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The Kashmir Files were rejected by the International Film Festival Of India. Jury Head Nadav Lapid called it a ‘propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for the film festival’.

Filmmaker Nadav Lapid, head of the jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), slammed the controversial film The Kashmir Files – an official entry at the event – calling it a “propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival”.

The controversial Kashmir Files, laced heavily with the anti-Muslim sentiment, has warranted attention from critics and politicians as they voice their condemnation and air their concerns in the wake of the film’s plot, which is thick with right-wing radical patriotism.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event in Goa, in the presence of top government ministers, Lapid said, “All of them [jury members]” were “disturbed and shocked” to see the film screened at the festival. The annual film festival is organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, which is part of the Union ministry of information and broadcasting.

“I’d like to thank the head of the festival and the director of the programming for the cinematic richness of the program, for its diversity, for its complexity. It was intense. We saw seven films in the debutant competition, and 15 films in the international competition — the front window of the festival. 14 out of them had cinematic qualities, defaults and evoked vivid discussions,” said Lapid.

“All of us were disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable openly sharing these feelings here with you at this stage. In the spirit of this festival, can surely also accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and life,” Lapid added in his remarks at the event.

‘Personal opinion’

After massive backlash, another IFFI jury member Sudipto Sen took to Twitter to clarify a few things. He said that Nadav Lapid’s comments on The Kashmir Files are his personal opinion. He further added that, as a juror, he refrained from making any political comments. One of the jury members and filmmaker Sudipto Sen took to Twitter to clear the air surrounding the controversy.

He wrote, “Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr Nadav Lapid about the film, The Kashmir Files, from the stage of the closing ceremony of 53-rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion. In the official presentation of the Jury Board to the Festival Director and in the official Press Conference, where we 4 juries (the fifth jury had to leave for her personal emergency) were present and interacted with the press, we never mentioned anything about our likes or dislikes. Both were our official collective opinion (sic).”

He further added, “As jurors, we are assigned to judge the technical, aesthetic quality, and socio-cultural relevance of a film. We don’t indulge in any kind of political comments on any film and if it is done, it is completely in a personal capacity – nothing to do with the esteemed Jury Board (sic).”

The Ruckus

The director of the film, Vivek Agnihotri, since then posted a cryptic tweet hours after his film was termed ‘vulgar propaganda’ by the jury head at the ongoing 53rd International Film Festival of India. Without mentioning the film or the incident, Vivek tweeted about how ‘truth can make people lie’.

Actor Anupam Kher, who played the lead in The Kashmir Files, has responded on jury head’s claims. On Tuesday morning, while speaking to the media, he referred to Lapid and said, “It seems pre-planned as immediately after that the toolkit gang became active.”

He added, “It’s shameful for him to make a statement like this. Jews have suffered Holocaust and he comes from that community. For him to make such a statement, he has also pained those people who have been victims of this tragedy many years ago. May God give him wisdom so that he does not further his agenda on stage using the sufferings of thousands.”

In the late hours of Monday, Ranvir took to Twitter and wrote, “The singling out of a film and the language used to describe it is completely unbecoming of a film jury or critic. It reeks of politics. Cinema has always been the harbinger of truth and change, not an agent to stifle or snuff it. Shameful display of political opportunism at IFFI.”

About The Kashmir Files

The problematic film was released in March of this year and is set in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The story is concocted from the interviews conducted by Agnihotri that form the basis of this fictional drama. The interviews are of first-generation victims of the alleged Kashmir Genocide of the Pandit Community of 1990.

It is important to note that the ethnic cleansing that took place indeed saw lives lost in the region; however, it is vital to point out that the numbers pale in comparison to the 1947 Jammu massacre that tallied at over 200,000 Muslims murdered in cold blood.

‘Delusional mindset’: ISPR hits back at Indian army official for remarks about taking control of parts of AJK.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday denounced a top Indian military official’s statement about taking control of parts of Azad Kashmir as an “apt manifestation” of the Indian army’s “delusional mindset”.

“The unwarranted statement of a high-ranking Indian army officer concerning Azad Jammu and Kashmir is an apt manifestation of Indian armed forces’ delusional mindset and showcases the vivid imprint of domestic political showboating on Indian military thought,” an early morning tweet by the ISPR director general said.

