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Kashmir Solidarity Day Observed in New York

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“We applaud the widespread and enthusiastic support in the United States and around the world for the Kashmiri self‑determination cause on this Solidarity Day, a commemoration called by Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman,  All Parties Hurriyet Conference. The participation of Pakistani American community in highlighting the issue of Kashmir at the international level couldn’t be forgotten by the people of Kashmir. And they deserve the gratitude and appreciation of the people of Kashmir, who are literally under siege since August 5, 2019.

The unflinching resistance by the people of Kashmir is a living proof that they are not going to compromise, far less abandon, their demand for Aazadi (freedom) which is their birthright and for which they have paid a price in blood and suffering which has not been exacted from any other people of the South Asian subcontinent,” said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. Dr. Fai was speaking at a Solidarity day event, organized by All Pakistani American Council, (APAC).

Fai added, “Kashmir continues to bleed. We see the horrendous brutality, unstopped and unpunished barbarities unleashed against the defenseless population. A deliberate, systematic and officially sanctioned massive campaign of brutal oppression launched against the people of Kashmir is still on the increase. There is a deliberate targeting of youth in flimsy hopes to crush a legitimate and popular uprising against occupation. The irony is that the impunity that is being granted to the violator of human rights is not in the context of a new dispute. It is being allowed to arise and to persist in a territory which, under international law, is not part of any member state of the United Nations and whose status is yet to be determined through a free and impartial plebiscite under supervision and control of the United Nations.”

Fai quoted Srinagar based NGO, The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), “ Post abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian Parliament, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has been in a state of siege and lockdown; the lockdown has egregiously affected the daily lives of the people living in the valley. Fai also quoted Human Rights Watch, which issued a report on January 14, 2020, “The Indian government’s actions in Kashmir have led to loss of livelihood and access to education. The repression resulted in international criticism including in the United States’ Congress, the European Parliament, and the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

He said Kashmiris want peace but peace with dignity and honor. No country whatsoever has the right to decide the fate of Kashmir saying that it were the people of Kashmir who were granted the right to determine the political future. 

 The United Nations has the opportunity to affect a positive resolution to the conflict and resulting humanitarian situation by promoting the conditions of the original mandate. It is only through international recognition and inclusive representations that a genuine and lasting peace can ensue. The risks of maintaining the status quo – for Kashmir, South Asia and the world – are too great to ignore, Fai added.

Dr. Fai urged the Trump administration to place Kashmir on its radar screen, because of the American and international consensus that Kashmir pinched between nuclear-capable India and Pakistan is the most dangerous place on the planet.  Now is no time for complacency or temporizing.  The nuclear clock is moving forward, not backward. And the chilling suffering and misery of the Kashmiri people continues every day a peaceful resolution is deferred.

Senator Captain Khalid Shaheen said that Pakistan has always stood by the side of Kashmir’s demand for a plebiscite, because they felt cheated when India invaded Kashmir.  According to agreements then in place in 1947,  majority Muslim provinces within British India would have joined the new state of Pakistan while those primarily Hindu would have stayed in what remained of India.  Kashmir was very solidly Muslim with only a small minority of Hindu and other communal groupings, and a plebiscite would have determined whether or not Kashmir would choose to join Pakistan instead of India. For various reasons, that never happened, and Pakistan has been upset ever since.

He said the killings of innocent civilians in Indian occupied Kashmir must shake the conscience of all peace loving people. He condemned the efforts to muzzle the press and further expressed need to restore the right to  assemble and freedom of expression in Indian occupied Kashmir

We stand in solidarity with the people of the occupied Kashmiris. We condemn in the strongest terms the ban on Internet, social media and restrictions on freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly, said Senator Shaheen.

Sardar Sawar Kahn, former advisor to the prime minister of Azad Kashmir said that it was our duty to support the people of Kashmir who are struggling for their right to self-determination. Our objective is to draw the attention of the world powers to the situation in Kashmir and to exert pressure on the government of India and to resolve dispute over Kashmir  and help stop human right violations in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Sardar Sawar said that the way the Kashmiri youth is confronting the Indian forces and turning the entire Kashmiri movement into a peaceful resistance not only impresses the people of Jammu and Kashmiri but also international community. He added that today the mantle of the freedom struggle of Kashmir has been successfully passed on to the younger generation and they are resolute and determined to take it to its logical conclusion.

Nothing better can be said about human rights there.  Every human rights group that has examined the convulsed scene in Kashmir has reported harrowing human rights violations, including tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, plunder, arbitrary arrests, and ruthless suppression of free speech and press, Sardar Sawar added.

