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    How Should Sadiq Khan’s Election as Mayor of London be Viewed:::Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain

    How Should Sadiq Khan's Election as Mayor of London be Viewed

    So London does it again; springs surprises and beats trends. A second generation Pakistani immigrant goes and wins for Labor the Mayorship of London. Over the last few months I often commented on the un-integrated elements of the second generation immigrants in West Europe, and UK is West Europe too I presume. I always alluded to the dangers of the second generation immigrants being educated and growing up alongside the original citizens and suffering discrimination which has left them disenchanted.

    Is the election of Sadiq Khan as Lord Mayor of London something which really beats the trend of disenchantment with immigrants or are both UK and London really different? It needs examination in the light of the prevailing environment all over the West, the deepening Islamophobia, the throwback from the effects of the threats posed to Western culture from the migration still underway from Syria and North Africa, the hugely polarizing effects of Trumpism spreading through America and the continuing shenanigans of radical elements everywhere. That is a mouthful in favor of the belief that the Western world has closed ranks to protect its value system and wall off the negative effects of radicalism which has adversely affected its security. In the light of this is Sadiq Khan’s election a flash in the pan or does it allude to the prevalence of inherent tolerance in Western society that accepts individuals for their worth.

    A ray of hope for people with a balanced outlook who abhor xenophobia, Sadiq Khan’s triumph is a reiteration of liberalism in UK.

    The latest census of London showed that 12.4 per cent of Londoners are Muslim, 48.4 per cent Christian, 1.8 per cent Jewish, 5 per cent Hindu, 1 per cent Sikh and 20.7 per cent profess no faith (their ethnicity is not known). So obviously Sadiq Khan was supported by a large cross section of all faiths for the 57 per cent vote he secured from those who turned out for the election.

    I closely observed London during a yearlong stay 10 years ago. I found the city an extremely happy one even less than a year after the 7 July 2005 bombings. There was no xenophobia anywhere. In the academic intellectual circles that I moved in I found no visible discrimination although I do believe that it exists under wraps. What was most marked was the severe criticism against government for supposed inefficiency; for someone living away from the chaos of New Delhi it was a surprise because everything seemed like clockwork. There were rabble rousers among immigrants who bad mouthed the government and -demanded imposition of Shariah. I always wondered why they were not simply deported for having the gall to come to a developed nation and then demand imposition of one’s own culture instead of absorbing that of their new country. Yet, the UK media did not find that too strange and hardly condemned such rants. I expected a condescending attitude from the white Caucasian part of the population but somehow never found that. The UK’s policing system is minimally intrusive and yet very effective. A few years ago immigrants were involved in riots in areas south and east of London; then too the response was surprisingly benign.
    I have not lived in other parts of West Europe, only visited cities. However, followed media during short visits and following up on the net one cannot say for sure that liberal values of a similar kind exist there. On the face of it they do. All these nations have opened their doors to immigration for the purpose of absorbing both talent and labor. However, given the situation in Paris or Brussels I wouldn’t expect the electorates there to elect an immigrant to lead their cities.

    Given the proclivity of the US to keep electing leaders on proven capability and not ethnicity shouldn’t its mirror image in UK be expected to do the same? Actually not, the US is a nation of immigrants, the UK is not. Reports from the US now indicate a new fascination for Islamophobia. As Donald Trump’s popularity within the Republicans increases, so do the number of instances where common citizen fliers on domestic airlines feel more restive with apparently strange languages, skin color and other indicators of immigrant or foreign descent. Trumpism is affecting America for sure and the same trends are noticeable in Europe which has been deeply affected by the impact of terrorism and immigration. The translation of liberal values into practice, under the prevailing circumstances, would mean the ability of society not to club ethnic groups under labels; maintain balance in its utterances and for media to advise greater tolerance. That is easier said than done in societies used to relative peace and high quality of life. Europe hasn’t been able to do it that well but the UK appears different. No doubt it hasn’t been affected by the travails of new mass migration nor from effects of radical terror. Perhaps the result would have been different had UK recently suffered the same. Or perhaps still not, given the fact that UK feels it is different to the rest of Europe; the Brexit vote on 23 Jun will decide that for sure.

