Archive | September, 2010

Toronto Mayoral Race’s Frontrunners on Immigrants & Immigration

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Toronto can’t have another ten million immigrants in 10 years – Rob Ford

Why is immigration now a municipal issue? Some people are making it to be a municipal issue. I am an immigrant. We’re all immigrants. We have 2.7 million people in the city right now. There are 70,000 people that are on waiting list to get into houses. People can’t find doctors; people are constantly complaining about gridlocks and traffic congestion. And we don’t have any say in immigration.  We can’t stop people from coming. I think we should be responsible in how to deal with 2.7 million people that we have right now. We can’t have another million immigrants in Toronto in another 10 years. We won’t be able to move. We need to find solutions for gridlock and congestion first. Let’s try to get people off of the waiting list, let’s get them doctors.

The motto “Diversity Our Strength” will remain – George Smitherman


The situation has improved dramatically in Toronto. As a Minister of health, I had led the projects that resulted in hiring of 25% are foreign trade doctors. These are the same doctors that Mr. Ford says we should not accept as immigrants. Immigrants bring life blood, youthful vigour and unique skill set to Toronto. We have to build on values most of us share. The motto “Diversity Our Strength” will remain the same if  am fortunate enough to become Mayor.

We face social justice challenge as a country at all three levels of the government. As a Mayor I will raise a stronger voice on behalf of Torontonians to call into question things like “Canadian experience.” Obviously some work on recognizing foreign credentials has been effective, but a lot needs to be done.

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Who Will Win?

George Smitherman – 48%

Rob Ford – 45%

Condition: If they were the only two names on the ballot.

Decided Voters

George Smitherman – 57%

Rob Ford – 37%

Other Candidates:

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone – 10%

Rocco Rossi – 7%

Sarah Thomson 7%

Torontonians Issues:

  1. 33% said taxation and municipal government spending
  2. 15 % pegged transportation
  3. 14% believe it to be crime
  4. 10% says its economy
  5. 6 % says its social issues
  6. 6% says its healthcare

Ipsos Reid Survey for Global News

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India-Canada trade is the first quarter has been “very good.” – Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

On CEPA:

India and Canada are ready to launch formal negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic- Partnership Agreement (CEPA), said Mr. Anand Sharma, Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry.

Canada and India has commissioned a joint study “to explore the possibilities, the potential and the dimensions,” Minister Sharma said.

“There has been enough reciprocity between the two countries to recognize the full potential of partnership,” he said. Canada-India relationship has elevated from “relationship to strategic partnership.”

CEPA, Mr. Jason Kenny, the federal Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, and Multiculturalism says, is a “form of tree trade.” He noted that Canada has massively upgraded links with India to promote trade. Canada had 8 trade offices in different cities and provinces of India. Business visas are being issued in as little as 24 hours. “There is 100 per cent acceptance rate” where businessmen of  registered business have to travel to Canada frequently.

Although the global economic downturn has slowed the mutual trade between the two countries, the results from the first quarter of the year have been “very good,” Minister Sharma reported, pleased.

The Prime Ministers of the two countries have been given a mandate to trade ministers as well as senior officials to meet the task of increasing the Canada-India trade to $15 billion by 2015.

“I am optimistic that it is achievable,” Minister Sharma said. Some of the sectors mentioned by him for further trade are agriculture, high technology, innovations, education, and space technology.

The two governments have decided to expedite the process of launching the negotiations on CEPA between the two countries as the governmental procedures have already been completed.

He noted that the mergers and acquisitions of Indian companies have been “one of the biggest” at $8 million. Indian companies have $12 billion investments in Canada as compared to only $3 billion Canadian investment in India.

Given reciprocity of the partnership, could there be any possibility of visa-free travel.

Minister Kenny says “We can see the realistic exemption for the visa requirements from the Indian citizens in foreseeable future because there continue to be concerns. Canada has visa requirements with 145 countries.” He cited problems of visa overstays and people staying illegally in Canada, but on a more positive note, Minister Kenny said “we are providing much better service to Indian nationals coming to Canada.”

