Archive | July, 2012

Guns and Gangs – We All Need to be a Part of Solution

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

Eaton Centre shooting and then shooting at a community BBQ in Scarborough has brought a limelight to the grave consequences of guns and gangs, and why instead of being involved in creative and fun activities our young people are involved in dangerous doings that conclude in devastating consequences. Colorado ‘movie massacre’ has intensified the debate on guns at societal as well as political level.

What strikes the most is that most of the shooters are in teens and twenties. What is it that leads these young men to guns and gangs? Surely making a statement cannot be it. Being single parent cannot be the sole reason. Lack of having to do nothing creative cannot be the reason all by itself. The point is that it can be a combination of many different factors.

A lot of media discussion has been around finding inspirational role models, preferably fathers or father figures in the Black community. However, one has to be cautious in making recommendations that the leaders of a certain community – in this case the black community – are the answer to the problem. It is a solution to the problem, but it is only a partial solution and addresses only part of the problem.

The problem of guns and gangs demands holistic approach, starting from home where there is a father or father figures, good teachers, excellent extra-curricular programs at schools, recreational opportunities during holidays, social programs, plenty of age and qualification appropriate employment opportunities for our young people.

At a governmental level, making funding for antigun programs permanent is extremely encouraging but much more needs to be done – by all of us.

We are Against Discrimination

Dear Editor of South Asian – Generation Next,

Your July 19 2012 Issue carries a remarkable and offensive “Fat girls are gross, bodybuilders aren’t” title. If I said anything remotely like this at my workplace, I would be shown the door for exemplifying outright discrimination (and rightly so). A higher standard of conduct applies even more so to members of the press, who’s opinion and words enter all aspects of our daily lives. Every overweight girl or woman who sees this paper, and especially those unlucky enough to have family who bring this home, will see herself in a diminished light.

This was the email we received in response to our last week’s cover page heading. We felt it important to respond to “discrimination” allegation. The quote was not ours, it was a paraphrase from the interviewee’s interview.

 Here at South Asian Generation Next, we are extremely cautious and aware of anything that gives an impression of discrimination. As South Asians, we understand the consequences of discrimination as many of our communities (Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Christiansetc) have been victims of discrimination.

The heading was chosen was to bring attention to the fact that bodybuilding is not only a sport, but it is a lifestyle. Bodybuilding has been neglected by various public and private funders. Those who participate in the sport are stereotyped, especially the women, and they need resources as well as the community’s support.

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Community Safety: End the Violence in our Streets

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

By Rathika Sitsabaiesan

MP (Scarborough-Rouge River)

 The power and ideas of our youth are far too often overlooked by law makers and by people in power. Yet the creativity and innovation they share along with the unique perspective our youth provide need to be considered and championed.

 

It is disappointing that Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, has rejected funding for such programming from both the federal and provincial governments.

 So far this summer, it seems as though we have seen an increase in gun-related violence in our streets and our communities.

 In fact, gun crime in Toronto is up 19% since this time last year.

 The shooting at the community BBQ on Danzig has particularly shocked our communities. This shooting, which saw the tragic loss of life of two young, vibrant individuals – Shyanne Charles and Joshua Yasay – as well as 23 injured, was a senseless act of violence.

 Yet in the midst of this tragedy, Scarborough has come together in a statement of strength and unity.

 I was proud to participate in the vigils and the community solidarity marches that have taken place in the community since last Monday night’s tragedy. It is both moving and empowering to see the community, and neighbouring communities, come together and stand against such senseless acts.

 I was particularly moved by the number of youth who fled to the streets to participate in these vigils and marches.

 The power and ideas of our youth are far too often overlooked by law makers and by people in power. Yet the creativity and innovation they share along with the unique perspective our youth provide need to be considered and championed.

 Working with our youth is something that I have always enjoyed doing and have continued to do since my election as Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge River. Through my engagement with youth of different ages, backgrounds, and socio-economic classes, I have learned that they all have one important thing in common – their ideas are wonderful and they are all fighting to be heard. My work with youth has also taught me that our youth are not only our leaders of tomorrow, but are our leaders of today.

