Posts Tagged ‘ Indians ’

Coca-Cola Vending Machines Bringing India & Pakistan Together

Sarabjit Singh Dies in Lahore, India Blames Pakistan

As Reported by The Hindustan Times

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Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was comatose in a Lahore hospital after a brutal assault by four to five prisoners on April 26, succumbed to injuries on Thursday, officials said. “I received a call from the doctor on duty (at Jinnah Hospital) at 1am (1:30 IST) informing me that Sarabjit is no more,” Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a medical board that was supervising Sarabjit’s treatment, told PTI.

Officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said they had been informed by officials of Jinnah Hospital about Sarabjit’s death.

Singh’s lawyer Owais Sheikh confirmed the 49-year-old’s death and said that his body “has been moved to the hospital mortuary”.

The doctor who spoke to AFP said arrangements were under way for an autopsy.

Singh sustained several injuries, including a fractured skull, when six prisoners attacked him on Friday last week, hitting him on the head with bricks.

“(His death) was already feared. His condition was more than critical and he had less chances of survival,” Sheikh said.

Sarabjit was on life support since April 26.

Sarabjit slipped into a “non-reversible” coma on Wednesday.

A source said Sarabjit’s heart was beating “but without brain function” because of the extensive head injuries he sustained when he was assaulted by prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore.

Sarabjit was completely unresponsive and unable to breathe without ventilator support.

Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur and sister Dalbir Kaur, who went to Lahore on Monday to see him, returned to India on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, doctors treating Sarabjit at the state-run Jinnah Hospital said that his condition had further deteriorated though he had not been declared brain dead.

Returning from Pakistan, Sarabjit Singh’s family accused the government of doing little for the death-row prisoner battling for his life after a brutal assault.

“I am disappointed with the government. The Prime Minister should resign as he is not able to bring back an Indian citizen.You failed to protect your citizen… They (Pakistan) got freed (Pakistani citizen Dr Khalil) Chishti and you (India) released their other prisoners,” Dalbir said.

Dalbir had demanded that Sarabjit be brought to India immediately and given proper treatment.

“I want the government to immediately step in. I want to bring him back. If Malala (Yousafzai) can be treated abroad, why not my brother. I have doubts about the treatment they are giving to him, but I have full confidence in the doctors back home,” Kaur said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the attack on Singh as a “dastardly act” and called on the government to make a thorough inquiry into the matter and punish the guilty persons.

“The authorities have obviously failed to do their elementary duty” of providing him safety and security, the commission said in a statement.

Sheikh earlier told AFP that his client had received threats following the execution of a Kashmiri separatist in India. Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged in New Delhi on February 9 for his part in a deadly Islamist attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.

Singh was convicted for his alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Pakistan’s Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former president Pervez Musharraf.

His family insisted he was a victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- Thus is another blow to peace between India and Pakistan. The attack on Sarabjit Singh and his subsequent death does little for trust and friendship building measures between the two nations.

 

India Anger Over Sarabjit Singh Attack in Pakistan Jail

As Reported by The BBC

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There have been protests in India after an attack in a Pakistani prison left convicted Indian spy Sarabjit Singh in a coma.

Singh, a high-profile prisoner on death row for more than 21 years, was attacked by inmates armed with bricks in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail on Friday. Singh is in intensive care with severe head injuries. Two inmates have been charged and two officials suspended.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh described the attack as “very sad”. Former foreign minister SM Krishna said a strong protest should be lodged with Pakistan. He said such conduct should not happen “in a civilised world”. Protests erupted in the city of Jammu, in Indian-administered Kashmir.

One protester, Chetan Sharma, told Reuters: “This was a conspiracy to kill Sarabjit Singh in which they have meted out inhuman treatment to him. This was well planned by Pakistan.”

‘All alone’

A doctor at Lahore’s Jinnah hospital told Agence France-Presse news agency: “Singh’s condition is critical with multiple wounds on his head, abdomen, jaws and other body parts, and he has been put on ventilator.”

India’s government informed Sarabjit Singh’s family that Pakistan had granted visas for four family members to visit.

His sister, Dalbir Kaur, told AFP: “We want to be with Sarabjit in this difficult time. He is all alone.” Sarabjit Singh was reportedly attacked as he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for a one-hour break. Two prisoners have been charged with attempted murder.

The BBC’s Jill McGivering says that over the years the Singh case has been raised at the highest political levels and his fate has often seemed caught up with the broader relationship between India and Pakistan.

Sarabjit Singh was convicted of spying for India and involvement in a series of bomb blasts in 1990 in which 14 people died. His family say he is innocent and merely strayed across the border in Punjab by accident.

Tensions have increased in the past six months with the execution in India of Kashmiri Afzul Guru over the attack on India’s parliament 11 years ago and of Mohammed Ajmal Qasab, the sole surviving attacker from the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Sarabjit Singh’s lawyer Owais Sheikh told AFP his client had received threats after Guru’s execution.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- Another sad chapter in the depressing Pakistani-Indian saga. We hope that Sarabjit Singh is able to recover and Pakistan needs to release him to Indian custody. Whether he truly is a spy or not, he has served his time and now needs to be released to Indian custody in a goodwill gesture towards India.

