The News – Afghan Taliban say talks with US have resumed

Mushtaq Yusufzai

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 18 January 2019. The Afghan Taliban said Friday they had resumed the stalled peace process with the United States and top negotiators of the two warring sides met in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday to discuss the proposed peace agreement, which is likely to be signed next week.

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman for Doha-based office in Qatar, said on Twitter early Friday that their chief negotiator and head of the political council, Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar on Thursday held a ‘useful’ meeting with US representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. He said they would continue peace talks for a few more days.

Taliban sources privy to the peace process in Doha said their representatives had been meeting with US officials, though officially the process was suspended for more than a month over some issues related to the proposed peace agreement.

They claimed that major issues which earlier impeded the peace process and posed a potential threat to the peace agreement had been resolved now.

According to the Taliban, they are most likely sign the peace accord with the United States in Doha next week. The Taliban said the US had earlier demanded them to involve the Afghan government in the peace process which their leadership had refused.

Then the US negotiating team demanded the Taliban to announce a ceasefire with the Afghan government and its armed forces as the US and Taliban had already agreed on a ceasefire with each.

It took enough time to the Taliban to develop a consensus as there were reports that some of their top military commanders were not willing to involve the Afghan government in the peace process and stop attacks on the Afghan security forces.

It is stated to be a big outcome of the ongoing peace process in Doha that convinced some hardliners among the Taliban on a ceasefire with the Afghan government. Taliban sources said their top leaders had agreed to a 10-day ceasefire with the US and bringing a major decline in their attacks against the Afghan government and armed forces.

However, the Taliban said once the peace accord is signed, they would start acting on the ceasefire plan. During the ceasefire period, the Taliban said they assured their fighters would stop attacks including suicide bombing, IEDs, target killing, etc, across Afghanistan.

“The US and Afghan forces would ensure to stop all type of operations against us (Taliban) in Afghanistan once the ceasefire is announced,” said a senior Taliban leader. Pleading anonymity, he said Taliban may not publicly announce the ceasefire but would convey to their military commanders and make sure their fighters to act on the ceasefire plan.

And once the peace agreement is inked between the USA and Taliban, Taliban said they would start the intra-Afghan dialogue. According to Taliban Germany had offered to host the intra-Afghan dialogue.

Geo TV – Sikh girl from Nankana Sahib tells LHC she married Muslim man by choice

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 10 January 2020. A young Sikh woman from Nankana Sahib in Punjab on Thursday said that she had married a Muslim man of her own free will and converted to Islam for him, reported The News.

Jagjeet Kaur, while appearing in the hearing of a case related to her conversion and marriage at the Lahore High Court, said in the courtroom that she had married Muhammad Hassaan and wished to stay with him.

Jagjeet Kaur had been brought to the court from Darul Aman under strict security arrangements to attend hearing of a petition by her brother seeking determination of her age.

The petitioner claimed that his sister was not of age to take decisions about her marriage or religious conversion of her own accord. Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi also allowed petitioner Manmohan Singh to have a meeting with his sister in the court.

After the meeting, Kaur told the court that her brother tried to persuade her to go back home but she did not want to go with him. The girl was given the name of Ayesha after her conversion.

Singh claimed that his sister was under pressure and needed to be given more time to make a final decision. The investigating officer in the case also asked the court to adjourn proceedings in light of the law and order situation in the area.

Angry protesters had last week had become embroiled in a scuffle with the police in Nankana Sahib over the arrest of some unidentified individuals in a case involving the marriage of a young couple. The protesters had dispersed after negotiations with the government who assured them of justice.

The main culprit accused of orchestrating a demonstration near the Sikh holy site in the small town of Nankana Sahib in Punjab was arrested for his role in the affair, according to a representative of the provincial government.

The judge hearing the case related to the marriage of the young couple has adjourned further hearings till January 23 and sent the girl back to the Darul Aman.

The News – Pakistan summons Indian envoy to protest ‘baseless allegations against Sikh community’

Islamabad – Capital Territory – Pakistan, 07 January 2020. Pakistan summoned the Indian Charge d’Affaires Tuesday to protest against “motivated and mischievous allegations” by New Delhi on a dispute that occurred at Nankana Sahib.

