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Hinduism being masqueraded as secularism in India, says AJK president

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MUZAFFARABAD:

Sardar Masood Khan, the president Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), has said that after grudgingly accepting the independence of Pakistan, India adopted a secular doctrine, an insincere attempt to hide prevalent Hindu nationalism under the guise of secularism.

He made these remarks while addressing two separate web-conferences organised by the Institute of Policy Studies on the topic of “India: Past, Present & Future: Perceptions of the Muslim World”; and by the Pakistan High Commission UK on the topic “Seeking Justice for Kashmiri Victims of Sexual Violence and Physical Torture, and Widows”.

Speaking at the IPS session – which was attended by leading international experts from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nigeria – the president said Hindu fascists romanticise an imaginary state of “Akhand Baharat” that they claim to have existed before the arrival of Muslim rulers in the sub-continent. This notion, he said, is not only unsubstantiated by history, it is also counterintuitive.

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Referring to the faux secularism adopted by India, the AJK president said that over the decades, this glue of secularism had has come off and the real face of India’s political masters has been exposed. “Not long after independence, on 27 October 1947, India began working on its imperialistic agenda, and invaded the Jammu and Kashmir State. Driven by its Hindu-extremist policy, India has carried on with this agenda over the years,” he said.

Masood Khan said that lawmakers and the leadership of BJP, the RSS and their affiliates have publicly declared that they would do away with Muslims from within India. This, he said, has caught the attention of Hindu zealots from across India which has consequently impacted the larger political landscape of the neighbouring country.

This BJP-RSS nexus has waged three wars in the region; one against its minorities inside its own borders, the second one against Kashmiris in the occupied territory of Kashmir and the third one against all its neighbouring countries. “Considering Pakistan as enemy number one, they have threatened to wipe off Pakistan from the face of the earth by the use of nuclear weapons,” he informed.

The AJK president said that India’s ambition of becoming a colonial and imperial power in the region has led it to using the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh for sabotaging the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It has also formed a four-member alliance QUAD – comprising of India, USA, Japan and Australia – to oppose the BRI and, especially, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“India is the biggest barrier for progress in the region. SAARC has been struggling for decades and that too because India has been standing in the way of economic integration as it wants to establish its hegemony in South Asia,” said the president.

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Speaking about the situation in IOJ&K, he said that India is practicing the policy of lebensraum by reoccupying the State of Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcating it and now bringing it under the direct rule of Delhi. He compared the new domicile rules introduced in the occupied valley, to the policy followed by Nazi Germany against the Jews, based initially on economic strangulation, followed by demonisation and marginalisation and finally physical extermination.

The president apprised that in IOJ&K political leaders have been incarcerated, the youth are being killed and tortured in jails all over Occupied Kashmir and northern India. He added that 13,000 Kashmiri boys have been abducted and kept in prison houses where they are being subjected to torture and brainwashing. Bipin Rawat, India’s Chief of Defence Staff, has said that these boys (some as young as 10 years old) are more dangerous than a pellet-firing shotgun because they raise the slogan of Azadi (freedom) and self-determination, he said.

The AJK president said that members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should start a boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against India, while the corporate sector of these countries should be discouraged to invest in India as they are committing human rights violations against Kashmiris and Muslims of India.

“Start by banning the import of non-halal meat into OIC countries and the formation of a Kashmir Humanitarian Fund with the help of the Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Solidarity Fund.”

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He also suggested an international civil society movement be mobilised to delegitimise Hindutva and campaign to declare RSS a terrorist organisation. “The biggest and the most trained terrorist organisation in the world is the RSS. They have openly declared to target Muslims not only in South Asia but all over the world”, he added.

Appreciating the supportive role of the OIC, Masood Khan appealed to the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council to raise their voice against Kashmir and call out the egregious human rights violations taking place in IOJ&K.

Speaking at the web-conference hosted by Pakistan High Commission, the president appealed to powerful nations to make moral and legal choices for bringing India to justice and helping dismantle this machine of torture in IOJ&K. “Silence is a crime when such torture is openly taking place in any part of the world”, he said.

He added that 25,000 Hindus from all over India have been given domiciles of IOJ&K; and in the same manner, in which Muslim Indians have become second class citizens, Kashmiris have to run from pillar to post just to prove that they are state subjects. “If we don’t stop this now, IOJ&K won’t be a recognisable entity like it is today. Two million Hindus will be brought in over the coming years” he said.

The AJK president said that India’s non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council will lead to three setbacks in the Council. Firstly, it will try to delete the agenda from the UNSC calendar; secondly, they would make efforts to stop us from holding informal meetings on Kashmir; and thirdly, they will imperil funding of the mandate of the UNMOGIP. “As a permanent member of the UNSC, the United Kingdom can stop this and create a balance in the UNSC,” said the president while speaking to his audience.

