Sunday, 17th December 2017

About Burhan Wani, whose death triggered continuing cycle of violence in Kashmir


Muzaffar Wani , father of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose encounter death triggered the continuing cycle of violence in Kashmir, says that his son's dream was to join the Indian Army when he was 10 and also play cricket like Parvez Rasool - one day hopefully for India.

The government school principal also rules out Pakistan's role in Uri, Pathankot and Pampore attacks and insists that as a teacher, he tells his students the importance of taking up "good careers" like Kashmir Administrative Service and the IAS.

Almost two months since Burhan Wani's death, protests in Kashmir haven't receded. Who's responsible?

There's no call by the Hurriyat Conference for any shutdown. We didn't realise that these shutdowns would turn violent. We've lost so much in the last two months. We want some resolution. It depends on the people, how they want to look at the assurances from India or the J&K government. When my own two sons got killed, others too lost their family members.

After your son's death, do you think Kashmiri youth should pick up guns and fight against security forces?

Of course not. The better way is dialogue between India and Pakistan. So that there's peace in Pakistan and also in India. All Indians are our brothers and all Pakistanis are our brothers. We Kashmiris love every Pakistani and we love every Indian.

Eighteen Indian soldiers lost their lives in Uri. Evidence points at Pakistan's role. How do you look at it?

How can it be Pakistan? Whoever entered Kashmir after becoming a militant is a Kashmiri. Even a Muslim from Hindustan can come. It could even be an attack by Kashmiri militants.

But Pathankot probe showed there were phone calls by terrorists to their families' handlers in Pakistan. Banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad released an audio mocking Indian agencies.

It's necessary to solve the Kashmir problem. Else, these attacks may happen. But we don't know where these militants are coming from or infiltrating as the borders are sealed by the Indian forces. What is the Indian Army doing? How did the militants reach from the border to Pampore? If there is evidence (against Jaish) then investigations should be done.

How did you learn about Burhan leaving the family? What was the family's reaction?

On October 5, 2010, Burhan left home. He told his mother he was going to meet some friends but didn't return that evening. Then we came to know that he had joined the militants. For two months before this encounter, I tried my best to convince him. His year of birth was 1994. I told him that he was born during the peak of instability and that it was obvious that he felt the pain. When he was 10, he told an Indian Army officer that he wanted to join the Army. He said this when a raid was being conducted to search militants in our village. Burhan had a strong liking for camouflage outfits. One of his videos shows he loved cricket. He would have loved to play for India, not Pakistan.

How difficult has been Burhan's loss to bear?

It was very difficult but we learnt to bear it. In the last five years, I met him two or three times for just around two or three minutes. The last time was two-and-half years ago. He was always on his own. I am in a government job for my family. He was working for entire J&K.

How did your other children react to their brother's militancy?

A: Before Burhan my son Khalid, who is four years elder to him, was killed in April 2015 by the security forces when he'd gone for a picnic. He was tortured to death. Police believed he'd gone to meet Burhan. There was no blood on Khalid's body. He was with this three friends, who were first arrested and later released.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif invoked Burhan at his UN speech.

When Bhagat Singh was fighting against the British, they called him a terrorist, but Indians maintained he was a freedom fighter. When the problem of Kashmir will be solved, India will realise Wani was a freedom fighter. I liked everything that Nawaz Sharif said. He said Burhan's killing had brought a new light in this movement of freedom.

But Burhan in his videos instigated youths to join the war against India?

His aim was not to kill pro-Indians. He used to say those who are anti-Hizbul and police informers, will be killed. But although he was commander for two years he did not kill anybody. He was only issuing warnings. He wept when eight CRPF men had died.

Your meeting with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar was much talked about. How did it happen?

Nobody fixed that meeting. I had to visit a hospital. I thought why not stay at the ashram. I had seen Sri Sri on TV years ago. I had learnt that Dr Zakir Naik had met him. So why couldn't I? We talked about Kashmir and he asked me about the solution. I told him that Indian leadership must talk to Pakistan. He asked me about how Burhan left us. He said it was Allah's decree.

