India: Top Terrorist Commanders Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Top commanders killed in Valley, Jaish activates new launch pads across LoC: Officials

According to the counter-terror and police officials, none of whom wished to be identified, the reason for the activation of the launch pads is to boost the Jaish’s strength and capabilities in the state.

INDIA Updated: Apr 16, 2019 11:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
JeM,terrorism,Jaish-e-Mohammed
Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad(AP file photo)

Terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) launch pads in new locations across the Line of Control have been activated ahead of a possible effort to push terrorists from the Pakistan-based group into Jammu and Kashmir, top counter-terror officials and senior Jammu and Kashmir police officials said, although the latter added that this is because Indian security forces have eliminated most of the Jaish leadership in the valley.

They added that Mohammad Umair, JeM chief Masood Azhar’s nephew, who was seen around Pulwama in February, when a terrorist affiliated to it carried out a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy, killing 40, has either been killed or has gone back to Pakistan.

According to the counter- terror and police officials, none of whom wished to be identified, the reason for the activation of the launch pads is to boost the Jaish’s strength and capabilities in the state.

After the Pulwama attack, Indian security forces have been able to eliminate the majority of the Jaish leadership in the valley, they added, with only one commander, who operates under the codename Munna Bihari currently active in the Shopian district.

Previously, Indian forces have gunned down Azhar’s elder brother Ibrahim Athar eldest son Usman Haider and brother-in-law Abdul Rasheed Kamran’s son Talha Rasheed. Soon after Pulwama, the security forces gunned down Jaish divisional commander Kamran on February 18.

In a recent audio clip, broadcast over the Jaish’s Rang-o-Noor channel, Ibrahim Athar indicates that Mohammed Umair may have also been neutralized by the Indian security forces. In the audio clip, Athar is heard telling his cadre that Umair and Kamran have already reached “heaven.”

HT learns that many of these launch pads are in the scenic Lolab Valley, north of Kupwara, and around 114 km north-west of Srinagar.

Also read | ‘Pakistan failed to achieve objective in counter-attack’: IAF Chief BS Dhanoa

The effort to amplify the infiltration of terrorists coincides with the melting of snows on high mountain passes. Post Pulwama, the Pakistan Army cleared terrorist launch pads fearing a repeat of the 2016 Indian surgical strikes. After the Indian air strike at Jaish’s biggest terror training camp at Balakot, the globally proscribed group has threatened to get even by targeting innocents in hinterland India or security forces in the Valley. Communication intercepts indicate that Jaish will ratchet up violence in the Valley in the coming months, the counter-terror officials said.

“While Pakistan has taken some uncontrolled action against its nationals involved in terrorism to curry favour with Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it is continuing to shelter Indian fugitives like Dawood Ibrahim gang, remnants of Indian Mujahideen and Sikh radicals. If Pakistan really means business, why provide shelter and comfort to Indian fugitives,” said one of the officials.

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 06:57 IST

‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan’s attitude towards India and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change and terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 11, 2019 21:27 IST

Avijit Biswas
Avijit Biswas
Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur
Lok Sabha Elections 2019,Election Rally,Election news
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience during an election rally, in Bhagalpur on Thursday.(Santosh Kumar /HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that in order to talk of peace it is essential to be strong as he came down heavily on the opposition, particularly Congress, over national security.

At an election rally in Bhagalpur, Modi said that the country has emerged stronger after retaliatory action against Pakistan following the Pulwama terror strike. He said the air strike was carried out to address “the restlessness of 130 crore people of country for a firm and definite action against Pakistan”.

“Pakistan’s attitude towards India today and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change,” the PM said. “Terrorists as well as well as their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.”

He attacked the opposition alliance for “speaking the language that supports terrorism”. He stressed that the opposition alliance should clarify whether they are with terrorists or with armed forces.

Modi who was campaigning for JD (U) nominees contesting as NDA candidates from Munger, Banka and Bhagalpur parliamentary seats, said the NDA has a clear policy of giving free hand to armed forces in the fight against terrorism and extremism. While he did not mention the Congress manifesto, he asked the people whether they approve curtailing power of the armed forces. The Congress manifesto promises to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gives the forces in disturbed areas sweeping powers of search and arrest and provides immunity from prosecution in civil courts.

