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NC leader Farooq Abdullah calls for Central rule in Jammu Kashmir

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] S [/yt_dropcap]rinagar went to poll to elect a parliamentarian and National Conference leader and former CM of JK was declared elected to parliament.Eight people were shot dead by paramilitary troopers and police and over 150 were injured in clashes between people and forces on polling day (9 April), which saw a mere 7.14% voter turnout. A re-polling was held for 38 booths which recorded only 2.02% polling.

The winner Farooq said recent developments in JK had made it “amply clear” that the PDP-BJP government in the state had “failed in delivering on its promises and had created a very alarming political situation in the state”. “I would leave no stone unturned to strive for justice and peace and be the voice against injustice and oppression as an elected representative in the parliament,” he said. Asked about the lowest-ever poll percentage in Srinagar by polls, Abdullah said, “How does it matter? We have seen polls before also where hardly any percentage was there. And what do you say to people who have voted even if it may be 7 per cent with all the pressures on them.”

Crack in PDP-BJP idea in Kashmir

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah who won the by-poll to the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seat on anti-incumbency campaign that was marred by large-scale violence and very poor turnout on balloting day, called for imposition of central rule in the state.

Abdullah defeated the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmad Khan by a margin of 10,776 votes. Of the 89,865 votes cast, Farooq polled 48,555 while Khan polled 37,779. A total of 963 people voted for NOTA (none of the above), election officials said. There were nine candidates in the fray, but the main battle was between PDP’s Khan and Abdullah. Abdullah, 79, a two-time Chief Minister, will be Lok Sabha member for the third time. He had lost the Srinagar constituency to PDP’s Tariq Hameed Karra in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Karra’s resignation from the party led to the seat getting vacant. Octogenarian Abdullah had lost 2014 parliament elections to the then PDP candidate Tariq Karra (now with Congress). He took plunge into the election to make a comeback and take “avenge” of the defeat.

Soon after defeating ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan, Abdullah appealed President Pranab Mukherjee to dismiss the state government as it has “failed to deliver and hold peaceful election.” “Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti should step down immediately and the situation in the state merits the imposition of Governor’s rule. There is absolutely no doubt about this,” he added. “I appeal to the President of India to dismiss this government and impose Governor’s rule in the state. They have killed youth and put the lives of the people in danger,“ he told reporters at NC headquarters here after his poll victory.

Farooq said recent developments had made it “amply clear” that the PDP-BJP government in the state had “failed in delivering on its promises and had created a very alarming political situation in the state…I would leave no stone unturned to strive for justice and peace and be the voice against injustice and oppression as an elected representative in the parliament,” he said.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and a former key Federal minister urged the central government to impose Governor’s rule in the state, terming the election as the “bloodiest ever”. He also called for resumption of the dialogue for resolution of Kashmir at internal and external levels.

The NC supremo said it would not celebrate the victory because of the violence on polling day on April 9 in which eight civilians died in firing by security forces. Addressing reporters after his win, Abdullah urged the BJP-led central government to dismiss the ruling BJP-PDP alliance. “I request the Government of India and the President to dismiss the present government right away.

Governor’s rule should be imposed and elections conducted under Governor’s rule,” Farooq told the media. Thanking the people who supported him, he said: “This was the bloodiest election ever. I am not happy with the win. But results show that people are in favor of NC.”

In a statement issued by the NC party, spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said, “We won’t celebrate the victory in the by-poll in view of the deaths that occurred on balloting day.” Voting for the parliamentary seat saw a record low turnout of 7 per cent on April 9. Re-polling was held on April 13 for 38 polling stations in Budgam district that saw a mere 2 per cent balloting.

Anantnag

Abdullah also demanded that by poll for the upcoming Anantnag parliamentary seat should be held under Governor’s rule. “Otherwise people would not get justice,” he said.

Anantnag by poll has been deferred by the Election Commission of India till May 25 in the wake of the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. On the day of election to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, eight civilians were killed and over 200 injured by government forces. Reacting to a video showing a man tied to an army vehicle as “human shield” against stone throwers, Abdullah said it “was shameful and bad act against democracy”. He called the eight people killed on poll day as “martyrs”. “Many others are in hospitals or jails. I have never seen such an election,” he said and thanked “the people who risked their lives to vote in such a difficult situation”. “Such things add to the fire. I request them not to do these things,” said Abdullah. He trashed the ‘rumors’ suggesting he would resign from Lok Sabha after today’s win. “I will follow what my party high command decides,” he said.

