Tuesday, October 20, 2020

India will drive global trade post-Covid-19: DP World chief

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem (Photo/Twitter)

Dubai [UAE], October 20 (ANI): India would drive global trade post the COVID-19 pandemic, said DP World chief Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem adding that he has been impressed and motivated by India as it envisions a more competitive future.

"India is poised to take advantage of the supply chain shifts triggered by Covid-19 and knows it. I have been impressed and motivated by India as it continues to fuel its vision of a more competitive future in the global trade economy," said Sulayem in his article for the Khaleej Times dated Sunday.

He said, "India's allowance of 100 per cent foreign direct investment in most sectors, exempting companies from sharing their trade secrets with local partners, makes the country an attractive place to do business."

The DP World Chief further wrote that the trilateral Supply Chain Resilience initiative along with Australia and Japan "is a potentially game-changing opportunity" for India to solidify its strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region adding, "The country is displaying remarkable strength across its 17 so-called 'Champion Sectors' such as textiles and biotechnology as it continues to move up the value chain with first-world markets."

He feels that despite India's apparent success, the rapidly rising expectations are outpacing what it can realistically deliver further suggesting that domestic production needs improving while, "complex federal and political structures can hamper the smooth flow of goods across the country."

"As Bipul Chatterjee (executive director at CUTS International in India) points out, while productivity remains steady, the challenge remains to reduce the country's incremental capital-output ratio from the current level of 4.5 to 3.6," Sulayem wrote in his article.

"Today, we already benefit from a significant presence in India. Six port terminals across the Indian coastline handle one-fourth of India's container trade volume, and we are building two FTZs at strategic locations in Nhava Sheva and Chennai, helping to expand their trade and manufacturing capability," he added.

In order to help "India further its ambitions", he said that he is committed to an "even deeper partnership" between India and DP World, spanning the supply chain, technology, government and infrastructure development projects, and even sport.

"By making India's domestic supply chains more efficient, we aim to reduce India's cost of logistics while improving their real-time visibility, predictability, and connectivity. Through our partnership, I hope that together we can energise and fulfil the vision of the Indian government's Sagarmala programme, set up with the aim of modernising the country's logistics sector, boosting exports, and generating millions of new jobs," he wrote further. (ANI)

Japan, India now part of Air Bubble arrangement

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Tokyo [Japan], October 20 (ANI): India and Japan are now a part of the Air-Bubble system wherein registration of passengers with the Indian embassy will no longer be required, the Indian embassy in Tokyo said on Tuesday.

"#India & #Japan are now part of '#AirBubble'system. Registration of passengers with @IndianEmbTokyo (Indian Embassy in Tokyo) is no longer required, and bookings should be done directly with concerned airlines," the Indian Embassy in Tokyo said in a tweet.

An official statement released by the embassy stated that bookings should directly be done with the concerned airlines.

"Air India has announced its Air-Bubble schedule from Delhi to Tokyo with effect from November 2 to December 28, and from Tokyo to Delhi with effect from November 4 to December 30," read the statement.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has entered into air bubble arrangements with multiple countries even though regular international flights remain banned owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

Bangladesh High Commissioner calls on West Bengal Governor to discuss areas of mutual interest

Bangladesh High Commissioner, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata and other officials along with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar (Photo Credit: Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar Twitter)

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], October 20 (ANI): Bangladesh High Commissioner Mohammad Imran, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata, and other officials called on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday to discuss areas of mutual interest.

Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar said in a tweet, "Bangladesh High Commissioner Mohammad Imran, accompanied by Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata and other officials. called on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. Discussed issues of mutual interest."

"Governor thanked for invitation extended by Bangladesh PM to visit Bangladesh," the tweet read further. (ANI)

At least 18 al-Shabab extremists killed in southern Somalia

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Mogadishu [Somalia], October 20 (ANI/Xinhua): At least 18 al-Shabab extremists were killed on Monday in a security operation by Somali National Army (SNA) on the outskirts of Barire town in the southern region of Lower Shabelle, a military officer said on Tuesday.

Ahmed Hassan Ziyad, commander of SNA's 143rd Unit told journalists that the army conducted an operation in Nun Garay village following intelligence of the militants' presence in the area.

"The militants suffered casualties in a stiff confrontation with our forces. We killed 18 of them," Ziyad said.

He added that those killed in the fierce fight included Sidow Nurre Abu Muhsin, the militants' operational commander in Lower Shabelle region.

In recent months, government forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab extremists in central and southern regions where the militants are hiding in the rural areas, conducting ambushes and planting landmines. (ANI/Xinhua)

Sweden bans equipment of China's Huawei, ZTE from its 5G networks over security concerns

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Stockholm [Sweden], October 20 (ANI): The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) on Tuesday said it has banned the use of telecommunications equipment of Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE from the development of 5G networks in Sweden at the recommendation of the country's military.

According to Sputnik, the decision is of a larger licensing process to select companies that will develop Sweden's 5G networks and set out the conditions of their services.

According to the press release, four companies were selected -- Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom.

"PTS has decided on licence conditions that address the assessments made by the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service, for example ... New installations and new implementation of central functions for the radio use in the frequency bands must not be carried out with products from the suppliers Huawei or ZTE. If existing infrastructure for central functions is to be used to provide services in the concerned frequency bands, products from Huawei and ZTE must be phased out January 1, 2025 at the latest," the regulator said, as quoted by Sputnik.

The conditions were developed in consultation with the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service "to ensure that the use of radio equipment in these bands does not cause harm to Sweden's security", according to the release.

The Swedish security service's review of applications comes ahead of the government's spectrum auctions planned to start on November 10.