On Commonwealth Games:

The athletes and the officials will be welcomed, that they will be secure and they will return happy – Minister Sharma

“We hope that Indian hosts [of commonwealth games] will succeed in brining things together to have safe and successful games enjoyed by everyone” – Minister Jason Kenny

While a week ago BBC was running the headline “The Shame Games,” on unreadiness of Indian government to host the athletes and the officials of Commonwealth games, Minster Sharma quoted an ancient saying in India “the guest is like a god.”

He reassured “the world that the athletes and the officials will be welcomed, that they will be secure and they will return happy,” and a few pictures of gloom will be replaced by vibrant and joyous celebrations.

He admitted that “there have been shortcomings,” however he noted that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet has taken a firm action and those responsible will be held “accountable” by a democratic country.

Minister Sharma said that India has put together world-class infrastructure, stadiums and food courts. He pointed out that “India is the largest democracy in the commonwealth countries..and we’re transparent because we are a democracy.”

He cited that “we have a media that is aggressive and inquisitive..I would like to request the media to remember that with freedoms there are certain responsibilities and obligations.”

He said that a few dirty images are not reflective of what has gone into preparation of world games. And that the media has not reported on building of metros and flyovers. “It’s not a healthy trend,” Mr. Sharma said.

While international media may have been critical of India’s preparations of Commonwealth games, the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism was as optimistic as Minister Sharma.  He said that “we hope that Indian hosts [of commonwealth games] will succeed in brining things together to have safe and successful games enjoyed by everyone.”

He has been advised by Minister of Sports Gary Lunn that the Canadians still plan to go to India. Canadian athletes’ trip was postponed because some of the accommodation wasn’t ready. Canadian officials are following the developments with “some concerns,” but Minister Kenny is hopeful that everything will go smoothly at the end of the day.

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Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel celebrates 25 years of Service

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel celebrated its 25th anniversary with all the glee and the glamour at Radisson in Mississauga.

Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel provides services for integration into Canadian society and meet the social service, training and health needs of the Peel immigrant community.

Staff and Volunteers of Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel

Addressing the crowd of over 500 people, Ms. Kitty Chadda, the Executive Director of India Rainbow Community Services of Peel expressed her gratitude to the staff, sponsors and volunteers. She noted that the current Conservative government has increased funding to language training programs by 400 per cent and that the processing times have been reduced to as little as seven months. She uttered regret at not helping everyone who walks into the doors saying “we regret the loss heavily.”

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Speaking to the audience, Mr. Jason Kenny, the federal Minister of Citizenship & Immigration and Multiculturalism said that the role of organizations such as Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel is crucial in helping new Canadians develop “soft social skills” through settlement organizations. “Your success is Canada’s success,” he said.

Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, said that both the federal and Ontario governments are working in close partnership with each other “to ensure we meet our responsibilities to work with reliable and essential partners..and to get newcomers job ready.”

“Bring more people to Mississauga from Asia. We need them. They’re determined to succeed,” said Mayor McCallion of Mississauga. She nonetheless encouraged more and more people to learn to play ice hockey.

Ms. Chadda noted that 25 years ago, Mayor McCallion as a Mayor had supported Indian Rainbow Community Services of Peel with $3,000. “Those $3,000 have gone a long way,” she said.

At the occasion were also present MP Bob Dechert (Mississauga-Erindale), MP Bonnie Crombie (Mississauga-Streetsville), MP Ruby Dhalla (Brampton Springdale), MP Navdeep Bains (Mississauga Brampton South) and MPP Amrit Mangat (Mississauga Brampton South).

Jason Kenny, the federal Minister of Citizenship & Immigration

Some of the elected representatives left upset. One of these elected representatives left saying “We take out the whole evening and they don’t even acknowledge our presence.” Perhaps the organizers of the 25th anniversary of India Rainbow Community Services of Peel as well as the other organizers of other community events need to be a bit more mindful of the fact in the future.