Reacting to a video showing a man tied to an army vehicle as “human shield” against stone throwers, Abdullah said it “was shameful and bad act against democracy”. He called the eight people killed on poll day as “martyrs”. “Many others are in hospitals or jails. I have never seen such an election,” he said and thanked “the people who risked their lives to vote in such a difficult situation”. “Such things add to the fire. I request them not to do these things,” said Abdullah. He trashed the ‘rumors’ suggesting he would resign from Lok Sabha after today’s win. “I will follow what my party high command decides,” he said.

Indo-Pak dialogue

Abdullah demanded resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue and talks with all stakeholders including the resistance leadership, saying “war wasn’t a solution”. “New Delhi and Islamabad have to talk and try to honesty resolve the Kashmir Issue. The people of Kashmir cannot be expected to suffer endlessly. There is no alternative to talk. You have to talk in an effort to find a solution,” Abdullah said. Talking to reporters after he was announced as winner of the Srinagar parliamentary seat, Abdullah said, “I appeal to the Governor and President of India to dismiss this government and impose Governor’s rule in the state. This is the only way to give some respite to people. The government even failed to hold peaceful elections,” said Abdullah.

Saying that dialogue is the only way forward between the nuclear states of South Asia, Abdullah called for resumption of Indo-Pak talks and dialogue with all stakeholders including separatist Hurriyat Conference. “War is not a solution to anything,” he said. Reacting to the video of a youth tied up to an army vehicle, Abdullah said it is very shameful and a very bad act against democracy. “I request them not to do such things which will add to the fire and render it uncontrollable,” Abdullah said.

“New Delhi and Islamabad have to talk and try to honesty resolve the Kashmir Issue. The people of Kashmir cannot be expected to suffer endlessly. There is no alternative to talk. You have to talk in an effort to find a solution,” Abdullah said. Asked about the lowest-ever poll percentage in Srinagar by polls, Abdullah said, “How does it matter? We have seen polls before also where hardly any percentage was there. And what do you say to people who have voted even if it may be 7 per cent with all the pressures on them.”

Dispelling rumours of his resignation, he said that he was not going to resign. “I have neither said such a thing nor will I resign,” Abdullah said. Rumours were flying thick and fast in Kashmir on Thursday that Abdullah will resign if he wins the by-poll. On the other hand, Khan who had joined PDP after parting ways with the Congress was fighting his maiden Lok Sabha election. In the wake of unprecedented poll boycott and clashes during voting for the Srinagar segment, the Election Commission deferred by-election for Anantnag parliamentary segment—which was scheduled on April 12—till May 25.

Observation

The victory of octogenarian Abdullah is seen as a major boost for the NC, who used every card from separatism to a soft pro-Pakistan line ahead of elections.

Defeat of the ruling PDP candidate reveals the anger of Kashmiris towards the PDP-BJP joint government, targeting Muslims.

Kashmir has for too long been searching for a genuine government to serve the cause of asovereign Jammu Kashmir where the people could live in peace and without fearing the military boots ofoccupation forces from neighboring countries. Both PDP and NC play tricks with Kashmiris by joining hands with BJP or Congress to form the government to advance their own interests. Even the so-called freedmen fighters try to betray the Kashmiris by working for foreign nations.

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Ancestral Lineage of Hazaras: from Afghanistan to Pakistan

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While the origins of Hazaras are much debated, opinions differ when it comes to the ancestral lineage of Hazara community. According to some historians, Hazaras are the original inhabitants of Hazarajat (now central Afghanistan).Among Hassan Pouladi, Prof. Shah Ali Akbar, Fletcher, and Abdul HaiHabibi, J. P. Ferrier who was a renowned French scholar was the first who argued based on his explanations of the Greek historian Quintus Curtius about the battles of Alexander the Great and his travels to these areas, now Afghanistan that Hazaras were native inhabitants of Afghanistan since the time of Alexander the Great and have not migrated from any other places to this land.

Whereas, according to some, Hazaras have Mongolian ancestry under Genghis Khan. This notion that Hazaras have Mongolian origin takes its origin in the 19th century when European came to Afghanistan, and they distinguish people with Mongolian featured faces among other Caucasian faces. Hazaras were originally represented by the word ‘Ozala’ or ‘Hosala’ which, with the passing of time became ‘Hazara’. The very word ‘Hazara’ then was used to refer to the counting system in the armed forces of Genghis Khan i.e. ‘hazara’ that meant thousand, which comprised one level of the troops.