The tweet referred to Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi’s statement from Tuesday, following Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks about “retrieving” parts of Azad Kashmir and his claims that citizens were subjected to human rights violations in the region.

According to Hindustan Times, Dwivedi, who is the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Indian army’s northern command, responded to the minister’s statement by underscoring that a resolution on the matter already existed in parliament.

“As far as the Indian Army is concerned, it will carry out any order given by the government of India. We are always ready for it,” the report quoted him as saying.

The army official from across the border also alleged that “there were around 300 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir at this time, with another 160 waiting for an opportunity to cross the LoC (Line of Control) and sneak into India”.

In its rebuke, the ISPR said: “The fallacious remarks and unfounded allegations of so-called ‘launch-pads’ and ‘terrorists’ are an attempt to divert attention from the Indian army’s repressive use of force and gross human rights violations against innocent, unarmed Kashmiris striving for their right of self-determination, upheld by international law and enshrined in UN (United Nations) Security Council resolutions.”

The military’s media affairs wing further said the Indian officials “lofty claims and surreal ambition is intellectually insulting.

“[The] Pakistan military is a force for good and a proponent of regional peace and stability.”

However, the ISPR warned, this desire for peace “is matched with our capability and preparation to thwart any misadventure or aggression against our territory, an assertion comprehensively validated on numerous occasions, including recently in the Balakot episode”.

In the interest of regional peace, the Indian military would do well to abstain from “irresponsible rhetoric and vitriolic communication to shore up electoral support for their political masters’ regressive ideology”, the ISPR asserted.

PM Shehbaz picks Lt Gen Asim Munir as new army chief, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC

After weeks of intense speculation and rumours, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday chose Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new chief of army staff (COAS).

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb made the announcement on Twitter, saying the premier had made the choice while exercising his constitutional authority. She further said that Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza had been picked as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).


Key developments

  • PM picks Lt Gen Asim Munir as new COAS and Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC
  • Information minister says summary for appointments has been sent for president’s approval
  • Defence minister hopes president will not make the appointments “controversial”
  • PTI chief Imran Khan says “I and the president of Pakistan will act according to the Constitution and laws” after the summary is received
  • Outgoing CJCSC General Nadeem Raza holds farewell meetings with president and PM

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is an inter-services forum that works for coordination among the three armed forces. The CJCSC also serves as the principal military adviser to the prime minister and the National Command Authority.

She went on to say that a summary of the same had been sent to President Arif Alvi.

Speaking to the media minutes after the announcement was made, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the matter had been decided according to the law and the Constitution, calling on the nation to refrain from viewing it through a “political lens”.

He expressed the hope that the president would not make the appointments “controversial” and would endorse the advice of the premier.

The defence minister reiterated that the president should endorse the premier’s advice so that a “controversy may not arise”. “This will also help our country and the economy to get on track. Currently, everything is at a standstill.”

He expressed the same in a tweet, saying that the advice had been forwarded to the president. He went on to say that it would now be a test for former premier Imran Khan where he could either strengthen the institution responsible for defending the country or make it controversial.

“This is also a test for President Alvi, whether he will follow political advice or the constitutional and legal advice,” he said. “As the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, it is his duty to protect the country from political conflicts,” he said about Alvi.

Imran to consult with Alvi

Meanwhile, PTI’s official account quoted Imran Khan as saying “when the summary comes, I and the president of Pakistan will act according to the Constitution and laws”.

His statement comes a day after Imran claimed President Alvi would “definitely” consult him as soon as the summary for the appointment of next army chief reaches his office.

“President Alvi will definitely consult me on the summary for the appointment of army chief and take a decision as per the law and Constitution. I am head of the party that Dr Alvi belongs to,” he remarked while speaking to journalists at his Zaman Park residence on Wednesday.

Outgoing CJCSC calls on Alvi, Shehbaz for farewell meetings

Outgoing CJCSC General Nadeem Raza held farewell meetings with President Alvi and PM Shehbaz.

A statement from Aiwan-i-Sadr said Gen Raza called on President Alvi in a farewell meeting.

