Kargil protest Karachi Shia mosque blast

Protestors listening to speakers during protest against Shia Mosque Blast in Karachi Pakistan. Credit: Sajjad Kaksar
Protestors listening to speakers during protest against Shia Mosque Blast in Karachi Pakistan. Credit: Sajjad Hussain Kaksar

Thousands of people gathered at Jamia Masjid Kargil to condemn the recent Shia target killing in Karachi.

At least 60 people were killed and dozens injured in the bomb attack on a Shia mosque and religious center when people were performing Friday prayers in the town of Shikarpur, around 470 kilometers (300 miles) north of the port city of Karachi.

The protestors chanted slogan against the arrogant powers and strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Karachi Mosque.

Likewise Shia Muslims in Pakistan have started a three-day mourning period and staged sit-ins and strikes to commemorate the victims of a deadly bomb attack on a mosque in the southern province of Sindh.

Most of the victims were being buried on Saturday in Sindh, where the provincial government has declared a high security alert.

People shut down their shops in parts of the province as Shia Muslims called for three days of peaceful protests.

Shia Muslims in Pakistan say the government must prevent the killing of their community members.

Hours after the mosque bombing, large crowds of Pakistani people, including members of civil society and peace activists, poured onto the streets of Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi to voice their outrage over the massacre.

Similar rallies were held in other Pakistani cities, including the capital, Islamabad, Lahore, and Quetta.

The angry demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans and demanded the arrest of those behind the incident. The protesters also demanded that the Pakistani government take decisive action against the forces involved in the targeted killings, saying that Islamabad cannot provide security for the Shia Muslim community.

The demonstrators also accused some Arab monarchies across the Persian Gulf of supporting and funding militant groups operating in Pakistan.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but pro-Taliban militants usually take responsibility for similar attacks in the violence-wracked country.

This is also the latest deadly incident in a wave of violence against the Shia Muslim community in Pakistan.

Shias make up about a third of Pakistan’s population of over 180 million.

Lake created out of Phuktal river poses threat in Kargil

Zanskar River block

Zanskar, Kargil

A grave situation has arisen in the Zanskar subdivision of Kargil due to creation of an artificial lake on the Phuktal river after a huge landslide blocked the river.

This lake was created after a landslide blocked the river which approximately created a 10-km long lake.

Due to the threat, the district administration has approached the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

“The lake has been created around 90 km from the Padam area of Zanskar and beyond 43 km no one can go by foot. After consulting all local engineers, including Army engineers, we were not able to do anything,” said Muhammad Sadiq Sheikh, Deputy Commissioner, Kargil.

“Though the river water is still frozen, once it starts melting it could become a threat to the entire area. The district administration has alerted people to move to safer places so that once water breaches the artificial lake, its level can raise, which can become threat to people,” he said.

“A few villages in and around the Padam area have been given direction to move to higher areas. We have alerted the administration, but we don’t have any control over the situation. The NDMA will have to deal with the situation,” the Deputy Commissioner added.

This area holds importance as it is en route the world famous Chadar trek, where tourists from all over the world come every year. The Nimo-Bazgo hydroelectric project also gets the water supply from Phuktal.

The district administration is keeping an eye on the situation by monitoring the area through aerial surveys.

Meanwhile, Executive Councillor for Tourism Power and Zanskar Affairs, LAHDC Kargil, Skalzang Wangyal has urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for sending a team from the National Disaster Management Force for early solution of the blocked Phuktal, which is a cause of concern for entire Zanskar valley as well as for those living in low-lying areas of Leh and Kargil.

He also urged the Union Defence Minister, MoS Home, and Ladakh MP for early operation of MI-17 helicopter services for the stranded passengers of the valley.

NDMA to evolve plan 
Jammu: Following the directions of Governor NN Vohra, the NDMA has been told to constitute a multi-disciplinary expert group with representatives from the National Remote Sensing Centre, Central Water Commission, Survey of India, Geological Survey of India and Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology to evolve an action plan for dealing with the situation arising due to landslides and consequential blockage of the Phuktal river between Shaday Sumdo and MarShun in the Zanskar subdivision of Kargil district.