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We’ve increased funding to women’s program by 40 per cent – Minister Rona Ambrose

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

The Canadian government has increased funding to Status of Women portfolio by 40 per cent, Ms. Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, said in response to a question that fundings have been cut from women’s programs.

“That information is out there, but it’s misinformation. Our government has increased funding to women’s program by 40 per cent,” Minister Ambrose said.

She said that the increase in funding to projects that serve to eliminate violence against girls and women “have been highest in the history of the Canadian government.”

Minister Ambrose was at the Noor Culture Centre in Toronto to announce Government of Canada’s  support for two projects that will address the issue of ending violence against women in specific immigrant and new Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Our Government is committed to ending violence against women and girls in all communities across Canada,” said Minister Ambrose. “These two important projects reach out to specific communities of women, empowering them to recognize and address abuse, and teaching them how to become agents of change in ending violence against women and girls.”

Latin American Women’s Organization – MUJER will receive $142,650 for its project, Empower Youth Latinas in Toronto; and Reh’ma Community Services will receive $114,201 for its project, Shifting Burdens and Empowering Women.

While the government should be applauded for its support to projects initiated by Reh’ma Community Services and MUJER, it should also be addressed that a very few people in the South Asian or Muslim community are aware of the support that is available to them from the Government of Canada.

Addressing the concern, Minister Ambrose said “It’s incredibly important that there are programs like this in the community..and women and girls need to know where they can go for support.” Media can play crucial part in raising that awareness.

She noted that there are links on the government’s website. What should also be noted is the fact that literacy rate among women especially women who have immigrated from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Middle Eastern countries is extremely low and internet is not a big part of their lives.

Ms. Talat Muinuddin, President of Reh’ma Community Services said “we will be opening our offices in the hub [of the Muslim community] in Throncliffe and Flamingdon area.” This office will be accessible to Muslim women.  She was satisfied that the government is supporting a project that Reh’ma has initiated. However she also noted that the funding cuts were made by the government of Canada a few months ago.

By : Staff Writer

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Woodward Revelations Show Obama’s Weakness on National Security

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Front-page Washington Post story on Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars, provides disturbing revelations about President Obama’s views on terrorism and his lack of commitment to securing Afghanistan. The book apparently details how Obama is desperately seeking to get out of the war in Afghanistan, regardless of the consequences for U.S. national security, and is quoted as telling Woodward, “We can absorb a terrorist attack.”

The article reveals that during the drawn-out Afghanistan strategy review last fall, Obama was more interested in mapping out an exit plan than in achieving U.S. goals in the region that would help avert another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. It is now clear that the U.S. military has been asked to achieve its goals in Afghanistan without the level of troops they requested and in an unrealistic timeframe. General Petraeus will continue to seek gains in Afghanistan with the resources at hand, but will likely balk at any suggestion of a major drawdown of U.S. troops next summer.

The article does not spell out why President Obama is so loath to live up to his campaign calls for strengthening U.S. commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan. Any argument that the U.S. military is over-stretched has been blunted by the draw-down of troops in Iraq, which is providing breathing space for the U.S. military to sustain a long-term commitment to Afghanistan. So one reason for his ambivalence may be a desire to avoid being viewed as a “war-time” president and instead make his mark through a broad-based domestic agenda.

The tragedy is by under-resourcing and de-prioritizing the Afghanistan war, Obama is sacrificing crucial U.S. national security interests and leaving the American people more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. An early exit from Afghanistan would shore up al-Qaeda and like-minded terrorists and once again provide them with a safe-haven from which to conduct their deadly attacks against the U.S. and other nations.