 President Arif Alvi and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman General Nadeem Raza photographed in a farewell meeting on Thursday.—President House
President Arif Alvi and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman General Nadeem Raza photographed in a farewell meeting on Thursday.—President House

“The president appreciated the services of General Nadeem Raza for national defence,” it said. “The president expressed his best wishes for Gen Raza.”

Separately, the PML-N tweeted a video of Gen Raza meeting PM Shehbaz at the PM House. “The prime minister paid tribute to Gen Raza for strengthening the defence of the country and for his services to the army.”

COAS appointment saga

Outgoing COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa was originally supposed to retire in 2019. However, his tenure was extended for three years by then-prime minister Imran Khan in Aug 2019, just three months before he was set to retire.

Despite speculation about him seeking another extension, Bajwa had indicated several months ago that he planned to retire this year.

His retirement plan was later confirmed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on at least a couple of occasions and the general had himself in the last few months twice made it clear that he had no intentions to carry on — once during his visit to the United States and then again, while speaking at the National Security Workshop at National Defence University.

The next army chief’s appointment is at times mentioned as one of the major subplots in the ongoing political crisis engulfing the country which began earlier this year following the tabling of a no-trust motion against Imran.

Doubts about Bajwa’s retirement plan had been so strong that Imran, when faced with the vote of no-confidence, suspected that the political move against him was linked to Gen Bajwa’s impending retirement. He had, therefore, offered an indefinite extension to Gen Bajwa in a bid to pre-empt the then opposition’s vote against him, as per a recent presser by senior military officials.

Gen Bajwa started his farewell visits to formations on Nov 1 with a visit to the Army Air Defence Command and followed up the next day with a visit to Armed Forces Strategic Forces Command. Since then, he quietly toured a number of formations.

In a farewell address, Gen Bajwa acknowledged that the military received criticism for “unconstitutionally interfering in politics”, and at the same time criticised political parties for erring and being intolerant towards rivals.

He also called on political stakeholders to reflect on their attitudes as the “army had started its catharsis” as he emphasised the need for the restoration of political stability.

Army has started its catharsis, I hope political parties will also reflect on their behavior: COAS

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Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, in what was likely his final public address as the army chief on Wednesday, criticised the anti-military narrative and urged political stakeholders to move forward for the country’s sake.

The army chief made these remarks during his speech at the Defence and Martyrs day ceremony, which is held annually at the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi on September 6 to commemorate the sacrifices of fallen heroes of the 1965 war. However, it was postponed this year in solidarity with flood victims across the country and rescheduled for today.

 Corps Commander Rawalpindi, Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza alongside outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — DawnNewsTV
Corps Commander Rawalpindi, Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza alongside outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — DawnNewsTV

“Today, I am addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day as the army chief for the last time,” Gen Bajwa, who is set to retire by the end of the month, said at the start of his speech. “I am retiring soon. This time, this [ceremony is being held] after some delay.”

He dedicated a major portion of his speech to political matters, saying that he often wondered that the Indian army did the most human rights violations in the world but “their people seldom make them the target of criticism”.

“In contrast to that, our army which day and night remains busy in serving the nation is often made the subject of criticism,” he said. “A major reason for this is the army’s interference in politics for the last 70 years which is unconstitutional.

“This is why in February last year the army, after great deliberation, decided that it would never interfere in any political matter. I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so.”

‘False narrative was created, from which an escape is now sought’

The army chief said that instead of welcoming the military’s decision, “many sectors used very inappropriate and undignified language while making the army the target of severe criticism.”

“To criticise the army is the right of [political] parties and the people, but the language used [should be careful],” he said.

Gen Bajwa said that a “false narrative was created”, from which “an escape is now being attempted”.

He said the army had initiated its process of “catharsis” and expected that political parties would follow suit as well and reflect on their behaviour. “This is the reality that there have been mistakes from every institution, including political parties and civil society.”

The COAS said that lessons should be learned from such mistakes so the nation could move forward.

‘Time’s come for political stakeholders to set aside ego, move forward’

Gen Bajwa said the country was facing “serious economic” issues and no one party could take the country out of the financial crisis.

