Pakistan PM receives mixed signals from New Delhi

In this photograph released by the Press Information Department (PID) on Aug. 18, 2018, newly appointed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) meets with members of the 1992 Cricket world cup team and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu (top R) in Islamabad. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Pakistan PM receives mixed signals from New Delhi

  • Modi congratulates Khan, but BJP slams hug between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pakistani Army chief
  • I felt too much love and affection from Pakistan when I was there, says Sidhu

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Imran Khan on becoming Pakistan’s premier.
In a letter to his counterpart, Modi expressed the need for constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement.
He also expressed his commitment to peaceful, neighborly relations, and stressed the need for a terror-free South Asia.
But Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for visiting Islamabad to participate in Khan’s swearing-in ceremony.
The BJP demanded Sidhu’s sacking from the post of Cabinet minister in Punjab province, and asked the opposition Congress Party to “sack him from the party for hugging” Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani Army chief.
The hug “is not an ordinary thing,” said BJP spokesman Sambit Patra, adding that Sidhu “is not an ordinary man but a minister in the Punjab government, and every Indian has taken this issue very seriously.”
Sidiq Wahid, a Kashmiri scholar and senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, told Arab News: “The muscular nationalism practiced by the Hindu right-wing BJP treats other nationalists as the enemy.”
He said: “I see hope for meaningful talks with Pakistan only when there’s a dramatic change in the current trajectory of Indian politics.”
When contacted by Arab News, Sidhu declined to comment, but upon his return to India he said: “I pray for the people who criticized me, but I felt too much love and affection from Pakistan when I was there.”
Vinod Sharma, political editor of the Hindustan Times, told Arab News that “it’s unbecoming of a mature democracy” to raise the issue of Sidhu visiting and hugging Bajwa.
“India isn’t that weak as to not let an Indian be hugged by the Pakistani Army chief. The paranoia of the right-wing fringe is a gross misrepresentation of a great democracy that India happens to be,” Sharma said.
“The Hindu right wing is adept at creating India-Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim binaries for political-electoral gains,” he added.
“It’s a dangerous game, and in the name of defending India they’re hurting its time-tested, inclusive character.”
But Robin Singh, a Punjab-based journalist and civil rights activist, said: “Sidhu crossed his brief while visiting Pakistan. He forgot that he is a public representative, and should have kept in mind the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan. By hugging the army chief, he has hurt the sentiment of people in India.”
The Congress Party has refused to comment on the issue, terming it “a personal visit of Sidhu to meet his friend.”
Sharma said this “polarizing debate is disturbing and aimed at sheer electoral dividends,” blaming “a section of the Indian media for the propagation of binaries to enhance their market share.”
He added: “It’s a self-defeating pursuit as it doesn’t leave the audience educated on complex foreign policy issues.”


Prince William visits Namibia on conservation tour

Updated 24 September 2018
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Prince William visits Namibia on conservation tour

  • The tour will see the prince visit Tanzania and Kenya
  • It precedes the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London next month

WINDHOEK: Prince William arrived in Namibia on Monday on the first leg of a tour to learn more about wildlife conservation in Africa ahead of a London-based wildlife conference next month.
Namibia is home to the largest black rhino population, at more than 2,000, whose horn is sought after by smugglers.
The Duke of Cambridge, visiting as president of United for Wildlife, which fights illegal trade in wildlife, and patron of Tusk, which promotes conservation, aims to better understand conservation in Namibia, said British High Commissioner to Namibia Kate Airey.
“The prince has been very keen ahead of that conference to talk to government and also to see that experience in the field,” said Airey.
The tour, which will see the prince visit Tanzania and Kenya, precedes the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London next month.
Namibia passed legislation in 1996 giving local communities the power to create their own conservancies and benefit from wildlife on communal land, allowing them to work with private companies to create their own tourism products.
“Our model is very simple but very effective because we involve communities. There is nothing you can do to succeed in conservation of wildlife without involving communities,” said Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta.
Communal conservancies have grown to 82 from four in 1998, according to the Namibia Tourism Board.