He said as chowkidar of the people he has done what was expected from his government for social security and national security. He referred to works undertaken in social security front under various centrally sponsored schemes including Ayushman Bharat.

He said opposition leaders were fighting for their existence and were trying their best to create fear among people that there would be no election in the country in future and that the reservation policy would be abolished if he is voted back to power.

“On the contrary I favour further strengthening of reservation policy,” Modi said and cited the 10% reservation which his government had announced for poor people of upper caste.

He referred to the government’s minimum support price agriculture produce of farmers against their crop expenditure and said the Congress had no interest in improving the lives of farmers.

“Once we are voted to power again all farmers would be covered under financial assistance scheme instead of present coverage to farmers having land holdings up to five acres,” Modi said.

He also spoke about future plans aimed at extending support to small and marginal farmers besides small businessmen. He mentioned the development work undertaken in Bihar praised Nitish Kumar’s government for its performance.

In the silk town, the PM also spoke about the problems faced by local silk industry and apprised them on what his government has been doing to boost their business globally. “The mega handloom cluster was established here as a step towards solution of your problems,” Modi said.

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 20:56 IST

India Proves That Pakistan F-16 Was Shot Down: Pakistan Caught Lying Again!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

IAF goes public with radar images to rebut Pakistan over F-16 shot down by India

The IAF said there was more credible evidence available to establish that Pakistan Air Force had lost one F-16 in the air action.

INDIA Updated: Apr 08, 2019 19:51 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan air force,Pak air force,F-16
Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said the AWACS radar image of the engagement area west of the Line of Control opposite Jhangar clearly establishes that there were a bunch of F-16s opposite Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

The Indian Air Force on Monday released radar images to rebut Pakistan’s claim that it hadn’t lost a US-manufactured F-16 fighter jet in the February 27 dogfight. The IAF said there was more credible evidence available to establish that Pakistan Air Force had lost one F-16 in the air action.

But the IAF is restricting the information being shared in public domain due to security and confidentiality concerns, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) said.

Officials said the Air Force also had evidence in the form of radio-telephony intercepts of the Pakistan Air Force F-16 strike package and ground wireless intercepts but would not place this evidence in public domain due to security and confidentiality concerns.

‘Radar image proof that Abhinandan downed Pak F16’: IAF counters Pakistan
Days after Pakistan sought to assert that the Indian Air Force hadn’t shot down one of its F16 fighter aircraft, the IAF released radar images as proof to expose the neighbouring nation’s claims.
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The fact is that the IAF had achieved its objectives of successfully striking the Balakot camp and thwarting the retaliatory PAF attack against Indian military installations that followed on February 27, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said.

The AWACS radar image of the engagement area west of the Line of Control opposite Jhangar clearly establishes that there were a bunch of F-16s opposite Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. In a second image taken 10 seconds later, one of the F-16s disappeared.

“That’s the F-16 the PAF lost,” the IAF officer said.

It is believed to have been the first ever kill of an F-16 by a MiG-21 Bison, fighter jets of two different generations.

Also Read | ‘Over in 90 seconds’: Officers detail India, Pakistan air duel along border

Pakistan had, however, insisted that the PAF did not lose any fighter jet in the engagement over the skies of Nowshera in Rajouri district of Jammu Province, the first aerial dogfight between the two air forces since the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Islamabad had also insisted that it did not use the US-made F-16 combat jets in the February 27 air action.

Last week, however, there was a shift in Islamabad’s stand when Pakistan military said it had the right to use any aircraft for its self-defence. Prior to this statement, Islamabad had claimed that it had only used JF-17 Thunder jets, developed jointly with China, in the February 27 engagement with India and that its aircraft had shot down two Indian Air Force jets. India contested both points, saying it lost only one MiG-21 and that an F-16 was shot down.