Sardar Amerjit Singh Ji, leader of Khalistan Affairs Center in the United States voiced deep regret over betrayal of Indian Government  of her high-minded ideals in Kashmir that marked its entry into the family of nations after long years under the British raj: shocking human rights violations and contempt for international law and binding self-determination resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. He urged the community of nations to seize this opportunity to promote an initiative towards bringing about conditions necessary for settlement of the Kashmir dispute. 

Sardar Amerjit Singh Ji  urged the United States to resist the temptation to jettison its traditional foreign policy championing democracy and human rights in the case of Kashmir and Punjab for in the name of big power politics or economic opportunities in India.  Down that road lies a troublesome blow to international law and amity.

Dr. Singh informed the audience that Sikhs all over the world are waiting for November 2020 when they will participate in the referendum to decide the future of Khalistan.

Sheikh Touqeer Haq of APAC said that the resolution of Kashmir issue could have enabled both Pakistan and India to spend their finite resources more on the development of their people rather than on defense expenditure. He expressed his admiration to the Pakistani and Kashmiri American community for being the advocates of peace in the United States for the cause of Kashmir. He said that it is indubitable that the Indian army has committed thousands of human rights violations in Kashmir.

He expressed his unconditional moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir for a just and peaceful solution to the long-standing dispute. He said that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Kashmiri brethren. He said that defying all odds, the brave desire and aspirations of the Kashmiris for liberty and justice remain strong forever.

Mr. Muhammad Hussain, Co-Chairman of APAC said, “An iron-fisted military rule has prevailed in Kashmir, featuring a staggering 900,000 soldiers and paramilitary personnel.  Human rights atrocities against non-combatants are commonplace.  He discounted the United Nations hopes that the dispute could be settled through bilateral peaceful talks between India and Pakistan. Bilateral talks and negotiations over Kashmir between parties have proven sterile for 72 years, and nothing in that dismal equation has changed.”

He said that It is a purely peoples movement inspired from within which aims at regaining the freedom and economic justice that the foreign occupation has usurped. The community of nations must seize this opportunity to promote an initiative towards bringing about conditions necessary for settlement of the Kashmir dispute. 

Sardar Taj Khan said the people of Kashmir have suffered long and needlessly because of this brutal conflict. They demand and they deserve peace. Peace in the region of South Asia remains elusive because of the Kashmir dispute. The inalienable right to self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Charter and promised to the people of Kashmir by the international community, continues to be denied. He said that the whole world knows the magnitude of carnages committed by Indian army in Kashmir but they have yet to utter a word of condemnation.

Mr. Roed Dar of PMLN said that it is gravely sinful for any nation to remain silent or passive over frightful human rights violations anywhere in the world, including Kashmir. He underlined that the way to a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue lies in tripartite negotiations between India, Pakistan and the All Parties Hurriyet Conference. He said that it was absolutely necessary to have third party mediation because history shows that bilateral arrangements have never worked out, as India is always insincere.

Mr. Khalid Awan of PPP said that India’s war crimes in Kashmir are notorious.  Soldiers kill civilians with impunity. Indeed, Indian law grants virtual legal immunity to any type of war crime or crime against humanity perpetrated in Kashmir.

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Col. Maqbool Malik said that Kashmir’s painful situation is a rebuke to the world powers for their passivity. The world powers need to know that unless India accepts the realities known to the entire world outside the dispute will fester; and that any solution must satisfy democratic principles, the rule of law, and security for every inhabitant of Kashmir. He  emphasized that the brutalities of Indian government cannot and should not go unnoticed. It is the responsibility of the Kashmiri diaspora to be the voice of voiceless people in the corridors of powers all over the world.

Mr. James Cyprian, the Secretary General of Pakistan Christian Association of North America said that we fail to understand why world powers do not want the Kashmiri participation in the talks when the right to choose the destiny of 23 million people was given by the UN Security Council to the inhabitants of the territory and not to the leadership in New Delhi or Islamabad. Any attempt to strike a deal between any two parties without associating the third, will always lead us to a barren land. So, the future negotiations must be tripartite between all parties concerned.”

Mr. Vakil Ansari said Kashmir being a nuclear flash point should be a major interest of the world powers to prevent this dispute from exploding into a conflict which can be catastrophic for a large proportion of the human race. Yet, ever since the start of the popular uprising in 1990 against alien military occupation, United States has remained unmoved by the killings of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Kashmir.

