Taliban to meet PM Khan in Islamabad on Monday

In this Feb. 6, 2019 file photo, Taliban Mullah Abbas Stanikzai, center, attends "intra-Afghan" talks in Moscow, Russia. Stanikzai will also lead the 14-member Taliban team that will hold negotiations with US diplomats in the forthcoming talks in Doha. (AP)
Updated 14 February 2019

Taliban to meet PM Khan in Islamabad on Monday

  • The group announced previously unscheduled meeting with US diplomats in Pakistan
  • Taliban spokesman says his faction is in touch with the Americans

PESHAWAR: Members of a Taliban negotiating team will call on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Monday, February 18, after holding a meeting with a United States delegation in response to a formal invitation from Pakistan, said the group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement released on Wednesday night.

Mujahid added that the “team of Islamic Emirate” will have “comprehensive discussions” with the prime minister “about Pak-Afghan relations and issues pertaining to Afghan refugees and Afghan businessmen.”

It may be recalled that the Afghan faction had issued a list of 14 representatives a day earlier, naming those members who would participate in the next round of peace talks with US diplomats in Doha, Qatar, on February 25.

The list mentioned that the Taliban negotiating team would be headed by Abbas Stanikzai and include five former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility who were released in 2014 in exchange for an American soldier who was captured by the Afghan group in 2009.

Mujahid also noted in his statement that the US had not named members of its negotiating team, though he added that the two sides were in contact with each other.

As the Taliban and US negotiators interact to reach a peace deal before the Afghan presidential election in July this year, it is widely believed that any breakthrough in the negotiating process could lead to Taliban’s participation in the July ballot.

However, the group’s spokesman recently noted it was premature for his faction to say it would contest the presidential election unless it had reached a peace deal with the Americans.


Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

Updated 35 min 18 sec ago

Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

  • A majority of those who received Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) assistance were Pakistanis, but it also helped a number of people of other nationalities
  • Prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis says PAD is the main organization helping repatriate nationals from UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) has helped amid the coronavirus pandemic release and repatriate more than 150 people from prisons in the United Arab Emirates.
In the past three months, PAD helped 154 inmates at prisons in Ajman and Dubai by buying their air tickets to return home and paid the fines required for their release orders to be issued. A majority of those who received PAD assistance were Pakistanis, but the association also helped a number of people of other nationalities.
“We arranged release and repatriation of 71 inmates from Ajman central prison this month. The initiative was not the first for PAD. We had also helped in release of 83 prisoners three months back from Dubai,” Rizwan Fancy, community welfare director at PAD, told Arab News over the phone from Dubai on Saturday.
The association has been working closely with UAE authorities.
“We were in process with Ajman government since the start of this month and completed the repartition this week after fulfilling all legal and medical requirements like COVID-19 testing,” Fancy said.
Those who received the assistance had been sentenced for petty crimes such as bounced cheques or overstaying. The have completed their sentences but were unable to pay release fines.
“We usually contact authorities and they share the list of such prisoners who can be released by paying small fines,” Fancy said. “We then arrange these things for the prisoners and subsequently their release takes place. We not only arranged for the release of Pakistani prisoners but managed to help in the release of 37 prisoners from other nationalities as well.”
The foreigners included citizens of Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Cameroon.
Every year, the association repatriates fellow nationals as well as other people who reach out for help, Fancy said.
“We take immense pride in serving the forgotten members of the community. We went out of our way and ensured support for all those deserving help.”
One of the repatriated Pakistanis, a resident of Chakwal who requested not to be named, said he is grateful to PAD. “They have arranged my repatriation from UAE. They have provided me with tickets and also fulfilled other requirements. My family is also very happy,” he told Arab News.
The prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis, Sayed Zulifqar Bukhari, said that in PAD has been the main organization helping repatriate Pakistanis from the UAE.
“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the support and contributions of organizations like PAD and other individuals,” Bukhari said.
“It’s due to them why Pakistan has such a strong diaspora in UAE.”