In the new statement, Pakistan military arm’s media wing said it was “immaterial” whether F-16s or JF-17s were used. It described the events of February 27 as “part of history now” and said no Pakistani F-16 “was hit by the Indian Air Force”.

A report in the Foreign Policy magazine, however, waded into the row last week when it claimed that US defence personnel had recently conducted a physical count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing. The US defence ministry spokesperson, however, told Hindustan Times that the department wasn’t “aware of any investigation like that”.

First Published: Apr 08, 2019 18:03 IST

Paki PM Opens His Mouth And Removes All Doubt: He Is A Liar, Ignorant And A Fraud

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Pakistani PM denigrates Jesus, wants world convention to prevent insult to Islam

‘There is no mention of Jesus in history,’ says Imran Khan, ‘but the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor in Kartarpur on November 28, 2018. (Arif Ali/AFP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor in Kartarpur on November 28, 2018. (Arif Ali/AFP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an international convention banning speech deemed insulting to Muslims and claimed there does not exist any historical “mention” of Jesus.

Khan, a former cricketer with a reputation as a playboy, whose first wife has Jewish roots, has worked to portray himself as a devout Muslim in recent years since becoming one of Pakistan’s most prominent political figures.

His growing popularity and selection as premier in the July elections — marred by accusations of military interference and vote-rigging — have come amid a backdrop of a growing movement in Muslim-majority Pakistan against alleged blasphemy.

In a speech on November 20 marking the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Khan denigrated prophets from Judaism and Christianity who are also revered in Islam, claiming that — unlike Muhammad — there was “no mention of them” in history.

“There were prophets of Allah other [than Muhammad], but there is no mention of them in human history. There is negligible mention of them. Moses is mentioned, but there is no mention of Jesus in history,” he said, according to a translation posted Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“But the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history,” Khan added.

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Turning to periodic outbursts of anger over the publication of cartoons and other satirical portrayals of Muhammad, Khan said the often violent reactions were being used to tarnish Islam.

“Every few years, in some Western country, our dear Prophet is blasphemed against and dishonored. What is the consequence of this? Muslims become angry. We take to the streets in protest, [protesters] break things in our country… It enables the enemies of Muslims to tell people in the West: ‘See, Islam is a big religion that spreads violence,’” he said.

“They get an opportunity to spread propaganda against Islam.”

Khan credited the intervention of his foreign minister with the cancellation earlier this year of a Mohammad cartoon competition in the Netherlands planned by a far-right politician.

He also said Pakistan’s lobbying on the issue to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations was leading to less tolerance for alleged blasphemy in the West.

“Something happened that had never happened before. The European Union’s Human Rights Court said for the first time that you cannot hurt somebody’s religion under the pretext of freedom of speech, and especially it said that you cannot blaspheme against Muhammad’s honor,” he said.

Khan was referring to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last month that an Austrian court’s conviction of a woman for comparing Muhammad’s marriage to an underage girl to pedophilia was not a violation of her right to freedom of speech.

The Pakistani prime minister called for countries around the globe to adopt an “International Convention on Preventing the Defamation of Religions,” which he said would ensure that “freedom of speech cannot be used as a pretext to hurt the world’s 1.25 billion Muslims.”

Khan vowed Pakistan would play a leading role in this effort and “Allah willing… for the first time in the world get this convention signed.”

Pakistani protesters burn representation of Dutch flags during a protest to condemn the planned anti-Islam cartoon contest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 30, 2018. (AP/Fareed Khan)

Khan’s speech came amid unrest in Pakistan following the acquittal last month of a Christian woman who had previously been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi’s case has inflamed radical Islamists, some of whom are calling for her death.

Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik party launched nationwide protests demanding Bibi’s public execution and the party’s founder, Mohammad Afzal Qadri, called for the death of the three Supreme Court judges who ruled to acquit her. Qadri also called for the overthrow of the Pakistan government. Protests ended after the government agreed to a Supreme Court review. Khan has gone on national television saying that the Supreme Court’s decision will be final and upheld.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Pakistan using hybrid warfare against India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Pakistan using hybrid warfare against India: Army chief General Bipin Rawat

Bipin Rawat said the whole world was aware that terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were being run by government agencies to cause disruptions in India and that all terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was state sponsored.