 Community safety has been one of the priority topics that I have been hearing on the streets of Scarborough-Rouge River. Since my return to the riding for the summer recess of the House of Commons, I have been canvassing the streets of the various communities in my riding, seeking input from residents on elements to be included in a comprehensive plan to deal with community safety and violence in our streets.

 The empowerment of our youth and the encouragement and support that we can provide them as a community is a common suggestion that I am hearing in our community.

 Along with highlighting the apparent need to keep guns off our streets, Scarborough residents are highlighting the importance of long-term funding for programs – and the creation of new programs – that help to prevent youth from turning to gangs and violence, as well as programs that help youth seeking to leave this lifestyle.

 These types of programming require support from all levels of government. Unfortunately, this is an area where the federal government has been missing in action. While the federal government does provide some funding to programs through the Youth Gang Prevention Fund – a fund that invests in communities where youth gangs are an existing or emerging threat and supports initiatives that clearly target youth in gangs or at greatest risk of joining a gang– communities and programs are only eligible to receive monies from this Fund once.

 Because of this flawed funding model, several extremely successful programs in Toronto and across the country will be losing funding this year. We all know that programs require sustainable, long-term funding to build the networks of trust within the community and to remain successful. Therefore this funding model needs to be changed to ensure that successful programs have continuous access to these monies.

 Additionally, it is disappointing that Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, has rejected funding for such programming from both the federal and provincial governments.

 Scarborough, and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, is a great place to live and a wonderful place to raise a family. Yet we need to acknowledge that we are currently having a problem with violence in our streets that has many residents worried. We need to work together in our communities, across the city, and with all levels of government to address the root causes of this violence, to keep guns off our streets, and to end the cycle of violence.

 I will leave you with a quote from a pair of wise 10-year old girls I met at one of the Danzig vigils, “Shoot for your dreams, not at each other.”

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Businesses Will Thrive with Modernized Labour Laws – Hudak

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

Ontario can again lead Canada in competitiveness by getting our economic fundamentals right – and a key step is the reform of outmoded labour laws to create a climate for investment and job creation, PC Leader Tim Hudak said.

Hudak made the comments following a tour of Dupont Canada’s Ajax facility, where 160 employees manufacture paint and other coatings for Honda and Magna automotive products. The region has been hard-hit by Ontario’s troubled economy; unemployment is 9.0 per cent, well above the provincial average, which remains stuck at an unacceptable 7.7 per cent.

Last month, as part of his integrated plan for turning our province around, Hudak unveiled Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets – the second in a series of PC discussion papers on bold new ideas for creating jobs.

“The world has changed, and our economy has changed with it,” Hudak said. “But the rules governing the workplace have not.”

The Ontario PC white paper proposes action in four key areas: giving the individual worker a choice on becoming or remaining a union member; making union leaders more accountable to unionized employees; modernizing tendering rules to open up more government work to private sector competition; and reforming Ontario’s workplace agencies for a more flexible workforce and job creation.

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Dan Rather: ‘Quote approval’ a media sellout

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

By Dan Rather

(CNN) — A New York Times front-page article Monday detailed a new phenomenon in news coverage of the presidential campaign: candidates insisting on “quote approval,” telling reporters what they can and cannot use in some stories. And, stunningly, reporters agreeing to it.

This, folks, is news. Any way you look at it, this is a jaw-dropping turn in journalism, and it raises a lot of questions. Among them: Can you trust the reporters and news organizations who do this? Is it ever justified on the candidate’s side or on the reporter’s side? Where is this leading us?

As someone who’s been covering presidential campaigns since the 1950s, I have no delusions about political reporting. Candidates bargaining access to get the kind of news coverage they want is nothing new. The thicket of attribution and disclosure deals is a deep maze reporters have been picking their way through even before my time. But this latest tactic by candidates revealed by the Times gives me, to say the least, great pause. It should give every citizen pause.

