‘Nishan-e-Haider’ for Bhagat Singh?
Lahore: Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation – an organisation working to prove the legendary freedom fighter’s innocence in court – has demanded the country’s highest gallantry award ‘Nishan-e-Haider’ for the revolutionary.
According to PTI, the organisation has also demanded the authorities to install his statue at Lahore’s Shaadman Chowk where he was hanged 86 years ago.
Singh, who is regarded as one of the most inspiring youth icons, was hanged along with his two comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev by British rulers on March 23, 1931, at the age of 23 in Lahore.
He and two other freedom fighters were hanged after being tried under charges for hatching a conspiracy against the colonial government and allegedly killing British police officer John P Saunders.
The foundation filed a fresh application to Pakistan’s Punjab province government in which it said that Bhagat Singh had sacrificed his life for the cause to liberate the sub-continent.
“Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had offered tribute to the freedom fighter by saying that there has never been such a brave person in the sub-continent like Bhagat Singh,” it said in its application.
“Bhagat Singh is our hero and is entitled to be bestowed upon the greatest medal of gallantry (Nishan-e-Haider) like Major Aziz Bhahti who also wrote on the bravery Bhagat Singh and declared him his ‘hero’ and ideal,” it further said.
‘Nishan-e-Haider’ (which literary means ‘Mark of Lion’) is the highest military award in Pakistan and it is awarded to personnel of the armed forces for their extraordinary courage and bravery.
The foundation also made a fresh demand of naming Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk, asking the Punjab government to take the step without any further delay.
“Those nations that forget their heroes have been removed from the surface of the earth like ‘wrong word’,” it said.
Meanwhile, UN-designated global terrorist Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah is strongly opposing the proposal of renaming Shadman Chowk and had even threatened the civil society members over this matter.
The foundation demanded the government to install a statue of Singh on Shadman Chowk to inspire the hearts of the people of Pakistan and the world as a symbol of freedom fighter.
“This will show that Pakistanis do not make any distinction on the basis of colour, creed, race or religion.”
The foundation chairman, Advocate Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, said that it would rigorously pursue this matter and press the government to accept its just demand.
He said the government should have no issue in acceptance of these demands that will reflect good on it (government) as well.
Qureshi has also been pursuing a case in the Lahore High Court to reopen the case of Singh and his two comrades who were hanged in 931. It is pending in the court.
Taliban resumes peace talks with US envoy in Qatar
Islamabad :The Taliban and the United States resumed talks in Doha, Qatar with an aim to end the stalemate over the participation of Afghan government in the negotiations for a political settlement of the conflict.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman in a statement said, “Following American acceptance of the agenda of ending invasion of Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the future, talks with American representatives took place today in Doha.”
Doha meeting happened as the Taliban fighters attacked an Afghan intelligence agency — National Directorate of Security — installation in Maidan Shahr, Kabul, killing and wounding dozens of security personnel.
The two sides — US and Taliban — had last met in December 2018 in Abu Dhabi in a meeting facilitated by Pakistan and observed by Saudi Arabia and UAE. It had been agreed at the meeting that the engagement process would be continued. But, arranging the next round of talks became difficult due to the Taliban’s inflexibility over negotiating with the Afghan government. The Taliban have, meanwhile, been insisting that US should instead withdraw its forces and release Taliban prisoners.
There was no word from the US side on the Taliban claim after the latest meeting in Doha that US had agreed to discuss withdrawal plans.
Recently, the Afghan Taliban while rejecting media reports of possible talks with the US in Islamabad and reiterated that they will not deal directly with the Afghan Government.
11 die as ships with Indian, Turkish crews catch fire in Kerch Strait
Moscow:Two ships carrying Indian, Turkish and Libyan crew members had caught fire in the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from Russia, killing at least 11 people, media reports said on Tuesday.
The fire broke out off Russia’s territorial waters. Both vessels were flying Tanzanian flags. One of them was a liquefied natural gas carrier and the other a tanker. The fire broke out as the two ships were transferring fuel from one to the other.
One of the ships, the Candy, had a 17-member crew–nine Turkish citizens and eight Indian nationals.
The other, the Maestro, had a 15-member crew–seven Turkish nationals, seven Indian citizens and an intern from Libya, Russian news agency Tass quoted maritime authority as saying.
At least 11 sailors had died, Russian Maritime Agency was quoted by RT news, a Russian television network.
“Presumably, an explosion occurred (on one of the vessels). Then the fire spread to another vessel. A rescue tug is en route,” said a spokesman for the Russian Maritime Agency.
Some three dozen sailors managed to escape the burning ships by jumping off the vessels.
Twelve people have so far been rescued from the sea. Nine sailors were still listed as missing, the spokesperson said.
Severe weather conditions at sea had prevented rescue ships from taking victims to the shore for medical treatment, the report added.
The Kerch Strait is a key waterway that holds strategic importance for both Russia and Ukraine.
It is an important economic lifeline for Ukraine that allows ships leaving the port city of Mariupol to access the Black Sea.
It’s also the closest point of access for Russia to Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014. A Russian-built bridge over the Kerch Strait opened in May last year. PTI
Pak shares Kartarpur draft pact, calls India ‘urgently’ to finalise deal
Lahore/New Delhi: Pakistan said it has shared a draft agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor with India and invited New Delhi to “urgently” send a delegation to Islamabad to “negotiate and finalise” the proposal.
The proposed agreement aims at facilitating travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Darbar Sahib Kartarpur Gurudwara in Narowal, nearly 4 km away from Gurdaspur border on the Indian side.
“The draft agreement between the two governments has been shared with New Delhi through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.
The move is in line with Pakistan’s policy of promoting inter-faith harmony and religious tolerance and Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of a peaceful neighbourhood, he added.
Pakistan has appointed Director-General (South Asia and SAARC) as the focal person on its side and requested India to designate its focal person soon.
Pakistan also invited India to “urgently send a delegation to Islamabad to negotiate and finalise the agreement”, Faisal said.
He also tweeted, “Continuing with PM Imran Khan’s initiative, Pakistan, today, shared the proposed draft agreement on Kartarpur Corridor with India. Indian delegation invited to visit Islamabad for an expedited conclusion of the agreement. Keeping promises – Work in progress on Kartarpur Corridor on Pakistan side.”
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later on November 28, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor at Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.
The decision to build the corridor – from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border – was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.
The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.
The corridor was a long-pending demand of the Sikh community. Pakistan had committed to open the corridor in November on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.