Pakistani politicians, analysts appreciate Saudi Crown Prince’s stance on regional peace

An undated file photo of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he can be seen attending a gathering. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Pakistani politicians, analysts appreciate Saudi Crown Prince’s stance on regional peace

  • The Crown Prince’s recent statement reflects his wisdom and restraint, says Senator Sehar Kamran
  • International community must act to defuse situation in the Middle East, maintains senior analyst Zahid Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s major political parties and analysts on Monday appreciated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s statement that the Kingdom did not want a war in the Middle East.
In an interview last week, the Crown Prince also called for a decisive international position against Iran.
“At this very critical moment, the demonstration of restraint by the Saudi Crown Prince is very much appreciated. This shows his wisdom and rationale,” Senator Sehar Kamran of the Pakistan Peoples Party told Arab News, adding: “I believe the entire world will applaud the statement. We must give peace a chance and support efforts for political solution to all outstanding issues.”
“The international community can play an important role in reminding Iran of the consequences [of war] and help initiate a dialogues process to prevent further escalation of tensions in the region,” she continued.
Kamran said the recent attack on a Saudi oil tanker was a serious issue and must be strongly condemned.
“Every nation has the right to protect its sovereignty and national assets,” she noted. “Iran must act as a responsible state. A transparent investigation of the attack by the United Nations and collective wisdom on the issue will be the best option.”
Echoing her sentiment, Romina Khurshid Alam of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party also welcomed the Crown Prince’s statement.

“Our party leadership has always advocated for peace in the region and supports Pakistan’s role as a mediator to resolve all outstanding issues,” she said.
Omar Sarfraz Cheema, the central information secretary of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told Arab News that “the PTI strongly condemns attacks on Saudi facilities by Houthis.”
He recalled that the Pakistani leadership had expressed its desire to play a mediator’s role for peace and stability in the Middle East.
Last week, Cheema told Arab News that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already urged the Houthis to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with Saudi Arabia to resolve the conflict. “This is a divisive issue for the whole Muslim world and should be resolved through negotiations,” he added.
“Peace is essential for the development of countries in the Middle East,” former Pakistani ambassador Rizwan-ul-Haq told Arab News. “Any country which upsets the tranquility and peace of the region must be invited to explain its position to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and asked to change its stance in a unanimous and decisive way.”
“We should sit together with transgressors and find a diplomatic solution before resorting to extreme measures,” he added.
Veteran Pakistani political commentator Zahid Hussain said that “the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and oil facilities in the Kingdom have created a serious security situation in the Middle East and there is an urgent need for the international community to act and defuse the situation.”
“The Crown Prince is right that war is not an option,” he added.


Taliban says its fighters will join Afghan security forces after US troops leave

Updated 23 July 2019
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Taliban says its fighters will join Afghan security forces after US troops leave

  • Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says Taliban will be part of any future government in Kabul
  • Possibility of a peace deal in the next month, even before Eid on August 11, Shaheen says

ISLAMABAD: Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Tuesday thousands of Taliban fighters would become part of the Afghan army and other security forces after US and other foreign troops left Afghanistan following a peace deal with the United States. 
The United States and the Taliban are close to an agreement to end an 18-year-long Afghan civil war. The deal is expected to be centered on a US pledge to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Afghanistan and Qatar from July 22 – August 1 to restart talks with the Taliban in Doha.
“We have agreed that the army will stay as an institution,” the Taliban spokesman told Arab News via telephone when asked about the fate of thousands of Taliban fighters after the peace deal. “The army is required and will remain as a base, as a foundation but reforms are needed.”
He said participants at Moscow’s intra-Afghan conference this month had also called for reforms in Afghan security institutions, adding that future intra-Afghan meetings would decide how reforms would be introduced.
“Yes of course they (Taliban) will be part of the security system. They have rendered huge sacrifices for the liberation of the country,” Shaheen said.
To another question about whether the Taliban would be part of any future political system and the government, the Taliban spokesman answered in the affirmative adding: “But they will not be the part of the present administration. There will be a new system and a new government and we will definitely be part of that.”
When asked if the Taliban could become a political party when foreign troops withdrew, Shaheen said: “Our leadership will decide about the future policy. Our top priority is to end the occupation and second, to establish an Islamic government and we will take Afghans into confidence. Our leaders will decide as to how would we work.”
He said the Taliban would allow women the right to education, jobs and business under Islamic principles, adding that they would have to observe the Islamic veil.
“There had been no curbs on women education during our previous government. But we had been in the state of war that time and had no financial resources and the priority had been to maintain security as there had been anarchy and chaotic situation that time. But we want the world to help us and we will establish good relations with the world and to solve all our problems under an Islamic system,” Shaheen said.
He said the Taliban neither recognized the present system in Kabul nor the constitution in its present form.
“We recognize the constitution as a necessity and want another constitution,” Shaheen said. “We think other institutions are also necessary but we do not recognize the present institutions and that is why we are holding intra-Afghan conferences to discuss how the constitution and institutions should be.”
When asked if the Taliban recognized the present democratic system, Shaheen said: “We believe in an Islamic system.” 
He said there was a possibility the Taliban and the United Sates could “conclude certain final points” in the possible peace deal within a month and even before the Muslim festival of Eid, likely to be celebrated in Afghanistan on Aug. 11.
“I am hopeful we will reach an agreement before Eid,” he said.
To a question about US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that he hoped to have a peace deal by September 1, Shaheen said he was hopeful an agreement could materialize even before that as “we want to end bloodshed and destruction in our country.”
“The ball is in their (US) court,” Shaheen said. “They should come up with a reasonable offer.”