Pakistani army chief meets Ghani, lauds Afghan government for Taliban cease-fire deal

(Photo courtesy: ISPR)
Updated 13 June 2018
0

Pakistani army chief meets Ghani, lauds Afghan government for Taliban cease-fire deal

  • The Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability is expected to bring more cooperation and coordination between the two countries, Bajwa said
  • Bajwa had discussed the political-military developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan: a deputy Afghan defense minister

KABUL, ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa congratulated the Afghan government on the recently announced Taliban cease-fire deal.
It came during an official visit to Afghanistan to discuss the political and military situation in the region with the country’s President Ashraf Ghani and other political and military leaders. He was accompanied by the the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Naveed Mukhtar. They returned on Tuesday.
“During this trip, the implementation and execution of a plan for peace and solidarity for Afghanistan-Pakistan, the campaign against terrorism, reduction of violence and peace talks under the leadership and ownership of Afghans, was discussed,” said Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a spokesman for Ghani.
Posting on Twitter, Tamim Asey, a deputy Afghan defense minister, said that Bajwa had discussed the political-military developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region with Ghani and Afghan military and political leaders. The general also met Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and NATO’s Commander Resolute Support Mission, Gen. John Nicholson.
The visit came days after the announcement on on June 9, 2018, by the Afghan Taliban of a three-day cease-fire over Eid Al Fitr, the first truce of its kind by insurgents since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Inter-Services Public Relations, the Pakistani military’s media wing, said: “(Bajwa) congratulated the Afghan government for the cease-fire deal and hoped these steps gain more permanence, ultimately leading toward enduring peace.”
It also quoted Bajwa saying that Pakistan had attained relative peace and stability inside its borders and “efforts are now focused toward socio-economic development as a route toward enduring peace and stability.”
The statement added that his discussions in Afghanistan encompassed a wide range of issues, especially the ongoing efforts for reconciliation in the country, the measures needed to check the rise of Daesh, and the issue of terrorists taking advantage of the porous border to indulge in terrorism, smuggling and drug trafficking.
“The Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability is expected to bring more cooperation and coordination between the two countries,” Bajwa added.
Analyst Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said that Bajwa’s visit was a continuation of the direct talks the United States had with him and the caretaker government. 
“When the cease-fire was announced, everyone was jubilant,” he said. “Pakistan is a key strategic player in the peace process, and while Afghanistan may not be entirely dependent on Pakistan for peace, especially considering the huge trust deficit between the countries, with the Pakistan army chief being invited to Kabul to discuss stability in the region it is clear that completely cutting off from Pakistan is not beneficial for Afghanistan either.”


Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

Updated 24 June 2018
0

Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

  • Former PM Nawaz Sharif may not be able to spearhead PML-N's election campaign
  • The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday

ISLAMABAD: The electoral success of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hangs in the balance as its most charismatic leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is outside the country and may not lead his party’s campaign ahead of the July 25 polls, analysts say.
“If Sharif doesn’t return from London to Pakistan by next week, his party may face huge losses in the upcoming elections,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday.
The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” Malik said.
Sharif is in London visiting his wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, who has been on a ventilator since June 14 and has been undergoing treatment for throat cancer since August 2017.
“Do you think it is appropriate for me to return to Pakistan when Begum Kalsoom is fighting for life?” Sharif asked on Saturday.
He said he had planned a four-day trip to London, but is now unsure about returning to Pakistan due to her health. Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz have been in the UK since June 15.
“The Sharif family is passing through a difficult time, and the situation could adversely impact their party’s electoral prospects,” Malik said.
An accountability court hearing three separate corruption references against Sharif, Nawaz and others is scheduled to conclude the trial by July 9, as per the Supreme Court’s instructions.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding the prime minister’s office, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file corruption references against him and his family members.
“Even after being disqualified from holding any public office, Sharif still enjoys public support,” political analyst Rasul Bukhsh Rais told Arab News.
But if the accountability court convicts Sharif in the graft cases before the elections, this would demoralize his party and PML-N voters, Rais said.
His younger brother, who has become the party’s president after Sharif’s disqualification, “may not be able to run an effective election campaign,” Rais added.
Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, the PML-N’s information secretary, said Sharif and his daughter will return to Pakistan to lead the party’s election campaign once his wife’s health improves.
“Our detractors will be disappointed. The PML-N will win a clear majority in the elections under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” Khan told Arab News.