    Given the entire analyses one cannot take it away from the man and perhaps that made the difference. Sadiq Khan expressed his abhorrence for Islamism as much as he did for anti-Semitism. It is his persona that probably made even greater difference. A diffident but confident man appreciated for his ability. Yet, without the basic character of the electorate and its tolerance he would still not have made it.

    London’s election should wake us up to the feasibility that elections are not always what they seem. People are still inherently appreciative of character and capability, tolerance and balance because that brings a greater assurance to their lives. Donald Trump may rave and rant but if he continues to generalize as he does he is unlikely to triumph in an exercise which still appears to be old world.

    Unfortunately Sadiq Khan’s success has been celebrated the wrong way by the Pakistani immigrants with shades of anti-Semitism. He has quickly made amends by ensuring he was also seen at a temple and honored by the local British Indian community. He appears far too cultured and mature to be taken in by some of the typical narrow minded elements of the electorate; possibly his friends from the Tooting days. It augurs well for liberalism and its continued strength in the oldest democracy of the world. It offers succor to those who think Europe may change for the worse; a hope that influence of UK’s continued tolerance and liberalism may still act as a beacon to a society under intense pressure from radicalism and it effects.

    Agusta case: Christian Michel’s driver spills beans on India contacts, funds links

    New Delhi, May 8

    Agusta case: Christian Michel's driver spills beans on India contacts, funds links

    Investigators have got some “vital” leads on the Indian contacts and fund sources of Christian Michel, an alleged defence middleman, after interrogating his local driver here in connection with the money laundering probe in the nearly Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal.

    Officials said Michel’s driver, Narayan Bahadur, was questioned at length by ED sleuths in the last few days and he has divulged vital information about contacts of the British national who has emerged as the crucial link in the case where agencies are probing alleged payment of kickbacks that helped swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland for supply of 12 choppers for flying VVIPs.

    They claimed the driver was getting money through global wire fund transfer services until recently and this could help investigators in locating the current operations and activities of Michel against whom both the ED and CBI have obtained Interpol red notices for arrest.

    The driver, sources said, would drive Michel around during his visits to India and worked with him for nearly four years.

    He used to pick up Michel from his hotel in central Delhi and took him to his Indian and foreign contacts in Lutyens Delhi and southern part of the national capital.

    Although Bahadur had been questioned by the agencies earlier, they stumbled upon some vital leads recently when ED sleuths searched his premises and are understood to have seized some documents, phones and a few other things that could throw light on Michel’s role in the scandal.

    The VVIP choppers deal probe has shed light on the involvement of three alleged middlemen — Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Michel — in swinging the deal in favour of UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

    Investigating agencies are probing their role in the specific context of alleged payment of bribes and extension of favours by the company to clinch the multi-million dollar deal.

    On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with the company over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

    Both the probe agencies have also issued separate Letters Rogatories (LRs) to various countries seeking assistance to take the probe forward.

    A joint team of the two agencies is likely to travel soon to a few overseas locations to track the trail of funds, both through wire tranfer and cash. — PTI

    RAFALE DEAL Will consider Law Ministry’s views: Parrikar

    New Delhi, May 3

    Even as the Ministry of Defence has agreed to the pricing of the 36 Rafale fighter jets to be bought from Dassault Aviation France, the Ministry of Law and Justice has made certain observations that are being incorporated in the under-negotiation  inter-governmental agreement between India and France.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed the Rajya Sabha in written reply today that “the Ministry of Law and Justice has made certain observations and the same will be adequately taken into account while finalising the IGA (inter-governmental agreement), which is still under negotiations”. — TNS

    Parrikar to lay war memorial stone, Brig Behl says not informed

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, April 29

    Brig KG Behl (retd), patron of the Dehradun Ex-Services League, here today expressed surprise at the scheduled laying of the foundation stone of the Uttarakhand State War Memorial at Chir Bagh by the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, tomorrow. The authorities had not intimated ex-servicemen associations on the issue, he said.“How it has been named Saurya Sthal instead of war memorial is not known. The design of the memorial has not been approved by any retired or serving defence official,” he said.Brig Behl added it was surprising that the ex-servicemen, who were involved in locating and designing the war memorial right from its inception, were purposely ignored.He said earlier the project was required to be taken up under the auspices of the Directorate of Sainik Kalyan Punarvas and Uttarakhand Sub-Area, but now it was being constructed under the Cantonment Board.He added that one acre had been allotted for the war memorial. The authorities should ensure that the war memorial should be appropriate and should function properly.

