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Geraint Jones is now working as a fireman, teacher and cricket coach…14 years after Ashes success – Daily Mail

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Geraint Jones is determined to be ready when the call comes to begin the exciting and potentially very challenging new chapter in his varied professional life.

‘I’m sure there’ll be nerves,’ said one of the heroes of England’s 2005 Ashes triumph. ‘My beeper will go off at home and I’ll have a mad rush to get to the station and see what happens from there.

‘They say the adrenalin is huge when that first one comes. I’ve done all the practice now but when it’s actually happening I’m sure there will be different pressure there.’

Former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones will soon start work as an on-call fireman

Former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones will soon start work as an on-call fireman

14 years ago Jones claimed the winning catch in England's victorious 2005 Ashes series

14 years ago Jones claimed the winning catch in England’s victorious 2005 Ashes series

Jones worked in catering and pharmacy before becoming a wicketkeeper-batsman

Jones worked in catering and pharmacy before becoming a wicketkeeper-batsman

That pressure will have nothing to do with the wicket-keeping skills that saw Jones claim the iconic catch to dismiss Michael Kasprowicz and clinch the nail-biting Edgbaston Test victory in that most famous Ashes series 14 years ago.

For Jones, at 43 a business studies teacher as well as a school cricket coach, will be donning a very different helmet and gloves when he begins his additional role as an on-call firefighter with his local brigade in Kent.

‘People have asked why and I can’t really pinpoint anything specific,’ said the former Kent keeper-batsman of joining the service.

‘It’s just something that’s been there for a while. I looked into it when I was still playing but it couldn’t have worked out then.

‘Then I was driving by my fire station in Sandwich a few months ago. They had a banner up saying they were recruiting and it sparked that interest in me.

‘Last Friday I finished my training course and as of Wednesday night I’ll be available to go out “on the run”, as they call it.’

Jones says England's 2005 success will with him forever and is a 'huge' part of his life

Jones says England’s 2005 success will with him forever and is a ‘huge’ part of his life

It is quite a departure from a cricketing career that brought Jones 34 Test caps, but he was never one for a conventional sporting life.

Born in Papua New Guinea to Welsh parents, Jones grew up in Australia and worked in catering and pharmacy before his cricket career blossomed at Canterbury. International honours followed when then-England coach Duncan Fletcher identified him as the modern batsman-keeper his side required. Now, alongside teaching at St Lawrence College in Ramsgate, Jones is close to completing on online degree in sports management but has found time in his busy schedule for this new adventure.

‘It will be a second job, so to speak,’ said Jones. ‘The school is my No 1 employment but I’ll be available to the service for 50 hours a week. When I get back from school I’ll be on call at the station from then until 5am.

‘Then at weekends and school holidays there will be more day cover. I loved the training. There were 22 of us on the course and we came together really close as a group. It was hard work and you need to be pretty physically fit but at the end of it even though I was tired it had been an incredibly fulfilling time. That fulfilment appeals to me along with the community aspect. And knowing that the service is quite stretched. Since I’ve gone along to training the teamwork has been huge. You can’t do anything without a buddy. It has to be incredibly tight and I’ve really enjoyed that.

‘You’re a crew working to fight fire or assisting at a road accident. The more I’ve done it the more I’ve been aware that you’re reliant on the group, whereas even though cricket is a team sport it’s an individual thing.

Jones says he's now a 'fan' and understands the tension of following England as a spectator

Jones says he’s now a ‘fan’ and understands the tension of following England as a spectator

‘With a fire you’re all in it together and need absolute teamwork to get the job done as well and as quickly as you can. With cricket it’s a batsman against a bowler, but when you’re on the end of a hose you need someone behind you because you’re relying on the guy sending you the water from the back of the pump. It’s a real chain.’

Not that Jones will be ready for full firefighting duties just yet.

‘I’ve passed a foundation course and now it will be a two-year process to get the qualification to be called competent,’ he said.

‘I’ll need to do various courses, like learning how to go into a building with breathing apparatus. Then I’ll need to do first aid and another in going to a road traffic collision. There will be two years of training to get to the required level.’

It is that sort of dedication that saw Jones earn his permanent place in English cricketing history with the class of 2005.

‘To be part of that team was amazing,’ he said. ‘It was a huge part of my life and 2005 will be with me forever. This year’s World Cup had that tension.

