Archive | September, 2013

How One Broadcaster Shortens The Space Between Canada and India

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

 Samuel Getachew

It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who expressed the importance of Canada-India bilateral relations. Upon visiting the South Asian nation a year ago, he described how he hopes the “Canada-India relationship follows a typical Bollywood movie script: two lovers survive ups and downs to eventually live happily ever after.” But it’s not just country to country relations that matter. So, too, do the relationships between various cultures within Canada.

Within Canada’s population of almost 35 million, according to the latest government census, more than 200 languages are spoken. 6.8 million of us are foreign-born while over 1 million identify as Indo-Canadians. Furthermore, there are many that are children of immigrants born in Canada and who live within distinct, and at times opposing, cultures on a daily basis.

Take the example of Niru Kumar.

The McGill Law School graduate, noted broadcaster and blogger describes herself as having “lived at the intersection of Canada and India my whole life.” As a Canadian, she experiences life “from the prism of two cultures, and draw[s] value and meaning from both”. Her legal career reflects her South Asian Canadian citizenry, as it has taken her to India as an intern with a Supreme Court lawyer in New Delhi and given her the opportunity to work with the Commission for the Walkerton Inquiry here in Canada.

Kumar is an accomplished blogger on the premier site for South Asian arts, culture & lifestyle, MyBindi.com, as well as for the CBC Parents website. She comments on social issues within South Asian communities as well as on mainstream Canadian issues. She describes her blogging as a reflection of how she is “a Canadian, born and bred, and proud of it”. But she is “also a South Asian, and having that cultural heritage has nuanced [her] life at every age and stage, through all of life’s milestone moments, from birth and presumably until death.” She is also a regular host of a show on Rogers Community TV on social and political issues in the Peel region.

Her journey began when her parents came to Canada in their 20′s in the 1960s. Her dad came in 1965, and brought her mom with him after they married in 1969. He came as a professional engineer at a time that Canada, which was actively wooing these professionals, experienced a significant influx of South Asian immigrants from South Asia and East Africa. She was the first of three daughters born in Montreal.

Kumar speaks several languages including English, Hindi, French, and Spanish. She is also a trained classical Indian Dancer, and as a student at McGill, she joined the women’s law hockey team. She is indeed a Canadian and an Indian all in the same sentence.

How does the self-described Canadian who wears “both saris and business suits” handle being Indian and Canadian? “I know cultural tension: I remember when I found the perfect Indian guy and thought my parents would be thrilled, never imagining it could cause tension in our relationship because they would want me to marry within months, whereas we wanted to date for a couple of years.”

She continues – “Now I have two little kids and my husband and I struggle with what parts of each culture to impart to them. Hindi classes or piano lessons? Classical Indian dancing or skiing? I often wonder what parts of each culture they’ll choose.”

It is no wonder that CBC radio recruited her to host a new program titled Intersections. The show that ended its summer run at the end of August was an exploration of the cultural tensions that exists among Canada’s diverse population. CBC describes it as “a show about how we connect — or not — in our ever-changing Canada.”

In 1930, describing himself as a reformer, Canada’s one-time Depression era Prime Minister, R.B. Bennett, held an ambitious vision for Canada. He spoke of a “reform (that) meant government intervention, government control and regulation.” To complement his belief, he created a slew of public institutions from the Bank of Canada to CBC’s predecessor, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, on the recommendation of the 1929 Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting.

 In his support of public broadcasting, Canada’s 11th Prime Minister spoke of how Canada “must be assured of complete Canadian control of broadcasting from Canadian sources. Without such control, broadcasting can never be the agency by which national consciousness may be fostered and sustained and national unity still further strengthened.”

 With Intersections, the CBC, it seems, is fulfilling the promise of its Canadian content mandate. And for her part, Kumar’s pursuit of excellence — through journalism, activism and the law — is actively contributing to a quintessential and essential Canadian conversation.

 Check out Kumar at http://www.cbc.ca/intersections/ and on twitter : @nirukumar

Comments (0)

Overwhelming Support for Hudak at PC Convention

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

After the Progressive Conservatives Convention in London, Ontario, at least one thing is certain: Tim Hudak will remain the leader of the PC party until another Ontario election. Election results will, then, determine his future.