    Pak told to allow Indian team to hold Pathankot probe: VK Singh

    RECIPROCITY Minister says this was relayed at the ‘informal dialogue’ of foreign secretaries


    NEW DELHI: New Delhi has conveyed the need to allow an Indian probe team to visit Islamabad in connection with the Pathankot attack on the principle of reciprocity, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

    HT FILE/RAVI CHOUDHARYThe Centre said the talks between foreign secretary S Jaishankar (left) and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry were informal.He said this was relayed to Pakistani officials at the foreign secretaries’ talk on Tuesday, though it was not “an official dialogue”. Singh was responding to a question by Congress’ Anand Sharma on whether India will be allowed to interrogate Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in connection with the terror attack.

    “…so far as we are concerned, our high commissioner conveyed formally to Pakistan foreign ministry that the terms of reference for the visit are broadly agreed to with the proviso that they would be on the basis of reciprocity and agreed and followed in accordance with the extant legal provisions. This has been very clearly conveyed to the ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistan that, subsequently, what has come in newspapers, we are not concerned with,” Singh said. He added, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, has been “clearly told” that they have to look into NIA visiting Pakistan.

    “Now, he has to go back and take a formal view and convey it to us,” the minister said.

    Foreign secretaries of the two countries S Jaishankar and Chaudhry met on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in New Delhi.

    The minister of state said when Pakistan sent its Joint Investigation Team, which included an ISI official, it was a sign of a “positive attitude”.

    The issue of an ISI member being present in the JIT was raised by Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha. Scindia asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to negotiate with the neighbour from a “position of strength”, instead of having an “emotional” response.

    Raising the issue before the start of the Question Hour, the Congress chief said the Pakistan media had insinuated that the India government had “staged a drama” to malign Pakistan and that the Indian side had not cooperated with the team.

    Responding to NCP member Majid Memon’s apprehension that Pakistan “may change” the evidence gathered here, and asked if India has a record of the information provided, Singh said: “Their JIT and our NIA had a dialogue at the professional level. Our method of enquiry and theirs is almost the same. They were given only the records we have.”

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    Dealings with Agusta on hold since July 2014: MoD

    Dealings with Agusta on hold since July 2014: MoD

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, April 28

    The Ministry of Defence today issued a statement saying all procurement from tainted Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland has been put on hold since July 2014 and that the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters was terminated in January 2014.In simple words, the MoD has indicated that the company is facing a ban.Arun Jaitley of the BJP was the Defence Minister in July 2014 and AK Antony of the Congress was the incumbent in January 2014.The MoD today said the “publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption”.“The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in the case. The time taken is largely because some of the key perpetrators of this misdeed are outside the country,” the statement said.The MoD said questions have been raised on certain trivial technicalities, which appear to be intended to distract attention from the core issue of corruption.The government, through its order dated July 3, 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline as regards six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI. The said companies are AgustaWestland International Limited, UK; Finmeccanica, Italy, and its group companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates; IDS, Tunisia; Infotech Design System (IDS), Mauritius; IDS Infotech Limited, Mohali; and Aeromatrix Info Solution Private Limited, Chandigarh. No new capital procurement has been made thereafter from these companies.The MoD said a joint venture involving AgustaWestland was cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. The proposal was approved on September 2, 2011, based on an application by Indian Rotorcraft Ltd, a joint venture of Tata Sons with AgustaWestland NV, Netherlands. This was later changed to AgustaWestland SpA, Italy, due to re-organisation within the group.On February 7, 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of the licence has since expired.