Sputnik further reported that in August 2018, US President Donald Trump signed a decree that barred US departments from using network equipment made by Huawei and ZTE for national security reasons. Last July, the UK government said the country's 5G networks would also be Huawei-free starting from January 2021 to the end of 2027.

In August this year, the US expanded its Foreign Direct Product Rule in an attempt to prevent Huawei, a Chinese tech company, from finding a way around American law through alternative chip production and provision of off-the-shelf (OTS) chips produced with tools acquired from the United States.

According to a statement released by the US Department of State, 38 Huawei affiliates have been added to its Entity List, which identifies foreign parties prohibited from receiving certain sensitive technologies.

"The Department of State strongly supports the Commerce Department's expansion today of its Foreign Direct Product Rule, which will prevent Huawei from circumventing US law through alternative chip production and provision of off-the-shelf chips produced with tools acquired from the United States. This measure follows the more limited expansion of the Foreign Direct Product Rule in May, which Huawei has continuously tried to evade," Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State said.

As an advanced wireless technology, 5G enables the real-time exchange of information at speeds of over 10 gigabits a second, which is 30 times faster than the current 4G networks. The new technology is the next step in internet connectivity speed and, as experts believe, has the potential to transform various aspects of modern life, according to Sputnik. (ANI)

UAE ambassador discusses defence cooperation with CDS Bipin Rawat

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New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Albanna had a telephonic conversation with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday in which they discussed areas of defence cooperation between the two countries.

"HE @drahmedalbanna [Ahmed Albanna], UAE Ambassador to I
ndia had a telephone call with General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defense Staff of India," the UAE Embassy said in a tweet.

"Both discussed defense cooperation areas between two countries and explored new partnership for joint defense production," the tweet read further. (ANI)

Hong Kong eases social-distancing measures after number of infections decline

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Hong Kong, October 20 (ANI): Hong Kong on Tuesday relaxed social distancing measures after recording five new COVID-19 cases. Starting Friday, citizens will be able to join local tours of up to 30 people, and a gathering of no more than 50 guests will be allowed in wedding ceremonies, officials said.

Travel agencies taking advantage of the new rules must implement a series of infection-control measures while operating tours, or risk losing out on subsidies or their right to run groups locally, South China Morning Post reported.

Earlier, tour groups were only allowed to have four members at a time, whereas wedding ceremonies could have only 20 guests.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said, "When adjusting social-distancing measures, we hope to avoid an all-or-nothing approach, and enhance cooperation with the sectors to enhance infection-control measures in related premises."

Chan added that the government was adopting targeted measures to reduce coronavirus transmission in the country.

Starting Friday, tourists will be required to wear masks throughout their trip and the transport they use can only be 50 percent full.

Other rules include increasing the number of people in business meetings from 20 to 50, while sports teams involving more than four people will be once again allowed in swimming pools.

However, the new wedding rules will not be applied to banquets and no food and drinks will be allowed at the ceremony.

All other social distancing measures will continue to be in effect for another week at least.

South China Morning Post reported that commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah at the same press conference said all local tours must be registered with the Travel Industry Council. The travel agency would also need to sign an agreement with the council ensuring members of the tour group complied with a set of rules.

Yau said, "Public health must be ensured in areas of itinerary, transport, dining, attraction visits and staff arrangements." "They must purchase health insurance for the tourists, record contact information of them ... conduct temperature checks and ensure they wear masks throughout the trip," he added.

Yau informed that involved travel agencies will be able to apply for subsidy schemes offered by the government and the Tourist Board.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's announcement came as the city's new caseload was expected to include a highly infectious case discovered at the Yau Tsim Mong temporary testing centre, according to a medical source, the facility's first.

Before meeting the executive council, Lam said, "The recent epidemic situation seems to be stabilised again, there were no untraceable infections over the past three days."

According to the city's leader, her de facto cabinet would discuss relaxing the rules. However, the discussion would not involve major rules, as the city hoped to form travel bubbles with other countries.

The non-permanent centres, at locations chosen based on risk assessments for potential COVID-19 cases including in Kwai Tsing, Kowloon City and Wan Chai, have tested atleast 16,000 samples.

As of Monday, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hong Kong stood at 5,265, with 105 deaths due to the disease. (ANI)

Ahead of FATF meet, Pakistan continues blind eye on LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network

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Rome [Italy], October 20 (ANI): October arrives and with it the usual Sword of Damocles hanging on Pakistan's head: the FATF meeting. The organisation has to decide if Pakistan should be excluded from its grey list, based on a review of Islamabad's performance to meet global commitments and standards on fight against money laundering and terror financing.

In August, Imran Khan had warned that if blacklisted, Pakistan's entire economy will be destroyed due to inflation and a massive fall in the Pakistani Rupee, and his government had passed the umpteenth bill imposing financial sanctions on 88 terror groups and on Mohammed Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and even the mafia don (and note, Pakistan always denied his presence in the country) Dawood Ibrahim.

The sanctions, to be fair, have been imposed a number of times, while immediately after their imposition the Pakistani mission in New York was applying for permission to de-freeze the bank accounts of Masood Azhar and Mohammed Hafiz Saeed because, poor fellows, they needed money to support their families. Pakistan was placed on the Grey List by the FATF in June 2018 for its failure to curb the funneling of funds to terror groups like LeT and JeM, and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019.