India and Pakistan: The Truth of the One Nation Theory

By Aakar Patel for FirstPost

The first time I came to Pakistan, I was taken aback at how good some of the infrastructure was. The airports at Karachi and Lahore were small, but they were efficient and well designed. I think my host told me the Japanese had built one or both of them, and those airports were a very different thing from the ones I had just taken off from in India.

This was when the government made the airports and as with all things the Indian government takes up, our airports were clumsy and barely functional. But a few years later this changed. Today the airports at Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are pretty good. They’re not world class (nothing in India can ever be), but they are not embarrassing as the earlier ones were.

The differences that I had thought were significant turned out not to be so.

This led me to think of how similar we were as nations. Not in the sense that Mohd Ali Jinnah meant. I think it is fairly obvious that the character of India and of Pakistan is different when we observe their constitutions. India’s secularism is fundamentally Hindu in its nature. Pakistans constitution is Islamic by design and in appearance.

Though this is an important aspect of nationhood, however, it is only one aspect.

What I mean is how we are one nation in all the negative aspects. Our neighbourhoods and streets are among the most shameful in the world, because we are selfish and blind to the concern of others. Delhi’s drivers are as terrible as those in Lahore (and the women of Delhi and Lahore would concur on the behaviour of the loutish men of those cities). Half of us are illiterate and the half who are literate don’t really read much. The comments sections of Indian and Pakistani websites are the most dreadful in the world, without qualification. Hateful and pedantic, the product of minds who are only functionally literate. We think time will bring some big change in our society but it isn’t easy to see where this change is going to come from.

I know of few other nations where people would not be embarrassed at the thought of keeping servants. Few cultures would be so unaffected, so uncaring of privacy to not mind the constant presence of the servant in the house. I am not even talking about the bestial manner in which we treat them, because every reader of this piece, whether Indian or Pakistani already knows what I mean.

We divide ourselves into nations based on things like which animal the other eats or does not eat. The outsider probably sees no difference between us, and rightly.

We produce very little of meaning to the outside world, and it is tough to think of what our contribution is to the nations from whom we take so much. In science and technology we have nothing to offer the West, despite the boasts of Indians that we gave the world Arabic numerals and zero (I agree with that; we have given the world zero).

Pakistanis stake claim to Islams golden age. Daily Jang columnist Hassan Nisar often takes up this point. He says that the Arabs laugh when Pakistanis owns Islams achievements. What aspect of the conquest of Spain or the scientific revolution in Baghdad did Punjabis and Sindhis participate in?
To the world we are one people in that sense.

My friend Col Iftikhar, from Musharrafs batch in the Pakistan Military Academy, said he discovered this horrifying fact when he went to Mecca a few decades ago for Haj. He met some Saudis, one of whom asked him where he was from. Lahore, said Ifti. Where’s that, the Saudi asked (this was in the 70s). Pakistan, said Ifti proudly. Where’s that, the puzzled Saudi asked. Ifti took out a map and pointed. Ah, said the Saudi to his friends, he’s Hindi.

Our problems are so primitive that they should make us stop and repair ourselves immediately. But they don’t seem to affect us at all. Our media carry on like we are normal people. Reading the militant bombast of the strategic affairs experts in the newspapers of these two nations, the outsider would never suspect that these were two nations unable to even keep their public toilets clean.

iPakistan- Rebranding Pakistan

About

iPakistan is simply an intitative to bring Pakistan to the world and the world to Pakistan.

WHO ARE THEY?

iPakistan ia a group of university students and young professionals who are done whining about Pakistan’s image and want to do something about it. Most of them are studying in foreign universities and so have first hand experience of various kinds of stereotypes that Pakistanis overseas face as well as the tarnished image of the nation is portrayed in other countries.

Sadly, terrorism has become synonymous with Pakistan. There was this one time when a team member of this group was asked as a serious question by a Chinese students : “Does your family have any Taliban?” IMAGINE!

So iPakistan and iLahore are collaborative efforts about changing this wrongly propagated image, and even if we the group members are only able to neutralize one person’s opinion, they will feel happy that they made a small difference.

THE TEAM

Founder – Rehman Ilyas

He is the guy most pissed about Pakistan’s image and hence the one who came up with iPakistan and iLahore. He studies Economics and Finance at the University of Hong Kong and is particularly interested in Development Economics. Reads up on Chinese economy a lot and plans to heavily promote Chinese recipe of economics success, and apply it to Pakistan with a few unique ingredients of his own, through the Business section of ilahore.

Mentor – Khalid Malik

Mr. Khalid Malik is a famous Business Studies A-Levels teacher in Lahore. He is a visiting lecturer at various top schools including LGS Defence, LGS Paragon, SICAS etc. Recently he has been gaining further acclaim for his efforts to get the beloved festival of Basant, back to the people of Lahore.

Mentor – Ali Murtaza

Mr. Murtaza is a visiting professor at Beacon House National University (BNU) where he teaches design and illustration. In addition he works for a social marketing company and does commercial web site designing. His awesome illustrations, animations & creations have earned him the prestigious

Fulbright scholarship recently.