Rabbani represents AKSUD at international conference

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All Kargil (Ladakh) Student Union Delhi (AKSUD’s) senior advisor Mr. Feroz Rabbani addressed an international conference in Iran on the topic of “Islamophobia and our responsibilities”.

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The conference was organised by Majma-e-Ruhaniyan in holy city of Qum in Iran.

After the conference Rabbani met with renowned Scholar from Kargil Grand Ayatollah Hassnain.

Ayatollah Hassnain appreciated AKSUD activities and wishes well in future for AKSUD.

Leh celebrates Republic Day, Spalbar unfurls tri-colour

Republic Day leh

Leh

Along with the rest part of the country, the 66th Republic Day was celebrated at Leh’s historic polo-ground with pomp, gaiety, patriotic fervour and cultural displays today.

CEC LAHDC Leh Rigzin Spalbar unfurled the national tri-colour amidst the gathering of thousands of people, and parade contingent of police, paramilitary, NCC and school children.

Before that CEC hoisted the National flag at Council secretariat in presence of all the Executive Councillors, Councillors, DC, Leh, President District Congress Committee, Leh and the staff of Council.

Addressing the gathering at polo ground, CEC Rigzin Spalbar said that Republic Day is an occasion to feel pride for the Army, Navy and Air Force of our mighty country who guard our borders and congratulated Ladakh Scouts and ITBP personnel’s for safeguarding the borders of Ladakh.

He stressed that this occasion is a day to take commitment to serve our motherland and contribute our part of duty and responsibility for the development and progress of the nation.

Addressing the gathering at polo ground, CEC Rigzin Spalbar said that Republic Day is an occasion to feel pride for the Army, Navy and Air Force of our mighty country who guard our borders and congratulated Ladakh Scouts and ITBP personnel’s for safeguarding the borders of Ladakh.

He stressed that this occasion is a day to take commitment to serve our motherland and contribute our part of duty and responsibility for the development and progress of the nation.

Underlining the achievements of present council, CEC made a mention about the achievements and initiatives of all the departments of the present Council under Ladakh Vision Document 2025 and Ladakh Prospective Plan to lead Leh towards sustainable development.

Talking about employment opportunities to the youths in Ladakh, CEC said that presence of army and tourism industry in Ladakh provides major employment opportunities to the youths but because of their unpredictable nature, he stressed on the sustainable employment which can only be achieved through land based economy.

Detailing about the valuable natural resources of Ladakh, CEC made a mention of Pashmina, Seabuckthorn and horticulture produces which has an immense potential of generating revenue.

Kargil celebrates Republic Day amid harsh climate

Republic Day was celebrated here today at Kargil with immense patriotic fervor and gaiety.

Chairman and Chief Executive Councilor Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai unfurled the national tricolor at Khree Sultan Chow Sports Stadium and took salute at an impressive march pass comprising of the contingents of Jammu and Kashmir Police, NCC, Army and civil band parties besides a number of contingents of government and private educational institutions.

Republic Day Kargil

Thousands of men and women thronged the stadium to witness the celebrations despite severe cold.

Addressing a mammoth gathering of the general public after hoisting the national flag Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai while congratulating the citizens on the 66th Republic Day recalled the supreme sacrifices of the national heroes who laid down their lives for the freedom and well being of the countrymen.

He urged upon the people to work in unity so as to uphold the principles of sovereignty and integrity, and to free the country from the menace of terrorism.

While highlighting the current developmental activities in Kargil District Karbalai said that the plan funds for the current year have been released which will speed up the pace of progress on developmental works.

Republic Day Kargil 3

Karbalai urged upon the youth of Kargil to make the best use of their potentialities for the progress of the district, and thereby bring laurel to the district and the state. He assured that the present Council shall make all possible efforts to ensure the peace, prosperity and well being of the common people in the district.

He also appreciated the role of the soldiers in safeguarding the frontiers of the country especially in difficult and inhospitable conditions. He also lauded the role of Mechanical Division Kargil in keeping Zojila track open for vehicular traffic till 20th January this year.

Karbalai said that the Hill Council Kargil has taken up the issue of the blockade of Phuktal River at Zanskar with the State Governor as well as the Central Government who have assured speedy remedial measures in this regard, and a committee has already been constituted to deal with the problem.