On Friday, dozens of demonstrators had protested over alleged unjust treatment of police in a case involving the marriage of a young couple, which was portrayed as a communal issue by the Indian media.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri summoned the Indian envoy to convey Pakistan’s strong rejection of Indian allegations of “attack”, “vandalism” and “desecration” of the holy Gurdwara Nankana Sahib.

“The DG (SA&SAARC) underscored that the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all its citizens and the Government is committed to protecting the rights of minorities, with zero-tolerance against any discrimination,” read the statement.

Pakistan said the motivated reports by India including one about the ‘target killing’ of a Sikh youth in Peshawar were false. Mr Chaudhri urged India to stop pointing fingers at Pakistan and accused New Delhi of attempting to use the allegations to hide the atrocities it was committing in occupied Kashmir.

He urged India to ensure “repeated instances of desecration, hate crimes and mob lynchings” do not take place against minorities and their places of worship.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had condemned the incident and demanded a report on the matter.

The prime minister, in a series of tweets, said that the Nankana incident was “against his vision and will find zero tolerance and protection from the government including police and judiciary”.

“The ongoing attacks across India on Muslims and other minorities is this: the former is against my vision and will find zero tolerance and protection from the government including police and judiciary,” PM Imran tweeted.

The main culprit accused of orchestrating the demonstration near the Sikh holy site in the small town of Nankana Sahib in Punjab was arrested late on Sunday for his role in the affair, according to a representative of the provincial government.

The News – Grant for smart city control system for Nankana Sahib approved

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 01 January 2019. the Panjab government Tuesday approved the supplementary grant for the smart city control system for district Nankana Sahib and lifted a ban on hiring technical cadre officials in special branch.

The approval was given in the 23rd meeting of Standing Committee of Cabinet for Finance chaired by Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat attended by Punjab Minister for Industry and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal, adviser to chief minister Dr Salman Shah, Chief Secretary Azam Suleman, Chairman Planning and Development Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh and other officials of the departments concerned.

The meeting also approved the sharing of the Fisheries Department in accordance with the KP in Mianwali Chasma link canal, bypass road construction between Dijkot Samundri to Canal Rekh Branch Dijkot, inclusion of Wazirabad Cardiology Institute in IRMNCH&N in ongoing annual development plan, construction of hostels for teachers and students in DG Khan Teaching Hospital, release of funds for Anmol Hospital Lahore, and resale of funds for maternity ambulances in the deprived areas.

The meeting orders the social welfare department to justify the appointment on vacant seats, reasons of increase of PKLI cost, performance of Safe City Authority along with its overall financial plans.

The meeting also reviewed to bring the Safe City Authority under Home Department and conversion the safe city into smart city.

Later, chairing another meeting to review the Annual Development Plan, it was informed that out of total Rs 350 billion ADP, planning and development department approved Rs 175 billion worth schemes while Rs 169 billion were released by the Finance Department against approved schemes. However, only 53 percent was released budget was utilised.

The chief secretary instructed the departments to complete the district development selection committee by January 15 and Provincial Development Working Party by February 29.

The News – Anti-Muslim legislation: Do not go to India, UK and USA tell citizens

Guwahati – Assam – India, 15 December 2019. Protests against a divisive new citizenship law raged on Saturday as Washington, London and Paris issued travel warnings for northeast India following days of violent clashes that have left two people dead.

Many in the far-flung, resource-rich northeast fear the new legislation will grant citizenship to a large number of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, who they accuse of stealing jobs and diluting the region’s cultural identity.

Several thousand protesters rallied in the capital New Delhi on Saturday evening, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s government to revoke the law, some holding signs reading: “Stop Dividing India”.

“People are not gathered here as Hindus, or Muslims, people are gathered here as citizens of India. We reject this bill that has been brought by the Modi government and we want equal treatment as enshrined in our constitution,” said protester Amit Baruah, 55, a journalist.

The protests turned violent in the West Bengal state, a hotbed of political unrest, with at least 20 buses and parts of two railway stations set on fire as demonstrators blocked roads and set fire to tyres. No injuries were reported.