Woodward’s book shows President Obama is deeply at odds with his military leadership over the way forward in Afghanistan. Unless a new page is turned in the Afghanistan war effort, these divisions will increasingly demoralize U.S. troops and deepen the American public’s confusion and frustration with the war. To avoid this disastrous situation, the Obama administration could follow through with the suggestion of respected Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf to establish a bipartisan, non-government Afghanistan-Pakistan study group, along the lines of the Iraq study group. This kind of group would have the advantage of providing recommendations that are untainted by political calculations and premised only on U.S. national security interests. The establishment and work of such a group could help restore an elevated debate on what exactly we are trying to achieve in the region and how best to do so.

Author: Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.


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Time to bring Civility back to the House

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Recently, there has been a lot of talk in the media about how civility and decorum needs to be returned to the House of Commons. I couldn’t agree more. People have often compared parliamentary behaviour to that of wild, unruly children in kindergarten – and yes, that’s an insult to kindergarteners.

What makes grown men and women act so obnoxious when they’re sitting in Parliament? Is it the air, the drab drapes, the bland colour scheme?

The House of Commons is one of the highest political seats of authority and power in Canada, and a sense of humbleness, modesty and respect should be shown. Instead, during the daily Question Period, we hear rude, obnoxious comments being yelled from across the aisles from all sides and parties.

While watching Question Period, I’ve been shocked and disgusted by what our elected officials shout at each other. The sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes and remarks have no place in the House of Commons, or even in Canadian society.

As early as 2006, the NDP has presented a plan to clean up the foul and obstructionist language that has been developing in Parliament. In response to several serious incidents of sexism and the total loss of control, then-NDP MP Dawn Black (New Westminster-Coquitlam) and current NDP MP Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh) had revived a long-forgotten report on the matter and asked all MPs to adopt significant changes from the Standing Orders based on the report.

As the rules stand, you can call a female MP a dog in the House of Commons and the only punishment you will receive is a (metaphorical) slap on the wrist from the Speaker. How is that punishment? In kindergarten, a child would be made aware of why that kind of language and behaviour is wrong and made to apologize immediately.

The changes proposed by Black and Comartin were outlined in a 1992 report of The Special Advisory Committee to the Speaker. A panel was struck in response to one of the most outrageous and racist incidents in the House when an NDP MP of African heritage was the victim of a racist slur.

It’s almost 20 years since the incident and I wonder if we’re 20 years further away from those attitudes. In most workplaces in Canada, there are strict anti-harassment codes in place – why don’t those codes apply to the House?

Four years ago, the NDP presented concrete measures to restore decorum and decency to the House of Commons. They included creating a Standing Order prohibiting all racist, sexist and homophobic remarks in the House, including violent or threatening language. Under the NDP’s plan, the Speaker would be given the power to remove MPs from the Parliamentary precinct, especially those who persistently disrupt the House and its proceedings.

Clearly, the Speaker needs more authority and confidence to refuse to call on Members, or remove those Members who are unable to maintain decorum. MPs that are deemed to have made sexist, racist or homophobic comments must be made to apologize to all Canadians for being disrespectful. Lastly, a system should be created to respond to escalating penalties for repeat offenses by repeat offenders.

These changes were presented to all MPs, but sadly, they were never adopted.

It’s time to bring accountability and trust back to Parliament. All MPs need to work together to get practical results for Canadians, so why not do it in a civil and respectful manner? If kindergarten students can, why can’t our MPs?

Author: Rupinder Kaur


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Dechert renews call for donations to Pakistan flood relief effort

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Bob Dechert, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Erindale thanked donors attending last night’s fundraising dinner hosted by GlobalMedic in association with The Canadian Friends of Pakistan at Payal Banquet Hall in Mississauga.

Since the disaster began in Pakistan, GlobalMedic was one of the first NGO to arrive in the country bringing in Aid supplies such as Water Purification Units and Water Purification Tablets. To date, GlobalMedic has provided more than 3.5 million litres of purified water to the victims.

“In support of the people of Pakistan after the terrible flooding, we need to stand up and help meet the urgent need arising out of this disaster,” said Mr. Dechert. “I urge everyone to donate to the effort, and I am pleased that those dollars will be matched by the Canadian Government for maximum effect.”

