Pakistan joins US-led call for Afghan ceasefire, talks

Afghan National Army (ANA) officers march during a training exercise at the Kabul Military Training Center in Afghanistan in this October 7, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 July 2019
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Pakistan joins US-led call for Afghan ceasefire, talks

  • A joint statement issued by the US has urged Afghan factions to ‘produce a peace framework as soon as possible’
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to visit Washington on July 22 to meet with President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON: Pakistan, which supported Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime, on Friday joined the United States, Russia and China in a call on the insurgents to agree to a cease-fire and negotiations with Kabul.
Pakistan joined the three powers in talks in Beijing that come as the United States moves closer to an agreement with the Taliban to pull troops from Afghanistan and end its longest-ever war.
The four countries “encouraged all parties to take steps to reduce violence leading to a comprehensive and permanent cease-fire that starts with intra-Afghan negotiations,” said a joint statement issued by the United States.
They called for direct negotiations involving the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani’s government and other Afghans to “produce a peace framework as soon as possible.”
Members of the Taliban and government met earlier this week in Qatar, a breakthrough even though participants were said to be there in a personal capacity.
The Taliban, believing they have an upper hand as they seek a US troop withdrawal, have refused to negotiate with the internationally recognized government or to halt its deadly campaign of attacks.
Pakistan, whose relations with the United States have been rocky over its handling of extremists, has sought to use its influence with the Taliban to help reach a deal.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to come to Washington on July 22 to meet with President Donald Trump, who is impatient to end the war launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has sought understandings with Russia and China despite the two powers’ rivalries with the United States.
The Soviet Union fought US-backed Islamic guerrillas in a disastrous intervention in the 1980s, while China is keen to prevent any spread of extremism.


UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

Updated 3 min 51 sec ago
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UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

  • Another all-purpose visa center to begin operations in Islamabad in first week of October 2019
  • UAE ambassador says Pak-UAE ties could be strengthened by exploring more opportunities for trade and investment

KARACHI: United Arab Emirates ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Alzaabi, said on Friday the UAE Embassy would open its biggest visa center in Asia in the port city of Karachi in the first week of September this year and another all-purpose visa center in Islamabad in the first week of October.
“Everything will be done here, including medical insurance, checkups and the contracts etc. to facilitate visa issuance from the visa center in Karachi which will be the biggest visa center of Asia,” Alzaabi said at a meeting during a visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The entire team for this Visa Center at Khayaban-e-Shamsheer in Karachi will come from UAE.”
Deputy Consul General of UAE Bakheet Ateeq Alremeithi, Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President KCCI Khurram Shahzad, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
While expressing gratitude to KCCI for extending its hospitality, the UAE Ambassador said that relations between Pakistan and UAE had always been very strong but could be strengthened by exploring opportunities and potential areas for enhancing trade and investment. 
“The governments of UAE and Pakistan are working very hard to narrow the gap and find opportunities, chances and potential for trade and investment,” Alzaabi said. “We are trying to find new areas of cooperation where we could work together and also examining the challenging areas so that these could be addressed by the authorities in UAE. Inshallah we will put our hands together to move forward in future.”
He said the UAE was now offering Pakistanis Silver Investment Visas for 5 years and Golden Investment Visas for 10 years and stressed the need for a legal framework between UAE and Pakistan to encourage and save investments made in either of the two countries. 
Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli appreciated the support and cooperation being extended by UAE’s Embassy and its Consulate in Karachi but requested the Deputy Consul General to devise a system in collaboration with KCCI so that visas could be issued to credible businessmen and industrialists with a personal guarantee by KCCI. He also requested the Ambassador to only entertain visa recommendation letters and requests from those Chambers of Commerce and trade associations which were legally registered at the Ministry of Commerce, adding that the UAE Embassy could easily obtain a list of all legal Chambers of Commerce and trade bodies along with their jurisdiction details from the Ministry of Commerce that would help in better understanding the legalities and jurisdictions of 42 Chambers of Commerce and around 120 sector-specific trade associations in Pakistan.
President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda said KCCI would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Chamber to improve trade and investment ties and bring the business communities closer to each other. 
“We should work collectively to enhance bilateral trade and deal with all the irritants and barriers, particularly the non-tariff barriers between the two countries,” Makda said, adding that other than tourist visas, the UAE government must also look into the possibility of issuing business visas to Pakistan’s business community.