The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials prevented the distribution of the latest edition, because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir. Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the news weekly should have stickers manually placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir, a tiny Himalayan region, is split between India, Pakistan and China. Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of the Himalayan region and have gone to war twice over its control since 1947.
India imposes tight restrictions on all printed maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India. “India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech,” John Micklethwait, said Editor-in-chief of The Economist. “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China. This is an act of censorship, and many wise and sensible voices in India see it has no point.”
The map is used an an illustration for the front page story of the latest edition of the magazine on “The world’s most dangerous border” between India and Pakistan. The Economist still hoped to distribute the edition once the stickers had been added. The map is available on The Economist’s website.
Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear armed neighbours along a de facto border known as the Line of Control. It closely matches the frontline of fighting at the end of the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir in 1947. “We are just told ‘it is the law of India’,” Micklethwait said, adding, “The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone’s claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls.”
The magazine has clashed in the past with authorities. In December an entire issue of the Economist was pulped on the censors’ orders over a map of the region, and its publishers predicted the May 21 edition was likely to hit trouble. The offending maps of The Economist and other foreign publications are routinely targeted by the censors’ office, which stamps each page stating that the borders as shown do not reflect India’s claims. “As a point of principle we are against changing our articles,” said Micklethwait, speaking by telephone from London on Monday. “So we mentioned the problem in a piece pointing out how touchy India is on this.”
The magazine also printed a warning saying the map was likely to be censored. “Unlike their government, we think our Indian readers can face political reality,” it said.
Sham Lal, a senior official in the ministry of information and broadcasting, declined to comment on Micklethwait’s remarks. “We have no knowledge and no comments to make on this matter,” he said.
Wilson John, a Pakistan expert at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, said that the map was seen as a national security issue by the government. “This is about sovereignty,” he said, adding, “I’m not surprised as this behaviour is an accepted norm in India. Mapping in this region has been an issue for many decades and, because the territorial dispute is far from resolved, maps will remain a problem.” He added that the country was generally proud of having a free press but that Kashmir “always creates sensitivities that have to be kept in mind”.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been a flashpoint since it became part of Hindu-majority India at partition in 1947, when British colonial rule of the subcontinent ended. India and Pakistan nearly went to war over the region again as recently as 2002. Relations between the countries have improved since then, but were hit by the Mumbai attacks in 2008 when Pakistan-based militants killed 166 people.
Micklethwait said India was now an increasingly modern economic powerhouse with a growing number of Economist readers. “Other publications have had the same problems, but perhaps we have been more in their face,” he said, adding, “China will not distribute whole issues for other reasons, but there is no country I know in the world that takes the extreme attitude that India does.”
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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