Essentially, what the Times described was the rapid rise of “quote approval” — a strategy deployed by campaigns requiring reporters to send quotations they intend to use to candidates’ press officers, to be sliced, diced, edited and drained of color or unwanted consequences, and reporters going along, fearing that if they don’t, they won’t get access.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say a reporter is granted an interview with a senior strategist of the Obama or Romney campaign. A condition for the interview would be that before the reporter could send the story to the editor, he or she would have to agree to submit for approval every quote intended to be used to the campaign press staff.

Let us mark well this Faustian bargain. It is for the benefit of the politicians, at the expense of readers, listeners and viewers. It is not in the public interest; it is designed to further the candidates’ interests.

Political operatives cannot be blamed for wanting this. We, the press, should be held accountable for letting them have it.

Thomas Jefferson said: “The only security of all is in a free press.” A free and truly independent press — fiercely independent when necessary — is the red beating heart of freedom and democracy. One of the most important roles of our journalists is to be watchdogs. Submitting to these new tactics puts us more in the category of lapdogs.

For many years, it has been typical journalistic practice for high-ranking officials on the campaign or in the White House to demand that interviews be conducted “on background” — meaning reporters agree to not use direct quotes or identify the person by name. Hence, conventions such as “As one campaign official said …” This, in many cases, is defensible.

But the practice described in the Times is something new and different. This is the officials or candidates regularly insisting that reporters essentially become an operative arm of the administration or campaign they are covering.

“Quote approval” nullifies, or at least seriously dilutes, reporters’ ability and duty to be honest brokers of information. When the quotes are sanitized, then delivered intact with full attribution, the public has no way of knowing what the concealed deal was.

Please know that there is no joy in calling attention to these things. I respect and empathize with reporters and editors who must compete in today’s environment. And I know full well that when I’ve been covering campaigns, which I still do, I’ve made my mistakes and have been far from perfect.

About all of us doing this line of work, I’m often reminded of a sign in an old Wild West cow town saloon that said, “Please don’t shoot the piano player, he’s doing the best he can.”

But we journalists can do better. We must.

Dean Baquet, the excellent managing editor for news at the Times, said in Monday’s story, referring to quote approval: “We don’t like the practice. We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately, this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”

Yes. The Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and a few other newspapers, along with the major networks, are among the few news outlets that have the leverage to push back — soon and hard. It’s action worthy of us. And it’s important. It matters.

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The Dark Knight Rises: Colorado Shooting

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

By Staff Writer

What’s up with our young people these days. Here in Toronto, any time there is a shooting, the age of the suspects is under 30. In Colorado’s “movie massacre,” the suspect is a 24 year old man who was smart enough to be a PhD candidate in neuroscience, but turned out to be a monster.

He described himself as “a joker.” He wore a gas mask and sheathed head-to-toe in body armor, opened fire in a theater packed for a midnight showing of a just-released Batman movie, killing at least 12 people and wounding 58 others. He bought a movie ticket from the front door. Then he left through exit door, propped it open to re-enter with the costume and the guns to murder the innocent.

Police in this suburb just east of Denver quickly arrested the alleged shooter within a minute to two minutes. James E. Holmes, the suspect is a 24-year-old young man. He was aPhD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver with no known criminal history other than a speeding violation.

The rampage began around 12:38 a.m. Friday at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, which was crowded for the first showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

From the front of the theater, the shooter set off what witnesses and authorities described as tear gas or a smoke bomb. He then started firing with weapons such as a semi-automatic rifle and shotgun. At first, the horrified crowd thought that the action was all in the movie. By the time the audience realized they were too late. The dark figure in their midst wasn’t connected to the violent action movie.

The barrage left dozens wounded; they were taken to six hospitals, authorities said. The last of the bodies were removed from the movie theater by 5 p.m. on Friday but the police hadn’t released the names of the deceased.