The FATF plenary had then noted that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups and strongly urged Pakistan to complete its full action plan by February 2020. In February, the FATF gave Pakistan, which missed 13 targets, a four-month period to complete its 27-point action plan. But in June, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FATF decided to postpone the evaluation and to keep Pakistan on the grey list because anyway Islamabad failed to check the flow of money to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). And the situation, despite the usual cosmetic measures, is not improved. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In August and in September Islamabad amended 15 laws and passed four bills to meet the international standards required by the FATF, and sent a report to the review team detailing the compliance with the 13 points in which the country was failing. But the FATF should keep in mind, once for all, that reality on the ground is much, much different from what it is written on paper. "Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) facilitate the trafficking of terrorist fighters into Afghanistan, who act as advisers, trainers and specialists in improvised explosive devices. Both groups are responsible for carrying out targeted assassinations against government officials and others," so stated a UN Security Council report not so long ago, mantaining that both LeT and JeM are still sharing training camps with Taliban.

The same report of UN Security Council, clearly stated: "Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network, and Al-Qaida remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage. The Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaida during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honour their historical ties." That Pakistan controls Haqqani Network is no secret, and even children know that JeM, LeT and Taliban are all ISI creatures. And, according to sources, for more than a year Taliban are regrouping in Pakistan and being allotted again areas of influence as denounced many times by local citizens and members of PTM.

In the past few months, they are forming also brand new groups, and the latest one seems to be a 'Khattak Taliban' group. "Immediately after the so-called 'peace agreement' between US and Taliban, the Pakistani ISI has formed a new jihadi group to fight in Afghanistan against the government forces and, if needed, against other Taliban groups. This group is called Khattak, and his members belong to the poorest districts of KPK," says a local.

These groups are trained, according to local sources, in training centers based in Upper Dir, in Kachlak and in Miran Shah by Jaish-e-Mohammed and Haqqani members and by the Taliban themselves, and then sent to Afghanistan against the government troops. There are also evidences that the fund-raising of both groups never stopped.

Advertisings for training camps and donations are done openly in newspapers and with posters in the streets; PTM is denouncing for months that the Taliban and other jihadis are back in the region, sharing camps with the Pakistani army. There is news also of Kashmiri Talso regrouping and getting the 'usual' state patronage. Last September, during a demonstration held in Karachi, the largest anti-Shia protest of recent times, people were carrying flags of the (in theory) banned group of Sipah-i-Sahaba, a radical Sunni organization.

Let's not mention the burnings of friendly countries flags or the alarming spread of jihadi ideology among youth and especially youth abroad. But FATF should remember Imran Khan's 'slip of tongue' in June, when he called Osama bin Laden a 'shaheed', a martyr. Should take notice that Pakistani citizens disappear every day, are killed every day in cold blood, now even in Europe, by the same government who should protect them.

That the economy is a disaster and managed by the army like the rest of the country, the pandemic has been, to use a euphemism, mismanaged. Thousands of people lost their lives because of terrorism, only to find their prime minister praising a terrorist and the army protecting the killers of their relatives. They should take notice of the discrepancies between reports and reality, and ask themselves if they really believe Pakistan is less dangerous than Iran or North Korea, already on the blacklist.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author) (ANI)

R Narayan appointed as president of FICCI-CMSME

R Narayan, Founder & CEO, Power2SME

New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI/NewsVoir): R Narayan, Founder and CEO, Power2SME has been elected as President of Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CMSME), an affiliated body under the umbrella of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), an apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India. FICCI-CMSME's vision is to empower Indian MSMEs and build their competitiveness.

He took over from outgoing President Sanjay Bhatia at the sixth annual general meeting of FICCI-CMSME which also witnessed the launch of FICCI-CMSME online directory and B2B portal "Connect" in the presence of Arvind Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The event also saw Girish Luthra and Harjinder Kaur, assume offices of Sr Vice-President and Vice-President respectively.

"I am honoured and humbled by the responsibility entrusted on me. We at FICCI CMSME firmly believe that the country's MSMEs have enormous potential and have displayed great strength and resilience in the wake of the pandemic. This portal launched today has been created to explore new MSME business avenues and strengthen their value chains both backwards and forwards," said R Narayan, while speaking about his new role.

"True development can only be done in inclusivity and not isolation, and therefore a joint effort and collaboration is required from all stakeholders, especially from the government, industry chambers and associations to provide a support infrastructure which enable the growth of the MSME sector," R Narayan added.

Applauding the efforts made by FICCI towards championing the cause of MSMEs, Arvind Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises announced the creation of 5 taskforces in the domains of Industry 4.0, Exports, Technology Centers, Clusters and modernization schemes to make Indian SMEs future ready.

Established in December 2013 as an affiliate body with the mission of empowering MSMEs, FICCI-CMSME was created to work closely with the MSME sector to identify issues and suggest viable solutions.

A pan-India body developed as an aggregator to develop various capabilities in various aspects of their businesses, CMSME plays an active role in connecting MSMEs to investors, incubators, accelerators, and assist MSME capacity building programs and services. It also provides the platform for networking and consistency building in across sectors.

The FICCI CMSME "Connect" portal aims to become a preferable B2B destination for both buyers and sellers and acts as online directory for SMEs to connect with each other, post business queries for listed enterprises and become a major source of detailed information of listed companies for visitors including PSUs, large corporate etc. The portal can be accessed at ficcicmsmeconnect.in.

This story is provided by NewsVoir. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/NewsVoir)

Indian Army vice-chief visits US Army 25th Infantry Division Lightning Academy

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New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen SK Saini visited US Army 25th Infantry Division Lightning Academy on Tuesday and interacted with the troops there.

Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army said in a tweet, "Lt Gen S K Saini visited US Army 25th Infantry Division Lightning Academy. He interacted with troops after witnessing Jungle Training & Chinook Helicopter Sling Load Carriage."