Once the amendment for leadership review was defeated, Mr. Hudak said

“Look: this is not exactly a party of wallflowers. It’s what I love about our party; they are not afraid to ask the tough questions. I answered the tough questions. And what you saw at the end of the day was a PC party coming together.”

The need for leadership review trumped up the need to win the election that can be held next Spring. Both the PCs and the New Democrats have talked about an early election, dissatisfied with the way Wynne Liberals are moving ahead.

In his speech, Mr. Hudak addressed questions that have been raised about his likeability in polls and cold personality. He spoke about cutting spending and battling unions otherwise Ontario can turn out to be Detroit.

 “Ontario will have to choose: will we stay on the road to Detroit, or will we go down a different road to a brighter future?” he said.

PCs also discussed policy ideas for the next elections. These policy ideas ranged from cutting income taxes to cutting gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area.

The delegates discussed lowering personal tax rates and reducing the number of income tax brackets to ease the overall tax load. They’d pay for the tax cuts by reducing the number of tax credits that currently exist.

They also seem to be divided on the issue of unions. Some delegates argued that heavy handedness on unions can drive away unionized workers, such as opposing off-duty paid jobs for police officers, like monitoring traffic at construction sites.

At the end of the day Progressive Conservatives especially Tim Hudak will have to work on to improve what one of the delegates described as “heartless, business-oriented, money first, not caring enough about people” image of the PC party.

Liberal MPP Steven Del Duca said Hudak has many years as opposition leader in front of him.

“One thing that came across loud and clear to me is he spent a great deal of the time in his remarks today talking down the province, very pessimistic about the future, which I think is in keeping with the message that he’s been delivering for quite some time. And I think it’s one of the many reasons that people across Ontario have rejected his leadership and his ideas over the past number of years,” Del Duca said.

NDP MPP Peggy Sattler said she’s hearing from her constituents that they voted NDP for the first time because they wanted to see a change.

Comments (0)

Dada Vaswani shares pearls of wisdom with Toronto!

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

‘Hands that help and heal are holier than hands that turn the rosary.’

‘Come lend a helping hand, come make the impossible- I’m possible.’

‘Come lend a helping hand, come let us fulfill our duty of being human.’

And so went on numerous quotable quotes from the revered Sindhi spiritual leader, visionary, philosopher and author, Dada J P Vaswani, who is visiting Toronto. He held two discourses over the Sep 21-22 weekend, one in a Ganga-Jamuna mix of English and Sindhi at the Sindhi Gurmandir and the other in English at the Sringeri Mandir.

The 4 points he drove home to face the challenges of life are:

1. Turn over your life in childlike trust to the Lord.

2. Rejoice in everything that the will of the Lord brings to you.

3. Spend some time daily in silent study of spiritual truths.

4. Help others! Do sewa!

Dada delighted so many of his followers by not only giving them serious ways of running and improving their lives but also expounded on the four aforementioned tenets punctuating his discourse with various humourous anecdotes (for instance, Albert Einstein always said to avoid altercations with his spouse, they agreed that all minor decisions were to be taken by his wife and all major ones by him, but grab this…no occasion ever arose for major decisions! Now did that ever prompt loud laughter from the attendees!).

Stressing that one should always speak sweetly and softly and always help others without asking for anything in return, the hall was thrown open to a Q & A session. After several questions to which a very mentally agile and alert Dada (especially considering he turned 95 in August) responded with wit and depth, a question was asked as to why one should adopt vegetarianism. Dada again responded with intelligence and wisdom following which, an excited devotee jumped up and invited 95 patrons to come up and pledge at least a day of eating vegetarian food to celebrate Dada’s recent 95th birthday. The session stopped as people one by one went up and pledged themselves to at least a day of vegetarianism and to get blessings from Dada. normal� pn8�I�BCA style=’font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-bidi-font-family:Helvetica;color:black;border:none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in;padding:0in;background:white’>Shalini Konanur 

Every September, global leaders descend on New York for an annual rite of passage. They go to mark the ceremonial opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Often characterized by high-level presidential and prime ministerial speeches, the UNGA is also an opportunity for in-the-trenches progress toward making the world a better place. One such opportunity will take place this Wednesday, Sept. 25.