“Despite the fact that the images of flood ravaged Pakistan may have vanished from our TV screens, the need remains acute and will continue for some time. I strongly urge everyone to donate as much as they can and as soon as possible to take advantage of the federal government matching funds,” Dechert concluded.

Beyond the original pledge of $33 million of immediate relief, for every eligible donation by individual Canadians made to Canadian registered charities between August 2 and extended deadline of

October 3, 2010, Canada will contribute an equivalent amount to the Pakistan Floods Relief Fund.

“This fund will provide effective and accountable financial support to experienced Canadian and international humanitarian and development partner organizations working on humanitarian assistance, early recovery, and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas,” Dechert said.

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Hope for Pakistan: We Have No Time Left to Lose.”

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

Canada has not done enough to help Pakistan. As a result of the flooding more than 1,700 people have died, more than 21 million people have been displaced from 140,000 villages and over 3 million hectares of farmland have been destroyed.

When Haiti was devastated by an earthquake Canadians opened their hearts and their wallets. The Harper government acted quickly and appropriately. It committed to providing $400 million in aid, and deployed Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart). What has the Harper Government done for Pakistan, where at least 6 million people continue to require life-saving assistance? They’ve given 10% of what was committed to Haiti, and they’ve not yet deployed DART. I recently appealed to the Harper Government, on compassionate grounds, in the hope that they would make a greater contribution.  I encouraged them to do more. They did. They increased the funding from $33 million to $40.5 million, which still only represents 10% of the funds committed to Haiti – and that is still far too little. While the funding provided by the Harper Government remains low, I am pleased that my appeals (through letters written to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Development) were successful in extending the period in which the Government will match donations made by Canadian organizations and by residents.  Now that Harper has made this concession, every dollar you give will be matched by Ottawa until October 3rd. Now we all share the responsibility for ensuring that Pakistanis receive the funding they require; and it is therefore now that we must open our own hearts and our own wallets.  It is now that we need to make-up for the failures of our uncompassionate government by encouraging our friends, families, and neighbors to do the same: to give, and to give generously, to ensure that those in need get help, and to assist in rebuilding the 200 hospitals and clinics that have already been destroyed.

While I am encouraged by the extension of the Government’s commitment to match funding I’m still baffled by its failure to demonstrate compassion by making a substantial financial commitment to help Pakistan or by deploying DART. While this may not change, and while the Harper Government may never act on compassion, I challenge him to ignore this very practical reason for giving more:  Canada is fighting a war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Neighbor.  The war is being fought against the Taliban. The Taliban have a presence in Pakistan and reports indicate that the Taliban are using the flood as an opportunity to recruit soldiers, and to win the hearts of local Pakistani populations through the provision of aid. Canada’s failure to provide adequate aid, to deploy DART, and the help ensure that Pakistanis have clean water to drink creates an opportunity for the Taliban to strengthen itself. This Government’s failure to provide aid could strengthen the Taliban in Pakistan (which would strengthening its base of support in Afghanistan) and make our mission that much more difficult. If the government will not provide adequate aid to alleviate the devastation, I would encourage it to help to combat its enemy, the Taliban.

The government of Canada demonstrated leadership in assisting Haitians when their country was in need. For whatever the reason, the same Government has failed miserably in its attempts to develop and implement a strategy to assist Pakistanis following this environmental catastrophe. While I fear the Government will not adopt a stronger strategy to help Pakistanis, I am continually encouraged by Canadians’ compassion and willingness to give. I believe that we can and will make a difference for those in need and that the Canadian government must emerge as the international humanitarian leader it once was.

Author:Frank Valeriote is a Liberal MP for Guelph.


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A landmark verdict

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

I went to town to say that no other country could have delivered such a landmark verdict to prove India’s secular credentials. It was another nail driven in the coffin of communalism.