Lt Gen SK Saini is on a three-day visit to the US command, from October 17 to 20 with the aim to expand military cooperation between the two countries.

A two-plus-two dialogue is scheduled post the visit where both countries will review their strategic cooperation extensively. (ANI)

5 killed, 9 injured in bomb blasts in Afghanistan's Jalrez

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 20 (ANI): Two roadside bomb blasts in the Jalrez district of Afghanistan killed five people and left nine injured, the provincial Governor's office said.

"At least five people were killed and nine more were wounded in two roadside bomb blasts in Jalrez district, Maidan Wardak province today, the provincial governor's office said," TOLOnews reported.

Jalrez is a part of the Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan. (ANI)

China is attacking fundamentals of Uyghur family life in Xinjiang, says expert

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London [UK], October 20 (ANI): Communist authorities in Xinjiang are hitting out at the basic unit of family to bring in demographic changes in the region.

Peter Franklin an Associate Editor of UnHerd, policy advisor, and speechwriter on environmental and social issues writes in, "Communist authorities are attacking the fundamentals of family life of Uyghurs by forced abortion and sterilisation."

The insecure dragon has been continuing with the abusive policy of garrisoning Han Chinese majority in Uyghur homes which leads to a rapid collapse in Uyghur birth rates ultimately changing the demography of the region. The same tactics were applied by the Chinese authorities in Tibet too.

"The family policy practiced in Xinjiang is not to create a new society, but to destroy an old one," said Peter.

The Economist too revealed a massive expansion in boarding school dormitories. While the rate of growth is low and declining in the rest of China it is accelerating in Xinjiang. That's because the mass internment of Uyghur adults is effectively orphaning Uyghur children and thus leaving them as wards of the Chinese state, stated the UnHerd.

The communist always believed that the traditional family was a vestige of the old order, an obstacle to the power of the state, and a refuge for bourgeois notions of privacy. They tried to break it by portraying nuclear family as oppressive, but the game changes when in a society the parents are the primary caregivers to their children.

Xinjiang society is a major obstacle to this totalitarian dream of complete collectivisation of the dragon.

The Chinese government has been admonished world-over for its repressive measures against the ethnic Uyghurs like mass detention, mass surveillance, restriction of religious and cultural identities, as well as other gross human rights abuses. (ANI)

Days after ban Pakistan restores Tik Tok services

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Islamabad [Pakistan], October 20 (ANI): Tit Tok services in Pakistan were restored on Monday with certain conditions, 10 days after a ban was placed on the short video sharing app by telecom regulator for spreading 'indecent' content.

Pakistan telecommunication Authorities (PTA) has warned the company that spread of 'vulgarity' / 'indecent' content and 'abuse of societal values' would result in a permanent ban on the app, Dawn reported.

The ban was imposed on October 9 and it has been lifted after an 'assurance' regarding effective 'moderation of content' by the TikTok management in a virtual meeting, according to the PTA.

Also, PTA chairman retired Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa while briefing the Senate standing committee on information technology on Monday said the TikTok management had claimed that around 25,000 accounts of Pakistani origin and about four million videos have been blocked in three months.

In a statement, the regulator announced that the restoration of TikTok services was strictly subject to the condition that the platform would not be used for the spread of vulgarity / indecent content and that the societal values would not be abused. "PTA will be constrained to permanently block the application in case the said condition is not fulfilled," added the PTA statement.

In a briefing to the Senate committee on IT, retired Maj Gen Bajwa said TikTok had assured Pakistan of investing around half a million US dollars for the moderation of content. It would be used to employ artificial intelligence (AI) software as well as a human resource in Pakistan for the purpose.

He said the app was taking some steps immediately, as the PTA had been engaged with them regarding content moderation for quite some time.

Meanwhile, TikTok has issued a statement lauding the unblocking of the app in Pakistan.

"We appreciate the PTA's commitment to ongoing productive dialogue and recognise their care for the digital experience of Pakistani users," a spokesperson of TikTok said in a statement issued from Singapore through their media agency. (ANI)

Delhi 'breathless' with rising pollution level

At Anand Vihar where air quality index is at 252 in "poor" category, as per Delhi Pollution Control Committee data, on Tuesday. (Photo/ANI)

New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Delhiites are forced to face the deteriorating air quality as Delhi's air pollution level has been continuously rising for the last few weeks.

Peoples who come out for a morning walk and exercise are complaining about the pollution levels. "I am a regular walker and I noticed that there is a problem with breathing for the last few days. The comfort level, which we had a month ago, is down," a moring walker has told ANI.

Another daily jogger says, "Even I am facing breathing problems and a sore throat."

Due to the pollution, the COVID-recovered patients and those with asthma are most at risk. "For asthmatic persons, pollution is poison. Doctors advise them not to come out of homes. It's serious, the government should take serious action," a Delhiite says.

The Delhi government has claimed that it is taking concrete steps to curb the pollution.

The new measures include: setting up a war room to combat pollution; coordination with other states; identification of hotspots in Delhi; initiation of tree transplantation policy, imposing fines, and launching of a green Delhi app.

Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has said that the government will think about implementing the odd-even scheme if all other ways fail. (ANI)

Pakistani Generals in Awami Adalat: The beginning of the end of Imran Khan

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Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza

Glasgow [Scotland], October 20 (ANI): Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan's political career is in serious trouble. The newly formed 11 political parties' strong alliance called Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which includes heavyweights such as the liberal centre-right Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PMLN), centre left social democrat Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the conservative right-wing Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazalur Rehman (JUI-F) has posed a serious threat to the current Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) government.