On that day, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will work to rally support from other countries to tackle an issue whose proper place, really, is in ancient history texts, but sadly continues to plague the world today: the ongoing practice of forcing children, mostly girls, to marry someone against their will.

In the developing world, one in three girls takes wedding vows by the time she is 18. That translates into 14 million child marriages per year, often dooming these brides to lifelong servitude and misery.

Clearly, child marriage is morally repugnant and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that marriage requires “free and full consent.” But the issue goes well beyond human rights. Child marriage is a major impediment to poverty reduction and economic development. Child brides are almost always forced to drop their schooling and, thereby, become unable to contribute to achieving broader social and economic goals.

Enabling girls in developing countries to remain in school longer, on the other hand, would have a positive impact on them as well as the countries they live in. If children, especially girls, remain in school until at least age 15, they not only enhance essential reading and arithmetic knowledge but also learn life skills, including an appreciation of their basic rights and how to assert them.

As well, those extra years take them through puberty, a time when many girls in the world first confront forced marriages or are shunted away from the classroom to focus on housework and other chores. Indeed, a girl with some secondary education is less likely to marry too young than a girl with only primary education or less.

Eradicating child marriage also has significant health benefits, not only for young brides. The earlier a girl becomes pregnant, the higher the risk of death for both her and her children due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. In developing nations, these complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19. And infant deaths are 50 per cent more likely in these cases .

Yet the heinous tradition of child and forced marriage is by no means only a developing world phenomenon. In 2012, as many as 1,485 possible forced marriage cases prompted the attention and resources of the U.K. government’s Forced Marriage Unit which has been tasked with combatting the practice of forced marriage within Britain. There are signs this issue has made its mark in Canada as well.

The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) has taken steps to determine the extent of forced and child marriage in this country. According to SALCO’s preliminary research, one-quarter of the 219 forced marriage situations it has investigated in Ontario and Quebec over the past three years have involved children under the age of 18. The research further indicated that nearly half (44 per cent) of people identifying as victims of forced marriage situations were Canadian citizens and many of these marriages occurred outside the country, beyond the reach of the Canadian justice system .

There is clearly a need for action, both at the government and community levels, in Canada as well as in the developing world. With Canada’s leadership at the UN we can help to end this destructive practice everywhere in our lifetimes.

For his part, Minister Baird has been outspoken in the fight to end child and forced marriage. We encourage him to continue in that role at this session of the UN. Beyond the UN, Baird could lead a Canadian initiative that includes smart interventions at home and abroad to combat this practice on the ground.

We fully support Canada’s efforts to lead on a UN resolution that would mark an international commitment to end child and forced marriage in all corners of the world. Such a resolution, as part of a broader ministerial initiative that works with communities themselves, would add the moral force of the international body to pressure member states to ban this practice within their borders, regardless of cultural, historic and social traditions.

Hard to imagine any country daring to vote No.

Rosemary McCarney is president and CEO of Plan Canada. Shalini Konanur is executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

Source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/09/23/canada_can_make_a_difference_in_ending_child_and_forced_marriage.html

Comments (0)

Canada can make a difference in ending child and forced marriage

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Canada should lead on a United Nations resolution that would mark an international commitment to end child and forced marriage all over the world.

By: Rosemary McCarney

 Shalini Konanur 

Every September, global leaders descend on New York for an annual rite of passage. They go to mark the ceremonial opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Often characterized by high-level presidential and prime ministerial speeches, the UNGA is also an opportunity for in-the-trenches progress toward making the world a better place. One such opportunity will take place this Wednesday, Sept. 25.

On that day, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will work to rally support from other countries to tackle an issue whose proper place, really, is in ancient history texts, but sadly continues to plague the world today: the ongoing practice of forcing children, mostly girls, to marry someone against their will.

In the developing world, one in three girls takes wedding vows by the time she is 18. That translates into 14 million child marriages per year, often dooming these brides to lifelong servitude and misery.

Clearly, child marriage is morally repugnant and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that marriage requires “free and full consent.” But the issue goes well beyond human rights. Child marriage is a major impediment to poverty reduction and economic development. Child brides are almost always forced to drop their schooling and, thereby, become unable to contribute to achieving broader social and economic goals.