Tensions also simmered in Guwahati in Assam state, the epicentre of the unrest, where medical staff said two people were shot dead and 26 hospitalised late Thursday after security forces fired live rounds.

On Friday, a funeral procession of 18-year-old Sam Stafford, who was killed in the firing, was attended by hundreds of angry and distraught mourners who shouted, “long live Assam”. “We were watching news all day on TV about the protests when my nephew left home in the evening. We asked him not to go out but he went with his friends,” the student’s aunt Julie Stafford told AFP.

Anticipating further unrest, authorities extended an internet ban across Assam till Monday. Most of the shops were shut and anxious residents stocked up supplies on Saturday when the curfew was relaxed during the day.

The Citizenship Amendment Act allows for the fast-tracking of applications from religious minorities including Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but not Muslims. Samujjal Bhattacharya from the All Assam Students Union, which has been at the forefront of the protests, told AFP the group would continue its fight against the new law “in the streets and in the court”.

Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe postponed a summit that was reportedly due to be held in Guwahati from today (Sunday), and the United States and Britain warned their nationals to “exercise caution” if travelling to the wider northeast region. The Islamic groups, the opposition and rights organisations say the law is a part of Modi´s Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalise India´s 200 million Muslims.

He denies this and says that Muslims from the three countries are not covered by the legislation because they have no need of India´s protection. Modi´s right-hand man Amit Shah on Saturday sought to reassure the northeastern states, saying the government would protect their “culture, social identity, language and political rights”.

Assam has long been a hotbed of ethnic tensions. In 1983 some 2,000 people, mainly Bengali Muslims, were butchered in what became known as the Nellie massacre. This year a citizenship registry left off 1.9 million people, many of them Muslims, unable to prove that they or their forebears were in Assam before 1971, leaving them to face possible statelessness.

“There has been this agitation (against) illegal migration from Bangladesh over many years,” Sanjoy Hazarika, a professor at Delhi´s Jamia Millia Islamia University, told AFP. “They feel that their rights to land, to jobs, and the entire social fabric education, existing social services and so on will be impacted by this.”

On Friday university students in Delhi clashed with police, who used batons and tear gas shells to quell the protests. Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Congress party has called the law “an attempt to ethnically cleanse the northeast”.

So far, France, Israel, US and the UK have issued travel advisories for nationals travelling to India in view of the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. In a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the United Kingdom has urged visitors to the northeast to avoid “all but essential” travel and “monitor local media” for the latest information about the circumstances around them.

The UK also asked citizens to avoid all travel to Kashmir, Ladakh and all areas (except Wagah) near the border with Pakistan. The US also asked citizens to “exercise caution” in the context of protests and violence against the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). “The US government has temporarily suspended official travel to Assam,” the US has announced.

The French and Israeli governments have also urged their citizens to stay alert while travelling in India. The advisories were issued after the office of the High Commissioner of UN Human Rights body expressed concern saying that the CAB was “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”.

Meanwhile Amnesty International said the CAB passed by the Indian Parliament legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of both the constitution of India and international human rights law. The bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to enable irregular migrants to acquire Indian citizenship through naturalisation and registration.

However, it restricts the eligibility to only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before 31 December, 2014. The bill also reduces the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to five years for these particular communities.

Besides adversely impacting the refugees and asylum seekers, the amendments also impact the human rights of Indian citizens – particularly Muslims.

Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty India, said: “The Government of India denies any form of discrimination, but the amendments clearly weaponise the NRC process against Muslims. “It is difficult to view the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in isolation and not look at the larger picture where both the amendments and the NRC may deprive minorities of their citizenship in India.

The amendments also set a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India. Worryingly, they also stand to create the biggest statelessness crisis of the world causing immense human suffering,” said Kumar, adding: “Welcoming asylum seekers is a positive step, but in a secular country like India, slamming the door on persecuted Muslims and other communities merely for their faith reeks of fear-mongering and bigotry.”

Meanwhile, a Muslim lawmaker from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, on Saturday filed a petition in the country’s Supreme Court against the CAB. Owaisi, the head of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), vociferously opposed the bill in the lower house of parliament during the debate and even tore its pages on the floor of the house.

“AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act,” a local news gathering agency quoted Owaisi’s lawyer Nizam Pasha as having said. Owaisi alleged the bill was aimed at making Muslims “stateless” and warned it would lead to another partition in India.

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

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

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

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

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

The News – Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

Murtaza Ali Shah

Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

London – UK, 27 November 2019. British government’s Chancellor Sajid Javid has refused to criticise Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his use of Islamophobic language to describe Muslim women.

Speaking on the campaign trail, British-Pakistani Javid struggled to explain Boris Johnson’s use of words like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” to describe Muslim women wearing a veil. Johnson described Muslim women in derogative manner a column for The Telegraph newspaper last year.

It follows criticism of the Conservatives by the Muslim Council of Britain, which accused the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” with regards to Islamophobia on the day that the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism made him unfit to be prime minister.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Javid said the Prime Minister had “explained why he’s used that language” adding the article “was to defend the rights of women, whether Muslim women and others to wear what they like, so he’s explained that and I think he’s given a perfectly valid explanation”.

He added: “Whenever this issue has come about (for) the Conservative Party, no-one has ever credibly suggested that it’s an issue with the leadership of the party, whether that’s the leader of the party of the day or the chancellor or other senior figures, no-one’s suggested that.”

Later, Boris Johnson dismissed criticism by the Muslim Council of Britain of the Conservative Party’s handling of Islamophobia within its ranks.

The Prime Minister told reporters that he did not agree with the claim that his party had approached Islamophobia with “denial, dismissal and deceit”.

He added: “What we do in the Tory Party is when anybody is guilty of any kind of prejudice or discrimination against another group then they’re out first bounce,” he said.

Mr Johnson said his party would hold an inquiry into “all forms of prejudice” starting before the end of the year, despite having previously pledged to hold one specifically on Islamophobia.

In Tuesday’s edition of The Times, Rabbi Mirvis said Labour’s handling of the issue, which has dogged the party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, was “incompatible” with British values.

Responding, the Labour leader insisted anti-Jewish racism was “vile and wrong” and that the party had a “rapid and effective system” for dealing with complaints.

Mr Corbyn called on the Conservatives to “address the issues of Islamophobia that appear to be a problem within their party”.

In response to the Chief Rabbi’s comments, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This is an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party, who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.

“It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism.”

Here is the relevant section of Mr Johnson’s Telegraph column.

“If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree, and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.

I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any, invariably male, government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

“If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled, like Jack Straw, to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct.

As for individual businesses or branches of government, they should of course be able to enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers; and that means human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.

“All that seems to me to be sensible. But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.”

Remember how Tamanjit Singh, MP for Slough, attacked Boris Johnson for the same reason
Man in Blue

PM Imran Khan’s message for Narendra Modi: Justice leads to peace – Injustice breeds anarchy

Faizan Bangash & Sher Ali Khalti

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 10 November 2019. With the opening of Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan, the Sikh community in India has been provided easy and direct access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Devji.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, situated in Kartarpur (Shakargarh, Narowal), is the second holiest place for the Sikh community.

While inaugurating the Kartarpur Corridor here on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan termed it a gift for the Sikh community all-over the world, especially those living in India, from the people and Government of Pakistan. He welcomed thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India in Pakistan and urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

Urging his Indian counterpart to give justice to Kashmiris, PM Imran said prosperity in South Asia region was only possible if Kashmir issue was resolved. “It’s just a beginning; let’s hope the relationship between India and Pakistan becomes like it should have been,” added the PM. The premier said Narendra Modi must know that justice brings peace and hatred causes chaos in a society.

He said a leader was the one who brings people together and doesn’t divide them to get their votes through spread of hatred. “When I was elected as the prime minister, I told (Narendra) Modi our biggest problem is poverty.

I told him that if we open our borders, mutual trade will eliminate poverty,” Imran Khan said while addressing the people of both countries at Kartarpur Corridor. He called upon Indian premier to give justice to the people of occupied Kashmir.

Imran said, “Eight million people in occupied Kashmir are being treated like animals. They have been brought under forcible rule of 900,000 Indians troops.” He warned Modi to end injustice as such decisions bring chaos.