‘I look at cricket as a fan now and I had the emotions that people watching us had in 2005. I can now understand why people still come up to me 14 years later and talk so passionately about that summer.

‘They can remember where they were and so much about it.’

Not only did Jones play for England but in the later stages of a career that also took in a stint at Gloucestershire, he featured in the inaugural one-day internationals for his native Papua New Guinea.

Now they they have qualified for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

‘To be part of the journey they started on in earnest in 2010 was amazing,’ said Jones. ‘And for the last eight or nine years they’ve worked incredibly hard. I played for Papua New Guinea when we got full ODI status and the difference that made financially means they have gone from strength to strength.

‘I played with quite a few of those still there and to see them now have a chance to go to a World Cup is fantastic. They will get huge support and I will say from this far out — watch their fielding. They are real athletes.’

Now Jones will use his athleticism to potentially save lives.

‘I have no plans to give up teaching,’ he added. ‘I see my two jobs sitting together really well and giving me that enjoyment of being part of a firefighting team.

‘I’ve got my beeper and I’m looking forward to doing some good in the community. The first time it goes off my heart will be racing for sure but I’m looking forward to it.’

 

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Kamo Intermediate School girls’ cricket team competing in national finals – New Zealand Herald

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Kamo Intermediate School’s girls’ cricket team is just days away from the biggest tournament some of its members will ever play.

After winning a Northern Districts qualifying competition, the Kamo Intermediate School (KIS) team will travel to Christchurch for next week’s National Primary School Shield finals, which begin at Lincoln University and the Lincoln Domain on Thursday.

KIS will play five hard-ball, nine-a-side T20s against other Year 7-8 teams for the national title – Christchurch’s Heaton Intermediate, Auckland’s Remuera Intermediate, Dunedin’s Balmacewen Intermediate, Wellington’s Tawa Intermediate and New Plymouth’s Sacred Heart Girls’ College.

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LIVE cricket score, India women vs West Indies women, 3rd T20I at Guyana – Firstpost

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Toggle between the tabs above to switch between quick scorecard, full scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

After registering victories in the first two matches of the series, Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian unit will look to win the third match at Guyana against the hosts and seal the series. The visitors have looked the superior side on both the occasions previously, winning the first T20I by 84 runs and the second by 10 wickets respectively. The hosts are missing their regular captain Stafanie Taylor badly but despite all odds and previous losses, have to win this contest to keep the series alive.

India’s Shafali Verma, in particular, has been a great asset for the team and huge threat for the opposition. The young batter smashed 73 in the first match and went unbeaten on 69 in the second encounter. Windies women will need to get rid of her to have any chances of winning the third tie.

Squads:

India Women: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur(c), Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia(w), Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, Anuja Patil, Harleen Deol, Mansi Joshi

West Indies Women: Hayley Matthews, Stacy-Ann King, Shemaine Campbelle(w), Chedean Nation, Natasha McLean, Chinelle Henry, Kyshona Knight, Sheneta Grimmond, Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Anisa Mohammed(c), Shabika Gajnabi, Shakera Selman

Updated Date: Nov 14, 2019 20:47:10 IST

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Test cricket to return to Pakistan after 10-year absence – Insidethegames.biz

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Test cricket will return to Pakistan this month after a 10-year absence ©Getty Image

Pakistan is set to end a decade-long exile from Test cricket, with the national team set to play two-Test home series against Sri Lanka next month.

It was a terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, when Pakistan last hosted a Test match, that marked the beginning of Tests not being played there. 

Tams have visited the country limited-overs assignments but this will be the first Test series since that incident.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium and Karachi’s National Stadium will host the two games, due to begin on December 11 and 19 respectively.

The tour is a consequence of the successful white-ball series that the two sides contested in Pakistan in September and October. 

Sri Lanka visited for three one day internationals and Twenty20 matches.

Sri Lanka Cricket used the matches as an opportunity to assess the security situation for the Test series. 

Having been satisfied with arrangements during the white-ball tour, they gave the green light for the Tests.

“This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world,” Zakir Khan, the PCB director – international cricket, said.

“We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB’s efforts and drive for regular resumption of international cricket, and help in its endeavours of attracting new audiences and younger generation.

“Now that the itinerary has been confirmed, we will shift our focus on series preparations to ensure we deliver arrangements as per our very high standards. 

“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media.”

Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva confirmed that they would return to Pakistan for the Test matches.