Enabling girls in developing countries to remain in school longer, on the other hand, would have a positive impact on them as well as the countries they live in. If children, especially girls, remain in school until at least age 15, they not only enhance essential reading and arithmetic knowledge but also learn life skills, including an appreciation of their basic rights and how to assert them.

As well, those extra years take them through puberty, a time when many girls in the world first confront forced marriages or are shunted away from the classroom to focus on housework and other chores. Indeed, a girl with some secondary education is less likely to marry too young than a girl with only primary education or less.

Eradicating child marriage also has significant health benefits, not only for young brides. The earlier a girl becomes pregnant, the higher the risk of death for both her and her children due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. In developing nations, these complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19. And infant deaths are 50 per cent more likely in these cases .

Yet the heinous tradition of child and forced marriage is by no means only a developing world phenomenon. In 2012, as many as 1,485 possible forced marriage cases prompted the attention and resources of the U.K. government’s Forced Marriage Unit which has been tasked with combatting the practice of forced marriage within Britain. There are signs this issue has made its mark in Canada as well.

The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) has taken steps to determine the extent of forced and child marriage in this country. According to SALCO’s preliminary research, one-quarter of the 219 forced marriage situations it has investigated in Ontario and Quebec over the past three years have involved children under the age of 18. The research further indicated that nearly half (44 per cent) of people identifying as victims of forced marriage situations were Canadian citizens and many of these marriages occurred outside the country, beyond the reach of the Canadian justice system .

There is clearly a need for action, both at the government and community levels, in Canada as well as in the developing world. With Canada’s leadership at the UN we can help to end this destructive practice everywhere in our lifetimes.

For his part, Minister Baird has been outspoken in the fight to end child and forced marriage. We encourage him to continue in that role at this session of the UN. Beyond the UN, Baird could lead a Canadian initiative that includes smart interventions at home and abroad to combat this practice on the ground.

We fully support Canada’s efforts to lead on a UN resolution that would mark an international commitment to end child and forced marriage in all corners of the world. Such a resolution, as part of a broader ministerial initiative that works with communities themselves, would add the moral force of the international body to pressure member states to ban this practice within their borders, regardless of cultural, historic and social traditions.

Hard to imagine any country daring to vote No.

Rosemary McCarney is president and CEO of Plan Canada. Shalini Konanur is executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

Source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/09/23/canada_can_make_a_difference_in_ending_child_and_forced_marriage.html

Comments (0)

Questionable and unethical business practices still exist at Ornge

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Despite a new Board of Directors, a new CEO and an overhaul of its management team, it seems little has changed in the executive suites at Ornge. That at least is the opinion of one Ornge’s largest suppliers of aviation services.

 Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees called on the Minister of Health to order an independent investigation into allegations of “questionable and unethical business practices” at the embattled Ornge Air Ambulance system.

Klees quoted from the sworn testimony of Rick Horwath, President of Air Bravo who appeared as a witness before the Public Accounts Committee last Wednesday.

Air Bravo is the largest supplier of fixed wing air ambulance services to Ornge and is one of five private sector aviation companies that operate under Standing Agreements with Ornge.

Among the concerns the Air Bravo executive registered with the committee, were allegations of inherent conflicts of interest that included coercion by senior Ornge executives of proponents during the bidding process for contracts, a full time Ornge employee authoring a competitor’s RFP, confidential emails between Ornge Chief Operating Officer Rob Giguere and Air Bravo leaked to competitors by the Ornge legal team and the lack of direct oversight by Ornge of its contracted aviation services.

 ”Not only is there no direct oversight by Ornge of the aviation services there is no requirement for proponents to prove they have the financial capacity to deliver on their contractual obligations.”

Klees insists that nothing but an independent investigation into these allegations are acceptable, given the history of scandal at Ornge.

“The very fact that we were told under sworn testimony that the new Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer and the company’s legal department all have knowledge of these alleged improprieties, the only responsible thing for the minister to do is to order an independent investigation.”

Comments (0)

Like our fellow Canadians elsewhere, we Quebecers are open, positive people

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Justin Trudeau

Ottawa

Quebecers and all Canadians have built a society that is the envy of the world because we have succeeded in making diversity an immeasurable asset. No Quebecer should be disqualified from a job in a public institution on the pretext that they pose a threat to state secularism.