INDIA Updated: Nov 29, 2018 00:10 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Pakistan,Imran Khan,Bipin rawat
Bipin Rawat said each act of cowardice in Jammu and Kashmir would be responded to with vigour and no sacrifice made by soldiers would go in vain. (PTI)

On a day Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made a pitch for peace with India, army chief General Bipin Rawat said that Pakistan has used “hybrid warfare” against India since Independence and continues to do so. He cited the use of irregulars by the Pakistani army in 1947-48, 1965 and, most recently, in the 1999 Kargil war.

Delivering the 9th YB Chavan Memorial Lecture at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses on Addressing the Challenges of Hybrid Conflict in the 21st Century, Rawat said each act of cowardice in Jammu and Kashmir would be responded to with vigour and no sacrifice made by soldiers would go in vain.

Rawat said the whole world was aware that terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were being run by government agencies to cause disruptions in India and that all terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was state sponsored.

He said hybrid warfare was well-sequenced and organised, and focused on support from local population and infrastructure. “War is waged without declaring it, fought with proxies in collusion.”

General Bipin Rawat said hybrid operations last for a long time and the prime intent is to maintain deniability and that was what India was witnessing in Kashmir.

“In the 21st century technological advancements have added greater asymmetry to hybrid warfare. Irregulars can surprise conventional forces with hi-tech gadgets and weapons such as rockets, surface-to-air missiles, sophisticated communication systems and near-instant reach back to their state sponsors,” he said.

He said small but tech-savvy teams with intimate local knowledge and support could cause big disruptions.

Underlining the risks of using hybrid warfare, he said instigators ran the risk of losing control of the choreographed plan and that states practicing this often fall victims to these same tactics.

Responding to a question on whether India should go in for an offensive hybrid war, General Bipin Rawat said, “The stone that is thrown up comes and falls on your head…What happens to those people (the non-state actors) after the end state has been achieved?” Rawat advocated a calibrated offensive and defensive hybrid warfare strategy.

Rawat said the Pakistani military enjoyed supremacy in the country’s internal affairs. “This means they can use all governmental agencies in coordination against us whenever they feel like. Therefore, this hybrid warfare is likely to endure just remaining below the conventional threshold.”

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 22:49 IST

Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh cited terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

INDIA Updated: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Kartarpur corridor,Amarinder Singh,Imran Khan
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh(AFP File Photo)

Punjab’s chief minister Amarinder Singh has declined an invitation by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the laying of the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor on November 28, citing terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

In a letter to the Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Amarinder welcomed it as a “historic occasion”, which he also described as a “cherished desire of Sikhs around the world”, but said he would not be present for the ceremony across the border.

“[Pakistan’s spy agencies] ISI has started its nefarious activities within Punjab and since my government was sworn in, in March 2017, the state neutralized 19 ISI armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and recovered 79 weapons, in addition to numerous grenades made in Pakistan’s ordnance factories,” said Amarinder, referring to last week’s grenade attack on a Nirankari religious gathering in Amritsar.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack that killed three people. Police suspect the role of a Khalistani group backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“I hope the Pakistan Prime Minister will understand that in these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been a cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities are stopped,” added Amarinder, who received the invitation from Qureshi on the behalf of PM Imran Khan.

But a minister in his state cabinet, Navjot Singh Sidhu, accepted the invitation “with unalloyed joy”.

“As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind,” he wrote in his letter to Qureshi.

Sidhu, on his last visit to Pakistan on August 18 to attend Khan’s swearing in ceremony, sparked a controversy after he hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an attack and the Punjab CM expressed unhappiness over his gesture, Sidhu justified his visit to Pakistan saying he went there as a messenger of peace and hugged the Pakistani army chief in an emotional response to the information provided by him that the neighbour country was working on the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

On Thursday, both India and Pakistan agreed to build corridor on their respective sides, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019. Welcoming the move, Amarinder had said the move will facilitate pilgrims desirous of visiting Kartarpur gurudwara. But the next day the government lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Sikh pilgrims visiting gurudwaras in Pakistan.

Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu will lay foundation stone in Dera Baba Nanak on Indian side on November 26. Amarinder will attend the function, in which his political rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will also be a present.

Union minister of state Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the SAD will attend the ceremony on the Pakistan side along with Union urban development minister Hardeep Puri.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 00:01 IST

HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times
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India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.(PTI)

India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

The efforts to “promote secessionist tendencies” to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is of “grave concern,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi.

Refused access and prevented from entering the shrines, Indian diplomats returned to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims, the MEA said. This is the third time in a row that Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been harassed and not allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims citing security reasons, it said.

The spat came just a day after New Delhi and Pakistan decided to develop a corridor on their respective sides of the border to let Sikh pilgrims visit the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of river Ravi in Pakistan. The incident is an indication of the fragile relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“It is not surprising that this happened. Pakistan is using Khalistan issue like before. Now, of course, with elements from Canada and the UK, Pakistan is trying to rekindle the issue. Pakistan provides support to these people in the gurdwaras, then prevents our diplomats from getting access to the gurdwaras and pilgrims,” said Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary.

Recently, in Amritsar – another holy site for the Sikh faith – grenades were launched at a religious congregation, killing three people and injuring several others.

Later, investigations by the Punjab police showed the grenades were Pakistani-made. The attack, Punjab police said, had been instigated by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and leftover pro-Khalistan elements sheltered by Pakistan.

Interestingly, among those who prevented Indian diplomats was the controversial figure Gopal Singh Chawla, who has earlier been seen with Hafiz Sayeed of the Jammat-Ud-Dawa who is wanted in India for several terror strikes, including the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror strikes in which 166 people were killed and over 300 were injured.

“India has today lodged a strong protest with the government of Pakistan that despite having been granted prior travel permission by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, the Consular officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad were harassed and denied access on November 21 and 22 at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib and Gurudwara Sacha Sauda,” the MEA said in a statement.

New Delhi also said that “Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999.”.

The Indian pilgrims are visiting Pakistan under a bilateral protocol.

“Pakistan has been reminded that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially as we commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji,” the MEA said.

The MEA called the denial of access an attempt to deflect attention from Pakistan’s violation of international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Pakistan has been reminded that this is in contrast to the treatment meted out to their high commissioner and the consular officials in New Delhi who have been provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims who are currently in India on a pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif, the MEA said.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 23:31 IST

India, Pakistan to build corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit iconic gurdwara

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, Pakistan to build corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit iconic gurdwara

The plan to build a corridor on the Indian side leading to the border near the gurdwara was among a slew of proposals cleared during a Cabinet meeting to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019.

INDIA Updated: Nov 22, 2018 23:52 IST

kartarpur corridor,Gurdwara Darbar Sahib,india pakistan
Paper artist Gurpreet Singh shows his creation, a paper model of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s gurudwara (Kartarpur Sahib) in Pakistan, in Amritsar.(PTI)

India and Pakistan announced on Thursday that they will build a corridor on their respective sides to let Sikh pilgrims visit the iconic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi in the neighbouring country.

The plan to build a corridor on the Indian side leading to the border near the gurdwara was among a slew of proposals cleared during a Cabinet meeting to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019. The corridor on the Indian side will be built as an “integrated development project” with funding from the central government, and the Indian government called on its Pakistani counterpart to develop a similar corridor on its territory to “recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community”, said people familiar with the developments.

“In landmark decision, the Cabinet approves building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border. Kartarpur corridor project with all modern amenities and facilities to be implemented with Central Government funding,” home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted minutes after the Cabinet meeting got over.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Punjab chief minister CM Amarinder Singh will lay the foundation stone of the corridor on November 26, news agency PTI reported citing sources in the state government.