Two back-to-back public rallies held by PDM on October 16 and 18 in Punjab's Gujranwala and Sindh's metropolitan city of Karachi have shaken the confidence of the sitting government. A jittery cabinet is nervously trying to spin the newfound mass admiration for the opposition as a manifestation of some hidden 'Indian' agenda. However, people do not seem to buy this old formula for survival traditionally used by the Pakistani establishment.

After a very long time since the murder of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, Pakistani electorate once again seems to have become responsive to a previously sidelined political clout that appears to have reinvented itself, has felt the pulse of the common people. PDM is an expression of their grave concerns regarding economic, political and social issues confronted by a hapless mass of population for who the only message from Imran Khan has been 'Aapne ghabrana nahi hai' (you do not need to worry).

Economic shock caused by the revelation that the country's GDP has slipped into negative at below 0.4 per cent, political failure manifest in containing the Baloch insurgency, Pashtun dissent and the rise in Sindhi nationalism accompanied by the failure to galvanise international diplomatic support for the so-called 'Kashmir issue' and the rise in the prices of basic necessities by 20-50 per cent as well as revelations about manipulation of sugar and flour prices by a mafia which includes none other than Imran Khan's closest confidant Jahangir Tareen (bluntly known as the ATM of Mr Khan) are some of the pronounced factors that have contributed to growing anger and opposition not just among the stakeholders but more importantly to the wider populace.

In my opinion, the formation of PDM cannot have taken place unless it had been agreed upon and sanctioned by a segment of Pakistan's military establishment including the ISI. Previously, in 1988 when Benazir Bhutto came to power, ISI chief Hamid Gul confessed in a televised interview that he had engineered the creation of a nine-party alliance against the democratically elected government of the PPP. It was named Islami Jamhori Itehad (IJI) and was led by none other than the chief minister of Punjab at the time - Nawaz Sharif.

Similarly, previously in 1977 Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Kahn, who had maintained his links to the military establishment, allegedly engineered a nine-party strong Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), a right-wing conservative alliance, against the centre-left government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On both occasions, the movements were allegedly financed by the ISI and the petro-dollars respectively. It would not surprise me if on this very occasion Chinese Yuan was being secretly diverted to the coffers of PDM's anti-Imran campaign.

Since the PTI came to power all CPEC projects that were launched in 2015 are facing delays. In September 2019 Pakistani media raised alarm by arguing that amid large-scale corruption cases the USD 50 billion CPEC project might have been shelved! Works at Gwadar port, the Karachi-Sukkar motorway, Dera Ismail Khan to Baluchistan Western Route, all vital projects necessary for China to gain uninterrupted access to the Gulf for China, is going nowhere.

On more than one occasion the Chinese leadership has shown concern about the delay in the CPEC projects. And most recently the controversy and hostility the PTI government had to face in the wake of a Presidential decree that would pave the way for China to take full control of the islands in the Indian ocean that belong to Sindh and Baluchistan look as if it is going to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

Pakistan's failure to galvanise international diplomatic support against India since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave Jammu Kashmir its so-called special status is another cause for concern equally for the Pakistani military establishment and China. For decades China has looked up to Pakistan as a middle-goer in establishing relations with the so-called Islamic (Gulf and Mediterranean) world. Pakistan played an instrumental role in Sino-Saudi relations. However, since Imran Khan has isolated Pakistan among the Organisation of the Islamic Community (OIC) it is in China's best interest to see Imran Khan government be replaced by a competent one.

Pakistan's global isolation plus her failure to persuade UNHRC and IOC to convene a special session on Kashmir was bound to raise more than a few eyebrows in the military establishment and Chinese Communist Party. It is, therefore, no surprise that Army Chief General Bajwa has lately been busy using back door channels to meet with opposition party leaders in an attempt to mend his relations with them whom he orchestrated to lose in the July 2018 (allegedly rigged) general elections. However, this attempt quickly backfired and much to the embarrassment of PML (N) and the PPP was leaked to the press.

The slogan 'ye jo dehshat gardi hai, is kay pechay wardi hai' (Behind the terrorism is the uniform) raised by the Waziristan based Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) only a couple of years ago, has echoed in every speaker address to the hundreds of thousands who thronged to fill the stadiums and beyond. PTM leader Mohsin Dawar truly represented the sentiment that is now very quickly become the universal belief of the people of the oppressed nations of Pakistan when he in reference to the speech of Nawaz Sharif on October 16 said that if a three-time prime minister of the country is accusing the generals of wrongdoing then Imran Khan should have demanded Army Chief Qamar Bajwa's resignation. Mr Dawar asked how could Ehsan-ullah Ehsan escape from the house in which he was kept under arrest. He demanded that a 'Truth Commission' be established to investigate the crimes committed since 1948 and which involved undemocratic forces. He said that the military and the ISI were the real bastions of powers in Pakistan. To a cheering crowd, he declared, "this movement is the beginning of civilian supremacy".

It is now clearly the Pakistani generals and secret services that are being blamed for the ills of economy, unstoppable decline in the living conditions and diplomatic isolation of the country. This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that the generals are being tried in an Awami Adalat (people's court).

PDM is an assembly of top politicians who have nothing in common except for their discontent and hate against Imran Khan and military's interference in the running of the economic and political affairs of Pakistan. Therefore, the aim of the movement is to simply get the prime minister removed from office, get a mid-term election sanctioned by the establishment and form a hotchpotch national government that is 'free' from the influence of the military.

However, among a discontented population, unrest is fermenting a social (anarchic) explosion, which could just fall short of a popular revolution. Consequently, this could well become an opportunity for the Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun and the people of PoJK and GB to gain freedom from the clutches of a fascist regime that has usurped the rights of its populace for seven decades and given birth to a blood-sucking clique of military officers.