Editor Health – Burhan Ahmad
MBBS
Founder & CEO Medicalopedia, LLC

Editor Tourism – Muhammad Zargam Arshad

“BBA Accounting and Finance student at University of Hong Kong. Zargam is fondly known as “Ziggy”. He has extensive travel experience: Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Austria, England and of course Pakistan! Fond of reading two diverse types of poetry: Modernist and Sufi poetry. Currently working with
“YES Network” on breaking down discrimination barriers in Hong Kong society. “

Editor Fashion – Khizra Wynne

Although i have crippled my four senses while Majoring in Economics and Finance but, the sense of sight still stands to fight because it’s all about living to look ravishing.

Editor Wisdom – Hassan Riaz

Hassan is an engineering student at the University of Hong Kong and claims to be very ‘Wisdomistic’.

Editor Religion – Syed Abrar Ahamd

Abar is an active member of the Muslim Scoiety at the University of Hong Kong and wants to share his passion for Islam and peace through ‘religion’ ilahore.

Editor HumourAli – Mohiudin Ahmad

There is no single description which fits Ali, and you will get to more about him andh is personality based on his upcoming awesome humour at iPakitsan.

Editor ‘Read’ – Hinna Malik

Hinna did her Masters in Mass Communication from the University of Surrey and has worked in RBS for several years.

Editor Music – Muhammad Hamza Bukhari

Hamza is a Biotechnology major in the University of Hong Kong and claims that there isn’t a single article/ blog on metal music that hasn’t passed through his eyes.

Editor Food – Mahnum and Mahnoor

The awesome duo loves dining out and usually are present at every restaurant opening.

Editors, Romancing the Border – Pulkit Saneja, Shirin Soni, Sonica Dunichand, Rehman Ilyas

Sonica and Rehman are from Pakistan, Shirin and pulpit from India and they are typicals, fighting and arguing over Kashmir, Sania Mirza and other crucial issues on a day to day basis.

Editor The world and Us – Mark Gray

“Mark is interested in issues of law and international relations. An American and a graduate from Princeton, he is currently living in Asia doing legal research, and plans to go to law school. He enjoys travel, photography, and music.”

Editor Business – Minahil Haroon

Completing her BBA in Wealth management at the University of Hong Kong. Loves Pakistan and is hoping to represent the real Pakistan through iLahore.
But they are different too, in the sense that they love each other and want to extend their love to the entire region!

Ambassadors

UK ambassador: Bilal Mustafa(Kings College)
India Ambassador: Shirin Soni ( HKU)
Karachi Ambassador: Minahil Haroon (HKU)
Multan Ambassador : Iqra Amjad (Punjab College)
Lahore School of Economics Ambassador: Mehreen Saba
LGS (JT) Ambassador: Ahmed Awais
Salamat School group Ambassador : Rahema Hassan
And counting…

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note-  Groups like iPakistan and Friends Across LOC are attempting to do the same things that we here at Pakistanis for Peace are doing as well and that is to bring the people of India and Pakistan closer together. We feel that the only solution to Pakistan and India’s problems and indeed over a billion people of the sub-continent is through a dialogue and peace. The neighborhood can not suffer another war between the two, which surely would be nuclear. Let’s hope that the our vision of peace between India and Pakistan succeeds and Pakistan is able to rid itself of a terrible image globally that its wonderful people do not deserve.

Why President Zardari’s Visit Is A Small Bonus

By Soutik Biswas for The BBC

Hope is not a policy, but neither is despair, as South Asia expert Stephen Cohen says in a recent essay on Pakistan.

So it is with relations between India and Pakistan.

The past few days have shown how fragile the relationship can be – even as India welcomed President Asif Ali Zardari’s private trip to India on Sunday – the first by a Pakistani head of state for seven years – and PM Manmohan Singh invited him for lunch, the $10m US bounty for Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, provoked the cleric to openly launch a fresh attack against India (and the US).

But people live in hope, so Indian media is gung-ho about Mr Zardari’s visit.

They say the Pakistani president must be applauded for trying to end trade discrimination against India, easing petroleum imports from across the border, and moving towards a liberal visa deal.

“Under Mr Zardari’s watch, India and Pakistan are considering a sweeping agenda for economic co-operation for the first time in decades. The prime minister has every reason to welcome Mr Zardari warmly and consider the next steps in consolidating the unexpected movement in bilateral relations,” the Indian Express wrote.

Analyst C Raja Mohan believes Mr Singh must make an official trip to Pakistan after his meeting with Mr Zardari. “For his part,” he wrote, “Mr Singh should convey to Mr Zardari his readiness to move as fast and as far as the Pakistan president is willing to go.” Others like Jyoti Malhotra actually find Mr Zardari’s visit to the shrine of a famous Sufi Muslim saint in Rajasthan loaded with symbolism in these troubled times. “Clearly, Mr Zardari has stolen an imaginative moment from the bitter-sullen history of India-Pakistan, by asking to come to pay his respects to a cherished and much-beloved saint across the Indian subcontinent,” she wrote.

The relations between two neighbours remain complex. A 2010 Pew survey found 53% of the respondents in Pakistan chose India as the greater threat to their country, and only 26% chose the Taliban and al-Qaeda. At the same time 72% said it was important to improve relations with India, and about 75% wanted more trade relations and talks with India.