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He urged the British citizenry and its civil society to lead the campaign of letter writing and awareness-raising on Kashmir in the international realm.

He also thanked MP Steve Baker for his active and vocal role in raising his voice for the Kashmir people by authoring a letter. He urged him to use his clout with 10 Downing Street and the FCO to mobilise the UK towards Kashmir advocacy in both the British Parliament and the UNSC.

The web-conference hosted by the Pakistan High Commission London was attended by Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK Nafees Zakaria, MP Afzal Khan, MP Naz Shah, MP Steve Baker, MP Tony Lloyd, MP, Imran Hussain, MP Khalid Mahmood, Lord Qurban Hussain, Councillor Aasim Rashid, Mr Muzammil  Ayub Thakur, Chairman JKSDMI Raja Najabat Hussain, President Tahreek-e-Kashmir UK Fahim Kiyani, Dr Nazir GIllani, Syed Ali Raza, Shaista Safi and other leading members of the civil society.



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Pakistan

SHC’s stay on executive committee orders irks PBC

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ISLAMABAD:

 

Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Haroonur Rasheed has taken strong exception over the Sindh High Court to grant stay on its executive committee orders, demanding of the chief justice of Pakistan to look into the matter and take appropriate action in this regard.

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In a statement issued on Monday, the PBC vice chairman said, “It is often observed that Orders of Executive Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council which are assailed by the aggrieved person(s) before the Hon’ble High Court of Sindh through civil suit are being taken up by the High Court of Sindh in the Court or in Chamber and injunctive Order has been passed which are not entertainable in the eye of law due to lack of jurisdiction.”

Rasheed said, “The High Court of Sindh has no jurisdiction to set aside any Order assailed which is passed by the Pakistan Bar Council or its Executive Committee at Islamabad the proper forum for that is Courts of ICT, so any order passed by the High Court of Sindh that would be non-existing and nullity in the eye of law as one rather sitting in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab or Balochistan cannot set over the territorial jurisdiction and the High Court of Sindh should not pass injunctive Orders on the matters decided by the Pakistan Bar Council at Islamabad just to please their blue eyed person(s), which amount to undue interference in smooth functioning of a statutory body having its office in Islamabad.”

The statement added, “The tendency of such like issues creates serious doubts upon credibility of those decisions which have been passed without jurisdiction.”

Rasheed said that no high court of any province had jurisdiction, especially the SHC, to create hindrance in affairs of the regulatory body of lawyers who had the mandate under Section 13(2) of the Legal Practitioners & Bar Councils Act, 1973, to decide matters of Provincial/Islamabad Bar Councils and all bar associations of the country, which were challenged before it.



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Pakistan, UAE ink MoUs for mega investments

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ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked several Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs), paving the way for multi-billion dollar investments in diverse initiatives outlined by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

The signing ceremony took place in Abu Dhabi, witnessed by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, subsequent to a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

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The MoUs cover investment cooperation across various sectors, including energy, port operations, waste water treatment, food security, logistics, mining, aviation, and banking and financial services. The agreements aim to foster collaboration and stimulate significant investments in these key areas, a handout released by the Media Wing of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Information Ministry.

On the occasion, Kakar termed the signing of the MoUs a historic event that “will take economic cooperation between both brotherly countries to new heights and open doors of economic prosperity and socio-economic development of Pakistan”.

Kakar also highlighted the success of the SIFC in creating a business and investment-friendly environment through one-window operation and fast-tracking the initiatives. He expressed the hope that the MoUs would turn into tangible projects very soon.

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Separately, Kakar, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, said in a video message that with the signing of the MoUs, the bilateral economic and strategic relations had entered into a new era of bilateral cooperation. On that he congratulated the people of Pakistan and the UAE.

“Foundation of friendship with Pakistan that was laid by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, has been taken forward by his son Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to a new era,” the prime minister said in his message.

Earlier, Prime Minister Kakar held a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Mohamed. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir was also present during the meeting. In their talks, the two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen the bilateral strategic cooperation and dialogue.

Prime Minister Kakar expressed profound gratitude for the UAE’s firm support for Pakistan in economic and financial domain. The UAE is home to 1.8 million Pakistanis, contributing to the progress, prosperity and economic development of the two brotherly countries, he noted.

Read more: Kakar arrives in Abu Dhabi on two-day visit

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During the meeting, regional and global developments in the region were also discussed with particular reference to the escalating hostilities in the occupied Palestine. The prime minister expressed concern over the human cost of the dire situation in Gaza.

Kakar reiterated Pakistan’s full support to the UAE’s Presidency of the COP-28 and underlined the importance of the global gathering on climate change as an opportunity for meaningful progress towards effective and result oriented global actions on key areas, including the Loss and Damage fund.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Kakar embarked upon a two-day bilateral visit to Kuwait. During the November 28-29, 2023 visit, the prime minster will meet Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Jaber Al Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al Ahmed AL Sabah.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release that the visit would include the signing of various MoUs in the fields of manpower, information technology, mineral exploration and food security, energy and defence.
 