Premier Marois unveiled her government’s much anticipated plan to legislate values in Quebec. As I have said since the PQ first announced this plan back in the 2012 election campaign, I categorically oppose it. Like our fellow Canadians elsewhere, we Quebecers are open, positive people. We believe in defending one another’s freedoms, not in restricting them.

 I have great faith in the people of my home province. My message to Canadians from outside Quebec is a simple and important one: so should you. Resist the temptation to indulge in easy stereotypes and reactive characterizations of Quebec and Quebecers. The PQ government’s plan is divisive, negative and emotional. It is designed to be that way.

 Quebecers will reject it.

 I got into public life in part because I believed that politics can be done differently. It could be less petty and more transparent. Candour, especially during tense moments like this one, is risky but necessary. This summer, I met with Premier Marois and we discussed this issue openly and frankly. I said to her what I believe to be true: her plan does not accurately reflect Quebec. It would attack what we hold most dear: our right and our freedom as individuals to choose, and to express our beliefs within the context of universally recognized democratic laws and norms. There is no question that our government and our institutions must be neutral and secular; church and state must be separate. But by what logic should we restrict the freedom of some Quebecers to express their religious beliefs? Simply because they are not shared by the majority? This is a dangerous road, not just for religious minorities within Quebec, but for all minorities, everywhere in Canada.

 The PQ’s plan divides the people of Quebec to solve a problem that does not exist. It creates two classes of citizens – those who hold religious beliefs and those who do not – under the pretext of secularizing a state that is already secular.

These universal rights and freedoms were entrenched in the Constitution because we believe they are at the core of our commitment to liberal, constitutional democracy. We enshrined them in both the Canadian and Quebec Charters precisely because they transcend — and sometimes need to be shielded from — the values of the government of the day.

 Quebecers and all Canadians have built a society that is the envy of the world because we have succeeded in making diversity an immeasurable asset. No Quebecer should be disqualified from a job in a public institution on the pretext that they pose a threat to state secularism. A Sikh or Jewish man, a Muslim woman or a woman who wants to wear a crucifix larger than the Parti Québécois dictates, should not have to choose between their religious belief and their economic well being. These symbols do not detract from our great pride as French Quebecers. They do not diminish our ability to live and flourish in French, nor do they prevent us from passing onto our children the extraordinary richness of our language and our culture.

In the end, the PQ plan does not represent who we are. As René Lévesque himself said, we will be judged according to how we treat our minorities. The PQ government’s plan, if adopted, would see history render a very harsh verdict indeed.

Quebecers and Canadians deserve better than this. I have confidence that Quebecers will demand better than this, and so should you.

Justin Trudeau is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. 

Comments (0)

Canada allows families to fly with cremated remains

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has been contacted by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) about regulatory changes to airport screening of cremation containers (urns) when flying. As many Sikh families do travel with cremated remains, the below will be of particular importance;

 Can You Fly with Cremated Remains?

Yes. You may bring a cremation container on the plane with you if certain conditions are met. We realize how difficult it is to lose a loved one, but knowing and planning to meet these conditions ahead of time can help you avoid disappointment at the airport. For example, some airlines do not allow cremated remains as checked baggage, so please check with your air carrier first to learn about possible restrictions.

Passengers are allowed to carry a cremation container with them as part of their carry-on baggage. The container, however, must pass through the x-ray machine.

• It must be made of a material that allows the x-ray to clearly scan its contents.

• It should not contain additional items, such as a kirpan or bangles. We suggest you bring these separately in your checked baggage. A kirpan will not be allowed in carry-on baggage.

• It must pass security screening. Documentation from a funeral home does not provide an exemption to this requirement.

• Screening officers are not permitted to open a cremation container, and they will not inspect the contents if you open it yourself.

• It cannot be placed in checked baggage if it has been x-rayed at pre-board screening and its contents could not be determined.

Before heading to the airport ask your funeral director about temporary containers for transportation purposes. These containers are more likely to pass through security. You can also bring your empty permanent container with you and arrange for a funeral home at your destination to transfer the container contents.

 What cremation container materials will pass through the security checkpoint?

