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Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet Minister, Wife pose with Khalistani militant Jaspal Atwal, cause uproar

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Jaspal Atwal

Jaspal Atwal apart from having Khalistani links was also sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment after being found guilty of attempted murder of Punjab Minister.

 

The controversies surrounding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit seem to be deepening. After allegedly being snubbed by the Indian government at the time of his arrival in the country, Justin Trudeau had to spend most of his official visit as a family trip with no major leader accompanying him. His meet with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was put on hold too. But, the Punjab CM later agreed to meet him on Wednesday.

However, just a day after meeting Amarinder Singh and giving him a firm assurance on taking strong action against Sikh extremism, it has been learnt that a militant affiliated with Khalistan movement had been invited for Trudeau’s official visit at Mumbai.

Jaspal Atwal apart from having Khalistani links was also sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment after being found guilty of attempted murder of Punjab Minister. Atwal twice shot at Punjab Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986. However, he survived the attack. He was later killed in India.

 Atwal was also an active member International Sikh Youth Federation. It is an organization working to achieve separate Khalistan state which was banned by European Union, US, Canada and India. Jaspal Atwal has considerable presence in the politics of Canada and active at both provincial and federal level.

On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau was in Mumbai where he met several Bollywood personalities and businessmen. At the same event, Jaspal Atwal clicked a picture with Canada’s Minister of infrastructure and Community Amarjeet Sohi and Trudeau’s wife Sophie. The pictures went viral on social media and received widespread flak from people.

Kirsty Duncan, a Minister in the Trudeau delegation promptly issued a statement saying the invitation has been rolled back. Duncan said, “This person definitely should not have been invited. We are investigating how it happened.”

Apart from being a major embarrassment, Justin Trudeau’s wife and a cabinet minister posing with a convicted Khalistani militant also have damaged the reviving talks between India and Canada. Trudeau will tomorrow meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. It is to be seen now whether this issue is raised in the bilateral discussion or not.

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Pervez Musharraf resigns as APML chief

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Former President Pervez Musharraf on Friday resigned from the chairmanship of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), the party’s new chairman Mohammad Amjad said.

Party president Dr Mohammad Amjad said Musharraf has sent his resignation letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Dr Amjad was quoted by a Pak media, as saying that Musharraf had resigned from APML on June 18 in the wake of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) disqualifying him from politics for life.

Earlier this week, the poll body rejected Musharraf’s nomination papers for NA-1 Chitral, after the Supreme Court withdrew its conditional approval for him to file nomination papers for the upcoming general election after he failed to appear before the court.

Speaking to journalists via a video link in Dubai, Musharraf said, “The apex order barring the authorities from arresting me till my appearance before the august court has forced me to rethink my plans about my return. There will be no benefit of my return to the country if I am arrested just after my appearance before the court.”

“The entire world knows that I am not a coward, but now, I will wait for an appropriate time to return,” he added.

Amjad, previously the general secretary of the party, has been elevated to the position of chairman. He will now be directing all party affairs and deciding APML’s role in the elections, the Pakistani media reported.

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US detention camps separate Indian children from their parents

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The children of the Indian detainees who are being kept at detention centres in the United States have been separated from their parents. The Indian embassy has established contact with two detention centres where nearly 100 Indians, mostly from Punjab, are detained for allegedly illegally entering the country through its southern border. The Indian government, however, has not been given consular access to the detainees.

The Indians, who were mostly Punjabi and Hindi speakers, are being held in a federal detention center in Oregon, Washington state, where they were transferred as part of a larger group of 123 people held allegedly for crossing into the US illegally along the border with Mexico weeks ago.

In a statement, the Indian embassy said that a consular official visited the detention facility in Oregon and that the embassy officials will also be visiting the New Mexico centre. “We have established contacts with both the detention facilities. A consular official has visited the detention facility in Oregon and another one is scheduled to visit the detention facility in New Mexico. We are monitoring the situation,” an embassy statement said.

According to a local news daily The Oregonian, some of the Indians identified themselves as Sikhs and Christians who claimed they were fleeing persecution by Hindu majority in India.

A group of Democratic lawmakers from Oregon who visited the facility had spoken about the alleged inhuman condition of the immigrant detainees. Most of the Indians at the detention centres don’t speak English and are communicating with the help of translators.

Asylum seekers are facing increased scrutiny under the Trump administration and those showing up illegally are being subjected to a zero-tolerance policy that has led to an outcry because of the splitting of families. The administration said 10,000 of the 12,000 children in US detention facilities were those who were sent by their parents alone to be smuggled illegally into the United States and the remaining 2,000 were separated from their parents when their families crossed over illegally.

Sources in the Indian embassy said it could be difficult to establish the nationality in certain cases as many of the detainees destroy documents to seek immigration under refugee status, thus what India can do to help them could be limited.

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Trump adamant that denuclearization ‘has already started’

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North Korea has already begun its denuclearization, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, after many observers greeted with scepticism the results of his historic meeting with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Trump said at a Cabinet meeting in the White House that “they’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact, it’s actually four of their big test sites”.

In late May, before the June 12 Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, Pyongyang said it had fully demolished its only known nuclear test site. Foreign journalists who invited to the Pungyye-ri test facility in North Hamgyong province described a series of explosions throughout the day in their reports; three of them in entry tunnels, followed by blasts that demolished nearby barracks and other structures.

It was not immediately clear which North Korean test sites Mr Trump was referring to and US officials familiar with current intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missile test sites said there was no evidence of new moves to dismantle any sites since Mr Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore.

Punggye-ri has been the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests, including the latest and by far most powerful one in September last year which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb. Experts are divided over whether the demolition will render the site inoperable. Sceptics say the facility has already outlived its usefulness with six successful nuclear tests and can be quickly rebuilt if needed.

Mr Trump, who has been leading an international drive to press North Korea to abandon development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States, told reporters after the June 12 summit that Mr Kim had pledged to dismantle one of his missile installations.

At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge “to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a “verifiable” and “irreversible” way.

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