It made sense that those Muslims who did not leave the country and had retained Indian citizenship through thick and thin should be the rightful owners of the property which belonged to their family. Still the properties remained vested in the custodian, under the tag of ‘enemy property’ even when the owner who had migrated had died.Yet, it took 32 years for M.A.M. Khan, who is a distinguished son of the soil and once a UP assembly member, to establish the simple truth, his right to the property after the death of his father Raja Mahmudabad. The court rectified the wrong. He had never left the country and had retained his Indian nationality all along. In 1981, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s cabinet decided to return properties to all such Muslims who had never left Indian shores. But the decision could not be implemented because of political wrangling.

The same elements, the communal fringe in the Congress party and the BJP, came to the fore when the Supreme Court upheld the judgment by the Bombay High Court that Khan and his mother Rani Kaniz Abdi (since diseased) continued to reside in India as Indian citizens. The Supreme Court also bemoaned the wrong done by those who were in “the possession of property illegally and in a high-handed manner for 32 years.”

Had the petition been from an ordinary Muslim, not M.A.M. Khan, the son of Raja Mahmudabad, the treasurer of the Muslim League before Partition, the judgment would have probably gone unnoticed. But he was a mote in the eyes of communalists because Khan had stayed on in India and had stuck to his proud position of Indian nationality. He had to be chastised.

The Indian government brought before the last session of parliament a bill to extinguish the rights of Indian Muslims to inherit property even after the deaths of their fathers in Pakistan or abroad. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saw through the game to deny the right to Indian Muslims to inherit what their forefathers had left behind. And he acted. The fact that the families had migrated to Pakistan did not mean that their children too had become Pakistani nationals. Since the bill required some time to become an act, an ordinance was issued for the same purpose. But the prime minister’s intervention allowed the ordinance to lapse so that the right of Indian Muslims was not usurped by the custodian.

However, the problems of Khan and other Indian Muslims have not ended. Prejudiced politicians and the ‘interested’ bureaucracy do not want to release the properties on the ground that the bill would come in the next session of parliament or subsequently. What the officials, probably encouraged by some politicians, are doing amounts to contempt of court.

But in a country where there is a selective implementation of rules and regulations, the contempt proceedings of the court mean little. Even if they are started, the authorities take them in their stride. Khan and Muslims like him are made to run from pillar to post and are at the mercy of the same people who withheld the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment in 2005. They are determined not to allow the properties going back to their rightful owners.

My worry in the whole matter is over the communal angle which had pushed justice and fair play to the background. Such examples evoke a feeling among the Muslim community that when it comes to recognising their legitimate demands, an unexplainable bias takes over. This means that even the claim to establish a secular society remains on paper after 63 years of independence.

It is not only the denial of employment to a Muslim or the refusal to rent him a house, it is something more — the entrenched prejudice which expresses itself too often and too blatantly. The fact is that the India has not been able to establish a secular polity which the freedom fighters and the Nehru era had promised. A democratic country, taking rapid strides in the economic field, is yet to imbibe respect for the rule of law.

This is the reason why there has been so much uncertainty and fear over the judgment on the title suit of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site. The number of cabinet meetings that the Manmohan Singh government held before the verdict showed that despite all the precautions the government took, it lacked conviction in its ability to enforce the judgment. This is the case of all reports and judgments touching upon controversial subjects, particularly those which relate to communal matters.

The statements by the RSS and BJP leaders, less inflammatory than before, were expected to be one-sided. But their agenda is clear and purpose too well known. They think that the Hindus, a majority in the country, have the right to expect the minorities to bow to their wishes. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has no compunction in saying that the Muslims should voluntarily give up their claim to the disputed Babri Masjid site to prove their credentials to Hindus. How can such a statement go unchallenged?

L.K. Advani is once again going to speak from Somnath, the place from where he took a rath yatra to collect money which remains unaccounted for and more so to incite the Hindus. Hundreds of Muslims died in the wake of Advani’s yatra. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has coined apt words for them, mout ka saudagar (merchants of death). Fortunately, the response of the Muslim extremists has been less provocative, although their counterparts across the border are as shrill and furious as before.