“Political stability is mandatory and the time has come for all political stakeholders to set aside their ego, learn from past mistakes, move forward and take Pakistan out of this crisis.”

He stressed the need for the nation to shed intolerance and adopt a “true democratic culture”.

Gen Bajwa rued the political parties’ criticism, first after the 2018 general elections and then again following the successful vote of no confidence this year, recalling that whoever lost branded the other as either “selected” or “imported”.

“We need to reject this behaviour,” he said. “Victory and defeat are part of politics and every party will have to develop the strength to accept its victory as well as defeat so an elected government comes in the next election instead of an imported or selected one.”

He said that if Pakistan wanted to move forward then it would need to shun intolerance and the attitude of “I don’t accept”.

The COAS lauded the sacrifices of martyrs and praised their families, saying that the army would “continue to serve and protect the country”.

At the onset of the event, a tribute video was played about the recent catastrophic floods in the country and the scale of destruction they caused. The video also showcased the military’s rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.

‘East Pakistan was a political failure, not military one’

Gen Bajwa also discussed the army’s performance and actions in Bangladesh during the 1971 civil war, which said were topics that most people avoided.

“I want to correct some facts here. Firstly, former East Pakistan was a political failure and not a military one,” he said.

He said the number of soldiers fighting was not 92,000 but 34,000 and the others were in different government departs. He added that these 34,000 soldiers were confronted by an Indian army of 250,000 soldiers and 200,000 members of the Mukti Bahini.

“Against these heavy odds, our army fought bravely and gave exemplary sacrifices which were acknowledged by Indian army chief field marshal Manekshaw.”

He said the nation had yet not owned up to these sacrifices which was a “great injustice”. “Taking advantage of this occasion I salute these martyrs and will continue to do so. They are our heroes and the nation should be proud of them,” Bajwa added.

Gen Bajwa will be retiring by the end of the month after commanding the army for six years. He was appointed army chief in 2016 for a three-year tenure, which was extended by three years in after parliament legislated on the tenures of services chiefs on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Dawn

Merit: unemployed students would not be forced to migrate to the European and Middle Eastern states.

By Tehreem Ellahi

If we look around in our society we will notice that there are many problems and finding out their solutions is not an easy job as it needs a lot of courage and constant hard work to look deeper into the root cause of any problem, So I decided to write about the most common problem which we as a nation face on an everyday basis and that is lack of Merit.

This issue really needs to be brought to our attention as it creates lots of problems in our beloved country Pakistan, furthermore there is also a lack of a system to implement things according to merit which creates disappointment among the young generation. So when a well-educated student, try to seek a reasonable job according to his/her qualification they face severe insecurities and disappointment due to lack of Merit which makes them think that Pakistan is not a good enough place for their secure future, and keeping in view the current financial position of Pakistan this culture of favoritism and lack of merit could cause us to go bankrupt.   

In order to address this problem, the government of Pakistan should provide job opportunities to the young generations on a merit basis so that the unemployed intelligent students would not be forced to migrate to the European and Middle Eastern states in the search of jobs.

The situation is even crueler for those unemployed middle classed generation who are not financially strong enough to afford the migration therefore, they are forced to stay unemployed in Pakistan, and they face severe difficulty to manage even the basic necessities of their life.

This is the prime responsibility of the policymaker institution of Pakistan to address this problem of lack of considering merit during the hiring and recruitment process because it creates disastrous impact in multiple forms, Firstly, the deserving candidate did not get their due right, and secondly, the less competent person hired on the basis of reference and favoritism lacks the required skills and capabilities to perform their job with justice, hence creating hindrance in the way of progress and prosperity.

The process of hiring and recruitment needs to be reformed so that there should be a proper system and rules and regulations to be followed, only then we will be able to select the candidates on the basis of merit and the well-deserving candidate will get their due right.

Similarly, it’s really important to take initiative to discourage favoritism from our society as no country can make any progress without improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its departments which rely on suitable and capable Human resources hired through transparent means. This is the ultimate way to provide a secure future to the coming generations and to put the nation on the way to prosperity. Reforming our hiring process and making it transparent would also give our youth the required security and mental peace so that they can focus on their present without the fear of the future.