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Pakistan

IMF secured autonomy to access SBP info: Fawad

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ISLAMABAD:

Privatisation Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad said on Monday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) secured autonomy for Pakistan’s central bank to get direct access to the information that the federal government was reluctant to share with the global lender.

The startling statement by Fawad may further deepen suspicions about the motives behind securing the absolute autonomy for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in January last year by the global money lender. This also raises questions on the role of the then central bank governor, Dr Reza Baqir.

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The IMF first got the autonomy for the SBP, then made the central bank governor dependent on it and was now directly getting the information, which we earlier did not want to give to the IMF, Fawad said while responding to a question about the banking sector.

The privatisation minister maintained that a question should also be raised as to why the IMF and the World Bank do not ask about reducing the spreads in lending and deposit rates of the commercial banks, which were one of the highest in the world. He said the Privatisation Commission was getting only 4% profit on its Rs6 billion deposits placed with the National Bank of Pakistan.

Before 2022, the IMF used to deal with the central bank through the Ministry of Finance. But post amendments in the SBP Act the finance ministry does not know about SBP-IMF dealings, except in cases where the SBP governor himself reveals information to the finance minister or to the ministry.

In 2022, opposition parties had strong concerns over the SBP Act amendments, saying it compromised Pakistan’s economic sovereignty and gave absolute authority to the SBP to take key economic decisions independently.

The absolute autonomy was granted in January 2022 in return for a $1 billion loan tranche. The governor has also been given complete autonomy in his affairs.

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In 2021, The Express Tribune had reported that the then central bank management was pushing the finance ministry to accept the amendments in toto or the IMF tranche of $1 billion would be compromised.

The Express Tribune on Monday sent a question to Baqir, who spearheaded SBP autonomy, about Fawad’s statement. But his response could not be received till the filing of the story. Baqir left the country after his three-year tenure ended in 2022.

Fawad also spoke about the need of privatisation and the reforms in Pakistan.

The minister said that under the Privatisation Law it takes about 462 days to complete one privatisation transaction, adding that the interim government would try to privatise the entities that are difficult for a political government due to its consequences.

The interim government is trying to privatise PIA but has not yet succeeded.

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Fawad said the government is expected to sign a Financial Advisory Service Agreement (FASA) with the Ernest and Young-led consortium. The cabinet approved the E&Y consortium hiring this month but the agreement signing remains pending and would be finalised this week.

Read IMF sees $8b dip in debt in two years

After the signing of the agreement, the advisor would need at least six to nine weeks to prepare a privatisation transaction structure and another 20 to 26 weeks to complete restructuring of the PIA balance sheet.

Fawad revealed that for the past six weeks he was facing difficulties to put together a credible PIA board, as people were reluctant to serve on it for a short term period. He said there were also difficulties in arranging loans for the PIA.

The government had tasked a technical committee to prepare a PIA debt restructuring plan and also arrange Rs15 billion loans for the national carrier within two weeks. There has been no success on this front for the past over one month.

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The privatisation minister revealed that people on the state-owned enterprises boards were appointed by the last coalition government based on their political affiliations.

The Privatisation Board was also appointed by the PDM government during its last days and it is widely seen as a political entity having little expertise in the complex matters, according to sources.
Fawad opposed handing over power distribution companies to the provinces, fearing it may result in the worst form of cartelisation in the power sector.

The minister also spoke “very bitterly” about the poor performance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and set four conditions for any reforms in Pakistan, prominently stating that there should not be any further increase in the size of the government.

“Anything which increases the size of the government is not a reform,” Fawad said in a statement that apparently kills Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar’s proposal to establish a new Tax Policy Division for separating policy from the FBR.

Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had not approved Dr Akthar’s restructuring plan and referred the matter to another committee, including Fawad in the FBR restructuring process.

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Fawad highlighted the flaws in the country’s taxation system, saying that around 93% of the collected tax revenue is either voluntary or withholding; whereas, only 7% is actually collected by the FBR.

He said in three years revenue board had sent recovery notices to individuals worth Rs600 billion but the actual recovery was less than Rs4 billion from 2013 to 2016. Since 2016, the tax burden on corporate taxpayers has increased by more than 40% on average.

Such a burden has not only contributed to encouraging people to stay out of the tax system but also de-corporatisation.

The public sector reforms should include bureaucratic reforms and taxation system reforms, he said, adding that these two areas are crucial for improving the performance of the state.

Fawad observed that the current state of the public sector was unsustainable.

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In three years from 2018-2021, the government spent Rs2.54 trillion in terms of subsidies, grants, and loans to keep commercial SOEs operational. The size of the government has increased by more than three times in the last couple of decades.



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