Pundits like Mr Cohen believe that it will “take the [Pakistan] army’s compliance, strong political leadership, and resolutely independent-minded foreign ministers to secure any significant shift of approach towards India”.

None of this appears to be in much evidence at the moment.

Both countries have seriously weakened governments that makes them unable to move towards any radical confidence building measures. In the current circumstances, President Zardari’s visit can only be a small bonus. And as scholars like Kanti Bajpai suggest, India must remain patient (even if faced with another Mumbai-style attack), continue to engage with Islamabad, help the civilian government in Pakistan politically, try to resolve a few outstanding disputes like Siachen and Sir Creek, build a relationship with the army and explore the possibility of cooperating with Islamabad on the future of Afghanistan. Despair does not help mend a stormy relationship.

Fire at Indian Hospital Kills 89, Injures Dozens

By Mark Magnier for The LA Times

At least 89 patients died and dozens were injured when a fire raced through a hospital in India’s eastern city of Kolkata early Friday amid unconfirmed reports that it started in an underground parking lot used to store oxygen cylinders and flammable material.

Most of those who died in the multistory AMRI hospital in the southern part of the city died of suffocation, fire officials said. Hundreds of angry relatives, distraught at the lack of information and the idea that such a tragedy had occurred in a place dedicated to healing, reportedly went on a rampage, smashing glass in the reception area and looting hospital registers.

This was the second fire at that hospital in three years and one of the worst in Indian history. Mamata Banerjee, the top elected official in West Bengal state, where Kolkata is located, called it an “unforgivable crime,” adding that the private hospital’s license had been revoked. She promised a full investigation and harsh punishment for those found guilty of wrongdoing. Five fire engines brought the fire under control a few hours after the 3 a.m. blaze broke out, their arrival delayed by the narrow, congested streets surrounding the site.

Neighbors and passersby helped rescue stranded occupants of the 160-bed facility. Some told local television reporters that hospital staff had abandoned patients and fled for safety. Among the 73 people confirmed dead in the conflagration, three were hospital workers, said Satyabrata Upadhyay, a senior vice president of the AMRI hospital company.

Indian television showed dead bodies being removed from the building wrapped in sheets, with some of the living and dead lowered from windows by rope.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- We are saddened by this loss of life in neighboring India and pay our condolences to the relatives of the deceased. We urge the Indian government to make an urgent inqury into the cause of this disaster and hope that better emergency plans are laid out as a result on all public buildings, especially hospitals and nursing homes.

Mumbai Counts Its Losses

As Reported by The Hindustan Times

The improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in the triple bombings were not crude but prepared with “some level of sophistication”, the government said as investigators scrambled for clues on a rain-soaked Thursday and a weary Mumbai picked up the pieces after yet another terror strike.

A day after 17 people were killed and 131 injured when synchronised blasts rocked India’s financial capital, striking the congested areas of Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House within minutes of each other, there was no breakthrough on who was behind it.

“We will ensure no matter wherever the accused are, we will identify them and bring them to book,” Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria vowed, appealing for faith and trust.

In a flurry of activity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi headed for Mumbai. Home minister P. Chidambaram reached on Wednesday night and opposition leader LK Advani on Thursday morning.

Resigned, outraged or simply stoic, Mumbaikars rallied around to battle the crisis, 31 months after the Nov 26-28, 2008 terror assault, India’s worst. They waited outside morgues to claim the bodies of their kin, lined up at hospitals or packed into trains and buses to go about their daily work.

“I am a Mumbaikar and we shall not be scared by these terror attacks. Like me, lakhs of co-commuters are in the trains, buses and roads. It actually helps gives strength to each other,” Archana Shukla said as she went to work.

In Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai’s most popular address for jewellery that on Wednesday saw its third terror strike, merchants were shocked. But said firmly they were staying put.

“What is the point in shifting base? Are other business locations safer?” asked Raju Solanki, a gold jeweller.

That was a question even experts were loathe to answer as investigators began unravelling the conspiracy behind this latest assault by yet unknown terrorists.

Various agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG), the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Mumbai Police, were involved in the probe.

According to union home secretary RK Singh, the ammonium nitrate-based IEDs were “not crude” but indicated “some level of sophistication”.

A top doctor at one of the hospitals where the bodies of the dead were taken for a post mortem said an electric circuit, that may have triggered the blast, was found on one of them, leading to speculation that it may have been a suicide bomber at work.

Sources said traces of ammonium nitrate, also confirmed by Chidambaram, and fuel had been found in the explosives.

“Ammonium nitrate was used with a timer. The fact that they all took place within minutes of each other — eight-to-10 minutes — shows that it was a coordinated terror attack,” Chidambaram said.

The CCTV footage holds the key. Sources told IANS that some of the footage was marred by the rain and bad light Wednesday evening.

Hours after visiting the terror sites, Chidambaram said 131 people had been taken to 13 hospitals with injuries. He said one severed head was also found at the site that could take the death toll to 18.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, he admitted there was no prior intelligence input.

Quick to seize the initiative, BJP leader Advani pointed the needle of suspicion towards Pakistan.

“It is a policy failure not intelligence failure. There have been repeated attacks on Mumbai, this is a failure of policy,” Advani told reporters.

