US envoy to visit Pakistan, Afghanistan for ‘intra-Afghan’ talks 

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad participates in a discussion on “The Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan” at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8, 2019 . (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
0

US envoy to visit Pakistan, Afghanistan for ‘intra-Afghan’ talks 

  • Zalmay Khalilzad will head an interagency delegation from February 10 to 28
  • His six-nation tour is focused on bringing ‘all Afghan parties together’

WASHINGTON: A senior US diplomat is set to lead a large delegation on a six-nation tour, including Afghanistan, to boost that country’s peace process and bring “all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue,” the State Department said Sunday.
The statement said Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan who has undertaken extensive recent talks with the Taliban, would head an interagency delegation from February 10 to 28.
It was unclear whether the group had already left at the time of the statement.
The itinerary will take the US delegation to Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the statement said, adding that Khalilzad would “consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip.”
The emphasis on bringing “all Afghan parties together” appeared crucial. US-Taliban peace talks have not included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets, and Khalilzad said recently that intra-Afghan negotiations were essential.
The US envoy has in recent months met several times with Taliban officials in Qatar, where the group’s leaders have an office in the capital Doha.
Khalilzad said Friday that he hoped to see a peace deal in place before Afghanistan’s July presidential elections.
President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed. But Khalilzad emphasized that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground.
Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and a US invasion following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.


Jadhav case: Pakistan, India to face off in ICJ on Monday

Updated 16 February 2019
0

Jadhav case: Pakistan, India to face off in ICJ on Monday

  • Pakistani delegation to argue case in UN court left for The Hague on Friday 
  • ‘Will except the final decision of the ICJ,’ Pakistan says

ISLAMABAD: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will resume on February 18 public hearing in Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case that was initiated by New Delhi against Islamabad in order to get consular access to its incarcerated citizen.
India claims that Jadhav was apprehended on trumped up charges.
The Pakistani delegation that will argue the case in the UN court, left for The Hague on Friday. 
According to the court’s schedule, the public hearings in the case will commence from February 18 till 21 in The Hague. Attorney General Anwar Man­soor will lead Pakistani delegation while Harish Salve represents New Delhi in the world court.
Salve is expected to argue first on February 18 followed by English Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi making submissions on February 19 from Islamabad’s side.
An Indian naval official, Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, was arrested by Pakistan in March 2016 from the impoverished and rebel-infested Baluchistan province during a counter-intelligence operation. 
Islamabad claims he confessed to his involvement in subversive activities and espionage against Pakistan working for India’s premier intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Placed on trial by a military court in Pakistan, Jadhav was found guilty and sentenced to death a month later.
India, however approached the world court in May 2016, invoking the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Subsequently, the court passed an order directing Pakistan to stay the execution, pending a final decision.
Islamabad has made Jadhav’s statements public, but New Delhi has countered that the officer is retired, that he was kidnapped from Iran, and that he had been made to confess under duress to fabricated charges. 
“We will accept the final decision of the ICJ,” a senior foreign office official said, adding “there are more charges of terrorism and sabotage that he will be charged with after the court’s judgment.”
It may be recalled that Pakistan gave access to Jhadav’s family on humanitarian grounds in December 2017. Officials say Islamabad would be willing to entertain a request in future if his family submits an application to meet the ill-fated spy.
“There are specific instances (of terrorism) that he has confessed to and those cases against him are pending” but India needs to answer six key points of Pakistan against its demand to ICJ to order for the return of Jadhav, the official explained to Arab News.
In a special handout given to Arab News, Pakistan argues that India failed to provide evidence that Jadhav was kidnapped. It also failed to explain why and when the officer retired and why he was in possession of an authentic Indian passport under a false cover Muslim name. Why is India demanding his return pending an international court decision, another question Islamabad raised? Consular access cannot be granted to a person implicated in national security matters under the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access between both sides, argues Pakistan. 
India will scheduled to respond to submissions from Pakistan’s side before the ICJ on February 20 and the closing argument by Pakistan will be presented the day after. Islamabad expects the ICJ may deliver its final decision by summers this year.