Mr. Arshad Khan said that we are not asking military intervention. Neither are we asking for rugged economic sanctions. We are asking only that the United States exercise its high international bully pulpit to reproach or condemn India for its chilling human rights record in Kashmir as part of a campaign of moral suasion and transparency in the disputed territory.

Mr. Khurram Khan, the Co-Chairman of APAC enumerated the prevailing draconian laws, like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which has given the total impunity to the Indian army in Kashmir. An Indian soldier can shoot to kill at will and he will not be accountable to any body or any agency for any prosecution. He added that the Hurriyat leaders have always impressed upon the people of Kashmir to express their dissent in a peaceful manner. The presence of millions of people on the streets of Kashmir cannot be termed as extremists or terrorist. The massive peaceful demonstration has been reflection of the indigenous nature of the Kashmiri resistance movement.

Young human rights activist, Ms. Fatima Zulqurnain Khan said that the world powers need to intervene in setting a stage for the resolution of Kashmir. She said that the world powers do not need to take side of either India or Pakistan. However, as the members of humanity, we need to take side of justice and freedom. We as humans need to be the voice of voiceless.

Mr. Zameer Khan said that vandalism is used to terrorize Kashmiris.  Mobs of soldiers routinely go through neighborhoods breaking windows with large stones, upending autos and motorcycles, setting fire to trucks, and anything else left vulnerable to their attack.  Occasionally they will shoot at the people inside, and many have been killed or injured with buckshot right in their own homes.  Children and housewives have frequently been victims.

Ms. Shabana said that the truth is that the people of Kashmir themselves have always been hostile to the presence of India’s troops on their soil and have resisted to such oppression, and over hundred thousand Kashmiris have died within the past 30 years alone. Long-standing agreements at the United Nations in place have in fact afforded the Kashmiri people the right to determine their own destiny.

Others who spoke included: Ms. Amna Habib, Sardar Hikmat Singh, Sardar Mehmood, Sher Khan, Haji Shari Khan and others.

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The Right-Wing Politics in United States & The Capitol Hill Mayhem

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The radicalized right-wing politics during the Trump Administration is responsible for creating severe unrest in the US, and subsequently, in the global community. There is a dire need to change the political structure in the US to safeguard the true spirit of democracy.

The US witnessed one of the tumultuous transitions of power as the republicans shook the very roots of a model democracy in the US after the Capitol Hill mayhem.

Trump administration during the four-year Presidential Term has been worst on all fronts -be it Internal Policy, Health Policy, unemployment, Governance, Foreign Policy, security and Trade policy.

Trump, being afraid of defeat resorted to inciting voters, supporters and workers to attack Capitol Hill, and his racial tirade and overtures drowned him in last year’s most trumpeted Presidential Elections when the country appeared divided between the rightist and leftists.

Trump and his attack on democracy

The elections witnessed the bloodshed, torture, violence and sheer violation of legislative laws that warranted immediate legal action. From his election to the Presidential slot, Trump behaved like an amateur.

He ran the political affairs as a personal business rather than a statesman. He, being an actor, took the job as a mere role but the presidency demands prudence and sensible decisions to avoid any worst repercussions.

Trump’s aggressive response to matters of importance further exacerbated the situation, especially with China and Iran.

The leftists or change agents wanted a people-friendly government where the rights of people should be protected regardless of their political affiliation or association, caste, colour, creed, religion, ethnicity.

For the years, US democracy has been a model for many developing countries owing to its non-radicalized and people-friendly Governments.

All the democratic forces were stunned over the unfortunate incident of  Capitol Hill mayhem and were shocked that even developed nations like America can be enthralled, enticed and incited to the level that will shake the very roots of  Democracy i.e  Capitol Hill.

The world responded with regrets that it was unfortunate that Trumpism radicalized supporters to the extent that they were instigated and incited to influence the Presidential Elections results so that Biden’s Victory may not be validated.

America in disgrace

The world might have moved to tears when Trump supporters and workers ransacked Capitol Hill and brought disgrace for America around the world.

All experts, analysts and pro-democracy leaders condemned such act since it was against the norms of civilized nations of the world.

All the mayhem that stormed the US was orchestrated and masterminded by a Business Tycoon, Actor turned Politician Donald Trump who already lost his credibility for his election to the office of President since he was facing rigging and horse-trading charges in his first term that led to his impeachment Trial but luckily he was set free twice from impeachment during his presidency.