The Raja of Mahmudabad is a victim of bias which is taking the toll on many people in the country. However exasperated and personally hurt, he must go on and see that the Indian Muslims who did not go to Pakistan do not have to wear the cross of Partition all their life.

Jaswant Singh, the BJP leader who has refurbished his liberal instincts, has rightly appealed to the BJP to move on and not remain stuck in the Middle Ages. But his plea has not evoked any attention. The RSS militant wing, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has collected sadhus at Ayodhya, where the demolished Babri Masjid stood. All these things tell upon India’s pluralism which is becoming more and more elusive.

Author: Kuldip Nayar
The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi.


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The Challenge Of The Recent Floods

Posted on 29 September 2010 by .

PAKISTAN experienced floods in the past but the latest floods were more widespread and caused more damage than ever before.  All the four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan were badly hit. This time Swat was also hit and a large number of Pakistan tourists were stranded there. The Pakistani Army used helicopters to rescue them. Currently, the floods are still there in parts of Sindh where the water is now falling fast into the Arabian Sea.

One can give some allowance to the federal and provincial governments for their poor performance in responding to the floods because of its unexpectedly high scale and an extremely fast flow of water that caused much damage in all four provinces.  However, the initial response was slow and poor on the part of the civilian authorities. The federal and provincial governments and their disaster management establishment lacked plans, resources and equipment to cope with even a flood half of the size of what Pakistan has experience in July-August.  It could be attributed to the traditional lethargy of the bureaucratic structure and poor advance planning.

The Army, the Navy and the Air Force used their organizational skills and technological capacity to manage rescue and relief work more efficiently.  They used helicopters where they could not provide food via road or boat.  A number of friendly countries also provided economic assistance and material and medicines for the flood-hit areas. Some countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Bangladesh sent  relief goods and medical teams. Saudi Arabia sent full hospital with doctors, other staff and medicine. Turkey also sent medical teams. Iran provided tents, blankets, nonperishable food items and medicine.

The United States quickly responded to the Pakistani call for assistance.  A small contingent of the marines was sent for rescue operations. In addition to this the U.S. has so far provided assistance amounting to about 300 million dollars. It is expected to reach  $346 million. A large part of assistance is in the shape of goods, food items and medicine needed for the flood-affected areas.  The U.S provided around 20 helicopters. The UK, the European Union, Japan, the UAE,  and China also extended liberal assistance and provided helicopters for rescue and relief work.  India also sent relief assistance.

The overseas Pakistanis, especially from the U.S. and the UK, donated relief goods. Some doctors with Pakistani background came to Pakistan voluntarily for providing medical support.

The political parties and the news media groups also ran campaigns for collecting funds. Some private sector TV channels launched full-day fund collection drive on their TV channels. Imran Khan and the Jang-group launched their campaign and Imran Khan visited various areas for providing relief assistance.   Similarly Express newspaper and TV ran its own campaign.

Islamic political parties were also active in helping the people. Only one militant Islamic group was active in many places, providing shelter, food and medical help.   This was the Jamaatud Dawa. They also provided relief assistance even to non- Muslims.

The initial rescue and relief work is more or less over.  Now, the attention is focused on rehabilitation and reconstruction which is a more serious challenge. This process involves building houses, reconstruction of educational institutions, preparing land for sowing new crops, rehabilitation of civic facilities, especially roads and other means of communication.

The federal and provincial governments as well as foreign donors are providing assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Some Pakistani groups have taken the responsibility of rebuilding the villages. The federal and provincial governments have issued “Watan Bank Card” that enables the head of the family to get Rs. 20,000 from the bank. This is the first installment. They will get more financial assistance through this channel. The provincial and federal governments have also started providing some funding for reconstruction of houses. The means of communications are also being repaired.

