Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

Thousands of New Zealanders gathered in Christchurch on March 22 to honor the 50 Muslim worshippers killed one week ago by a white supremacist, with a call to prayer broadcast around the country and a two-minute silence. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

  • Funeral was attended by more than 5,000 people
  • New Zealand broadcasts the Islamic call to prayer across the country

ISLAMABAD: Out of the nine Pakistani nationals who were shot dead in two New Zealand mosques last week, eight were laid to rest on Friday after a mass funeral in Christchurch, the largest city of the country’s South Island.
At least 50 people were killed in twin attacks on two mosques on March 15 when a white supremacist opened fire on the worshippers.
“Today, eight Pakistani Shaheed (martyrs) have been buried in a local graveyard in Christchurch according to Islamic rituals. More than 20 family members, who flew from Pakistan, were able to join (the procession),” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal tweeted on Friday.
Travel arrangements for the family members of the victims were facilitated by Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) and the government of New Zealand.
On Friday, thousands of people gathered for a mass funeral which was “attended by more than 5,000 people, of which there were about 1,500 Muslims, who came from all over New Zealand...Shaheed (martyred) Syed Areeb Ahmed will be repatriated to Pakistan in the next few days. His family is being kept informed”, excerpts from a statement released by the FO read.
“Emotions were high, during the funeral prayers,” Kaleem Khan, a Pakistani community leader, told Arab News from Christchurch.
Meanwhile, as a mark of respect, New Zealand broadcasted the Islamic call to prayer on Friday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joining the congregation of mourners near Al-Noor mosque, one of the two locations which had been targeted last week.
Ardern and thousands of others observed two minutes of silence in memory of the victims, following which the premier said that New Zealand was mourning with the families of the victims. 
A day earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Ardern to condemn last week’s attacks before expressing his admiration over her handling of the situation, particularly her attempts to help the nation’s grieving Muslim community heal.

Pakistan urges Taliban, US to refrain from ‘active hostility’ amid peace talks

Updated 20 April 2019

Pakistan urges Taliban, US to refrain from ‘active hostility’ amid peace talks

  • Foreign office says intra-Afghan dialogue holds key to Afghan peace process
  • Clarifies Pakistan did not participate in recent rounds of talks in Abu Dhabi and Doha

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has said Pakistan has been playing the role of a facilitator in peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and US officials and urged them both to refrain from hostile engagements.

On Friday, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, expressed disappointment after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed the deep divisions blocking efforts to end the 17-year-long war.

The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.

Up until now the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government which it considers to be a foreign-appointed puppet regime.

“Pakistan is doing everything in its capacity to facilitate the peace process, and would keep urging both sides to restrain from active hostility,” foreign office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said at a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

In response to a question by Arab News about the latest round of talks, referred to as the Doha Process, Faisal said: “Let me clarify that there is no such thing as the Doha Process. The last two rounds of talks between the US and Taliban were held in Doha but the earlier round was held in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan has not attended talks in Doha.”

“We facilitated the talks between the US and Taliban in Abu Dhabi and Doha,” Faisal added. “Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard as a shared responsibility.”

A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha on the weekend. But the event was abruptly canceled amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office has blamed Qatari authorities for the cancellation of the talks, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans”.

The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party”. Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend. The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.

The Taliban said holding a dialogue with the “powerless and crumbling Kabul administration is a waste of time” as their aim was to focus on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.