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SURVEY TO HELP PEEL ACHIEVE 46,000 MORE CYCLING TRIPS A DAY WITHIN FIVE YEARS

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

The Region of Peel is collaborating with the City of Mississauga, City of Brampton and the Town of Caledon to lay down the foundation that will eventually see 46,000 more cycling trips per day in Peel in five years. The Region of Peel Cycling Survey will collect data on cycling patterns. The results of this study will fuel transportation plans, prioritize investments for bike paths or multi-user trails, trail improvements and address current cycling activity with improved safety. The Region is seeking participants in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon who use a bike for transportation.

“The Region needs your help in identifying where people cycle to find out where improvements are needed,” said Wayne Chan, Manager of Transportation Planning. “The results of the survey will tell us what routes are well travelled and what linkages may be missing to make the trip safer, easier and more convenient. We are working with our municipal partners with the assistance of the Region of Waterloo to conduct this research.” 

Participants will carry a GPS device when riding his/her bicycle over a two week period to track trip details. Participants are expected to fill out an online survey on their cycling behaviour. Cyclists need to commit to riding a bicycle for transportation (to work, grocery store, the mall, a friend’s house, camp, school, the bank) for at least seven of the 15 day study period. Trips must be within or through the Region of Peel.Participants will be entered in a prize draw to win one of three $50 VISA gift cards per study session.

There will be three study groups and participants can join any one group:

Group 1: Cycle from July 25 to August 8. Registration ends July 24.

Group 2: Cycle from August 22 to September 5. Registration ends August 21.

Group 3: Cycle from September 26 to October 10. Registration ends September 25.

For more information, frequently-asked-questions and instructions on registration, please visit:

www.walkandrollpeel.ca/news-ideas/we-need-you.htm

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Muslim Community Services: Collaborating with Service Provides for Newcomers’ Benefit

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

By Staff Writer

The employment market is definitely not doing great at the moment but we do provide the new immigrants the advantage of expanding their social and professional exposure.

A newcomer brings another language, a new experience, exposure to international market which can be used as an asset to the companies here.

Muslim Community Servicesis an organization of diverse professionals dedicated to enhancing newcomer community engagement. It was established in 1987 as a non-profit organization to serve and work with newcomers to facilitate their settlement and integration into Canada. We offer a wide range of services and learning opportunities to connect newcomers to a better future in the ever changing Canadian society. GenerationNext got in touch with Janice Hubbard to askhow this organization is making a difference in the lives of new immigrants:

What kind of immigrant services do you provide?

We offer LINC services, language training, employment services. We also conduct classes to help them with no beginning or end period. It depends on their individual requirement.

Do you cater to only Muslim community?

 We serve all clients regardless of their origin or nationality.

Do you find that many South Asian immigrants need English languageservices?

I think that even if they had English training in their native country, there is always a difference of language from place to place. So it is essential for allimmigrants to learn the language as it helps in better understanding of culture and behaviour.

Are the needs of male immigrants a little different from femaleimmigrants?

That holds true for all the females around the world. Women generally have more family responsibilities than men. We try to look at every client and understand the requirements and needs individually. Men usually take care of the financial responsibilities in the house.

Do you help people finding jobs?

Yes, we provide employment services like making resumes, finding opportunities, identifying skills, and mock interviews, preparing them to enter the job market, search and keep a job.

What kinds of jobs do you help in finding, in medical, IT or engineering fieldsetc.?

We deal with all kinds of professionally trained immigrants. We constantly make an effort to connect them with the employers. A newcomer brings another language, a new experience, exposure to international market which can be used as an asset to the companies here. We realize that certain professions are more difficult than other and require further certifications. Hence, we have programs which cater to specific programs.

With the current job market in Canada, how big a challenge is it to find jobs for immigrants and you as a company?

The employment market is definitely not doing great at the moment but we do provide the new immigrants the advantage of expanding their social and professional exposure.

How many immigrants do you serve in a year?

We serve from 11,000 to 13,000 immigrants. We operate from three locations, two in rampton and one in Mississauga

Generally speaking, what age immigrants do you serve?