Colorful cultural programmes were also presented on the occasion by the artists of J&K Cultural Academy and the children of government and private schools which mesmerized the public gathering and won huge rounds of applause. Later the chief guest also gave away prizes to the contingents, artists and school children who participated in the parade and cultural programme.

Among others who were present on the occasion included Executive Councilor Haji Muhammad Shafi, Executive Councilor Advocate Ghulam Amir, Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Sadiq Sheikh, Additional Superintendent of Police Jameel Ahmad, Brigade Commander 121 Infantry Brigade VPS Kaushik, councilors, senior civil and army officers, representatives of religious, social and political organizations and a large number of general public.

Republic Day was also celebrated at Drass, Sankoo, Zanskar, Chikten and Shargole.SDM Zanskar Ramesh Kumar Basotra hoisted the national flag at Padum Taxi Stand, SDM Drass Tsering Mutoop at Higher Secondary School Drass, SDM Sankoo Ajit Singh at Mini Stadium Sankoo, SDM Chiktan Chand Kishore Sharma at Chiktan Shagaran and Tehsildar Shargole Muhammad Sharif at Shargole Sub Division respectively.

Republic Day Kargil 2

Colorful cultural programmes were also presented on the occasion and prizes were also distributed among the participants. Thousands of local men and women folk in their colorful traditional attire witnessed the celebrations.

Protestors slam slow search operation for Kunga

Ladakh Missing guy

A press conference was organised in Jammu on Saturday to fasten the search operation for a Ladakhi missing student Stanzin Kunga.

Different students association from Ladakh organised press conference regarding missing Ladakhi boy Stanzin Kunga.

The conference was attended by MLA Zanskar, MLA Nubra, MLC Leh, MLC Kargil, ZBA president Zanskar, Councillor Lungnak and stot.

The student associations criticised the slow process of search operation for Stanzin Kunga.

All MLA and MLC present express concern over the delay in carrying out effective search operation to find out the boy.

At the press conference Zanskar student’s association president appealed to all Kargil and Zanskar to observe total strike in protest against the slow process and for this “grave matter”.

An FIR has been also filed in Canal police post in Jammu.

UK government tries to smear “boycott Israel” call as anti-Jewish

David Cameron, seen here with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, enjoys a cozy relationship with the Zionist lobby.
David Cameron, seen here with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, enjoys a cozy relationship with the Zionist lobby.

recent British government report attempts to smear the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as “anti-Jewish.”

The document was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 28 December. As many people in Britain were on Christmas holidays at that time, the decision to release the report on a day it would not be widely-noticed is a curious one.

The report includes a list of supposed “government action on addressing anti-Semitism.”

However, closer examination reveals that the report conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of the State of Israel. It also misrepresents a 2004 call made by various Palestinian organizations for an academic boycott of Israel.

In one section, the report uses the following wording:

Calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that pro-democracy lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott.

The genuine Palestinian statement on academic boycott, however, makes it clear that individual Israeli academics are not the target of the boycott call. Rather, the boycott targets Israeli academic institutions. Guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), state:

Anchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights, the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement, including PACBI, rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion. If, however, an individual is representing the State of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution (such as a dean, rector, or president), or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel’s efforts to “rebrand” itself, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the BDS movement is calling for.

It is also worth noting that many BDS advocates signed a 2012 letter against all forms of racism and bigotry. That letter opposes “the cynical and baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism, as this assumes simply because someone is Jewish, they support Zionism or the the colonial and apartheid policies of the State of Israel, a false generalization.”

Smearing solidarity

Other problematic aspects of the government report include the portrayal of sympathy and solidarity with Palestinian victims of the Israeli war machine by local authorities in Britain as somehow equating to anti-Semitism, as seen in statements such as: “This year we also saw councils misjudging their remits, with Leicester City Council, banning Israeli-manufactured products, and Tower Hamlets flying the Palestinian flag.”

In portraying Palestine solidarity as anti-Semitic, the report hews to the line held by the State of Israel, which attempts to claim a representative role in respect of the global Jewish population. In reality, of course, many Jews around the world either have little interest in or reject Israel’s acts.