Yet, few opinionate, Hazaras have Persian and Turko-Mongolian ancestry. According to a report they descended from Genghis Khan’s Army that mixed with Persian and Turkic locals whom as a result of conflict had been settled in now Hazara inhabited areas of Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, some think, Hazaras have ancestral lineage with theKushan Dynasty that goes back two millennia when Bamiyan in Afghanistan was home to the largest statues of ancient Buddhist civilization. Patrons of this idea highlight the similar facial features of Hazaras to those of Buddhist murals and statues in the region. Whilst, some of the Hazaras believe that they are the descendants of one of the sons of Noah.

Although, all the above mentioned theories might differ when it comes to ancestral lineage of Hazara community, but they have one thing in common and that is the land of Hazaras which now constitute parts of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. People of Hazaras settled in the mountainous regions of central Afghanistan as early as the 19th century, with the majority of their inhabitants living in Hazarajat (the land of Hazara), which is situated in the rough central mountainous core of Afghanistan with an area stretch over 50,000 sq.km.The Hazaras speak a dialect of Persian (Dari dialect) that is called Hazaragi. Hazaragi was one of the two largest languages of Afghanistan. Hazaragi includes many Mongolian and Turkic words, which also maintains the theory that they have Mongolian ancestry.

Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country with almost 8 major and 10 minor different ethnic groups; among major ethnic groups are Pashtun, Tajiks, and Hazaras etc. Hazaras were once the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and constituted approximately 67% of the total population, but today their population hardly makes up around 9% of Afghan population. The reason for their massacred lies in their off target political action when they backed the wrong candidate in the accession struggle in the late 19th century, that had changed the life of Hazaras and their role in Afghan politics and ultimately in Afghan government.

Reports from the 20th century depict that arm forces of Afghanistan made pyramids out of Hazaras heads after some of the massacres, as a form of warning to the remaining Hazaras, yet this could not be regarded as the last savage and barbaric government repression of the Hazaras. Towards the end of 20th century during the rule of Taliban in Afghanistan, government specifically targeted the Hazaras for persecution and even genocide. This brutal history of persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan resulted in killing more than half of their population with some migrating to neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran.

Whereas, according to historical evidence migration of Hazaras from Afghanistan to Baluchistan province, Pakistan took place about 150 years ago, initially due to economic purposes. But mass migration of Hazara population took place in the late 19th century, mainly due to their persecution and targeted killing at the hands of different afghan rulers and Taliban government that forced them to migrate to Pakistan, and so they settled here.

In Pakistan, the estimated number of people of Hazara community is between 0.6-0.9 million, living and residing in different parts of the country including Karachi, Parachinar, Sanghar, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, also in different parts of GilgitBaltistan and Punjab. In Baluchistan province, the bulk of Hazara population are residing in Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan such as Sanjawi, Much, Zhob, Harnai, Loralai, and Dukki, where their population makes up around 0.4-0.5 million.Unfortunately, along with their migration, the Hazara community brought with them the history of their persecutions based on their ethnicity, religious orientation of sect and also their ethnically unique facial curvatures, and so, their tenure of oppression at the hands Taliban and other terrorist organization like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah Sahabah, al-Qaeda and other Sunni radical militants organization that also includes ISIS in its list is on-going in Pakistan.

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Pakistan PM visited Sri Lanka to further strengthen the existing friendship to new heights

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Prime Minister Imran Khan during the Sri Lanka visit. PHOTO COURTESY: FACEBOOK/IMRAN KHAN

At the formal invitation of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, H.E. Imran Khan, paid a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka on 23-24 February 2021.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was accompanied by an elevated-level delegation comprising Federal Ministers and senior Government officials. The first-ever visit by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Sri Lanka since the formation of the new governments in both countries clearly reflects the warmth and goodwill between the two countries’ governments and peoples. Prime Minister Imran Khan received a warm traditional welcome from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Sri Lanka’s Ministers.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan held delegation-level discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. Both sides comprehensively appraised the multifaceted bilateral relationship in various fields of cooperation. The talks were held in a warm and cordial environment, marked by mutual trust and respect. The visit offeredboth sides a timely opportunity to further shape upon their close and regular consultations, particularly in the areas identified during the recently held Foreign Secretary level Bilateral Political Consultations, Joint Economic Commission session, and the Commerce Secretaries-level Talks.