We serve all age groups and we look at all their activities. Most of our clients range between 25 years to 55 years.We provide guidance to them about health and school. We have group programs to help them excel in their leadership skills and performance.

Do you have programs for seniors and youth?

We have a leadership program for youth. Thisprogramhelps them to be able to impact and influence decisions. We have a Connections Program for the seniors. In this program, we invite seniors on a regular basis for information sessions. We provide them with computers in their own language as it is important for them to be connected with their own family back home.

What makes your organization better than others?

We don’t look at other companies as competitors rather we look at them as complementing services to what we have. We believe in collaborating with other service providers so we are able to provide better services. All our counsellors are multi-lingual, so they can understand and meet the needs of our clients in a better way.

What is your preferred method of communicating?

In all our branches combined, we speak over 18 languages for example Arabic, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Polish, French, Spanish, and Romanian etc. Also we have volunteers who help us in casethe language acts as a barrier.

What major challenges are you currently facing as an organization?

Working in a fast paced dynamic environment is a challenge. To keep our staff up-to-date with policies, benefits from government, services provided by various resources, current developments and changing needs are also some of the challenges. This way, we can refer those to clients, keeping them well informed on what’s going on. We have programs conducted in libraries if the clients are not able to come to our organization. Similarly,we provide programs in 56 schools in Brampton both elementary and secondary. We want to be inclusive and be able to reach everybody. The immigrants that come here have a big advantage of being internationally trained.

What is the organization’s plan for the next five years?

We have another department working on it. It’s hard to comment before our strategic department releases it. We keep in mind the areas to work on, focus more, and improve.

What is your company’s policy on attending seminars, workshops, and other
 training opportunities?

We encourage the staff at all times to update and upgrade their knowledge. In order to maintain the quality of services we provide, it is essential to have trained and well informed staff.

If you are a new immigrant, seeking nay of the services mentioned in this interview, please visit Muslim Community Services at www.muslimcommunity.org or call at (905) 790-1910.

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Complexities of the Pak-US Relations

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

Dr. Hassan Askari

Lahore

     The year 2011 can be described as the worst year in the U.S.-Pakistan relations that began with the incident of Raymond Davis in Lahore in the last week of January that caused the death of three Pakistanis: two were killed by Raymond Davis and one person was overrun by a vehicle of American Consulate in Lahore that came for helping Raymond Davis. However, the driver of the support vehicle managed to return to the consulate and the consulate never identified the driver, not to speak to of handing him over to the Pakistani authorities.

  The Raymond Davis issue was resolved through compensation as provided in Pakistani legal system. The whole incident created the issue of presence of CIA agents in Pakistan under the garb of private security contractors. The Pakistan government decided not to extend the visas to such people and most of them returned by the end of 2011.

  Other problematic incident in 2011 was U.S. military raid in Abbottabad on May 2 to kill Osama bin Laden without any prior information to Pakistan, suspension of U.S. military assistance worth $ 800 million to Pakistan and propaganda against each other in their respective countries. Official and semi-official circles were involved in the propaganda against each other, projecting each other as an enemy.

Pakistan agreed to reopen the supply of goods to U.S./NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan on July 3rd after its suspension for over 7 months. This decision enabled the U.S. and Pakistan to overcome the most serious crisis in the relations since they cultivated the first alliance arrangement in the mid-1950s. However, no crisis was more damaging than the situation that emerged after American troops attacked two border posts in Salala areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on November 26, 2011. Pakistan viewed this attack as a deliberate American action to express their resentment on Pakistan’s policies towards Afghanistan. The U.S. described the Salala incident as a regrettable accident caused by the mistakes committed by both sides.