Advani quoted reports of a probable link between the blast and the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and said even if it were behind the attack it was being sustained by Pakistan.

“The last attack on our land is proved to have been engineered by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence),” Advani said.

“So far as India is concerned, the government of India should shed its ambivalence to terrorism,” Advani said.

Pakistan’s foreign minister comes to New Delhi for talks July 26-27 and external affairs minister SM Krishna said the terror strikes would not impact the strategic dialogue.

The timing of the attack has raised suspicions in informed strategic circles over whether the serial blasts were engineered by those who wanted to derail the peace process in the subcontinent.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- We at Pakistanis for Peace are saddened by this loss of life and would like to let our Indian friends know that we as Pakistanis for Peace stand in solidarity with India against acts of terror.

Fight Against Extremists Stretches Pakistan’s Military

By Jim Garamone for The American Forces Press Service

Just as two wars over the last decade have stretch the U.S. Army thin, the Pakistani military is stretched by its fight against extremist groups along the country’s western border, senior defense officials said here today.

At any given time, roughly one-third of the Pakistani army is deployed along the border region. Another third is along Pakistan’s border with India, and the rest is in garrison training and re-equipping.

“There are units along the border that have been in the fight for two years,” said a senior defense official, speaking on background. “That’s a long time. They are stretched.”

While many in the United States want the Pakistani military to do more against terrorist groups in North Waziristan, the truth is it may not be able to do much more, the official said. Pakistani troops – including members of the Frontier Corps – are in Khyber province, South Waziristan and other areas of Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas. North Waziristan, specifically, is a safe haven for many senior Taliban leaders launching attacks in Afghanistan.

The military has launched a campaign against terrorists in Mohmond province – an area they cleared once, but where extremists have re-emerged. And that’s the problem, the official said: once the army clears an area – “and they do that quite well,” he said – the soldiers don’t have a force to turn it over to, and they’re forced to police the region. “The civil capacity does not exist in the region to hold the area,” the official said.

The civil capacity also does not exist to rebuild areas, and the army is stepping into the breach. “They are building schools and roads and water projects,” the official said. “This should be the job of civilian agencies, but they are not available.”

If Pakistan’s army could turn over the policing and development duties, troops would be available for further operations against the extremists, the official said, but they cannot.

The Pakistani military could deploy troops from the border with India to step up the fight against extremists, but Pakistan sees India – a nation with which it has fought four wars– as the foe. India and Pakistan have troops facing each other in Kashmir province. A solution to the dispute over Kashmir, which goes back to the founding of the two nations in 1947, could “unlock solutions” for Pakistan, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with Pakistani reporters.

It was a major move to deploy the Pakistani forces from the Indian border in 2008, and U.S. officials do not expect that to happen again.

Meanwhile, Pakistani officials are worried about the spread of radicalism in the nation. While most incidents still are centered on the western border, many incidents have occurred in Balochistan, Sindh and even the Pakistani heartland of Punjab. “They even use the term Punjabi Taliban,” the official said. “And it concerns them.”

The United States is set to provide roughly $3 billion in aid to the Pakistani military in fiscal 2012, the defense official noted.

The “Indo-Pak Express” Overthrows No. 2 Seeds to Reach Semis in Monte Carlo

By Erin Frauenhofer for 10SBalls.com

The India/Pakistan pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi made waves at the Monte Carlo Masters with a quarterfinal upset over No. 2 seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Max Mirnyi of Belarus. With a 6-1, 7-5 victory on Friday, the sixth-seeded duo advanced to Saturday’s semifinals, where the pair will play Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela and Brazil’s Bruno Soares.

Bopanna and Qureshi took command in the first set, breaking Nestor’s serve and holding steady on their own serve to take a 4-1 lead. The “Indo-Pak Express,” as the pair has been dubbed, remained in control for the rest of the set, breaking Mirnyi to give Qureshi the opportunity to serve for the set. Bopanna and Qureshi won the game to wrap up the first set handily, in only 21 minutes.

Nestor and Mirnyi displayed a stronger performance in the second set, after suffering an early break to fall behind 1-2. They rallied back to break Bopanna and Qureshi in the next game, and both pairs held serve for the next four games, until Nestor and Mirnyi were broken once again.

At 5-4, Bopanna and Qureshi had their first chance to serve for the match, but Nestor and Mirnyi battled back to even the score with a break. Bopanna and Qureshi retaliated in the next game with another break to take a 6-5 lead.

Serving for the match for the second time, with victory nearly in sight, Bopanna and Qureshi dropped the first two points of the game but recovered to close out the match. Bopanna and Qureshi broke their opponents a total of five times during the match and lost their serve twice.

Friday’s win was the second victory of the tournament for Bopanna and Qureshi. After receiving a bye in the first round, Bopanna and Qureshi notched a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over the American/Netherlands Antilles duo of Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer to reach the quarterfinals.

Chela and Soares have recorded three wins in the tournament thus far. The duo took a straight-set win in the quarterfinals, defeating Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky and Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 6-4, 6-3. In the previous round, the pair upset No. 8 seeds Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Russia by a score of 6-2, 6-4. Earlier, Chela and Soares had prevailed in a three-set first-round match, outlasting Michal Mertinak of Slovakia and Dick Norman of Belgium, 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.