“The move will facilitate lakhs of pilgrims desirous of visiting the Kartarpur gurdwara,” Amarinder Singh said in a statement.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal termed it as “historic”.

Soon after the external affairs ministry sent a note verbale of formal communication to the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi regarding the issue, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Twitter that groundbreaking for work in his country will be done by Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 28.

“Pakistan has already conveyed to India its decision to open Kartarpura Corridor for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary,” Qureshi tweeted. “We welcome the Sikh community to Pakistan for this auspicious occasion.”

India’s outreach to Pakistan also marked the first formal contact between the two sides since New Delhi called off a meeting of the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in September over terror-related concerns. It comes at a time when there has been a sharp uptick by pro-Khalistan groups in countries such as Canada, the UK and the US. There have also been reports of Pakistan allegedly backing some pro-Khalistan elements in western countries.

“The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. Government of Pakistan will be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory,” Singh said in another tweet. Briefing reporters, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the proposed corridor would have visa and customs facilities for pilgrims and would be equipped with modern amenities.

Guru Nanak spent 18 years in Kartarpur and the decision to build this corridor was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley said. The funds for the construction of the corridor will be provided by the Centre.

There has been a longstanding demand from the Sikh community for the creation of a corridor to allow them to visit the gurdwara without visas. The matter returned to focus earlier this year when Pakistan Army chief general Qamar Bajwa told Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu during Imran Khan’s swearing-in on August 18 that Islamabad had plans to open a corridor to the shrine for Indian pilgrims.

After the Cabinet decision, Sidhu tweeted, “I thank the Govt. of India from the core of my heart and take a bow! I request the Hon’ble PM of Pakistan @ImranKhanPTI Sahib to take reciprocal steps for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor and spread Baba Nanak’s message of universal brotherhood and peace across the Globe.”

An official in the PMO added that India expects that the corridor should be open 365 days and 24 hours and there must be no restrictions on the number of pilgrims that are travelling across the border. There must be free and readily available consular access for Indian citizens on the Pakistani side, added the official.

The meeting of the Cabinet in New Delhi decided that Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary would be celebrated by the central government along with the state governments and Indian missions abroad in a “grand and befitting manner”, the people cited above said. A committee led by the home minister will monitor and oversee these celebrations.

On the Indian side, the corridor will be built from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab to the border, and it will have all modern amenities and facilities for the smooth passage of pilgrims. The Indian government wants pilgrims to be able to visit the shrine throughout the year, the people said.

Officials in Islamabad said Pakistan had intended to discuss this matter at the meeting of the foreign ministers that was cancelled.

Against the backdrop of reports in the Pakistani media that the Imran Khan government had plans to start work on a corridor, people familiar with the developments in New Delhi said the Indian Cabinet’s decision was not in any way a response to any move contemplated by the Pakistani side.

There are plans to develop the town of Sultanpur Lodhi, associated with the life of Guru Nanak, as a heritage location for tourists, the person said.

First Published: Nov 22, 2018 22:52 IST

No BJP role in Jammu-Kashmir assembly dissolution: Rajnath Singh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

No BJP role in Jammu-Kashmir assembly dissolution: Rajnath Singh

Governor Malik dissolved the state assembly late on Wednesday night after claims for forming a new government were pressed both by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone.

INDIA Updated: Nov 23, 2018 07:05 IST

Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times
Jammu and Kashmir,Rajnath Singh,BJP
Home Minister Rajnath Singh(Waseem Andrabi/ HT File Photo)

Home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday distanced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to dissolve the state assembly, saying Malik acted after concluding that it wasn’t possible for a new state government to be formed in the current scenario.

“The governor of J&K took the decision after considering the political situation there; he reached to a conclusion that government formation was not possible in the state,” Singh said in an interview with Hindustan Times. “It was a decision taken by the governor. The BJP has no role. It is unfortunate that some section is trying to drag the BJP into this.”

Governor Malik dissolved the state assembly late on Wednesday night after claims for forming a new government were pressed both by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone. Mufti said she had the support of PDP’s arch rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress, claiming the backing of 56 MLAs. Lone said he had the support of the BJP’s 25 legislators and “more than 18” other members in the 87-seat assembly.