“We are pleased to confirm our return visit to Pakistan as, based on our earlier visit, we are comfortable and convinced conditions are suitable and conducive for Test cricket,” he said.

“We also believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation.”

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The fight for Christianity in Pakistan – The Ledger

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Two years after fleeing to the United States, Lakeland resident Junaid Saqib is lobbying American politicians to support the protection of religious minorities in his home country of Pakistan.

LAKELAND — Junaid Saqib’s political activities put his life in danger in his native Pakistan.

Two years after fleeing to the United States, Saqib is lobbying American politicians to support the protection of religious minorities in Pakistan. Saqib said he and other Christians in his home country faced discrimination, violence and restrictions on holding office.

Saqib, 35, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with some members of Congress as well as congressional staff members. He urged them to put pressure on Pakistan’s government to allow full equality and protection for Christians, who make up less than 2 percent of the country’s population.

Pakistan’s population of 208 million is about 96 percent Muslim, according to a U.S. State Department report.

“We discussed how it’s dangerous for Pakistani Christians to collaborate (with Muslims),” Saqib said of his meetings in Washington. “When you try to collaborate with people in Pakistan, you have fear inside because of the blasphemy law and the discrimination laws. They are so fearful of religious fanatics and cannot express their views openly.”

Saqib has been living in Lakeland since 2017, apart from his family, including daughters ages 4 and 7. He communicates with the girls daily through phone calls and video chats.

As Saqib met with a reporter on a recent morning, he received successive calls from each of his daughters. He briefly chatted in Urdu and promised to call the girls back.

Saqib said he became politically active as a student, and he founded the group Pakistan Minority Rights Commission. He still runs the organization, conducting phone calls and video chats through the night from his home in North Lakeland. (Pakistan is 10 hours ahead.)

Beneficial timing?

Recent news reports suggest Saqib’s timing might be good in renewing his effort to lobby American lawmakers. Politico reported that aides to President Donald Trump are developing plans to make foreign aid dependent on each country’s treatment of religious minorities.

White House officials said the plan is in the early stages, and it isn’t clear if the policy would cover military aid, Politico reported. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Trump vowed to emphasize the promotion of religious freedom.

The United States provided about $837 million in aid to Pakistan in 2017, according to figures from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The majority of that was military aid.

Based on what he hears from friends and colleagues, Saqib said the plight of Christians in Pakistan has only worsened since he left the country.

“Since I moved, I have lost several political friends in Pakistan who were running campaigns with me for Congress, but now they are no more,” Saqib said.

He said the friends were killed at public rallies and meetings in targeted killings and suicide bombings.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Pakistan in November 2018 as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. A State Department spokesperson said the agency is particularly concerned about the use of blasphemy laws and abuses against members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and other religious minorities.

In its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom, the State Department cited reports of at least 77 Pakistani residents imprisoned on blasphemy charges, with at least 28 receiving death sentences. The report said Pakistan’s government had not yet carried out an execution for blasphemy.

The report described cases of Christian women being abducted and raped by Muslim men and said victims were chosen as vulnerable because of their religious identity. Saqib said it is difficult for Christians to convince the authorities to bring charges in such crimes unless they can convince a Muslim citizen to serve as a witness.

The government report also said activists claim “widespread discrimination” against Christians in private employment.

Seeking connections

Saqib said the office of Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, helped arrange his meetings with members of Congress and staff members when he visited Washington in late September.

“Mr. Saqib reached out to me and my team with some real needs facing real people,” Spano said in an emailed statement. “Here in the United States where the freedom to worship is protected by the Constitution, it is sometimes hard to imagine the depth of persecution the Church around the world faces on a daily basis. I was happy to refer him to my colleagues and several nonprofits who work directly with these issues with the hope that they could find solutions for these unjust practices.”

Saqib said he met briefly with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and had a more extended conversation with Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-New Port Richey. He said he also talked to staffers for Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey.

Saqib said he also gave an interview to Voice of America, the government-funded broadcaster, while he was in Washington.

Saqib said he told those he met in Washington about the threat of forced conversion to Islam faced by Christians in Pakistan. He also described government hostility toward Christian schools.

As an example, Saqib cited Edwardes College in Peshawar, a Christian institution founded in 1900 in what was then British India. He said the government nationalized the private college earlier this year, prompting demonstrations throughout the country.