He urged the Indian premier to give justice to the people of occupied Kashmir and liberate the Subcontinent. He said the problem of occupied Kashmir had gone beyond a dispute over territory and became a human rights issue.

Once justice was done to Kashmiris and their right to self-determination was given to them, situation of the entire region would improve. “Look at Germany and France, both countries fought wars and killed thousands. Today, their borders are open and trade has brought progress to the region.”

Imran Khan said that justice was only reflected in society of human beings and urged the Indian PM to rid the region of the dispute of Kashmir. The PM also recalled the role of great African statesman Nelson Mandela for playing the role of a leader for his country and uniting the people.

Appreciating the teachings of Baba Guru Nanak Devji in his speech, he said: “There is humanity in the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Humanity is what separates human beings from animals. Our God also talks about humanity and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a blessing for all mankind.”

The PM congratulated the government officials and ministers over swift and on-time completion of the Kartarpur Corridor project. He said, “I learnt a year ago about the value of Kartarpur Sahib. This is the Madina for the Sikhs of the world.”

He said that the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and other departments and ministries concerned worked diligently and completed the project in just 10 months. He said he did not know fully how efficient and capable his government was.

Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said it was a historic moment for Sikhs. “Imran Khan has created history with Kartarpur Corridor; Kartarpur has been opened for Sikhs from all over the world,” he added.

The foreign minister congratulated the Sikh all over the world on opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and welcomed the Sikh pilgrims present at their holy site. He said, “The doors of Kartarpur Sahib are open for the Sikh community.”

The foreign minister said “we need to see today who was sowing the seeds of hatred in the region”. He congratulated Prime Minister Imran Khan on the opening of the historic corridor.

Qureshi said, “09 November was also the day when the Berlin Wall fell, which changed the map of Europe”.

The foreign minister said, “If the Kartarpur Corridor can open, then the LoC’s temporary closure can also be ended.”

He said that the way the doors of Kartarpur have been opened, the doors of Srinagar’s Jama mosque should also be opened so that Muslims could pray the Friday prayers there.

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also forced to thank Prime Minister Imran Khan over opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. Speaking at an event, Modi said Prime Minister Imran had understood the emotions of the Indian people. “I would like to thank the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for understanding the sentiments of the people of India,” he said.

He said that it had become easier for Sikh pilgrims to go to Guru Nanak’s Gurdwara because of the corridor. “I would like to thank the authorities in Pakistan who helped create this corridor in a short span of time,” he said.

“Imran Khan has made history,” said Navjot Singh Sidhu at the inaugural ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor. He termed it an ointment on the wounds of people who witnessed bloodshed during the Partition.

He called Imran Khan the ‘king of hearts’. He said Alexander the Great had won hearts of people because of fear, while Imran Khan won hearts of people by promoting peace.

He thanked Imran Khan for taking a bold step. He said for the first time in the history, boundaries between the two countries have been dismantled. “No one can deny the contribution of Imran Khan,” said Sidhu and sent Munna Bhai MBBS’s hug for Modi.

He demanded opening of borders so that people could have their breakfast in India, their lunch in Lahore and then return to their homes in India after completing their trade and business tasks.

Former Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh, Bollywood actor and Indian parliamentarian Sunny Deol, Panjab CM Sardar Usman Buzdar, Panjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and other noted figures were also present on the occasion.

Sikh Yatris from different cities of India including Amristsar, Ambala, Patiala, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Chandigarh, Delhi as well as from different nations like Canada, USA, France, England, Sweden were present at the inauguration ceremony.

While expressing their views, Yatris unanimously hailed the project and expressed the hope that further relaxation would also be given to them so that they could visit Panjab as per their will.

Besides, the Sikh community members from Pakistan including former MPA Ramesh Singh Arora, sitting MPA Mahender Pal Singh and others also lauded the role of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in successful completion of the project.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri also addressed the ceremony.

He said the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor was the greatest message of peace after the Partition in 1947. He said the prime minister had fulfilled his commitment to provide access to Sikh community to visit their holy shrines.

He said while being in Baghdad, Baba Guru Nanak used to visit the shrine of Imam Musa Kazim daily which gave a message of harmony as he had devoted his life for peace and harmony.