The home minister questioned Mufti’s claim of having secured the support of the Congress. “Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has made a statement that suggests his party had not supported PDP’s bid to form the government. Why did he make that statement if Mufti was right,” Singh asked.

Another senior government functionary claimed that the governor had been considering dissolution of the assembly for the “past three-four days” and there had been no pressure on him from the Centre or any leader to pre-empt Mufti’s bid to form government.

“The governor, it looks, felt there was not a situation where any party had the numbers to form the government,” Singh said. The state has been under governor’s rule since June.

The home minister rejected any notion that the BJP had been spooked by the fact that the PDP, the NC and the Congress had come together to stake a claim for forming a government in J&K. “Where does the question of BJP getting unnerved arise in this case?. It was a decision of the governor,” he said.

The home minister credited Malik for starting the political process in Kashmir.

Singh dismissed concerns that the dissolution of the assembly may lead to another round of uncertainty in Kashmir, and said fresh election will be the obvious next step after Wednesday’s decision.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 07:04 IST

Trump’s Tirade Against Pakistan Shows His ‘Historic Amnesia’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

(ONE OF THE THINGS THAT ALL NATIONAL LEADERS AND THE PEOPLE THEY WORK FOR NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT DONALD TRUMP HAS NEVER BOTHERED TO LEARN HISTORY OR PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE EXCEPT HOW TO SCREW PEOPLE OVER FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL FINANCIAL PROFIT. Trump and America are not one and the same thing.)(OLDPOET56)

Donald Trump’s tirade against Pakistan shows he suffers from ‘historic amnesia’, says minister Shireen Mazari

Shireen Mazari, a close aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, said Trump’s latest criticism of Pakistan should be a “lesson” to those Pakistani leaders who “appeased” America, especially after the 9/11 terror attacks.

WORLD Updated: Nov 20, 2018 11:19 IST

Trump Pakistan,Shireen Mazari,Trump amnesia
President Trump had on Sunday defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to curb terrorism.(AFP File Photo)

Pakistan Monday reacted angrily to Donald Trump’s latest tirade against it for not doing “a damn thing” for America in curbing terrorism, saying the US President “suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!” Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari’s terse remarks came a day after President Trump defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to curb terrorism and criticised Islamabad for offering a hideout to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad. The minister, known to be a hawk, in a series of tweets said that whether China or Iran, US policies of “containment and isolation” do not coincide with Pakistan’s strategic interests.

Mazari, a close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, said Trump’s latest criticism of Pakistan should be a “lesson” to those Pakistani leaders who “appeased” America, especially after the 9/11 terror attacks.

“Trump’s tirade against Pak & his claim that that Pak does not do ‘a damn thing’ for the US shd be a lesson for those Pak ldrs who kept appeasing the US esp after 9/11! The renditions; the loss of Pak lives in US WoT (war on terrorism); the free space for Raymond Davis & other operatives; etc etc,” she tweeted.

“The illegal killings by drone attacks; the list is endless but once again history shows appeasement does not work. Also, whether China or Iran, US policies of containment & isolation do not coincide with Pak strategic interests,” Mazari said.

In reply to another tweet calling out Trump over his remarks, Mazari said: “@realDonaldTrump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!” Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan continues to “pay in blood” for what it did for the USA and described the bilateral ties as a “relationship of betrayals & sanctions.” “We continue to pay in blood for what we did for USA from Beda Ber to fighting wars wich weren’t ours. Reinvented our religion to suit US interests, destroyed our tolerant ethos, replaced it with bigotry & intolerance. A relationship of betrayals & sanctions,” Asif tweeted.

Referring to bin Laden and his hideout in Abbottabad, Trump in an interview to Fox News on Sunday said, “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.” The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed bin Laden in 2011.

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added.

“And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. … (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.

The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.

In September, the Trump administration cancelled $300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups like the Haqqani Network and Taliban active on its soil.

First Published: Nov 19, 2018 17:14 IST