Monte Carlo is the first clay-court Masters tournament for the Indo-Pak Express, and the duo has high hopes for the French Open. Bopanna and Qureshi’s strong showings this year and efforts toward peace between their countries have earned them an enthusiastic and steadily growing following.

Bopanna and Qureshi have made recent headlines for their request to play an exhibition match on the India-Pakistan border in an attempt to foster reconciliation efforts between the two nations. As part of a “Stop War, Start Tennis” campaign, the duo plans to string a net across the Wagah border crossing and switch sides during the match.

India Continues to Dominate Pakistan’s Strategic Thinking: US

As Reoported By The Times of India

Pakistan’s efforts to launch a comprehensive fight against terrorism are greatly hampered by its perceived threat perception against India, US President Barack Obama has said in a new report to Congress.

“As India continues to dominate their strategic threat perception, large elements of Pakistan’s military remain committed to maintaining a ratio of Pakistani to Indian forces along the eastern border,” Obama said in the third-quarterly report to the Congress on Afghanistan and Pakistan sent yesterday.

“This deprives the Pakistani COIN (counter-insurgency) fight of sufficient forces to achieve its ‘clear’ objectives and support the ‘hold’ efforts and causing available Army forces to be bogged down with ‘hold’ activities because there are insufficient trained civilian law enforcement personnel to assume that responsibility,” Obama said in his 38-page unclassified (rpt) unclassified version of the report.

Due to flood in Pakistan last year the offensive military operations Pakistan had envisioned for KP (Khaibar Pakhtoonwah) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the second half of 2010 were overtaken by events, he said.

“Militants were impacted by the floods as well, so we did not observe significant offensive actions on their side, but as Pakistani forces ceased offensive operations, extremists extended their control to areas without sufficient Pakistani central government-provided security and governance,” he wrote.

Between October 1 and December 31, 2010, Obama said Pakistani security forces remained largely static, generally focusing on maintaining the security of previously cleared areas in the FATA and KP and continuing to support flood relief operations.

There were small but notable security operations in November and December in Orakzai Agency and Dir District, but no major operations.

National attention during the reporting period focused on the need for continued flood relief and the start of early recovery efforts, he said.

“The military served as a force of stability during the monsoons, ensuring that Pakistani and international emergency resources were available for rescue and relief operations. The Pakistan Army, Air Force, and Navy committed large numbers of personnel and resources to the flood relief operations throughout October and November,” he said.

The civilian government’s response suffered from a lack of coordination and reflected broader shortcomings in the government’s ability to execute the civilian “hold” and “build” phases of COIN.

The last quarter of 2010 saw no progress on effectively executing the COIN cycle in KP and the FATA.

Time For World, ICC To Realise Significance of Pak-India Cricket

By Ramiz Raja for Dawn

The stakes are massive, the pressure unbearable and Mohali is burning with Pak-India fever. As if the contest needed more spice, we now have the small matter of two prime ministers catching up with each other at the ground, looking to de freeze the bilateral dialogue over cricket diplomacy.

The world is seeing the power of India-Pakistan cricket. All those people in positions, who were cold and indifferent towards it, are now queueing up to use the occasion to cash in. The governments, the media and the ICC have been given enough evidence in the past also of the unfathomable strength of Indo-Pak match-up, to know that uncoupling the two can mean a turbulent world and a colorless cricket calendar. Yet, all of them allowed the most passionate cricket duel to get stuck by petty politics.

The game at Mohali can have significant repercussions for the players. A loss will be remembered like a tsunami aftermath. On the other hand, a win can, like a wedding video, linger on the minds for eternity. A performance against India is never forgotten and that’s such a strong point to motivate the players and deflect pressure. This game is all about nerves and who jangles them first. The greater the wait the higher the anxiety and it’s been a long break for both teams.

Listening to cricket pundits on channels, calling home to impress the folks that all is under control and filling the fans with high hopes must be taking a toll on the system. The players would be desperate to go out in the middle to settle the racket in the mind and settle the issue on the field.

People fear the Indian crowd and how their pressure will play up on the players. From playing in India I know that the one sided pro India crowd can in fact give you a high because you are fighting them against the odds, and draw from experience the moments when you have beaten them.

It’s such a great feeling when you box them into dead silence, stroke after stroke! I am sure most of our players have sampled that experience and will be motivated to repeat it for their fans.

Captains, at times, worry in normal situations about lack of effort and skill from the team. Afridi will not have any such issues at Mohali. The game gets raised by the players who tend to play above themselves against India. The captain has to remain cool and, in any eventuality, remain dignified. At the end of the day it’s only a game of cricket.

We may or may not win this but our team has certainly won the hearts of the people. Whether they go to Mumbai or Karachi, we need to give them a heroes welcome for they have bonded us together as one!

— The writer is a former Pakistan captain.

India vs Pakistan – much more than just a game

By Anand Philar for Sify

With one stroke, India banished the ghosts of the 2003 final and the fantastic win at Motera virtually ended an era of Aussie dominance. Earlier this year, Ponting’s men lost the Ashes and now the World Cup, but like all great players, Punter left an indelible mark on the tournament with a century in what probably was his last CWC game.