Disclaimer: Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and human rights, activist. He is from Mirpur in PoK and lives in exile in the UK. (ANI)

October 1947: The raid on Baramulla

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New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Having planned Operation Gulmarg, Pakistan unleashed its tribal militia on Jammu and Kashmir on October 22, 1947.

Overwhelming Muzzafarabad, Domel and Uri, the tribal lashkars led by Pakistan Army personnel reached Baramulla on October 26.

The havoc they wrecked 
on Baramulla is not very well-known. A despatch by Robert Trumbull of New York Times of November 10 described what happened in Baramulla.

Baramulla had been stripped of its wealth and young women before the tribesmen fled in face of the advancing Indian troops. Surviving residents estimated that 3,000 of their fellow townsmen, including four Europeans and a retired British Army Officer, Colonel Dykes, and his pregnant wife, were slain.

When the raiders rushed into the town on October 26, one party of Mahsud tribesmen scaled the walls of Saint Joseph's Franciscan Convent compound and stormed its hospital and church. Four nuns, Colonel Dykes and his wife were shot.

The raiders also forced 350 local Hindus into a building, with the intention of burning it down.

Twenty-four hours after the Indian Army entered Baramulla, only 1,000 were left of a normal population of about 14,000.

Max Despott, an Associated Press photographer, described on November 2 that he saw more than 20 villages in flames while flying over a section of Kashmir Valley extending within 20 miles of Srinagar. The villages had been set afire by the invaders who were scouring the valley and moving in the direction of Srinagar.

Sydney Smith of Daily Express of London had stayed in the Baramulla hospital for those fateful 10 days. He too had filed a report on the raiders' attack on the convent. The raiders had come shooting their way down from the hills on both sides of the town. They climbed over the hospital walls from all sides. The first group burst into a ward firing at the patients.

"A 20-year-old Indian nurse, Philomena, tried to protect a Muslim patient whose baby had just born. She was shot dead first. The patient was next. Mother Superior Aldetrude rushed into the ward, knelt over Philomena and was at once attacked and robbed. The Assistant Mother, Teresalina, saw a tribesman point a rifle at Mother Aldetrude and jumped in front of her.

"A bullet went through Teresalina's heart. At that moment Colonel Dykes raced from his room to get the Mother Superior out of danger, shouting at the tribesman as he ran. But the Mother Superior fell, and Colonel Dykes collapsed beside her, with a bullet in the stomach. Mrs Dykes ran from her husband's room to help him.

"She too was shot dead. While this went on, Mr Gee Boretto, an Anglo-Indian, was killed in the garden before nine nuns. The nuns were lined up before a firing squad. We did not find Mrs Dykes until the following day. She had been thrown down a well. Reports had come that the chief of another Evangelical Mission, Major Ronald Davis, a Welshman, and one of his two English women assistants, had also been shot dead. The other assistant was said to have been taken to the hills."

Abdul Rahman of Baramulla also recorded his observations on the atrocities. The raiders, with all their ferocity, looted the Hindus to begin with, burnt the houses of the Sikhs and killed them. As a result of this arson and loot, the Sikhs and the Hindus fled Baramulla leaving their houses burning, and most of their women raped and kidnapped.

The raiders did not touch the Muslims, to begin with - perhaps they wanted to win their sympathy. After a few days when they found that they were about to be forced out of the Valley, they turned on everybody that came their way.

They started wholesale loot, arson and orgy. They burnt the property of the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims without any discrimination. They killed children, old men and women, and committed rape on every young woman, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh alike. The raiders also took valuables like silver and gold ornaments, shawls etc. when they left.

According to the Wazir-i-Wazarat of Baramulla, Chaudury Faizullah, the raiders entered in groups of 30 to 40. About 5,000 of them were concentrated in Baramulla at one time. They were mostly tribesmen with a few Punjabi Muslims, all well-armed and led by Pirs, Pakistan Army and Frontier Constabulary officers.

The local Muslim Conference men joined the raiders and acted as guides. From the day the raiders entered Baramulla, they started killing non-Muslims and looting and burning houses of all local inhabitants, irrespective of religion and raping their women. They used to break into houses of local inhabitants in groups of 10 or 12, search the house and carry away valuables, clothes and food. As many as 280 lorries were used to carry away the loot from Baramulla towards Uri.

The raiders left Baramulla on the night of November 7. There was not a single house left that was not looted by the raiders. It was a great relief to the local inhabitants when the Indian Army re-captured Baramulla. The Times of London reported on November 11 that the Baramulla residents seemed delighted to welcome the Indian troops. The despatch also bore testimony to the fact that the convent and hospital were not shot up by the Indian aerial attacks as alleged by Pakistan wireless statements.

Disclaimer: The author of this piece, Raghvendra Singh, IAS (Retd), is a secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. (ANI)

JSPL produced rails for high-speed corridors approved by Indian Railways

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New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) is the first and only Indian manufacturer to develop 60E1 1175 Heat Treated(HT) Rails suitable for High speed and High Axle Load applications. These Rails are primarily used by the Metro Rail Corporations, High-Speed Corridors and Bullet Trains.

According to an official release, Indian Railways have projected a requirement of 1.8 Lac MT per annum of this high-grade 60E1 1175 Heat Treated (HT) Rails. Indian Railways has embarked upon upgrading the Indian Railway Track system to carry 25MT axle load and up to 200 km/hour speed.