Due to differences in thickness, shape and material, some cremation containers are more likely to pass Plastic, cardboard or cloth containers are most likely to clear the x-ray machine and be permitted past the checkpoing.

Metal, granite and ceramic containers are least likely to be permitted past the checkpoint.

If your container does not pass pre-board screening for carry-on baggage, you may:

•  leave the container with a friend or family member who is not travelling and still at the airport;

• ask your airline representative to re-book you on a later flight, allowing you time to make other

• ship the container via mail, cargo or courier. Please keep in mind that shipping options vary at places

 - See more at: http://www.southasianpost.com/article/5464-canada-allow-families-fly-cremated-remains.html#sthash.p6mPai38.dpuf

Comments (0)

May The Sun Be Ever In Your Favour

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Yumna Baqai

Toronto

“Ma’am what kind of drink would you prefer?” asked the flight attendant of the California bound flight, interrupting my thoughts about the delicate composition of the Subway foot long I had bought for Iftar. “Nothing,” I replied politely, “I am fasting.”

Before leaving for my vacation, I consulted with the local imam who advised not to fast while travelling if it exceeds my regular fasting hours. I used my wonderful math skills to conclude that during flight the Iftar will be 3 hours earlier than usual, hence I chose to fast.

 It was a lovely day, but after going through the customs and tough scanning at the security, I was exhausted, hungry and cared the least about the day’s beauty. I just wanted it to end. Trust me, you would wish the same if it were the fifteenth’s time you have apologized to your neighbour for the kind of grumbling coming out of your stomach. It really sounded like I had swallowed a live Velociraptor!

 Anyways, after an hour or two into the flight, I saw the sun drawing close to the horizon. “YES!” exclaimed the desperate voice in my head, “Food time! ….I mean, Alhamdulilah! The fast went well. It’s almost time for Iftar.” It was finally the moment I had been waiting for. My tongue braced for a delicious impact while my stomach skipped with excitement, preparing to digest the mouth-watering Tuna sub. I took out the exotic foot long that I have been hijab-over-heals about for the past few hours. Maintaining the visual contact with the sun, I recite my pre-Iftar supplications alongside counting down the final minutes. Upon my request, the flight attendant poured for me, a glass of water. With a water-filled Styrofoam glass in one hand and the sub in another, I continued staring at the sun knowing that at any moment the red across the horizon would appear announcing the Iftar. What happened next transformed this well-behaved Hijabi into a furious and barbaric Hulkjabi.

The sun that was almost setting seemed to have time warped back a couple of hours. It was afternoon all over again!! The sun had repositioned itself to the point it was at during the time of take-off from Toronto. Shocked, confused, disappointed, angry are all the words that fail to describe the exact intensity of the emotion I felt. What in the Merlin’s beard was that?! Did the sun trick me? — It can’t! So what was it? After a while, the major flaw in my genius calculation hits, “Dagnabbit, Yumna!” I yelled inside my head “Time zones!” Yes, time zones! Something I clearly skipped during the calculations. Moving from Toronto towards California, the time zones change and the day becomes younger. “Stupid fire ball!” lashing out at the innocent sun, I slammed the shade shut and fell asleep.

“Ma’am what kind of drink would you prefer?” the flight attendant shook me awake during the second round of refreshments. I slid open the shade. The sun hasn’t seemed to have moved a bit! “Fasting,” I groaned irritably. Turned and fell asleep again.

About three hours later, half an hour away from the destination, the sun finally sets. The fast lasted more than 23 hours leaving me enervated. No longer caring about the deliciousness of the sub, I devoured the entire sandwich within seconds. My neighbour was clearly not impressed by the barbaric behaviour, but hey! He shouldn’t be talking… he ate chips, cookies, sandwiches and much more throughout the journey. Of course, I apologized for my ruthless behaviour later. He understood. All is well that ends well.

Anyways, this was the most energy depleting journey. However, I learned several lessons like: Never let Yumna calculate anything important as it can be disastrous and ALWAYS take time zones into account. Remember, if you’re travelling westwards, the day lengthens, while on the contrary, travelling eastwards makes it shorter. Apart from aforesaid lessons, I also got a true essence of hunger provoking thoughts about starvation across the globe. This experience was painful but definitely made me grateful, encouraging charity.