Saqib said the Pakistan Minority Rights Commission has provided free legal services to the college. The PMRC has an executive board of about 500 and about 50,000 supporters, he said.

Among its other activities, the PMRC seeks changes in political representation. Pakistan’s constitution designates a small number of seats in Parliament for non-Muslims, and only Muslims are eligible to be president or prime minister.

“We love our country, Pakistan,” Saqib said. “We don’t hate it, but we need equal rights. We want them to treat Christians as equal citizens. We don’t have any conflict with the government, but if the government wants to make conflict with minorities then definitely we are stakeholders and we will fight for our rights.”

Saqib said he also urged the elected officials to lobby for an increase in the number of Pakistani Christians given asylum each year to enter the United States. Meanwhile, he seeks to form alliances with churches and business groups to support Pakistani exiles already in the country.

“They are facing the same huge difficulties when they come here,” he said. “They don’t know how to apply for asylum, and asylum is so expensive. And they don’t have health insurance, so life is very difficult for them here. I want churches to stand up for them and approach me — or organizations — and I can assist them culturally (on) how to help them.”

Gary White can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7518. Follow on Twitter @garywhite13.

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BBL coup: Smith signs on with Sixers – cricket.com.au

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The Sydney Sixers have pulled off one of the biggest coups in the BBL off-season by securing the services of Steve Smith for the back end of KFC BBL|09.

Smith will don the magenta for the first time in six years when he suits up for the Sixers in January after he returns from Australia’s Qantas ODI tour of India.

The 30-year-old is expected to be available for the Sixers’ final two or three games of the regular season and all of the BBL Finals, qualification pending.  

Smith’s first game could be against the Melbourne Stars at the SCG on January 20, but should he not be right for that match he is set to come up against the Brisbane Heat and their own marquee superstar, South Africa legend AB de Villiers on January 23 at the Gabba. 

The Sixers final regular season game is at home on January 25 against the reigning champions Melbourne Renegades. 

While Smith is Test cricket’s No.1 batter, he showed he can adapt to all formats with a blazing 80 not out from 51 balls for Australia in the Gillette T20I in Canberra earlier this month.

Smith thrills with innovative unbeaten 80

Smith is a foundation member of the Sixers and led the club to glory in the inaugural year of the competition in 2011-12, beating the Perth Scorchers at the WACA Ground, aka The Furnace, in the final.

Smith has played 26 games for the Sixers (20 in the BBL, six in the now defunct Champions League T20) and says he is thrilled to be back in familiar colours.  

“I am excited about getting an opportunity to play for the Sydney Sixers again,” Smith said.

“When the schedule came out and I saw there was a chance to wear the Magenta again I jumped at the opportunity and look forward to joining up with the team after my January national team commitments have ended.”

Smith’s signature has come at a heavy cost, with wicketkeeper Peter Nevill the player to make way for two-time Allan Border medallist.

“In making this calculated move we will be saying goodbye to another foundation member in Peter Nevill who has given great service to the Club over many seasons,” Sixers head coach Greg Shipperd said.

“Peter enjoys the sincere respect of all within the Sixers family for the effort, energy, performance and professionalism he has displayed.

“We thank him for that wholeheartedly and wish him well.”

The Sixers have not won the BBL since Smith captained the side to victory but have come close twice, finishing runners-up in BBL|04 and BBL|06.

Their 2019-20 season kicks off on December 18 against three-time champions Perth Scorchers at the SCG.

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Simla Agreement Resulted In “Revanchist” Pak, J&K Problems: S Jaishankar – NDTV News

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New Delhi: 

Asserting that past handling of Pakistan raises many questions, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said the 1972 Simla agreement resulted in a “revanchist” Pakistan and continuing problems in Jammu and Kashmir, as he hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold moves” in dealing with the neighbouring country.

The minister also said that “holding the feet to the fire” is very important in dealing with Pakistan and asserted the neighbouring country has built “an industry of terror”.

Delivering the fourth Ramnath Goenka memorial lecture, Mr Jaishankar advocated a foreign policy that appreciates change and is not status quoist as he cited key past incidents in Indian history such as the defeat in the war with China in 1962, the Simla agreement, the “inaction” after the Mumbai terror attacks to contrast it with India’s more dynamic stance post-2014.

Giving a historical perspective to geopolitical issues, Mr Jaishankar said, “For years India’s position on the world state seemed assured, but the 1962 conflict with China significantly damaged India’s standing.”