 The U.S. official and non-official circles explored the option of abandoning Pakistan and worked on the alternate supply route to Afghanistan through the states of Central Asia and Russia. The Central Asian states explored for this purpose included Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The distance of this route is almost double of the route through Pakistan and it requires the goodwill of at least two Central Asian states and Russia. The cost of movement of goods through this route is higher. The U.S. has kept this option open as a backup arrangement but it cannot be a substitute to the Pakistani route. It was also viewed in the U.S. that if Pakistan is left alone totally, the major beneficiaries will be the Taliban and other extremist and militant Islamic groups that will become strong. Therefore the proposal for total abandonment of Pakistan was viewed as unworkable.

  On the Pakistani side a section of policy makers and the non-official political circles, especially the Islamist and pro-Taliban elements, engaged in massive propaganda of totally severing the relationship with the U.S. They wanted to expand Pakistan’s relations with China as a substitute to Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.  

   No person in Pakistan cared to explore the viewpoint of China on the confrontation between Pakistan and the U.S. Given China’s expanded economic and diplomatic relations with the U.S., it was not expected to be a party to Pakistan’s emotionally charged propaganda campaign against the U.S.

  It was also felt by a large number of people in Pakistan that Pakistan could not cut off its ties with the West because it would isolate Pakistan at the global level and reduce its capacity to influence the Afghanistan situation as Americans withdraw their combat troops.  The major beneficiary of Pakistan’s isolationist policy would have been India that could increase its role in Afghanistan.

  Pakistan’s friendly countries like China and the United Kingdom advised Pakistan to normalize its relations with the United States by reopening the supply route.

  The resolution of the supply route issue has generated goodwill that will enable Pakistan and the U.S. to find accommodating solutions to other problems like the drone attacks, two-way movement of militants on the Afghan-Pakistan border, the Haqqani group in North Waziristan, Pakistan’s security concerns in Afghanistan after 2014 and support for Afghan reconciliation and stability. Another set of issues relates to the U.S. economic and military assistance to Pakistan, including the repayments of what Pakistan has spent for fighting terrorism on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border from the Coalition Support Fund.

  A Pakistani civil-military delegation will soon visit the U.S. to streamline the above mentioned issues.

  Two issues are most problematic. From U.S. perspective, the issue of the Haqqani group partly based in North Waziristan is the most sensitive. The U.S. views this single issue as the main reason for its problems in Afghanistan. This is an exaggerated view of the U.S. failures in Afghanistan. It is one of the reasons but not the only reason for American problems in Afghanistan.

 Pakistan’s misplaced emotionalism is focused on drone attacks which Pakistani policy makers and Islamists think this to be the main reason for increased terrorism in Pakistan. This is a short sighted view of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan.

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Symbols over substance in India-Pakistan ties

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

Kanti Bajpai

India

India-Pakistan relations are better than they have been for many years, but all said and done not much is being accomplished materially. There is military stability. There is dialogue. There is growing trade. Visa regulations have been improved. And now we are told cricket ties will resume. But where is the substance? Isn’t it time to resolve what could be resolved?

Symbols matter in diplomacy, but substance matters too. As things stand, we are in danger of too much symbolism and too little substance. The announcement that India will resume cricketing ties with Pakistan is largely of symbolic importance. So is talk of the prime minister going to Pakistan sometime later this year, since there is little to suggest that anything of substance will come out of the visit. What we need is more substance in India-Pakistan relations.

The Manmohan Singh government has on the whole handled India-Pakistan relations with courage and good sense. It has refused to hold the relationship hostage to terrorism. In spite of the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and 2011, it has refused to retaliate militarily and to stop the comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan. This is sensible. India has no terribly good military options against Pakistan, and the only long-run way of dealing with terrorism emanating from Pakistan is to help Islamabad maintain stability in the bilateral relationship and, in doing so, maintain stability internally.

On the Pakistani side, the only thing of substance has been the offer of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. Islamabad has withheld this status forever on the grounds that it will only resume normal trading ties when the Kashmir problem is more or less solved. Last year, in a pleasant surprise, the Gilani government announced it was ready to change course. Since then, under pressure, Islamabad seems to have slowed down once again, hedging on whether it is ready to give India MFN status or not.