"Before this development, all speciality rails were imported in the country, JSPL is committed for manufacturing of speciality rails to fulfill requirements of Indian Railways and metro rail corporations hence making India AtmNirbhar in procuring rails locally for different applications. These rails will be used in the dedicated freight corridor, high axel load application including bullet trains," said V R Sharma, Managing Director of Jindal Steel and Power Limited in a statement.

Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has approved the newly developed 60E1 1175 Heat Treated (HT) Rails of Jindal Steel and Power Limited.

According to JSPL, 60E1 1175 Heat Treated (HT) Rails is a superior grade to 1080 HH and will be used by Indian Railways for heavier loads and high-speed application.

Based on inspection and testing conducted by the RDSO team, Railway Board/RDSO had earlier accorded approval for JSPL manufactured 60E1 1080 HH Rails. These Rails are primarily used by the Metro Rail Corporations, High-Speed Corridors and Bullet Trains. These rails are equivalent to European R350HT grade with regards to Rail profile and chemistry but follow more stringent Quality tests.

JSPL's Gr. 880 Rails has also been approved by Railway Board/RDSO as a "Regular Supplier" to Indian Railways.

Apart from 880 Grade main track rails, JSPL has also started supplying 1080 grade Head Hardened rails to several metro Rails projects in India which includes Rail Vikas Nigam Limited for the construction of the Kolkata Metro Rail Project and Pune Metro. JSPL has developed Special rails, Asymmetric Rails, R260, and 1175HT grades for heavy load carrying wagon units of 75 tones/wagon.

V R Sharma stated that JSPL's manufacturing capacity for 60E1 1175 HT Rails has been assessed as 3.24 Lac MT per annum by Railway Board/RDSO, which is more than enough to meet the full annual demand of Indian Railways, Metro Rail Corporations, High-Speed Corridors.

"JSPL is also exporting rails to adjoining countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the company is supplying rails to the African continent as well. JSPL is also supplying speciality rail blooms for special rails to France for European railways. With this development, JSPL positioned itself as a world-class rail manufacturer which is a great achievement by an Indian company," he further added. (ANI)

India Army vice-chief meets US Indo-Pacific commander, discusses strategic partnership in region

Lt General Satinder K Saini, Vice Chief of Army Staff on Monday (local time) met with Major General Ronald P Clark, Chief of Staff of US Indo-Pacific Command. (Photo: ANI)

Washington [US], October 20 (ANI): Lt General Satinder K Saini, Vice Chief of the Army Staff on Monday (local time) met with Major General Ronald P Clark, Chief of Staff of US Indo-Pacific Command, and discussed the US and Indian partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Lt. Gen. Satinder K. Saini, I
ndian Vice Chief of Army Staff @adgpi met with Maj. Gen. Ronald P. Clark, USNDOPACOM Chief of Staff, to discuss the U.S. and Indian partnership in the region. #Partnership #FreeandOpenIndoPacific," US Indo-Pacific Command tweeted.

Lt Gen. Saini is on a three-day visit to the US command, from October 17 to 20 with an aim to increase military cooperation between both the armies.

The US Army Pacific yesterday said that the ongoing visit by Lt Gen. Saini to the US Indo Pacific Command is building trust and interoperability between both the armies which is central to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region

"Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. S K Saini visit builds trust and interoperability between the U.S.-and Indian Army. The U.S.-India Army-to-Army relationship is strong and opportunities exist for increased cooperation," the US Army Pacific said in a tweet. (ANI)

'Is IMF's relocation from Washington to Beijing imminent?' asks Shashi Tharoor

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that International Monetary Fund's (IMF) headquarters could be shifted from the US to China as indicated by the current growth projection made by the global organisation after the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic.

"Is the IMF's relocation to Beijing imminent?" Tharoor posed the question on his Twitter handle.

"The International Monetary Fund's by-laws specify that its headquarters will be located in the world's largest economy. For 75 years this placed it in Washington, DC. With the way the US and Chinese economies are moving after #Covid-19, is the IMF's relocation to Beijing imminent?"

Citing the IMF data, the Congress leader further said that China will be the only major economy to grow this year while the US would shrink by 4.3 per cent.

"The IMF itself says China will be the only major economy to grow this year. It predicts that China will expand 1.9 per cent in 2020, while the U.S. would shrink by 4.3 per cent. China's growth will accelerate to 8.4 per cent next year, says the IMF, compared to 3.1 per cent in the United States. Challenging!" he said in a tweet.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are 8,210,867 COVID-19 cases in the US while China's tally stands at 91,006 cases. (ANI)

4 dead, 1 injured in Gas explosion in north China's coal mine

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Shanxi [China], October 20 (ANI/Xinhua): Four people have been confirmed dead and another injured in a gas explosion in a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, according to local authorities on Tuesday.

The explosion happened in the mine owned by Lu'an Group at around 2 a.m. Tuesday. The rescue work has ended. An investigation into the cause of the blast is underway.

The mine has an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes. (ANI/Xinhua)

A Flawed Historical Narrative


Raghvendra Singh

New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Advancing the date of India's partition and dispensing with the phased withdrawal of the British administration and its forces cost India dearly. The communal conflagration that ensued and the festering Kashmir dispute was no unintended consequences of this decision.

Why were the Indian freedom struggle leaders so anxious to advance the partition date is strictly not my brief to explain, but one thing is certain, there has not been much debate on this issue. Why was North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) lost to India when it had a comfortable Congress majority in the 1946 provincial elections? Why was Kalat (80 per cent of Baluchistan) and 40 per cent of current Pakistan, forcibly taken by Pakistan in April 1948? The Gilgit episode was a well-designed conspiracy against India. Baltistan, Hunza, Nagar, Punial, Yasin, Ishkoman and Chitral were also lost to India. Not many in India are aware of these names, much less of its vital importance.