I chose to share my story with you as each year its during Summer when Ramadan begins and it will remain so for the next few years. Summer is the high time when people travel. These mistakes are surprisingly very common— something that serves to lift my self-esteem. Hoping this article helps you plan better. Cheers! Finally, to everyone planning to take a trip during the next Ramadan:

Happy travelling! May the sun be ever in your favour!

Comments (0)

CAN THE TALIBAN GIVE-UP VIOLENCE?

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

  The All Parties Conference held on September 9, 2013, passed a soft resolution that created the hope that the federal government and the Tehrik-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan (TTP) would soon resume the dialogue.

 Two assumptions shaped the optimism on holding talks.  First, the two political parties, PMLN and the PTI, that performed well in the May 2013 general elections were known for sympathetic disposition for Islamic militancy. The PTI shared views with the TTP on the war on terrorism and other militant groups. The PMLN has a soft corner for militancy and it never specifically endorsed the military-led counter-terrorism efforts in the tribal areas. Therefore, it was expected that the advent of these two parties to power at the federal level and in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will facilitate the dialogue.

 Second, the PMLN federal government bent backward in the APC resolution to accommodate the TTP for unconditional talks, describing the TTP and other militants as “our people” and “stakeholders.” It did not make any reference to the killings done by the TTP and its allies. The TTP could not get a more favorable talks offer.

 The federal government continues to show keenness to hold the talks but the TTP is playing its cards shrewdly and manipulating the federal government’s impatience for holding the talks to its advantage.

 Some dubious claims have surfaced in the media of indirect contacts between the federal government-connected people with the TTP. Such a channel, if it exists in reality, and the media is being used by the TTP for putting forward its demands without making any commitment for holding the talks or that it would accept to work within the framework of Pakistani state.

 The TTP has coupled its demands not only with the killing of two senior Army officers and a solider but also asserted that it will continue to fight against the Army.

 The TTP’s reluctance reflects the confidence of its leaders in their capacity to take on the Pakistan’s civilian government, other state institutions and the society. It is clear that the TTP is not going to give up its violent strategy even if it agrees to hold talks with the federal government. The TTP is quite clear about its long term ideological goals.

 The federal government and the PMLN have not really thought out a long term strategy of coping with terrorism beyond holding talks. The PMLN’s predicament is that it derives main political support from the political and societal circles in the Punjab that have varying degrees of support and sympathy for the Taliban and other militant groups. Most of them believe that the Taliban are friends of Pakistan and that those engaged in violence against Pakistani state and society are not genuine Taliban; they are the agents of some foreign governments in the garb of Taliban. Given the support of such a mindset, the PMLN will stretch the dialogue offer to the maximum.

  The self-confidence of the TTP and its affiliates is understandable. They have demonstrated a strong capacity to resort to violent onslaught on Pakistani state and society and withstand the counter-military moves by Pakistani state authorities.

 In the course of the general elections, April-May 2013, the TTP declared that three political parties –PPP, ANP and MQM – would not be allowed to campaign for their candidates. This threat was fulfilled by the TTP to a great extent by attacking their election-campaigning. This restricted the political activities of these parties in the run-up-to the May elections.

  Soon after the assumption of power by the PMLN at the federal level and the PTI in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the TTP and its affiliates resorted to stepped up violence. Both governments appeared helpless in the face of the Taliban attacks. Now, the TTP is buying time in order to wait for U.S. troops to drawdown in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The underlying assumption is that the Afghan Taliban will become strong and assertive after 2014 in Afghanistan which will in turn strengthen Pakistani Taliban. They mutually reinforce each other for their respective agendas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Pakistani Taliban see better prospects for them in the future, they cannot be keen about a dialogue wherein Pakistan’s federal government will emphasize the supremacy of the Pakistani state and its constitution.

 The experience of other states that faced internal strife and violence shows that such conflicts are resolved both by talks and military means. In Sri Lanka, the insurgency led by LTTE was crushed by the military in 2009. In Nigeria, a southeastern province separated as Biafra in 1967. Three years later the federal Nigerian forces overran the Biafra forces brought it back into the federal fold. In East Pakistan, civil strife ended with Indian intervention, war and the surrender by the Pakistan Army there. In India, the dissident movements in the Punjab, Nagaland and Mizoram were initially dealt with strong force and then political concessions and accommodations were offered.