How do you look at PM Narendra Modi's invoking Vajpayee's call of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, and Jamhooriyat?

He is wazir-e-azam of Hindustan. More than 100 people have been killed in Kashmir in the last two months. He hasn't shown any grief. He only expressed grief over the killing of soldiers.

Do you fear that your third son may pick up a gun?

I am certain Naveed will not do so. He has seen his brother Burhan and has desired to study. I would want my daughter Irm Jahan, who is in college, to become a teacher.

Are you inclined to join Hurriyat Conference or any political outfit?

I have six years of service left. I don't think I want to join a political party.

How has Burhan's death affected your career?

I am proud to have produced many Kashmir Administrative Service and Kashmir Police Service officers. I like to give good education to kids at school where I work as an administrator and tell them they must take up excellent careers. I don't want other parents to allege that just because my son became a militant, I want their kids to become one. I want young kids to work hard, get educated and become good.

 The article was originally published in Times of India

Turkey's Erdogan blasts Europe's silence on Bangladesh leader's execution


ANKARA (AFP): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday lashed out at Europe’s silence over the execution of a veteran Jamaat-e-Islami leader in Bangladesh, accusing the West of “double standards.”

“If you are against political executions, why did you remain silent to the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami who was martyred a couple of days ago,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul.

 “Have you heard anything from Europe? … No. Isn’t it called double standards?” Erdogan said.

Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at a Dhaka jail late Tuesday. He was accused of ordering the killing of intellectuals during the 1971 conflict.

The 73-year-old former government minister was the fifth and the most senior opposition figure executed since the secular government in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation set up a controversial war crimes tribunal in 2010.

The 1971 conflict, one of the bloodiest in world history, led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.

Prosecutors said Nizami was responsible for setting up the pro-Pakistani Al-Badr militia, which killed top writers, doctors and journalists in the most gruesome chapter of the war.

Pakistan summons Bangladesh envoy over Jamaat leader’s execution

The trial heard Nizami ordered the killings, designed to “intellectually cripple” the fledgling nation.

In protest, Turkey on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Bangladesh for consultations.

Since coming to power in 2002, Turkey’s ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sought to boost the country’s power in the Muslim world.

Last year, Erdogan condemned a death sentence handed to Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who was a close ally of Ankara until he was overthrown by the military in 2013.

At the time he condemned the West for turning a blind eye to the “coup” by army chief army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who is now president.

New possibilities for water-induced disaster management in Koshi basin


Sri Virendra Prasad, Minister Energy,Commercial Tax, govt of Bihar addressing forum. Photo by BSDMA/ICIMOD


PATNA, INDIA: Top officials and experts from the Koshi region gathered in Patna, Bihar on Thursday for a two-day forum to discuss solutions around water security and water-induced disasters in the Koshi basin. Coming after years of devastating floods in southern Nepal and Bihar, the forum emphasised regional cooperation and collecting evidence-based data that can be translated into policy, read a press release Outpost received on Wednesday.


Representatives from more than 20 institutions included the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, the Institute of Economic Growth at Delhi University, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Beijing, and the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chengdu, China. It was supported by the Government of Australia, and facilitated by the Koshi Basin Programme, an initiative focused on sustainable water management at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).


Floods and related disasters are a perennial concern in the Koshi basin, where seasonal monsoon rains and glacial melting frequently lead to dangerously-high water levels in the Koshi River. Bihar, where the river merges with the Ganga, is India's most flood-prone state, with 76% of residents in the northern regions vulnerable to recurring floods. Bihar annually suffers losses of life, property, infrastructure, and agriculture due to floods. According to the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority floods displaced as many as 33,200 people in 2014.


Vijendra Prasad Yadav, Bihar's Minister of Energy and Commercial Tax, stressed the need for scientific understanding of the basin to complement traditional knowledge, and asked for the Australian government and ICIMOD's assistance in this regard.