While Baltistan, Saksham Valley, Aksai Chin and the POK are shown as an integral part of India, Chitral does not find a mention in the map of Jammu and Kashmir. Chitral was in fact suzerain and its territories directly ruled by Kashmir. No one objects to the mention of Chitral as part of Pakistan territory. Why has this not been contested?

In the 1870s, at the time of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the British were anxious to isolate Afghanistan. The Afghan government had then exerted pressure on the Mehtar of Chitral, threatening him with an invasion. The British encouraged the Maharaja of Kashmir to accept suzerainty over Chitral. A Treaty was signed between Mehtar of Chitral and the Maharaja of Kashmir in 1878. As per that treaty, the Mehtar was to obey and execute the order of Maharaja, consider the Maharaja's enemy as his enemy and pay an annual Nazarana to Kashmir; also receive a subsidy from Kashmir State. No mention was made of the Government of India in this treaty. As late as 1939, the Mehtar of Chitral was keen to negotiate a direct agreement with the Kashmir Durbar on the lines of 1878 Treaty wherein the British Government were not to be a party. Since the Gilgit Wazarat was already leased out to the Government of India in 1935, the then Prime Minister of Kashmir could not entertain such a proposal and ultimately the idea of fresh agreement was given up. Further negotiations were kept in abeyance due to the outbreak of war in September 1939. But till the time of partition in 1947, the Treaty of 1878 had stood unmodified.

There is strong reason to believe that the invasion of Kashmir in the third week of October 1947 was actively abetted by Britain. Gilgit Agency fell prey to its Scouts, a Kashmir State force led by a British officer who organized a coup and unfurled the Pakistan flag in Gilgit. Subsequently, Baltistan also fell to Pakistan. Chitral, an integral part of Kashmir, was never claimed by India. It was in Britain's interest that NWFP, Baluchistan and areas of Pakistan form part of Pakistan. Why then even after more than seven decades of India's independence, do we still continue to believe in the inevitability of India's partition? That communalism was the cause of India's partition is the predominant theme of modern Indian historiography. That narrative needs to change. The subject of Gilgit is just such a narrative.

The British Indian government was not averse to co-opting the Gilgit subdivision of Kashmir as part of Indian federation under Government of India Act, 1935. But any such declaration would tantamount to acknowledging those areas as part of the Kashmir State. Under the Act, an Indian State could include any territory under the suzerainty of the Ruler which was not part of British India. For the purpose of Government of India Act 1935, Kashmir could include Hunza, Nagir, Chilas, Koh-Ghizar Yasin and Ishkoman which were under Kashmir's suzerainty. Punial would also come within this ambit for it was a Jagir granted by the Kashmir Darbar.

Mischievously, the British Indian government decided to exclude federal authority from these areas despite the fact that the Census Records of Kashmir took into account the population of all these eight frontier areas.

Could Chitral be regarded, for the purposes of Government of India Act 1935, as a part of Kashmir? Chitral was under the suzerainty of Kashmir as per the Aitchison Treaties Vol. XI Page 428, a definitive acknowledgement of the suzerainty in the Agreement of 1914, attested by the Assistant Political Agent of Chitral. As per the definition of Indian States under the Government of India Act of 1935, Chitral should have been regarded as part of Kashmir State. The British Indian Government, however, decided to introduce an amendment to the Government of India Act 1935 to circumvent issues arising from the definition of an Indian State. The amendment stated that the "territory which was under the suzerainty of, but did not belong, to the Ruler of Indian State shall, for the purpose of Government of India Act of 1935, be deemed not to form a part of the State". What perfidy!

There took place a dispute over the Indus waters in the middle of 1953. The Pakistan Government produced maps in which the territories of erstwhile Gilgit agency were marked as part of Pakistan. A reference was made by the then Ministry of Irrigation and Power on 21st May 1953 to the Ministry of States seeking clarification on the territorial locus standi of these areas. After a lapse of more than a month, on 30.6.1953, the Ministry of States wrote to the Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir for providing the details. Finally, on July 29, 1953 the requested note was sent by the Chief Secretary to Viswanathan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of States. According to that note, the Gilgit Agency comprised of the:

1. Gilgit Wazarat which included the Tehsil of Gilgit and the Niabat of Astor;

2. The States of Hunza and Nagar;

3. The Republic of Chilas; and

4. The Governorships of Punial / Yasin / Kuh-Ghizar/Ishkoman.

The British continuously endeavoured to complicate the situation for the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir since 1880's and then restored the status quo ante when they quit India. Whether their decision of 1947 to retrocede the whole of Gilgit to Kashmir was a ploy to ensure that it eventually got occupied by Pakistan is clearly a moot point.

I have tried to locate direct references made by the then Prime Minister of India on Gilgit/Baltistan, for the Prime Ministers wrote quite prodigiously on the subject of Kashmir during 1947-48. The administrative records of that period are replete with such references, but there is no hint of the lost territories in the letters made public. The ordeal suffered by the people of Gilgit and Baltistan in 1947-48 is all very well known. But was this raised effectively with Pakistan authorities? Why was it not? That's again a moot point!

It was a deliberate policy on the part of Britain to undermine the direct role of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir over the area of Gilgit and Chitral. The historiography has tended to concentrate on the annexation of Gilgit by Pakistan, its suppression and the growing alienation of the people of that region. Studies have also tended to focus on ethnicity, human rights and the developing politics of that area. Not much attention has been paid on the British policy in 1947, rather from 1871 onwards.

(Disclaimer: The author is Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India) (ANI)

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