However, the whole process of relief and reconstruction does not always run smooth. From time to time the media receives complaints of mismanagement of relief and reconstruction work by the government people.  There are complaints of delay in provision of help. There are also complaints of sale of relief goods in the market.

Pakistan is now hit by a new price hike of food items because some of the standing crops have been destroyed. If new crops are not sown in October there may be more shortages next year.

The flood-affected people will continue to need our help for at least one year. Do help them by all possible means. This is a genuine humanitarian cause.

x

PAKISTAN experienced floods in the past but the latest floods were more widespread and caused more damage than ever before.  All the four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan were badly hit. This time Swat was also hit and a large number of Pakistan tourists were stranded there. The Pakistani Army used helicopters to rescue them. Currently, the floods are still there in parts of Sindh where the water is now falling fast into the Arabian Sea.

One can give some allowance to the federal and provincial governments for their poor performance in responding to the floods because of its unexpectedly high scale and an extremely fast flow of water that caused much damage in all four provinces.  However, the initial response was slow and poor on the part of the civilian authorities. The federal and provincial governments and their disaster management establishment lacked plans, resources and equipment to cope with even a flood half of the size of what Pakistan has experience in July-August.  It could be attributed to the traditional lethargy of the bureaucratic structure and poor advance planning.

The Army, the Navy and the Air Force used their organizational skills and technological capacity to manage rescue and relief work more efficiently.  They used helicopters where they could not provide food via road or boat.  A number of friendly countries also provided economic assistance and material and medicines for the flood-hit areas. Some countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Bangladesh sent  relief goods and medical teams. Saudi Arabia sent full hospital with doctors, other staff and medicine. Turkey also sent medical teams. Iran provided tents, blankets, nonperishable food items and medicine.

The United States quickly responded to the Pakistani call for assistance.  A small contingent of the marines was sent for rescue operations. In addition to this the U.S. has so far provided assistance amounting to about 300 million dollars. It is expected to reach  $346 million. A large part of assistance is in the shape of goods, food items and medicine needed for the flood-affected areas.  The U.S provided around 20 helicopters. The UK, the European Union, Japan, the UAE,  and China also extended liberal assistance and provided helicopters for rescue and relief work.  India also sent relief assistance.

The overseas Pakistanis, especially from the U.S. and the UK, donated relief goods. Some doctors with Pakistani background came to Pakistan voluntarily for providing medical support.

The political parties and the news media groups also ran campaigns for collecting funds. Some private sector TV channels launched full-day fund collection drive on their TV channels. Imran Khan and the Jang-group launched their campaign and Imran Khan visited various areas for providing relief assistance.   Similarly Express newspaper and TV ran its own campaign.

Islamic political parties were also active in helping the people. Only one militant Islamic group was active in many places, providing shelter, food and medical help.   This was the Jamaatud Dawa. They also provided relief assistance even to non- Muslims.

The initial rescue and relief work is more or less over.  Now, the attention is focused on rehabilitation and reconstruction which is a more serious challenge. This process involves building houses, reconstruction of educational institutions, preparing land for sowing new crops, rehabilitation of civic facilities, especially roads and other means of communication.

The federal and provincial governments as well as foreign donors are providing assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Some Pakistani groups have taken the responsibility of rebuilding the villages. The federal and provincial governments have issued “Watan Bank Card” that enables the head of the family to get Rs. 20,000 from the bank. This is the first installment. They will get more financial assistance through this channel. The provincial and federal governments have also started providing some funding for reconstruction of houses. The means of communications are also being repaired.

However, the whole process of relief and reconstruction does not always run smooth. From time to time the media receives complaints of mismanagement of relief and reconstruction work by the government people.  There are complaints of delay in provision of help. There are also complaints of sale of relief goods in the market.

Pakistan is now hit by a new price hike of food items because some of the standing crops have been destroyed. If new crops are not sown in October there may be more shortages next year.

The flood-affected people will continue to need our help for at least one year. Do help them by all possible means. This is a genuine humanitarian cause.

Author: Dr. Hassan Askari

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