Sri Virendra Prasad Yadav, Hon'ble Minister, Energy and Commercial Tax, Government of Bihar‘There is no lack of money, but what we need most is technical help’, said Yadav.


The opening session of the forum laid down the first strategic improvement in river basin management. Bihar's Minister for Disaster Management, Professor Chandrashekhar, stated in his inaugural address that a policy was recently passed to incorporate community-based disaster response into local primary and elementary education.


‘Because of the water-related disasters that Bihar continues to face, the importance of this forum is high’, a statement said on behalf of Rajiv Ranjan Singh, Minister of Bihar's Water Resources Department.


The forum comprised some of the region's most prominent experts in disaster and water management, and promoted knowledge sharing across fields of expertise. Currently, disaster preparation and response is on an institutional-level and lacks coordinated regional strategy. The forum speakers emphasised the need to overcome this challenge, and link science, policy, and practice across borders. They also recognised the potential water has to act as a larger catalyst for economic development.


‘The future is bright, but it is complex’, said Asit Biswas, a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. ‘Knowledge generation is not enough, we also need knowledge synthesis, and a way to bring this knowledge into policy discussions’.


Anil Sinha, Vice Chairman of the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, followed up with Biswas' comment, and noted that knowledge generation should specifically include evidence-based data, which can be incorporated into the region's wealth of indigenous knowledge. He highlighted the importance of the knowledge forum in reaching this goal and recommended it become an annual event.


Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD highlighted the contributions made by the Koshi Basin Programme.


 ‘While the Koshi basin has been synonymous with disasters in the past, there is immense potential for investment in infrastructure, land, and agricultural productivity measures’, Sharma said. ‘Last monsoon, for the first time, Nepal's Department of Hydrology and Meteorology used the Koshi Basin Programme's regional flood outlook to issue a flood warning.’


Shahriar Wahid, the Koshi Basin Programme's Coordinator, stated that the programme and its partners from China, Nepal, and India have been working for two years to generate knowledge and help communities in the basin to prepare for disasters and maintain resilient livelihoods. It has created a platform known as the Koshi Basin Information System, which integrates data on climate change, land use, sedimentation, and water-based livelihoods to help individuals understand the changes happening in the basin, as well as the Koshi Flood Outlook, which gives a 48-hour flood warning using data collected from satellite technology and national weather agencies.


Kamal Kishore, Member of the National Disaster Management Authority added to the discussion focused on the potential for a more nuanced understanding of disasters.


‘All floods are not created equal — there are different needs in different places, and we need to understand each locality if we want successful disaster management’, said Kishore. ‘Moreover, NDMA is very ready to translate the discussions of this forum into policy.’


The morning inaugural session was followed in the afternoon by technical sessions on disaster risk reduction, geo-hazards, and livelihoods in the Kosi basin. Topics included the importance of flood forecasting and including a regional flood outlook into river basin management, geo-morphological challenges specific to the Koshi basin, and livelihood and food security.


Today, the forum will have further technical sessions on disaster risk reduction. Participants are expected to discuss evidence-based tools and strategies, and the potential for converting regional and local knowledge into actionable policy.


The Koshi Basin Programme works on transboundary issues throughout the Koshi basin, and sees flooding in southern Nepal and northern Bihar as closely linked to the ecosystems and climatic changes happening in the Himalayas in Nepal and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The programme advocates for a basin-wide approach to water security and disaster management.


Philippine kills Astore Markhore in Sasi valley



GILGIT:  As the trophy hunting season is going to close in Gilgit-Baltistan, a Philippine hunter has killed the season’s largest Astore Markhore in Sasi valley Gilgit on Monday. Trophy hunting of Astore Markhore was worth $ 67,500.

“Astore Markhore measuring 44 inches on the horn is now the worthy animal to be hunted 260meter long,” Ali local guides of fernier hunter told Outpost after hunt.