Claiming that actions such as the flying of the Palestinian flag by the London borough of Tower Hamlets and by other councils in Britain are associated with anti-Semitism obscures and cheapens the existence of a genuine problem of anti-Semitism in many parts of Europe.

The Department of Communities, however, seems determined to repeat and uphold inaccurate versions of the boycott call, and to defend the actions of the State of Israel as somehow representative of all British Jews. The question, of course, is why?

The answer quickly becomes apparent when one looks at the British government’s choice of advisors on the subject of anti-Semitism.

Prominent amongst these is the Community Security Trust (CST), a “charity” which purports to monitor anti-Semitism.

In one of a number of citations of information from the CST, the report describes it as “an organization that looks after the safety and security needs of the Jewish community.” Other researchers, though, would less worthwhile activities to this benign description.

Political cover for Israel

Antony Lerman — a genuine expert on the problem of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence in Europe — has strongly criticized the CST for its conflation of anti-Semitism with any moves to question the behavior of the State of Israel.

Lerman accused the CST in 2014 of “abusing its mandate” by going beyond its proper — and entirely legitimate — role of ensuring the safety of Britain’s Jewish community, and instead choosing to defend indefensible acts such as the mass killing of civilians in Gaza.

Lerman went on to say of the CST that its acts in “providing political cover for Israel in this way takes the CST into the realm of partisan political action that hardly seems compatible with its charitable status.”

He also suggested that the CST was “muddy[ing] the waters when they seem to be encouraging hysteria and feeding paranoia” through the organization’s claims that anti-Israeli protests during the summer 2014 onslaught on Gaza constituted, first and foremost, a wave of anti-Semitism.

Broader examples of the CST exceeding its remit, going well beyond simply defending British Jews and instead working on behalf of the State of Israel, include the CST’sinvolvement in anti-BDS campaigning.

And when the British legal system rejected claims that discussing the academic boycott of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism in 2013, the CST resorted to cheap insults, with Mark Gardner, the organization’s director of communications, referring to senior judges sitting on an employment tribunal as “sneering bastards.”

Other CST shenanigans include its role in plotting with the British government to keep Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of the Palestinian community within Israel, out of the UK. That role included providing the British authorities with doctored or intentionally mistranslated evidence against Salah, and attempting to smear British Jews who opposed Zionism.

And, lest the CST’s Jesuitical approach to the truth need any more evidence, there is the organization’s acceptance of funding from Richard Desmond. A British media magnate, Desmond is not only the owner of a string of pornography magazines, but also of the Daily Express, a newspaper with a history of anti-Semitim, as well as many other forms of racism.

The CST enjoys a cozy relationship with the British establishment. David Cameron, the prime minister, has been known to speak at its events. Its malign role in enforcing Israel-friendly ideas is very much par for the course.

Al Qaeda group leader in Iraq was fictional, U.S. military says

ISIS leader Abu-Baqr Al-Baghdadi
ISIS leader Abu-Baqr Al-Baghdadi
BAGHDAD

For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi’s ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

The ruse, Bergner said, was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was trying to mask the dominant role that foreigners play in that insurgent organization.

The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and then arrange for Masri to swear allegiance to him. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements.

The evidence for the American assertions, Bergner announced at a news briefing, was provided by an Iraqi insurgent: Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, who was said to have been captured by American forces in Mosul on July 4.

According to Bergner, Mashadani is the most senior Iraqi operative in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. He got his start in the Ansar al-Sunna insurgent group before joining Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia more than two years ago, and became the group’s “media emir” for all of Iraq. Bergner said that Mashadani was also an intermediary between Masri in Iraq and bin Laden and Zawahiri, whom the Americans assert support and guide their Iraqi affiliate.

“Mashadani confirms that al-Masri and the foreign leaders with whom he surrounds himself, not Iraqis, made the operational decisions” for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Bergner said.

The struggle between the American military and Qaeda affiliate in Iraq is political as well as military. And one purpose of the briefing Wednesday seemed to be to rattle the 90 percent of the group’s adherents who are believed to be Iraqi by suggesting that they are doing the bidding of foreigners.