    HHRC seeks details of Army’s action


    HHRC seeks details of Army’s action
    Troops carry out a flag march during the Jat agitation in Rohtak. File photo

    Deepender Deswal

    Tribune News Service

    Hisar, April 26

    The Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC) has sought information from Deputy Commissioners (DC) about Army’s movement and action taken by troops to disperse the mob during the Jat agitation in February.Violence did not stop in districts where the troops were deployed. The district authorities had issued warnings that the Army had been given shoot-at-sight orders to deal with agitators, but experts raised questions about the proper utilisation of troops. Army officials had denied firing on the mob.Around 75 columns of troops were deployed in nine districts and they carried out flag marches carrying placards mentioning “Army” written in bold red letters.The state government had called in Army after local police and administration failed to control arsonists. The troops were deployed in Rohtak, Hisar, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Bhiwani, Fatehabad, Jind, Panipat and Kaithal districts.The HHRC has asked the Deputy Commissioners (DC) to submit reports about the Army’s movement in their respective districts from February 19 to 23. The commission has also asked whether or not troops used force or resorted to firing to disperse agitators.Besides, the DCs have been asked the places where Army was dispatched and the name of the officer deployed as the District Magistrate for the purpose of directing the military authorities.The letter sought details of instructions issued to the military for tackling the agitators.The HHRC had issued notice to the DCs in March to submit the replies within two weeks. Some of them are yet to respond.Director General of Police (DGP) KP Singh recently requested the commission to drop suo motu proceedings against the agitation, after which the HHRC rapped him and granted three more weeks (by May 17) to file the replies.

    GPS location of

    • cops being tracked
    • Jhajjar: The cyber cell of the police is ascertaining the location of officials deployed in the district during the Jat agitation in February. Superintendent of Police (SP) Jashandeep Singh Randhava confirmed the development. “The GPS location of every police official deployed in the district during the stir is being tracked following directives of the higher authorities,” he said. A report would be sent to the higher authority and erring policemen would face action, the SP said. Sources said policemen, up to the inspector rank, were not in the district on February 19, 20 and 21 when the maximum damage was done. Unruly mob set ablaze several government offices, police stations, houses, business establishments and vehicles during the Jat stir. In all, 13 persons were killed in the district.

    Ex-serviceman demands justice in fraud case

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, April 22

    Col Surinder Singh Ghuman’s (retd) is a classic case of how travel agencies, in connivance with bank authorities, defraud vulnerable youths aspiring to go abroad in search of greener pastures.Ghuman’s elder sister’s fixed deposit details were fraudulently attached with documents of a youth seeking admission in an Australian university. The youth belonged to the Majitha township in Amritsar. The travel agency preparing his documents for his admission in the Australian university is also located here.In the documents, the youth posed as the grandson of Kudeep Kaur, said Ghuman. He currently resides in Mohali. Kuldeep is his elder sister. The fraud came to light when the bank authorities sought clarification from Ghuman. His elderly sister had never married and officials of the Oriental Bank of Commerce at Mohali knew about this.Alarmed at this, he immediately approached the bank authorities and sought action against the culprits. Perturbed over the “indifferent” attitude of the bank authorities, he made efforts and zeroed in on an aspiring student, Arshdeep Singh, and the travel agency involved in the alleged scam. He then approached the Amritsar rural police. The student belonged to Majitha, falling under the rural police. After a couple of months, the case has transferred to the city police because the travel agency, OECC, was in the Ranjit Avenue area. Finally following an inquiry conducted by the Economic Offence wing, the Civil Lines police registered a fraud case in this regard on December 12, 2015. The inquiry nominated two persons, including a loan officer of the bank at Jalandhar, identified as Lal Chand, and Kulwinder Singh, an employee of the travelling agency, was booked. The inquiry pointed out that Kulwinder connived with Lal Chand. They kept the student and the manager of the travel agency in dark before attaching documents of Kuldeep Kaur with the file of Arshdeep Singh.Assistant Commissioner of Police BK Singla, who is investigating the case, said the probe was under progress while the police had already registered a case in this regard.

    Talks with Pak not suspended: India

    New Delhi, April 22India today reiterated that the dialogue process with Pakistan had not been suspended, as was made out of the remarks by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, but did not indicate of any progress or possible timeline for a formal exchange.Responding to a question on the issue, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that after the Pathankot attack, investigation of the incident became the focus, but other aspects too were under discussion. “The dialogue process has not been suspended…rest is a matter of detail…dialogue has never been suspended”.Basit’s remarks on suspension of dialogue earlier led to speculation over the nature of engagement and whether New Delhi and Islamabad were speaking in different voices. The Pakistan Foreign Office said door for negotiations with India was still open. — TNS