Both sides reached a wide-ranging consensus on ways and means to strengthen cooperation further comprehensively and decided to hold frequent meetings; promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges; and enhance the process of consultations, collaboration, and synchronization between their respective institutions. Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan’s support for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka in line with the vision of a “peaceful neighborhood.”

The two sides reviewed the all-encompassing engagement between the two countries in promoting cultural linkages, human resource development, capacity building in diverse areas, and educational and technical cooperation. The Pakistan side announced 100 scholarships in health sciences and medicines (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme (PSLHECP). The Sri Lankan side appreciated the cooperation being extended by Pakistan in human resource development and capacity building.

While comprehending the existence of boundless potential of religious tourism to Buddhist archeological sites and perceiving the close ancient and cultural ties dating back to Gandhara civilization, the two sides emphasized the importance of augmenting cooperation in the field of tourism and highlighted the benefits of sharing expertise in the hospitality industry, including training and capacity building. The Pakistan side declared its initiative of establishing the Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at the University of Peradeniya, Kandy. Both sides recognized the importance of enhancing air connectivity to promote people-to-people contact, tourism, trade, and culture.

In order to explore new avenues for enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, a high-level Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference was held on 24 February 2021. The Conference provided an opportunity for effective and meaningful engagement between the business communities of the two countries. At the Conference, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka sides reiterated the importance of strengthening economic relations in critical areas of mutual interest and diversifying trade and investment. The two sides emphasized the importance of realizing the goal of achieving a US$ 1 billion bilateral trade target and also agreed to work towards broadening and deepening of Pakistan Sri Lank Free Trade Agreement.

During the visit, the following MoUs between Pakistan and Sri Lanka were signed:

i. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Cooperation in Tourism

ii. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation between the Board of Investment of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Board of Investment of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

iii. Memorandum of Understanding between Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi Islamic Republic of Pakistan

iv Intent Cooperation between Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka and COMSATS University Islamabad

v. Memorandum of Understanding between University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa together accredited the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association reconstitution. Both sides highlighted the need to strengthen parliamentary cooperation between two sides.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defense. They noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defence Dialogue has further provided a prospect to expand security sector relations. Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a new $50 million defense credit line facility. The two sides stressed the need for a strengthened partnership to support and coordinate with each other to deal with matters related to security, terrorism, organized crime, drug and narcotic trafficking, and intelligence-sharing.

In his efforts to strengthen sports diplomacy, Prime Minister Imran Khan participated in a shared session with the sports community of Sri Lanka on 24 February 2021. At this event, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Sports and Youth Namal Rajapaksa, in the Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane, stated the commissioning of the “Imran Khan High-Performance Sports Centre” in Colombo.

The Pakistan side declared its decision to provide PKR 52 million to promote sports in Sri Lanka, including through training and equipment.

Both sides stressed the importance of inter-religious dialogue and harmony as a key to promoting cultural diversity, peaceful co-existence, and mutual empathy.

The two sides observed the close cooperation between the two countries at regional and international fora on mutual interest issues. They agreed to strengthen a coordinated approach on such matters further.

Both sides restated their commitment to the principles and intents of the SAARC Charter. They stressed the need for SAARC Member countries to build on convergences for the region’s people’s greater good. Both sides emphasized the need to convene the Charter Based bodies and agreed to take forward the SAARC process for further strengthening regional cooperation to achieve prosperity in the region.

Discussing the regional and global environment developments, the two sides restated their shared commitment to regional peace, security, and stability. Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need for peaceful resolution of unresolved disputes through constructive dialogue in accordance with international legitimacy.

In the context of regional connectivity, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the opportunities presented by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI, for regional economic growth and prosperity.

Discussing the extraordinary challenges postured by Covid – 19, the two sides highlighted the need for combined efforts to deal with the pandemic. Sri Lanka thanked Pakistan for the tremendous assistance extended to the return of stranded Sri Lankans in Pakistan since the Covid pandemic outbreak.

While echoing the new government’s commitment to strengthen the bilateral relations further, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka thanked the government and people of Pakistan for the persistent support extended by Pakistan to defend the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan extended an invitation to the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan at their earliest convenience and thanked Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for the warm cordiality extended to him and his delegation.