“India’s record includes dark moments like the 1962 defeat against China. Or tense ones like the 1965 war with Pakistan. There are enough dichotomies in our past to generate a spirited debate on successes and failures,” the minister said.

“Two decades of nuclear indecision ended dramatically with the tests of 1998. The lack of response to 26/11 is so different from the Uri and Balakot operations. Whether it is events or trends, they all bear scrutiny for the lessons they hold,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar asserted that the purposeful pursuit of national interest in shifting global dynamics may not be easy, but it must be done.

The real obstacle to the rise of India is not anymore the barriers of the world, but the dogmas of Delhi, he said in his lecture on the topic ”Beyond the Delhi Dogma: Indian Foreign Policy in a Changing World”.

“There was also little awareness in the 1950s that we were dealing with a battle-hardened neighbour to the North. Or of the strategic significance of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This approach to world affairs continued even thereafter,” Mr Jaishankar said while explaining six phases in Indian foreign policy.

“Thus, in 1972 at Shimla, India chose to bet on an optimistic outlook on Pakistan. At the end of the day, it resulted in both a revanchist Pakistan and a continuing problem in Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.

The Simla Agreement was signed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war. It was a comprehensive blue print for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan.

The External Affairs Minister said the time taken to link talks with Pakistan to cessation of terrorism speaks for itself.

After the lecture, Mr Jaishankar also engaged in a conversation on stage and took several questions on neighbourhood policy, Pakistan, Indo-US ties and abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of the J&K state.

Speaking on the government”s move to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir”s special status, Mr Jaishankar said the discussions around it were ldeological and there was “liberal fundamentalism at work” in the discourse.

“My reputation is not decided by a newspaper in New York,” Mr Jaishankar said over criticism of the government”s move by foreign media.

“As we move decisively to combat separatism in Jammu & Kashmir, there is some talk of its internationalization and hyphenation of our ties with Pakistan. This is thinking from the past, reflecting neither the strength of India, the mood of the nation or the determination of the government,” he asserted in the lecture.

Uninformed comments abroad on India’s internal affairs is hardly internationalization, Mr Jaishankar said.

“The reputational and real differences between India and Pakistan puts paid to any hyphenation effort. In reality, these fears are but a thinly disguised advocacy of inaction. Their intent, conscious or otherwise, is to legitimize a status quo that has now been overtaken by history,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar also hit out at the handling of Pakistan in the past, saying it raises many questions.

“Our past handling of Pakistan, a society which we are supposed to know well, also raises many questions. These are not exactly hypothetical situations and are cited to underline the contention that emergence as a leading power requires great pragmatism,” he said.

“That can be further strengthened by more sophisticated narratives that help reconcile divergences. After all, our emphasis on sovereignty has not prevented us from responding to human rights situations in our immediate region,” he said.

India had allowed the narrative to focus mainly on a dialogue with Pakistan, when the real issue was stopping crossborder terrorism, Mr Jaishankar asserted.

In the last five years, however, a different normal has developed and global conversations on crossborder terrorism have become more serious, he said.

Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “bold moves” in dealing with Pakistan, Jaishankar said his visit to Pakistan was “extraordinarily” risky, not just politically but also physically.

Mr Jaishankar also cited the FATF pressure on Pakistan over terror activities emanating from its soil and said India needs bold moves to deal with the neighbouring country.

On the economic slowdown in India, Mr Jaishankar said, “We shouldn’t be so faint-hearted. Two-quarter slowdown doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end. We have been through that before.”

The Ramnath Goenka memorial lecture has been organised by the Indian Express Group.

Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24×7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.

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Pakistan elected as Chairperson of CCW Convention – Anadolu Agency

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KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan has been elected as the Chairperson of the Annual Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), said a Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday.  

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, will represent Islamabad as the chairperson of the CCW. 

The CCW represents an important arms control framework that envisages prohibitions and restrictions on certain conventional weapons that can cause unnecessary suffering to combatants or affect civilians indiscriminately. 

The Convention and its five Protocols strike a prudent balance between humanitarian concerns and legitimate military utility of certain categories of conventional weapons.  

The States parties meet annually to review the implementation of the Convention, as well as to explore the possibility of developing additional Protocols on new weapon systems of concern. 

“This year’s annual meeting will address several important issues including the role of autonomous weapons and the financial sustainability of the Convention”, the statement said.

