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Indian media trying to politicise Kartarpur: Imran Khan

Agencies

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Islamabad, Dec 6: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the federal cabinet on Thursday, termed it unfortunate that Indian media has given Pakistan’s positive gesture of opening the Kartarpur border a “political colour”.

“Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur [border opening] a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage […] This is not true. We did it because it is part of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” Khan said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” he added.

“The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort [to open the Kartarpur border]. It is to them what Madinah is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” he added.

He hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On November 28, Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

He, however, regretted that the initiative was negatively presented in India, but hoped that India will “positively respond to this goodwill gesture”.

Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year the highest in history. (Agencies)

 

‘Kashmir issue won’t be put on back burner’

Press Trust of India

Islamabad, Dec 6: Pakistan said Thursday that the “core issue” of Kashmir with India will not be put on the back burner after Islamabad opened the Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that the corridor would be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.

On November 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Faisal said that the Kashmir issue will not be put on the back burner due to the Kartarpur border opening.

“With regards to Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced,” he said.

“The decision of opening of the Kartarpur corridor was made in good faith and to facilitate the Sikh community to visit their one of the holiest places,” he said, adding it will not impact the Kashmir issue.

On November 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India.

She said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.

Faisal said the Kashmir issue would be resolved according to UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

He said that the bilateral dialogue can move forward only if India was ready for it.

“We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India’s reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan’s proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalisation of relations between the two countries,” Faisal said.

He said that Prime Minister Khan in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined a comprehensive way forward for resolving all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen, people-to-people contacts, trade and religious tourism.

“Regrettably, India agreed to our proposal one day, only to renege on their commitment the next day,” he said.

Faisal said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Pakistan that the map shown by China Global Television Network portrays Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and was therefore shown in white, while the maps of Pakistan and India were in brown.

“This map is in accordance with the approved maps used by the Chinese government and the United Nations. They further said that their position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed,” the FO spokesperson said.

On the issue of US President Donald Trump’s letter to Prime Minister Khan seeking assistance on the Afghan issue, he said that it vindicates Pakistan’s considered position that it can only be solved through negotiations.

“Pakistan has always advocated political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan,” he said, asserting Pakistan’ commitment to play a facilitative role in bringing peace in the neighbouring country.

He also termed the letter as a good omen for melting the ice in relations with the US that could lead to the beginning of meaningful interactions.


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Lead Stories

Assembly, Parl polls to be held together possibly in May

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Election Commission of India is preparing to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir earlier next year, while it has initiated the process for the polls.

According to a letter dispatched by the Chief Electoral Officer—a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Monitor—the district election officers have been directed to send a proposal of appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The letter has been sent following the Election Commission of India sought the details about the officials.

An official associated with the CEO said they have been told that the Assembly polls would be clubbed with Lok Sabha.

“The elections may be held in March or in April,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.

The official said the poll body has directed them to start preparations for the polls.

“The security is one of the issues. On the pattern of urban local bodies and Panchayat polls, the Assembly and Parliament elections will be held in a phased manner,” the official said.

“When forces are deployed for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, it would be convenient for election authorities to hold the Assembly polls simultaneously,” the official said.

Mentioning a Supreme Court direction, the official said the outer limit for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months.

National Conference has demanded for joint Assembly and Parliament polls, following the dissolution of the House.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term.

The term of the prematurely terminated government was to end on March 16, 2021.

The Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly shortly after the People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of NC and Congress.

She cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House.

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Militants kill 4 cops, flee with rifles in Shopian

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Four J&K policemen were killed after militants attacked a police post in Zainapora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.

A police official said a group of militants opened fire at the police post, resulting in the on spot death of three security guards and injuries to another at Zainapora.

The injured cop was taken to a local hospital where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar. However, he succumbed on way to Srinagar, said the official.

The policemen were inside their guard room when the militants fired at them anddecamped with their service rifles.

The slain cops were identified as Constable Anees Ahmad (Belt No. 480/SPN), resident of Kulgam, selection grade constable Abdul Majid (193/SPN), resident of Ganderbal, Constable Mehraj-ud-din (477/SPN), resident of Hajin Bandipora and constable Hameedullah (860/SPN), resident of Anantnag.

Majid was the fourth one to die in the attack.

The area was soon cordoned off and a search operation was launched.

Media reports quoting police sources said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants led by former police officer Adil Bashir, who left the force after stealing eight rifles in October, were believed to be involved in the attack.

JeM militant outfit claimed the responsibility of the attack.

A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to media, said: “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”

Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.

Later in the day, the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops took place in District Police Lines, Shopian.

“Civil and Police Officers including Munir Ahmed Khan, ADGP (Security/Law & Order/HG), IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani, DIG SKR Amit Kumar laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cops “who made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” said a police spokesperson.

“Among others who paid floral tributes including SP Shopian, DC Shopian, officers and jawans of the district and officers from other forces,” the spokesman added.

Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen.

In a message Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.

On Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “I strongly condemn the attack on the police post in Shopian &condole the deaths of three police personnel in the line of duty. I pray for their souls & for the speedy recovery of those injured in this attack (sic)”.

Peoples Conference (PC) chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone called the attack in Shopian another “mindless act of violence”.

Sajad tweeted: “The attack in Shopian on police personnel is yet another mindless act of violence. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty.”

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BJP shaken, Congress break in

Agencies

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New Delhi, Dec 11: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday suffered heavy election defeats in two states, with another on a knife edge, in a bruising day of results that exposed the party’s vulnerability less than six months before the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ending its prolonged electoral reversals, a reinvigorated Congress produced a resilient comeback as it is on course to oust the BJP to form its governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, is witnessing a tantalisingly close fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

The governing BJP vote collapsed by 17 percentage points in Rajasthan state and by at least 12 points in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the Hindi heartland where Indian governments are traditionally made or broken.

Those losses, as well as the revival of a Congress party frequently written off in the past five years, had analysts revising their predictions for next year’s national polls, which Modi had been expected to win in a cakewalk.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), on the other hand, secured a thumping majority in Telangana while MNF has defeated Congress in the latter’s last bastions in Northeast.

TRS chief K ChandrashekarRao’s gamble for early polls paid rich dividends with the ruling party winning 57 seats and leading in 30 of the 119 constituencies. The Congress-TDP alliance, ‘Prajakutami’, has won 14 seats and is leading in 7, according to the Election Commission.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, KCR said TRS would play a crucial role in the national political arena. “We dedicate this victory to the people of Telangana. This is a positive vote for us. We are going to play a very crucial role in national politics. We will give a new definition to the national political scenario” he said. Rao, who is set to return as CM for a second term, further said, “Today’s results…Telangana has shown the way to the whole nation. Today, Telangana stands (as) a non-Congress, non-BJP state.”

The outcome of the elections is significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats, of which the BJP grabbed 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its high.

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