Furthermore, his complete failure to tackle the issue of pandemic also contributed to his humiliating defeat since he ridiculed the pandemic by terming it China Virus owing to trade war with China.

Later, when the pandemic went out of control, he took initiative but it was too late to restrict the covid-19 infections since the US had the highest ratio of infections in the world.

Diplomatic relations ruined by Trumpism

Trump escalated the situation with Iran by killing General Qassem Suleimani in Iraq. Later, Iran attacked American Military bases in Iraq but there were no causalities reported for the incident. Iran also shot down a passenger plane by mistake and all passengers were killed.

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Trump’s diplomatic relations with China worsened due to the Trade war. American relations with North Korea did not improve though both Trump and KIM met in Singapore to reach a possible peace agreement.

His amnesty or pardon for his friends also came under heavy criticism since he was afraid that they might be prosecuted as his term ended.

His blunders contributed a lot to his worst defeat though, being stubborn did not accept defeat but later, Supreme Court rejected his claims of any rigging in elections.

Republicans being a right-wing party radicalized the political workers and community to that extent that people violated law without any fear as they enjoyed the support from the white house.

The right-wing politics of Donald trump sowed the seeds of hatred and hostility that will have serious repercussions in the long run as long as the Trumpism pandemic exists among the people.

His failure to implement a deal of the century plan in the Middle East that was aimed merely on supporting Israel by giving a greater share of settlements. The deal came to a logical end as it was heavily criticized and Palestinians called it to suicide if accepted.

Despite signing the deal with the Afghan Taliban with the help of Pakistan to end 20 years longest war on terror and paving the way for US troops’ withdrawal, the law and order situation has not improved so far as the peace dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and Government yet to take place.

Biden as a saviour

Right-wing politicians led by Trumps have serious implications that will ultimately create problems for Biden to cope with during his presidency.

Biden has to overhaul the whole system to restore the Trust and reputation in the world and strengthen the US through unity by abolishing the discriminatory approach.

The Selection of an Afro-American lady as Vice President has already laid the foundation to put the country on right track and building the trust of all the communities whether voted for him or not as he called himself the president of all Americans rather than of those who voted and supported him during his victory speech.

The Vote is the great tool of people to bring in the choice of leadership as it is the constitutional right of every American and can be exercised on free will without any pressure

The Afro-American community still recalls the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by Police, supported Joe Biden after he chose Kamala Harris as Vice President candidate.

On the other hand, though Trump was given clean chit in impeachment since he was charged with inciting the supporters to attack Capitol Hill that will be marked as a black day in American history, yet he has sown the seeds of intolerance, political victimization and radicalizing the peaceful Americans.

This aspect of populist or right-wing politics always plagues the peaceful and vibrant societies in a developed nation like the US, UK, France and Germany.

Trump promoted racism through his flowery speech that incited and enthralled mob violence to exert pressure through street power as practised in Asian states such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Japan.

How will Biden make America ‘great’ again?

Political analysts term Trump as an existential threat for Biden as he still enjoys the second largest votes in key states and may create problems especially the legislation for key issues.

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Biden will have to fix diplomatic relations with all nations of the world especially Tehran and Beijing as Former President Donald Trump escalated the diplomatic relations with these countries with his insensible and aggressive attitude.

He will have to take immediate steps to clear the mess that was stalled by Trump’s radicalized and extremist approach to right-wing Politics whose price is being paid by citizens through isolation and hatred.

Biden and Kamala Harris will have to chalk out such policies that deal with communities with equality and justice and especially deal with the pandemic situation through vaccination drive to minimize the covid-19 infections. The causalities have surpassed thousands whereas long lockdowns have created unemployment and an economic crisis impacting many industries.

They need to sit with health experts and Economists to get the country out of the crisis. It will be better to take help from the nations that managed to defeat this pandemic with SOPs and measures.

Beyond ego, the US may seek help from Russia, China, Singapore and the UK to win against the pandemic situation, though the ratio of the infections dropped worldwide as the cold winter departs.

Joe Biden will have to support Kashmiris against the unilateral move of India as he had promised in the election campaign.

He should play his role for the Middle East peace plan of the two-state solution so that Palestinians may have a state as per their wishes and the map they have in mind.

It was the sensible decision from him that troops’ withdrawal option was postponed, given the critical situation in Afghanistan. Rather, he should not jeopardize or sabotage the peace deal with the Taliban.

Biden should engage person like Zalmay Khalilzad to strengthen the dialogue process between the Afghan Taliban and other stakeholders including the existing Government of Ashraf Ghani so that peace could be restored as it will benefit all the countries and play a pivotal role in regional stability and prosperity.