The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh said by opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the 70-year old demand of Sikhs had been fulfilled for what they were thankful to both the governments.

The News – CCTV Video of Amir Masih lends credence to torture claims

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 08 September 2019. A CCTV footage has lent credence to claims that Amir Masih was subjected to torture by the Lahore police officials.

According to the family of the deceased, Masih, a gardener by profession, had appeared before North Cantt police last week to prove his innocence against the charges of theft levelled against him by his employer, but the police detained him and subjected him to severe torture which claimed his life.

Police had reportedly shifted him to a private hospital four days later for multiple injuries inflicted on him. The video purports to show policeman and Amir Masih in front of the hospital where he was brought on a motorcycle.

The footage shows policemen in plainclothes kicking the victim as he falls to the ground before being dragged into the medical facility. According to the video timestamp, an hour later the victim is seen on wheel-chair outside the hospital entrance and being taken away in a car.

The postmortem report also confirmed torture on Amir’s hands, back and arms. His ribs were also broken, the report stated. On 04 September, the police registered a case against six police officials over the death of a suspect in police custody.

Incharge Investigation Nasir Baig, T/ASI Zeeshan and four constables were nominated in the FIR registered against them under sections 302, 342 and 34 PPC.

Masih is a common Christian surname in India and Pakistan
Man in Blue

The News – Indian Supreme Court issues notice to Modi government

New Delhi – India, 29 August 2019. The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the federal government on all petitions challenging the revocation of Article 370 in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

The Indian Supreme Court held a preliminary hearing on 14 petitions, which relate to Article 370 and the subsequent lockdown in the region, Wednesday and said five judges will start a regular hearing in October.

“If notice is issued, it will have cross-border repercussions. It will be misused,” the solicitor general was quoted as saying.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogi and two other judges rejected the government’s opposition to a notice on the issue as this may be cited by Pakistan at the United Nations.

Attorney-General K K Venugopal said he and another law officer were representing the government before the court. “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change,” the judges were quoted as saying in media reports.

While hearing a petition by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin, which demands an end to communications restrictions in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK), the top court issued another notice to the government and asked for a detailed response within a week.

“It’s the 24th day of (the) blackout. Even a doctor speaking to the media was whisked away,” said Vrinda Grover, arguing on behalf of the petitioner. The bench ordered the government to inform the court about the media restrictions imposed in IHK.

The bench, on another petition, refused a request from the federal government to appoint an interlocutor for IHK. The court allowed Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and a Kashmiri student who wanted to meet his parents to visit IHK, and asked both to file a report when they return.

The Indian and IHK administration were asked by the Supreme Court to respond in seven days after a petition sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication so that the media can function freely in the region.

Meanwhile, at least 66 Pakistani and international rights groups have endorsed a statement condemning the internet and communications blackout in IHK.

According to a Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) press release, some 66 human rights, digital rights, women rights, and feminist groups have supported a statement condemning the communications blackout in the occupied valley.

The statement called out the Indian government for its blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, movement and peaceful gatherings under a blanket network and internet shutdown in IHK since the evening of 04 August.

It was highlighted that the right to access communication networks is an important part for exercising democratic and fundamental rights, which the people of IHK have been denied.

The statement condemned the ambiguous application of community guidelines and content regulation by social media companies such as Twitter, silencing criticism of the Indian government.

“We recognise that the current situation is not an aberration, it is rather part of a systematic effort by the BJP-led government to silence and exclude dissent from the region; the current internet and network shutdown is part of a larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region; in 2019 alone, 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in IHK,” the statement read.

The statement was endorsed by organisations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), and the Digital Rights Foundation, as well as collectives such as Aurat March (Lahore and Karachi), the Women’s Action Forum (Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad), Women Democratic Front, Aurat Foundation, Aurat Haq, Girls at Dhabas, and War Against Rape (WAR), Lahore.

It was also endorsed by Joint Action Committee (JAC), Freedom Network, Media Matters for Democracy, Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights, and Pakistan Press Foundation. International organisations such as Freedom Forum Nepal, NetBlocks, Internet Sans Frontières (Internet Without Borders), and Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) also endorsed the statement.