Pakistan’s unanimous election, it added, reflected recognition by the international community of the country’s longstanding contribution to promote international security through arms control instruments.

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Will the Kartarpur Corridor survive India-Pakistan hostilities? – The Hindu

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Over the past few days, thousands of pilgrims have visited the Kartarpur shrine through the special corridor built between India and Pakistan, which brought to reality a long-cherished dream of many Sikhs. After the celebration following the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9, many in the diplomatic and security establishment have expressed reservations about the project. In a conversation moderated by Suhasini Haidar, K.C. Singh and Ajai Sahni discuss the potential and the pitfalls of the India-Pakistan initiative. Edited excerpts:

The Kartarpur Corridor is a reality after seven decades. With Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan comparing the corridor to the Berlin Wall coming down, what are your thoughts?

K.C. Singh: This was always welcome — not just the Kartarpur Corridor, but also perhaps the idea that other religious corridors may be built between the two countries. I think there may not be too many other religious spots like this, just four kilometres from the border.

But let’s not conflate two things: the demand for the Kartarpur Corridor with India-Pakistan relations. If India-Pakistan relations were on a positive trajectory, Kartarpur would have been a confidence-building measure. Incidentally, this was never a part of the India-Pakistan comprehensive dialogue structure. Now if it was a confidence-building measure, you could see it helping the relationship further. But since the relationship is sour, and made worse by the August 5th decision on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, you are dealing with two separate processes: a relationship going south and this kind of an initiative sticking out like a sore thumb.

Ajai Sahni: I would agree, and add something. I believe both sides have entered into this Kartarpur arrangement for divergent, conflicting, and partisan political and domestic reasons. This is not a decision in good faith, to my mind. In 2017, a parliamentary committee had mulled over this idea, consulted widely with security and intelligence agencies, and come to the conclusion that however desirable, the Kartarpur Corridor was not advisable due to the situation on the ground. This was completely ignored.

 

Now, when you enter initiatives with the wrong motives, you can be fairly certain that no Berlin Walls are going to come down. This is not about India-Pakistan relations, but about Pakistan’s leadership trying to address its own strategic, tactical objectives, and about our ruling party trying to secure some political advantages. When negotiations are in bad faith, outcomes cannot be positive.

Given that there were no other bilateral talks, isn’t the fact that the Kartarpur talks went on for an entire year a miracle of sorts?

KC: Well, I think the question arises as to why Pakistan has gone ahead with the initiative despite the Balakot strikes, the Pakistan-bashing rhetoric during the elections this year, as well as dilution of Article 370.

In the past year, the Kartarpur Corridor seems to have been pushed by Pakistan’s military, with General Qamar Javed Bajwa making the first move when he offered the project. Government officials have also said that this project has been completed with “military precision”. Do you think Kartarpur is a military project for Pakistan?

AS: Absolutely. The basic objective has been to give a fillip to the Khalistan [separatist] project. And this combines with efforts of the past 3-4 years of creating problems in Punjab through a terrorist proxy. It combines with the increasing rhetoric around Khalistan. We heard repeated statements from Pakistani Ministers that Khalistanis would be welcomed at Kartarpur. As far as the management of Kartarpur is concerned, it is completely in the purview of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Is there an uptick in activity by these Khalistani groups?

AS: Marginally, yes. From what we have recorded, in the eight years preceding 2016, we saw no fatalities relating to activities from separatists in Punjab. Thereafter we have seen some. There is some limited uptick, but no major traction.

I want to put these suspicions that you refer to in some context. We have other religious pilgrimages between the two countries (Ajmer Sharif, Nankana Sahib, Hindu shrines, etc.) and a convention from the 1970s regulating them. So, why is Kartarpur different?

KC: First, the volumes are much smaller for those, and they are highly controlled. Lists are made in advance, and the Home Ministry and State governments run through them. Only a few thousand people go a few times a year.

AS: The real concern can be radicalisation, recruitment, and identification [by separatist groups]. If the volumes are substantial, as I am sure they will be eventually, they [the Pakistani establishment] will set up systems to expose these people to diaspora elements. The Khalistani leadership, still being given safe haven in Pakistan, will be used to identify individuals who are potential recruits and who could be mobilised for action or propaganda to support the broader Khalistani purpose. This is the slow attritional policy they would have imagined. Whether or not they are able to succeed is another matter.