The pandemic has united the world as human conscience has roused again.

Republicans and Democrats

Finally, Democrats have always saved America and promoted justice, equality and opened doors for the world for immigration but Trump wreaked havoc with all the social norms and promoted intolerance, racism and inequality that shook the very roots of the country and gave birth to happenings of Capitol Hill and distrust on the electoral system.

Biden Administration is expected and mandated by the masses to clear that mess and pave the way for his second term if he succeeds to bring change to the country.

Right-wing politics has its pros and cons but the version introduced by Republicans radicalized the whole system and divided the country even in times of emergency.

Populist leaders all around the world have impacted various governments, especially in the Asian States as they are elected on popular vote.

The version introduced by Trump may give birth to the dissent voices as left-wing whose critique may be beyond rectification whereas the ethnic divide, will promote separatism as happened in the UK, Spain, Russia and the Subcontinent when people’s rights were compromised and the freedom of expression was annulled.

The US cannot afford further isolation and division of communities on the basis of ethnicity, colour or radical thoughts since it has already paid the price during the Trump regime.

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The Development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management: SECP Chairman Amir Khan

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Islamabad : SECP Chairman, Aamir Khan emphasized that in these challenging times the development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management, achieved through quintessential pillars of liquidity-tapped through private capital and technology embracement. Khan was addressing the Non-Bank Microfinance Companies Stakeholders Forum organized by SECP to devise a way forward and collaborate strategic response to cope the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

The SECP Chairman Amir Khan, along with Commissioner Specialized Companies Division, Farrukh Sabzwari chaired the session. Representatives of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Limited (PMIC), Karandaaz Pakistan and multilateral donor agencies including the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Department for International Development (DFID) attended the session.

 The Chairman SECP advised NBMFCs to go far product diversification to insurance solutions and saving products and build capacity of their workforce to attain business development and operational efficiency. He endorsed formation of a working group consisting of nominees from SECP, PMN, PMIC and NBMFCs to further analyze the situation. The working group will also take up the matters with relevant forums including ministry of finance, SBP and multilateral donor agencies for possible solutions.

Khan expressed SECP’s firm commitment to providing all possible support to industry not only during the current pandemic times but also in developing the industry on a strong footing. SECP Commissioner, Sabzwari highlighted the measures taken by SECP to provide relief and flexibility to the NBMFCs and their wholesale lender in managing funding requirements. He also talked about SECP’s advice to NBMFCs to defer and reschedule borrower loans.

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Participants acknowledged SECP’s timely intervention to provide regulatory relief to NBMFCs in managing their credit lines and funding requirements. However, industry representatives expressed their concerns on potential defaults by borrower and liquidity crunch that may lead to capital crisis in the industry.

They raised the need of new money injection into the industry through collaborative efforts of microfinance regulators and the government. Representatives of international donor agencies attending the Forum expressed their resolve to extend fullest possible support to Pakistan’s microfinance sector.    

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Gov’t releases Rs 533.33 billion for various development projects so far

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Islamabad: The federal government has so far authorized release of Rs 533.33 billion for various ongoing and new social sector uplift projects under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20, as against the total allocation of Rs 701 billion.

Under its development programme, the government has released an amount of Rs 230.3 billion for federal ministries, Rs 175.65 billion for corporations and Rs 43.46 billion for special areas, according to a latest data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.

Out of these allocations, the government released Rs 38.5 billion for security enhancement in the country for which the government had allocated Rs 53 billion during the year 2019-20.

An amount of Rs 81.37 billion has also been released for the blocks managed by finance division under the government’s 10 years development programme.

Similarly, for Higher Education Commission, the government released an amount of Rs 27.07 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 29 billion while Rs 301.47 million were released for Pakistan Nuclear Energy Authority for which the government had allocated Rs 301.48 million in the development budget.

For National Highway Authority, the government released Rs154.94 billion. Under annual development agenda, the government also released Rs 10.7 billion for Railways Division out of total allocation of Rs16 billion, Rs 7.7 billion for Interior Division, and Rs 8.38 billion for National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Division.

Revenue Division received Rs 4.3 billion whereas the Cabinet Division also received Rs 30.18 billion for which an amount of Rs 39.986 billion has been allocated for the year 2019-20.

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The government also released Rs 26.9 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) block and other projects out of its allocations of Rs 27.26 billion and Rs 16.54 billion for Gilgit Baltistan (Block and other projects).

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