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Huge blast on the Afghanistan-Iran border

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Migrants at the IOM Islam Qala Reception Centre. The Centre provided services to thousands of Afghan returnees daily, prior to the catastrophic fire on 13 February. IOM/Nick Bishop

On Saturday 13 February the Islam Qala reception center owned by the IOM was demolished at the border between Afghanistan and Iran, leading to a pause to repatriation service for afghans. This led to a devastating burn. At least 40 people were killed because of this huge blast, while 17 were wounded. Tens of thousands of repatriated Afghans obtained humanitarian relief from the center International Organization of Migration, (IOM) in 2020. None were injured in the fire by IOM workers or migrants returning from Iran.Whatever sparked this explosion was not instantly apparent. The provincial governor of Herat, Wahid Qatali, said the Afghan first responders did not have the means to light the enormous fires and required Iran’s assistance by firefighting aircraft.”We can’t even discuss the victims for the time being,” Qatali told The Associated Press. Emergency crews and Afghan security services moved hundreds of fuel and gas tankers from the region, while an appeal for air-firefighting assistance was made available to the International Resolute Support Mission, quoted by Reuters as quoted by Katali.

Mohammad Rafiq shirzy, spokesperson for the district hospitals of Herat’s Provincial capital and also called Herat, said that more than 500 trucks were carrying natural gas and diesel that have been destroyed by the severity of the fire, and he said that it was impossible for ambulances to reach the injured or to reach the explosion site. Hossein Akhundzadeh, a regional Iranian trade official, told Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) about the explosion of more than 300 coal, diesel, and petrol cars. The flash has not yet been contained, and precise evidence was not provided,”It’s not known whether the drivers were able to escape or not. The blaze has not been contained yet and exact information is not available,”We don’t know whether the driver might escape or not.The Power Supply Ministry Spokesman, Wahidullah Tawhidi, said the fire was continuing after nightfall and that Afghanistan was pressuring Iran to close down its electricity supply. It has been said that the burning of two pylons has disconnected 100 tons of electricity imported into the Herat Province by Iran. He said 60% of Herat, one of Afghanistan’s leading provinces, was powerless.A dangerous route Afghan people often pursue overnight because of fear of gangs of violence, attacks between Herat City and Islam Qalah. Taliban gunmen, on the other hand, travel freely across the area.Afghan government troops assembled defensive positions and aided emergency ambulances and cars from and to the border. According to Iranian State TV, the fire spread to the Irish customs facilities Dogharoon, and first responders, including the fire departments, the Iranian army, and the border guards, managed to extinguish the fire. The natural gas and diesel trucks were sent away from the scene.As part of a national concession exempting Kabul from US sanctions against Iran, the United States permits Afghanistan to import fuel and oil from Iran.

According to a statement from the Aghan organization, on Monday, “IOM anticipates a substantial decline in rates of return through the Islam Qala in the days to come as migrants are now re-routed from Iran into the main border crossing of Milak province of Nimroz, which lies over 1,000 km south-west.They have shown that in 2020, there returned a high number of Afghans.Nick Bishop, program manager of IOM reported in a cross-border return reply that “the initial inspection of reception centers for the return showed significant damage to the roof and walls.”The staff of the Afghan Ministry for Refugees and Returns (MoRR) are relocating people in need here to the IOM transit center in Herat before IOM staff are back, awaiting a full assessment and inspection of the safety situation before IOM staff can resume their work from here. “The organization takes exceptional steps to secure the continuing humanitarian assistance can take place.

Unfortunately, as the fire began all the returning residents, who had already moved to their next location at our reception center, that day.There was a drastic rise in return rates last year, as COVID-19 caused many Afghans residing in neighboring Iran to lose jobs and livelihoods. By 2020, the largest year of return was almost 860,000 illegal Afghan immigrants back from Iran.Approximately 15,000 people cross the Islam Qala border point daily, while nearly 1,500 per day need humanitarian assistance. Approximately 60% of Herat province was helpless as a result of flames, said DABS, an Afghan power supplier.Islam Qala is one of the main ports of Afghanistan that traffic most officially with Iran. Afghanistan has earned concessions from Washington to buy oil and gas from Iran amid the sanctions of the United States.A risky stretch of highway between Herat and Islam Qala, where Afghans barely ride by night for fear of criminal gang attacks. In the area, the Taliban are still free to work.Hope to rapidly repair all damage to the reception facility as soon as possible and continue vital humanitarian services to Afghans returning through this major transit route, but we will require increased support to do so.

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