If you can put aside the suspicions, how big a moment is the Kartarpur opening for the Sikh community and followers of Guru Nanak around the country?

KC: Kartarpur; Nankana Sahib, which is west of Lahore; and Damdama Sahib, which is between Islamabad and Peshawar are all important. There are many other gurdwaras in Pakistan, but these are the main ones. But at the same time I would say, let’s not hype it too much. It is great that it has been done, but India should now be smart about it and make a counter-proposal and say, please, let us exchange an enclave. We don’t want a corridor, and there is a natural barrier of the Ravi river which touches Kartarpur. We don’t know why Radcliffe drew the line south but took out this enclave at this point. So, like we did with Bangladesh, why can’t we exchange the enclaves of land with land here? Pakistan will immediately reject it because what they want is a constant pressure point. There is always the fear that the corridor will get linked to India-Pakistan relations. If relations are tense, they may tighten the flow of pilgrims, and even if they allow a normal flow here and the rest of the relationship is toxic, then you are allowing them to give the impression that Sikhs are favoured and creating a division with other Indians.

Are you saying that the government has allowed Pakistan to put issues of faith above national policy?

AS: Well, it is abundantly clear that they neglected issues relating to national security policy and the declared national policy on Pakistan. This [Kartarpur Corridor] contradicts what the practice was over the last 4-5 years. The diplomatic and political ecosystem towards Pakistan has been one of hostility and within that Kartarpur stands out not only as a positive exception but a contradiction.

Given all that, will the Kartarpur Corridor survive?

AS: I think it will be a perpetual hostage to a major terrorist event. And the moment something occurs, our political system will have to deal with the far greater disappointment of losing something we had gained as opposed to not having something the Sikh community desired. If Kartarpur is shut down now after having been opened up, the sense of loss will be far greater than not having access to Kartarpur for 72-73 years.

KC: Well, you saw the engagement and the message that Prime Minister Khan sent [with reference to Kashmir at the opening]. You also saw that the Indian Prime Minister could not go across, and asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to carry offerings and pay obeisance on his behalf. So it cannot be seen in isolation to other problems. Those have become more toxic after the dilution of Article 370, and Mr. Khan said that, raising issues of human rights. So what can the corridor do by itself? It’s a happy occasion which will be overpowered by the toxicity unless we can find a way to move the whole relationship forward. It can be a beginning, but cautiously so, and won’t mean much unless the rest of the relationship goes forward.

Finally, many have said that Punjab bore the brunt of Partition. Can this engagement at least try and heal the wounds of the past?

KC: No, I think when Punjabis meet they always get along. They speak the same language, discuss the same culture, food is the same. The two Punjabs having better connectivity should be a natural outcome. After all, in the past, Punjab was land-locked but connected to Central Asia. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time, Lahore was connected by the Indus river, the Sutlej, and had riverine ties with the region. After Partition, all of that was delinked. So [Indian] Punjab has become completely land-locked and looks at the rest of India for goods and services and markets. There is no [cross-border] trade left, and so Amritsar, which was on a major trading route to Central Asia, is now completely land-locked, and the same goes for Pakistan’s Punjab province too. They are losing their links to the booming economy of India, simply because of their fixation on Kashmir.

AS: We could always enumerate all the many advantages. There are economic and social advantages that would come from better relations between India and Pakistan. The difficulty is that politics always trumps economics. As long as you have this politics of hatred that is entrenched in Pakistan because of a certain religious doctrine, and that seems to be something that is increasingly being seeded in India as well, I don’t think one can imagine a very dramatic transformation or a very positive people-to-people relationship between the people of Punjab on this side of the border and people on the other side at present.

K.C. Singh is former Ambassador and a diplomat; Ajai Sahni is the executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management, which maintains the South Asia Terrorism Portal satp.org.

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Pakistan’s Sit-In Protests Come to an End, But Key Issues Remain Unresolved – The Diplomat

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Pakistan’s two-week-long protest in Islamabad came to an end, but that doesn’t mean relief for the government. The political temperature will continue to stay high and may rise further as Maulana Fazlur Rahman, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, ordered his party workers to block main highways in their respective cities and towns.

Rahman, whose pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party did not perform well during the July 2018 elections, alleges that the military manipulated the poll results in favor of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Both the military and Khan deny the charge.

