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New York, Sep 24 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan acknowledged that his country’s army and spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) trained Al Qaeda and other militant groups to fight in Afghanistan, and therefore there were always links with them because they had trained them.

Speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank in New York on Monday, Imran Khan, asked whether there was a Pakistani probe to find out how Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, said: “The Pakistani army ISI trained Al Qaeda and all these groups to fight in Afghanistan, there were always links, there had to be links because they trained thema

“When we did a 180 degree turn and went after those groups, not everyone agreed with us, within the army people did not agree with us, so there were insider attacks in Pakistana”

He cited former US President Barack Obama as saying that the Pakistan army had no idea that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad. “So as far as I know the Pakistan army chief, ISI chief, had no idea about the Abbottabad. So if there was, it was probably at the lower levels.”

Answering a question regarding former US defence secretary James Mattis’ remark that he considered Pakistan to be “the most dangerous” among all countries he had dealt with, Imran said: “I do not think James Mattis fully understands why Pakistan became radicalised.”

He said Pakistan committed one of the biggest blunders by joining the US in its war on terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

“Pakistan by joining the US after 9/11 committed one of the biggest blunders. 70,000 Pakistanis died in this. Some economists say we had 150 billion, some say 200 billion loss to the economy. On top of it, we were blamed for the US not winning in Afghanistan,” he said.

He said the very groups that were trained to fight Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s were deemed as terrorists by the US.

“They (the insurgent groups) were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation is ‘jihad.’ But now when the US arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism,” he said.

Asked about how Pakistan reconciles its economic relationship with China with the treatment of minority Muslims there, he said: “With the Chinese, we have a special relationship. Any of issues like these, we talk to them privately. We don’t make public statements, because that’s how China is.

“And I again repeat, China has come to our help when we were right at the rock bottom. So I would not publicly talk about it,” he said, adding that he has “got enough on my plate” with issues concerning the economy and developments on the Afghanistan, Iran and India frontiers.

He also dismissed the notion that Chinese investment in Pakistan could harm its sovereignty. “The Chinese have never, ever interfered in any of our foreign policy, in any of our domestic policy, for that matter. I think China is one country which we can all learn from. Their main concentration has been on trade, and wealth creation, and lifting the standard of living of the people,” he said, Dawn reported.

World

‘1984 Sikh Genocide Memorial’ in US removed after India protests

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1984 Sikh Riot

Norwich (Connecticut, US), Oct 20 (IANS) About three months after a ‘1984 Sikh Genocide Memorial’ to the Sikh victims of the 1984 riots in India was installed at Otis Library here, the memorial was removed – in part following the urging of the Indian government.

The memorial, that featured a prominent photo of Khalistani leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, accused the Indian government of genocide.

“Otis Library and the Norwich Monuments Committee jointly agreed to remove the plaque, flags and portrait,” Nicholas Fortson, president of the library Board of Trustees, told the Norwich bulletin.

It was removed about two weeks ago, he said.

Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, the city’s Sikh community leader and a local business owner, donated the memorial and lobbied to have it put up.

He said he opposes the library trusteesa¿ decision. “It’s not Indian-held territory,” Khalsa said. “The (Sikh) community was very upset,” he claimed.

The city’s Plaques and Monuments Committee, whose members are Alderwoman Stacy Gould, Alderman Joe DeLucia and Council President Pro Tem Bill Nash, agreed to the library’s request to remove the memorial, Gould said.

“They just decided this was not good for the mission of the library,” Gould said.

After the memorial was unveiled in June, the library received “harsh criticism as well as support,” Fortson said.

Among the critics was the Indian government.

An official from the consulate in New York telephoned Otis Library Executive Director Bob Farwell about the memorial, Fortson said.

A call to the Indian Consulate in New York seeking a comment was not returned, the newspaper said.

The memorial upset some local Hindus, Gould said. “The library doesn’t want to get involved in some controversy.”

“The library is a nonpolitical organization,” Fortson said, and neither endorses products nor partisan political causes. “We want to make sure our visitors are in a safe atmosphere.”