 Even where internal strife and violence is brought to an end through dialogue, this strategy is preceded by use of violence. As long as the state is not able to demonstrate that it has the capacity to stalemate the efforts to the challenging authority, there is a little prospect of dialogue. The conflicting parties go for a political settlement when both sides comes to conclusion that it is a no-clear-win situation for both or if one side has caused a major setback to the adversary, a dialogue can be initiated to stop further bloodshed.

  In Pakistan, the TTP and its affiliates are not yet convinced that they are in an unwinnable or stalemated situation. What makes them confident is that the TTP and its affiliates have developed societal roots based on religious-denominational linkages, anti-Americanism and a failure of the government and security establishment to offer a political narrative as a credible alternative to militant-Islamic discourse on what is happening in and around Pakistan. The Islamic-militancy discourse has deeply influenced the mindset in the society as well as civilian and military official circles, sapping the will to adopt a unified stand against militancy.

 Pakistan’s security and stability predicament is too complex to be resolved by the proposed talks. The main question is how Pakistani state can change the perception of the world that it has the determination, capability and effective strategy to assert its primacy either by dialogue or military means.

Comments (0)

Nitish, Sibal dismiss Modi fervour

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday sought to dismiss the so-called wave claimed by BJP in favour of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying “there is nothing like this”.
“A blower has been turned on by some people and you think it is natural air. There is nothing like this,” he said in an apparent dig at Modi. He also termed Muzaffarnagar riots a “blot” on the country like Gujarat and Bhagalpur riots in the past and said the situation should not have been allowed to deteriorate to the extent it did.

After making the statement that “I would not want to live in a country where Modi is the Prime Minister,” Eminent writer and Jnanpeeth award recipient UR Ananthamurthy is now getting money orders from Narendra Modi fans. The enraged fans are using social media platform to raise money to buy the writer a ticket out of India. Meanwhile, Ananthamurthy has expressed his displeasure over the attitude of Modi fans for targeting him.

Slamming Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his “tall claims” of development, Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said a quality debate on real issues and not personalities was required in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Sibal told reporters here that since India followed a Parliamentary form of government, it was the political parties and not personalities who have to put forth their positions on various issues ahead of elections.

He often referred to Modi as “nirantar virodhi” (constantly opposing) and said there was a need to talk about real issues. Without naming Modi, he said he was using the term “nirantar virodhi” for a person.

BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Friday appealed to politicians and prominent personalties from other fields to work towards registration of youths as voters. Modi made the appeal through micro-blogging site Twitter, asking politicians, Bollywood biggies, cricketers and social and spiritual leaders to work for registration of youths as voters in age group 18 to 24, considered by BJP as its core constituency.

The Gujarat Chief Minister reached out to prominent voices in the social media, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ardent critic, Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor.

BJP President Rajnath Singh on Friday heaped praise on the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying his capabilities as a leader are recognised across the world.

“We have chosen the most popular leader in the country as our candidate for the PM’s post. His work is recognised not only in India but across the world,” he said at a meeting of party’s Sports Cell.

Noting that sports need a sound government policy which was lacking presently, he said his party would give it special attention and come out with a detailed policy for its promotion if voted to power.

Accusing RSS-BJP of sharpening communal divide for electoral gains, CPI(M) on Friday said the death and displacement of a large number of people in the Muzaffarnagar riots was the “perfect backdrop” for BJP to anoint Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

The “ghastly” communal violence in Muzaffarnagar has served as “the perfect backdrop for BJP to announce the anointment of the Gujarat Chief Minister as its prime ministerial prospect in the coming 2014 general elections,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.

Meanwhile, drawing a parallel between communal violence in western UP and 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, Congress on Friday said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has “no right to continue” as the state government “failed miserably” to control the riots in Muzaffarnagar. Terming Mujaffarnagar riots as “one of most deplorable acts of modern India during recent times”, party spokesperson PC Chacko said “it is almost like revisiting Gujarat riots 2002 again”.

Alleging the state government “failed miserably” to take preventive action, he said the incidents in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas show “total failure” of the state government and hence “the state government has no right to continue in the light of these incidents”.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here