An important element of the American strategy is to drive a wedge between Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, other insurgent groups and the Sunni population.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, for its part, has engaged in its own form of psychological warfare. The Islamic State of Iraq recently issued two videos that were said to show an attack in Diyala Province on an American Bradley vehicle with a roadside bomb, as well as an assault on an Iraqi military checkpoint.

The recent American operation to clear western Baquba, the provincial capital of Diyala, of Qaeda fighters was dubbed Arrowhead Ripper. In a statement, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed that “the arrows have been returned to the enemy like boomerangs,” according to Site Institute, which monitors international terrorist groups.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and a Middle East expert, said that experts had long wondered whether Baghdadi actually existed. “There has been a question mark about this,” he said.

Nonetheless, Riedel suggested that the disclosures made Wednesday might not be the final word on Baghdadi and the leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Even Mashadani’s assertions, Riedel said, might be a cover story to protect a leader who does in fact exist.

“First, they say we have killed him,” Riedel said, referring to the statements by some Iraqi government officials. “Then we heard him after his death and now they are saying he never existed. That suggests that our intelligence on Al Qaeda in Iraq is not what we want it to be.”

American military spokesmen insist they have gotten to the truth on Baghdadi. Mashadani, they say, provided his account because he resented the role of foreign leaders in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. They say he has not repudiated the organization.

While the American military says that senior Qaeda leaders in Pakistan provide guidance, general direction and support for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, they did not provide any examples of a specific raid or operation that was ordered by Pakistan-based leaders of Al Qaeda.

An unclassified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorist threats to the United States homeland, which was made public in Washington on Tuesday, suggested that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia draws support from Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan but also has some autonomy. It described Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as “an affiliate.”

“We assess that Al Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of Al Qaeda in Iraq, its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland.”

In the latest violence in Iraq, a series of roadside bombs exploded early Wednesday in separate areas of east Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding more than a dozen, the police said, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. military reported that three more American soldiers had died in action in the Iraqi capital.

Kargil reverberates with anti-Charlie Hebdo slogans

Peoples marching in Kargil Bazaar to condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Mohammad
Peoples marching in Kargil Bazaar to condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Mohammad

Condemning the recent Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Mohammad thousands of peoples took to street in Kargil town of Kashmir.

More than five thousand peoples assembled at Jamia Masjid Kargil after noon prayers and marched through main market in Kargil. The protest was put to end at Lal Chowk where prominent leaders addressed the gathering.

The protestors demanded for immediate charge to those involved in publishing the blasphemy of Prophet Mohammad.

The protestors chanted slogans against Charlie Hebdo, America, Israel, ISIS and all other form of terrorism. “Down with America, down with Israel, down with Daesh (ISIS)” the protestors shouted.

Anti-Charlie Hebdo protests were also observed in other parts of the country.

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a picture of the Prophet Muhammad weeping on its cover last week after two gunmen stormed its offices and killed 12 people. The gunmen said their attack was revenge for previous cartoons the magazine had published mocking Islam.

Later it was revealed in media reports that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a false flag of Mossad and CIA to thwart France support to Palestine.

Prophet Mohammad was the last Prophet of Islam from among 1,24,000 soothsayers.

J&K’s Buddhists’ outfit alleges conversion

LBA logo

Zanskar

An organisation representing Buddhists in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention into the alleged conversion of several members of the community.

“We are a micro-minority in the state and in the recent past there have been several cases of conversion, wherein members of our community are being lured to a particular community in Zanskar area of Ladakh,” Kashmir Times quoted Ladakh Buddhist Association’s general secretary Sonam Dawa.

Dawa alleged that allurement, coercion and other tactics were being used to convert the members of their community.

“Last year, 5 Buddhist families were converted and in the past few weeks four girls have been converted,” he claimed.

In a recent case, Dawa said, a female school student from Buddhist community eloped and married her teacher and later converted to his religion. “We lodged a police complaint, but no action was taken. There is a bigger conspiracy against the Buddhist community of the state,” he alleged.

However many Buddhists wilfully converted to other religion have been took refuge in other places outside Buddhist community.

Conversion is very much common in the region. Many Muslim girls also have been married to Buddhists.

Earlier it was also revealed in media reports that the majority Buddhist in Zanskar have socially boycotted the minority community.