability in the region that every potential investor, both domestic and foreign, is going to look for, then this has to change and a more reasoned approach adopted.

Pulwama was a tragedy but it should be seen not as JeM terrorism; rather it is a stark indicator of the total alienation of the Kashmiri people not just with the Indian occupation forces but with India itself. Recent attacks on Kashmiris in mainland India suggest an equal alienation of the Indians with Kashmiris.

The Kashmiris will see this as India wanting the land of Kashmir but not the people of Kashmir, an add-on to the extremist Hindutva view that Indian Muslims really belong in Pakistan.

India, even Modi’s India, must recognise not only what this will do to the polity in India but also the polity of the region. Talks are necessary between the three parties – the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan and cannot be delayed for too long.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.

Dawn – Kashmir dispute ‘not a bilateral issue’ between Pakistan and India, PM tells UN chief

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 20 December 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday telephoned United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to convey his “deep shock and grave concern” at the human rights violations committed by Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir, a statement issued by his office said.

The premier during the conversation “underscored the UN’s role to end these violations”, the statement added.

Citing the recent escalation in violence in the restive valley, especially the killing of more than a dozen civilians and injuries to over 300 protestors, Khan termed the situation as “unacceptable”.

“Jammu and Kashmir dispute is not a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India but an internationally recognised dispute and an outstanding agenda item in the UN Security Council,” the statement quoted the prime minister as telling the UN chief.

Khan urged Guterres to intervene and “stop India from perpetrating state repression, violence and brute force against Kashmiri youth, women and children”.

He demanded that a Commission of Inquiry be urgently dispatched to investigate the situation in occupied Kashmir, as was recommended in a June 2018 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He also reiterated the proposal to appoint a special UN representative for resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

The premier expressed the fear that the imposition of presidential rule in occupied Kashmir could “further aggravate the already serious situation”.

‘Terrorist act’ in Kashmir

Khan’s call to the UN chief comes days after he strongly condemned the killings of innocent civilians at the hands of Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area.

“Kashmiris must be allowed to decide their future,” the prime minister had said in a tweet, vowing that his government will raise the issue of Indian’s human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and demand that the UN Security Council “fulfil its J&K plebiscite commitment”.

At least seven civilians were killed and over three dozen injured when Indian forces fired at protesters in Pulwama over the weekend. Residents had accused troops of directly spraying gunfire into the crowds.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had condemned the shooting at demonstrators as a “terrorist act” and called upon the international community to intervene.

Saturday’s shooting ignited fresh anger across the region that has witnessed its bloodiest year since 2009 and increasingly violent public opposition to Indian rule.

Popular support for the Kashmiris fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan has grown in recent years and villagers, sometimes in their thousands, swarm the sites of gun battles with government forces to assist fighters.

The weekend violence also saw three fighters and an Indian soldier killed in a shootout.