While we rejoice the Indian win, let us show some grace and salute the Aussies for their achievements on the field that, sadly, has been sullied by the behaviour of some of the players. The sheer outpouring of emotions by Yuvraj and Raina after the winning boundary hit was indicative of the value the Indian team attaches to any win against the Aussies. Yes, it is always special to beat a top side even if it is on its way down.

India vs Australia: Turning point and Top performers

If anybody thought Australia are the favourites to win the Cup, then such presumption was based on the team’s track record of three consecutive triumphs, two of them under Ponting’s captaincy. As it turned out, pace, hitherto Australia’s biggest weapon, was unable to deliver and the absence of a quality spinner, much less a pair of them, eventually hurt them far more than their opponents.

On a Motera pitch that was on the slower side and assisting spin, the Aussies went at the Indians with a bevy of fast bowlers hoping to exploit the well-known weakness against the rising delivery. It was a ploy that boomeranged on the Aussies whose lone specialist spinner Krejza was just about club standard.

The fact that the three Aussie slow bowlers Krejza, Clarke and Hussey, sent down only 17 overs as against 33 by their Indian counterparts accurately reflects the difference in approach of the two teams. I feel that proved to be the decisive factor.

I am sure, Ponting would have given his arm to have a Shane Warne bowling during the Yuvraj-Raina partnership that eventually turned the game around for India or for that matter a Hayden or Gilchrist to light up their fragile batting.

India end Australia`s 12-year reign to reach semis

So, having lost to the two top sub-continental sides, Pakistan (in the league phase) and India, the Aussies return home well and truly beaten, leaving the two neighbours in a face-off at Mohali next week.

Although the Pakistanis also have beaten the Aussies, the Indian win came under far greater pressure and in a knock-out situation that offered no safety net. As such, I would rate the Motera win much higher than the one in Colombo where the Aussies fell for 176 to Pakistani spinners.

Of course, all that is history now that India and Pakistan clash at Mohali in a game that can be equated to a Brazil vs Argentina football game in terms of interest, rivalry and of course, the immense pressure on the teams to deliver.

For all that, I will still back India who I feel are better equipped than Pakistan, be it in batting or bowling with the teams being on par at fielding. The spin quotient virtually gets negated since it is a staple diet for the rival batsmen while it is not as if the two teams have a Lee or a Tait or a Johnson in their ranks to trouble anyone with searing pace. It is India’s superior batting line-up that could well tilt the scales.

Further, it will also boil down to the collective character and resilience to withstand the pressure of expectations. I have covered more than my share of Indo-Pak sporting encounters in some of the major sports to say that the levels of passion and emotions among the rival players defy words. You have to be in it to know it.

Since the rivalry between the two neighbours transcends sports and given the historical political enmity (never mind the diplomatic mumbo-jumbo to the contrary), even a sporting victory or defeat that is a mere pinhead in the big picture of life, triggers mass euphoria as if it were a Kargil.

The players themselves might not admit it in public, but the irrefutable fact is the adrenaline rush is greater and the emotions are on the boil among the contestants. It will never be ”just another game” regardless of at what stage the two teams meet and it being a World Cup semi-final, one can imagine the pressure on the players.

World Cup 2011

Under the circumstances, the saying that cricket is played more in the mind than on the field cannot be any truer in an Indo-Pak contest. We have said this before, but needs to be reiterated that ultimately, the team that blinks first will lose. The cricketing aspects such as team combination, technique, strategy and what have you, are secondary.

In effect, the stakes, like it or not, admit it or not, are much more than cricketing gains or losses. So, tighten your seatbelts and on to Mohali!

Dig Deeper and You’ll Find the Other Oslo

By Rick Steves,Tribune Media Services

In the Norwegian capital of Oslo, a big statue of a tiger sits in front of the train station. A local once explained that Oslo is nicknamed the Tiger City because in the 19th century, when country boys visited the wild and crazy “New York City of Norway,” it made “a mark on their soul.”

I find Oslo more of a kitten than a tiger. Its mix of grand neoclassical facades, boxy 1960s-style modernism, pastoral parks and homogenous culture always have felt a bit tame for my taste. But by digging deeper, you can find more texture here, from gritty neighborhoods to troubled artists.

The city’s grand boulevard, Karl Johans Gate (street), cuts from the train station through the center of town to the Royal Palace. Lively with restaurants, parks and people, the street is lined with landmarks, including Oslo Cathedral, Parliament and Stortorvet Square, with its lively flower and produce market.

The boulevard also is the address of the Grand Cafe, once the meeting place of Oslo’s intellectual and creative elite. At the back of the cafe, a mural shows Norway’s literary and artistic clientele enjoying this fine hangout, from playwright Henrik Ibsen (who came in every day at 1 p.m.) to Edvard Munch, leaning against the window, looking drugged.

Munch is Norway’s most famous and influential painter. To see his most important work, head to the nearby National Gallery. Munch helped to pioneer a new style, expressionism, using lurid colors and bold lines to “express” inner turmoil and the angst of the modern world. His most iconic painting is The Scream, which he described as “the work of a madman.”