India-Pakistan relations are better than they have been for many years, but all said and done not much is being accomplished materially. There is military stability. There is dialogue. There is growing trade. Visa regulations have been improved. And now we are told cricket ties will resume. But where is the substance? Isn’t it time to resolve what could be resolved?

The Siachen dispute could be fairly easily resolved. After an avalanche took the lives of over 20 Pakistani soldiers a few weeks ago, Islamabad indicated it would like to settle the matter. New Delhi’s response has been desultory and largely negative. What exactly is the point of sticking to a hard position on Siachen? What strategic objectives are achieved by holding on to a tiny point of territory at 17,000 feet where both sides lose more troops to the cold and harsh terrain than to any military conflict?

There is absolutely no strategic worth to Siachen whatsoever. The man who originally articulated the military rationale for holding Siachen, Lieutenant General M L Chibber, has long since said that our position there is useless. That doesn’t mean handing it over to Pakistan. It means signing the agreement that both sides drew up as long ago as 1993! Under the agreement, both sides would withdraw to safer positions, reserving the right to go back to previously held positions if the other side violated the agreement.

Siachen must be the strategically most bizarre and futile struggle in the world. Only India and Pakistan would waste lives and hundreds of crores of rupees on it every year. Some in the military argue that controlling Siachen is vital for the security of Kashmir and that an Indian presence at Siachen usefully threatens the China-Pakistan Karakoram highway. Given that hardly anyone can move through the glacier with falling into a crevasse or bursting his lungs and given that the Karakoram highway is 200 km away, this is absurd. The prime minister should forthrightly tell the military that this is complete strategic nonsense and that we should stop sacrificing the lives of jawans in this absurdity.

India and Pakistan need to add substance to mostly symbolic diplomacy. Siachen would be a good place to begin the march towards substance. Pakistan, for its part, must unequivocally give India MFN status. Sir Creek should be next on the list of substantial problem solving; this also was nearly solved in 1993. The prime minister and his Pakistani counterpart need to shore up symbolic with real courage and resolve what is resolvable to create the base for a Kashmir settlement in the future.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Symbols-over-substance-in-India-Pakistan-ties/articleshow/15059413.cms

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Engro Foods: Going Beyond Halal Products

Posted on 26 July 2012 by admin

Engro Foods Canada Ltd. Makers of Al Safa Halal packaged foods celebrated its one year anniversary with a luncheon at the Delta Meadowvale hotel on July 18th, 2012. Attending the event were MP Brad Butt, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, COO and Co-Founder Engro Foods Steve Hahn.It’s the first Pakistan-based multi-national company to invest millions to set up a facility in this country, creating Canadian jobs directly and indirectly. 

Salman Khan, the brand ambassador addressed in his speech “we don’t want to be seen as having halal meet only but other items like rice, flour etc. A year ago we realized that that old packaging was outdated and not up to line. We did a thorough study and came up with the new packaging, bold and attractive”. Initially Al Safa had 44 SKUs and now we will have 93 SKUs in 2012 with 8 different categories.

The first Pakistani-Canadian female senator Salma Ataullahjan in Mississauga also spoke of the huge halal consumer market in Canada. The Muslim population is 1 million, which is 2.8% of the total population in Canada, the largest non-Christian group. She says “50% of this population is now born in Canada and contributes to businesses likeAl Safa. It is also a huge market for university students who have difficulty finding halal foods outside”.

After that Steve in his speech told us more about the company. He says “ Al Safa was founded in 1999 with a simple idea of making authentic halal food conveniently available to Muslim families. Both our product line and customers expanded; hence the idea was catching on. In 2011 Engro Foods acquired Al Safa , making record sales with major transformation to Al Safa. Our goal is to have rapid growth, our mission to exceed customer expectations with outstanding customerservice. Engro foods will not comprise when it comes to halal and consumer food safety”.

Conservative MP Brad Butt from Mississauga-Streetsville comments “On behalf of the prime minister, congratulations to what you are doing. You are marketing products all around the world. We have a very strong Pakistani and Muslim community”.

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