Meanwhile, G-B government set this year’s hunting permits for four markhors, 60 ibexes and eight blue sheep were auctioned in Gilgit this week. The license fees for markhors, Himalayan blue sheep and ibexes have been set at $67,500, $8,800 and $3,000, respectively.

Mobshir, RFO Wild life Gilgit told Outpost that the trophy hunting quota is decided on the basis of annual surveys conducted by wildlife experts.

 Trophy hunting programme began in the 1980s. It is carried out under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife and is allowed only in notified areas of G-B in collaboration with the relevant communities.

“Threatened species in G-B markhors in particular are hunted by foreigners in return for thousands of dollars. With each hunt, GB government would give 80 per cent of the proceeds to the respective local communities and the rest of 20 per cent would go to the government exchequer” he added.

London: Hafeez visits Ismaili centre, meets officials


LONDON: Gilgit- Baltistan’s Chief Minister, Hafiz Hafeez Ur Rehman, visited the Ismaili Centre on Thursday afternoon, where he met with Liakat Hasham, the President of the Ismaili Council for United Kingdom, Farhad Mawani, Vice President, Nadeem Boghani, Chairman Aga Khan Economic Planning Board and Salim Janmohmed, National Council member.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by a high level delegation including Gilgit- Baltistan’s Chief Secretary, Tahir Husain and Sana Ullah, Secretary Education.  Shaukat Ali Khan, National Council member responsible for Europe, arranged the meeting originally from Hunza, Gilgit- Baltistan and he was also part of the meeting.

The Chief Minister conveyed his deep admiration for His Highness The Aga Khan, the Ismaili community particularly in Gilgit- Baltistan and around the world, and work of the AKDN globally.

The Chief Minister also expressed his gratitude to His Highness for his on-going support towards the development of Gilgit- Baltistan region. He praised the Ismaili community for being forward thinking and assisting sister communities in various parts of Gilgit- Baltistan, and leading communities as role models in peace and in development work in the region.

President Hasham thanked the government of Gilgit- Baltistan and Pakistan in assisting the AKDN and other institutions in fulfilling their agendas. He noted that Gilgt- Baltistan is home to a large community of Ismailis.

The investment potential of the region was discussed at the meeting. The Chief Minister announced the government’s plan of establishing a Board of Investment by June 2016, with a view of facilitating the implementation of investment projects; and more importantly to continuously improve the investment and business climate. The Board of Investment would be the first point of contact for investors exploring business opportunities.

Potential investment plans were also discussed including the introduction of micro-hydroelectric plants, enabling remote communities in the region to gain independent access to energy supply. The Chief Minister highlighted the idea of eco-friendly energy generation in the area with the long-term mission of reducing carbon emissions, reducing the use of firewood, which is a leading source of deforestation in the region. He further requested for support from the AKDN in the execution of these projects.

The AKDN, the President said, have a particular expertise in hydro power stations with the success of Bujagali Hydropower Plant in Africa. He reassured that there is a strong possibility on an institutional level to collaborate in this sector.

The Chief Minister officially invited the European Ismaili business leaders to visit Gilgit-Baltistan and explore the opportunities the area has to offer particularly in the hospitality and leisure industry. He reflected on the surge of tourists in 2015, which is said to double by the summer of 2016 to around a million. He stressed on the need of new hotels to cater the large influx of tourists and emphasized on the major opportunity in the hospitality industry for investors.

The Chief Secretary conveyed the importance of Gilgit-Baltistan in the current context of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with Gilgit-Baltistan acting as a gateway. The continuous efforts to improve the road links between China and Central Asia will further open up more avenues for investment in the region.

The Chief Minister emphasized on the improved state of law and order in the region with a drastic decline in corruption since the new government was elected.

The Chief Minister in his final remarks said that he looks forward to working closely with the Ismaili community and the AKDN in various fields.

At the end of the meeting, the Chief Minister and the delegates were given an official tour of the Ismaili Centre.

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