A few blocks down from the National Gallery is Oslo’s people-friendly harbor front, situated at the head of the 60-mile-long Oslofjord. As in many European cities, residents are reclaiming their waterfront area. In the past, you would have dodged several lanes of traffic to get to the harborfront, but now, most traffic has been diverted through tunnels under the city.

Facing the harbor, Oslo’s striking city hall is famous for hosting the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Completed in 1950 to celebrate the city’s 900th birthday, the building was an avant-garde thrill in its day. Entering here, I’m reminded that in this most highly taxed corner of Europe, city halls, rather than churches, are the dominant buildings. Though the state religion is Lutheranism, people rarely go to church. Instead, they seem to almost worship good government. The main hall actually feels like a temple.

Along the eastern harbor, the marble Opera House seems to rise like an iceberg from the sea. This is the only opera house in the world that doubles as a public plaza, with a roof designed to be walked on. Opened in 2008, this cultural venue is a huge hit. On my last visit, I joined 8,000 people on the rooftop to watch a hot English group named Antony and the Johnsons (with a lead singer who looks like a cross between Meatloaf and Marilyn Manson) perform on a stage raft anchored just offshore.

In summer, Norwegians practically live outdoors. Frogner Park not only offers a great peek at Norwegians at play but also features a fine sculpture garden showcasing a lifetime of work by Norway’s greatest sculptor, Gustav Vigeland.

From 1924 to 1943, Vigeland created a world of bronze and granite statues — around 600 nude figures in all. The centerpiece is a teeming monolith of life, with 121 figures carved out of a single block of stone rocketing skyward. Like Munch, Vigeland was troubled. Those who know his life story can read it clearly in the granite and bronze, but I ignore it all and simply see his art as observations on the bittersweet cycle of life.

As much as I love Norway, goat cheese and my blond cousins, sometimes I need to inject some color into my days. At night, I head to two trendy multiethnic zones. Grunerlokka is the Greenwich Village of Oslo. A former working-class district, this neighborhood of funky shops, old hippies and bohemian cafes is a favorite of Oslo’s artsy set. Locals come here for its convivial night scene and colorful eateries.

Oslo’s rough and tumble immigrant zone is a stretch of a street called Gronland. This is where Turks, Indians, Pakistanis and the rest of Oslo’s immigrant community congregate. Colorful green grocer carts spill onto sidewalks. Various kebabs and spicy borek cost just $2 to go. Dueling tandoori restaurants offer meals for under $10, otherwise unheard of in Oslo.

I love dining street-side here. It’s cheap — and seeing a rainbow of people and a few rough edges makes the city feel less like Wonder bread. But that’s the beauty of Oslo. Just when you think you have it figured out, it gives you a taste of something different.

Rick Steves (ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his Facebook blog.


Global Sufi Fest Attracts Thousands

As Reported by the Times of India

Soulful renderings of Sufi music by wandering minstrels from different parts of the world left the listeners spellbound here at the three-day ‘Sufi Sutra’ which ended on Sunday.

Besides Indians, Sufi singers and musicians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Syria and Tajikistan presented mystic Islam through songs, dance and poetry.

Notwithstanding the current political turmoil back home, an eight-member Egyptian Mawlawyiah troupe enthralled the audience by an audio-visual of music and circular dervish dance whirling around singers in a circle.

A Bangladeshi team, led by Anusheh Anadil, sang the household songs of the famous 18th century poet-philosopher Fakir Lalon Shah, on whom based the recent Golden Peacock winning Bengali film ‘Moner Manush’.

The ‘bauls’ and ‘fakirs’ of West Bengal’s Nadia and Murshidabad districts were huge hits by their spontaneous, simple and meaningful lyrics.

Another Bengal team led by Armaan Fakir presented the little-known ‘Bangla Qawwali’. Traditionally performed at the Dargahs, the devotional songs had ‘Dhol’ and ‘Khol’ as percussions replacing Tabla.

The first Sufi ensemble also included the ‘Warsi Brothers’ from Hyderabad, Delhi’s ‘Druv Sangari’ and team, ‘Mirs’ from Bikaner and ‘Haji Md Ahmed Khan Warsi’s team from Uttar Pradesh.

“It is a peace concert in times of violence. We want to bring a convergence of ideas about truth, harmony, self-belief and peace through music. It is a celebration of the quest for the divine through love,” organiser Amitava Bhattacharya said.

Besides musical performances, the festival included workshops and exhibitions to showcase the traditional culture, beliefs and music of the Sufi mystics.

“We had more than 10,000 people at the open-air concert, while more than 700 people, including young students, learnt about Sufism at the pre-concert workshops,” Bhattacharya said.

The event would also help the poor musicians, most of whom were from the rural areas, to earn a livelihood, he said.  The festival was organised by Banglanatak.com in collaboration.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- It’s a sad reality that singers from a  country rich in Sufi history and traditions like Pakistan, are  unable to attend this festival due to the 60+ year friction between the two brothers India and Pakistan. They are two halves of one nation.

Cultural exchanges like these, billions in cross border trade, Bollywood and Lollywood collaborations, sports matches, etc are just some of the things the two are missing out on due to their relations. We hope one day peace can finally come to this ancient and holy land that is the subcontinent.

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