The “1984 Sikh Genocide Memoriala was placed on a wall of the library’s main lobby. An unveiling ceremony was held in June, with many Sikhs present as well as several city officials and community leaders.

The memorial was the only one of its kind in the United States.

“As a community space, we welcomed the opportunity and encourage the public to view the memorial and learn more about the Sikh community and its history,” Farwell told a Bulletin reporter in advance of the unveiling. “We are a venue that attracts a diverse body of patrons, which certainly helps broaden public awareness.”

On September 16, the library received the Norwich Rotary Community Diversity Award. The award presentation said it was given partly because of the Sikh memorial.

The Sikh memorial featured flags and a plaque honoring Sikh soldiers who fought to protect places of worship beneath a portrait of Bhindrawale, who was killed during Operation Bluestar – the army operation to flush out separatist Khalistani militants from the Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab.

The temple fight later led to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Her death sparked riots in November 1984 in which around 3,000 Sikhs were killed in riots, mainly in the Indian capital.

The US government, although saying that acegrave human rights violations” occurred, has always refused to term the killings genocide, the paper said.

The plaque, however, called the November killings “a state sponsored genocidal campaign against Sikhs all across India.”

According to Khalsa, the memorial was a rare chance to present the “Sikh narrative” of what happened in 1984, which he said the Indian government has tried to suppress ever since.

The plaque, flags and portrait have been returned to Khalsa. He said the memorial could be moved to City Hall instead.

“I still hope we will be able to resolve it,” he said.

He is planning an event on November 9 outside City Hall. “We should still continue with our narrative,” Khalsa said.

According to Religion News, the Indian consul general in New York had written to Connecticut state Sen. Cathy Osten, who requested that Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day be included in a bill designating commemorative days. In the letter, the Indian official said that Sikhs do not face persecution in India and referred to Khalsa and other local Sikhs’ efforts as “vociferous, pernicious and divisive.”

Connecticut has a small Sikh community – five gurdwaras and around 400 families. However, thanks to Khalsa’s efforts last year, Connecticut became the first US state to recognize the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a genocide when it passed Senate Bill 489 to name Nov. 30 Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day. The state has also designated June 1 as Sikh Memorial Day and April 14 as National Sikh Day. Khalsa, who received awards from the FBI for his work coordinating the area’s many Sikh awareness campaigns and political engagement initiatives, was also involved in the city of Norwich’s recognition of November as Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month, says Religion News.

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India

Gurpreet death no deterrence to Indians with American dreams

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Mexico Border

New Delhi/Mexico City, Oct 19 : The death of six-year-old Gurpreet Kaur in the Arizona desert in June this year, shocking as it was, was also a pointer to the sharp rise in the number of Indians seeking to surreptitiously cross into the United States from the southern border. The deportation of 311 Indians from Mexico comes amid data that over 7,000 Indians are facing deportation proceedings in US courts.

Gurpreet, along with her family, had sneaked into Arizona from Mexico. While she died of hyperthermia in the hot desert, her family merged among the millions seeking to migrate to the US with dreams of a better life.

For the National Migration Institute (INM) of Mexico, the deportation of the 311 Indians, comprising 310 men and one woman, was the first case of flying back such a huge number of illegal migrants.

In a statement, the INM said: “There is no precedent in the history of the INM – neither in the form, nor in the number of people – of a transatlantic air conduction, such as that carried out on this day,” said the Mexican agency that is under the Ministry of Interior.

The Indians had entered Mexico irregularly and were found on different dates in eight different parts of the country.

The Indians had been detained in Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Sonora, Durango, Baja California and Mexico City before being transferred to the migrants’ centre in Acayucan, Veracruz, for identification and transfer to Toluca.

The INM was constantly in touch with the Indian embassy in Mexico to confirm their Indian citizenship, after which they were put on a Boeing 747 charter flight from Toluca to New Delhi on Wednesday. They were accompanied by migration agents and national guards.

“This was carried out thanks to the excellent communication and coordination with the Embassy of that Asian country, with which the recognition and return of these citizens was worked under strict adherence to the Migration Law,” added the Mexican agency.

The Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment on the issue. However, a source said that India does not support illegal immigration anywhere in the world. But in cases where the rights of documented Indian migrants are affected, including in the US, the Indian government takes up their case.

The deportation of the 311 Indians came after the Mexican government deployed thousands of National Guard troops at the border with Guatemala in June following pressure from US President Donald Trump, who threatened to levy tariffs on Mexican goods if Mexico did not slow the flow of drugs and migrants to the US.

According to the INM, nearly 4,800 Asian migrants – of whom 2,823 were from India – were referred to the Mexican immigration agency during the first eight months of this year.

Mexican authorities have reported cases of Indians being picked up as they walked along roads of eastern Mexico or were being transported by traffickers in cargo vehicles, along with central Americans.

The Mexican police recently arrested two leaders of a traffickers’ organization that got Indian migrants to Mexico through the airport in Cancun, Quintana Roo (southeast), and then pushed them into the US by bus.

According to figures, in 2019, over 7,000 Indians were involved in deportation proceedings in courts across the US. India figured among the top 10 nations whose citizens were undergoing asylum hearings in the US, after Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba and Venezuela.

The death of Gurupreet Kaur and now the deportation of the 311 Indians has brought the focus on Indians seeking to cross into the US border without documentation.

According to the Washington-headquartered Migration Policy Institute, between 2010 and 2014, there were 2,67,000 undocumented Asian Indian immigrants in the US.

US Border Control figures show a massive jump in the number of Indians seeking to slip in illegally into the US. In 2008, there were 77 Indian nationals seeking asylum in the US, which jumped to 3,000 in 2017, and tripled to 8,997 in 2018.

While Indians made up just one per cent of the total illegal migrants apprehended in 2018, the sharp rise in numbers has been striking.

Between 2007 and 2018, the number of Indians apprehended rose from 188 to 9,234 – an increase of more than 4,811 percent, according to CQ Roll Call’s analysis of Customs and Border Protection data. The greatest jump was along the southern border, where Indian apprehensions in the same time period increased from 76 to 8,997.

The number of migrants from Asian countries entering Mexico to go to the US has grown since 2016, and especially since April last year, according INM data.

According to a North American Punjabi Association report of last November, 2,400 Indians were languishing in US jails for illegally crossing the border.

According to NAPA figures of October last year, 377 Indians were detained at California’s Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center, 269 at Imperial Regional Adult Detention Facility, 245 at the Federal Correctional Institution Victorville, and 115 at Washington State’s Tacoma ICE Processing Center.

Most of the Indians who seek to migrate illegally are from Punjab, as was also the case of the 311 Indians.

The traffickers reportedly lure young Punjabis to migrate to the US illegally and charge between Rs 35-50 lakh per individual.

Almost 6,00,000 migrants arrived at the southern US border from Mexico till June this year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Mexico deployed 6,000 National Guard troops on its southern border in June as part of measures to reduce migration in the wake of its agreement with the US, which had threatened to ley a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican exports to the US.

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Business

Brexit deal delayed as MPs seek deferment of decision : Live Updates

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Boris Johnson in Parliament

London, Oct 19 : The Brexit deal agreed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the European Union was delayed on Saturday after the parliamentarians voted for an amendment to defer a decision on the PM’s deal.

The MPs voted through the Letwin amendment to delay Brexit until necessary UK legislation is passed, the BBC reported.

There were loud cheers at the People’s Vote rally in Parliament Square as the Letwin was amendment passed in the House of Commons.

The Tory MPs left the Commons chamber en masse, following the government’s loss over the Letwin amendment. According to a BBC report, just a few of them were left.

Johnson, however, insisted that he will not negotiate a delay with the EU even as the move by the MPs has forced him to ask the EU for another Brexit delay.

The development now implies that Parliament will not vote on Johnson’s deal until next week.

The Letwin amendment was proposed by Oliver Letwin, an MP who was booted by Johnson out of the Conservative parliamentary party in September after he supported an anti-no-deal legislation known as the Benn Act.

The amendment, supported by the MPs on Saturday, calls for the House to “withhold support” from the UK PM’s Brexit deal with the EU until all legislations needed to implement the bill are passed by Parliament as well.

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