Khan, Pakistan’s former cricket star who also won recognition in social work by constructing the country’s first modern cancer hospital, promised an end to corruption, improvement in the country’s economy, and creation of millions of jobs for youth during his election campaign.

Outside Pakistan, Khan is being seen as a strongly believer in civilian supremacy. But his opponents allege that Khan’s PTI came into power with the backing of the country’s powerful military.

To mock Khan’s election victory, his opponents call him a “selected” prime minister and refer to the military generals as the “selectors.” While the Islamabad protest was apparently targeting Prime Minister Imran Khan, it was the military that most of the protest leaders were aiming at in their veiled messages.

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Without mentioning the military and its intelligence agencies by name, politicians, journalists and commentators euphemistically call it the “invisibles” or “Khalayee Makhlooq” (meaning aliens) in television talk shows and public meetings.

Meddling in elections by the proverbial “invisibles” is not new. But for the first time in Pakistan’s electoral history, the opposition parties now blatantly name the military while accusing it of fabricating the polls.

Pakistan’s seven decades of history have witnessed three military coups that together brought more than 30 years of military rule. However, politicians, being despised by the generals as dishonest, incapable opportunists, never gained the courage to openly question the military. Rather, many, if not most, sided with the coup-makers in the past to strengthen and prolong their own grip on power.

The army, due to its power, discipline, and control over public discourse regarding the so-called national interests, reserved the savior role for itself in the eyes of common Pakistanis. But the wind seems to be changing now.

One of the major demands of the opposition parties’ recently concluded Islamabad sit-in protest is that the army should not have a role in any future elections. This alone is a serious blow to the army’s image as an impartial institution.

Elections in Pakistan are generally guarded by army soldiers and officers, mainly because the army is regarded by the majority of Pakistanis an impartial institution. During the July 2018 elections, 371,338 soldiers were deployed to provide security.

However, aside from the victorious PTI, most mainstream political parties disputed the results, with some calling the polls “the dirtiest in Pakistan’s history.” The accusing finger was pointed at the “invisibles.”

Two major political parties – the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of late Benazir Bhutto, now jointly headed by her son Bilawal and widower Asif Ali Zadari, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif – have alternatively ruled Pakistan since 1988. Once bitter rivals, the two have agreed upon strengthening the parliament to avoid coups.

The post-2008 period, which began after Pervez Musharraf’s nine-year rule as military and later civilian president, not only witnessed the peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another – from PPP to PMLN — for the first time in Pakistan’s 70-year history, but also enabled the civilians to unanimously remove loopholes in the laws and constitution that provided the military a window to enter the corridors of political power.

In a move to clip the wings of the civilians, the military apparently colluded with the judiciary in 2017 to force former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. He was found guilty and jailed for seven years in a controversial case for possessing “assets beyond known sources of income.” During his third term, which began in mid-2013, Sharif had curtailed the military’s dominant role in foreign policy and questioned its support for jihadist proxies.

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The military’s backing for Imran Khan, the so-called anti-corruption crusader, is widely considered a calculated move to replace the dynastic leadership. The so-called “minus-two” formula and “Bajwa doctrine” – referring to the military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa — is believed to be part of the same arrangements.

The current political crisis, in fact, stems from the deep-rooted concerns that the political and military elites have about each other. The politicians’ worst nightmare is one-party rule, where the civilians will concede the key role in crafting domestic and foreign policies as well as the economy and development to the military.

The military, on the other hand, seems worried about the strengthening of political culture, expanding political awareness, and an informed civil society. For example, never in Pakistan’s seven-decade history has the military been publicly criticized for its human rights record, “unconstitutional measures,” and encroachment on civilian domain as it is today. The role of the social media revolution in this regard is conspicuous.

Keeping in view Pakistan’s complex social, ethnic, religious, and political landscape, it is impossible to impose single-party rule. But there is also no denying the fact that Pakistan’s many complexities demand a role for its strong and well-disciplined army.

It is time for the generals and the political elite to agree upon a fresh social contract by clearly marking the military and civilian domains. Without such a bargain, the tug of war will continue to the detriment of the country’s much-needed economic progress and well-being of its people.

Daud Khattak is Senior Editor for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s Pashto language Mashaal Radio. Before joining RFE/RL, Khattak worked for The News International and London’s Sunday Times in Peshawar, Pakistan. He has also worked for Pajhwok Afghan News in Kabul. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

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