Pakistan strongly condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi city of Abha: FO

A composite image for the damage on a building caused by falling debris from a Houthi drone that was shot down by Saudi Air Defense Forces over the city of Abha on Friday 08 March 2019. (SPA)
Updated 10 March 2019

Pakistan strongly condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi city of Abha: FO

  • Stands in solidarity with Saudi government in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
  • Targeting unarmed civilian population is clear violation of international law, Pakistan says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday strongly condemned the Houthi drone attack targeting civilian population in Saudi Arabia and reiterated its pledge to stand by the Kingdom to fight terror in all its forms. 

"Pakistan has noted with serious concern the drone attack by Houthis on the Saudi city of Abha, that took place yesterday," stated a press release issued by the Foreign Office (FO).

Islamabad commended the government of Saudi Arabia, especially the Royal Defence Forces, for "timely intercepting and destroying the drone before it could cause any serious damage."  

"Such attacks, targeting the unarmed civilian population, are a clear violation of international law and pose a serious challenge to regional peace and security." read the statement. "We, condemn them in the strongest terms and stand in solidarity with the Saudi government in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," it added. 

On Friday night, Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Defense Force shot down a Houthi drone that was flying toward Saudi Arabia, the Saudi State TV reported.

The drone was targeting civilians in a residential area in the city of Abha, according to the spokesperson of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Col. Turki Al-Maliki.

The Government of Pakistan reiterated its "full support and solidarity with the leadership, the Government and people of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its territorial integrity and Harmain Shareefaen."  

Pakistan also expressed concern over the news of injuries to Saudis and other expatriates, as well as damage to properties, as a result of falling debris of the drone.

All major political parties of the country on Saturday condemned the Houthi drone attack bid in the southwest Saudi city of Abha, a day after the Royal Air Defense Force shot down a Houthi drone 230 km north of the Yemen border.

Omar Sarfraz Cheema, the ruling party’s central information secretary told Arab News, “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf strongly condemns this incident, as it is against international law and the UN charter to target civilians in any conflict.”

He said 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 said.

Since the beginning of the four-year conflict, the Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia with most intercepted by the Saudi military. In recent weeks, tensions between warring parties rose after the stalling of a UN-led peace deal.

The attempted attack has been met with unified condemnation across all party lines in Pakistan.

Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq of the PML-N, leader of the opposition in the Senate said that Houthi rebels were trying to undermine the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia “with the complicity of some other countries.”

“It is part of our faith to protect and fight for the security of Harmain Sharifain,” he told Arab News.

Naveed Chaudhry, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party said Houthi rebels should understand the human cost of the conflict and abide by recent UN agreements.

“It is better if the conflict is resolved at the OIC level to the satisfaction of all relevant stakeholders,” he said. “It is a historic fact that Pakistan has always stood by the Kingdom and will continue to do so to protect the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia.”


Forbes recognizes young Pakistani chef focused on empowering women

Updated 52 sec ago

Forbes recognizes young Pakistani chef focused on empowering women

  • Zahra Khan is a mother of two who runs Feya cafes and shops in London, employs 30 full-time staff, donates 10% profits to coaching for women
  • Khan launched Feya Cares at start of pandemic in collaboration with Young Women’s Trust, works on economic justice for young women

RAWALPINDI: A Pakistani chef and entrepreneur who runs her own café and shop in London has been recognized for her achievements in retail and e-commerce by Forbes, which put her on its prestigious ‘30 under 30’ Europe list this month.
Khan, 30 years old and the mother of two daughters, is the sole founder of two of London’s culinary hotspots – Feya Café and DYCE. She is a graduate of the iconic Tante Marie Culinary Academy and committed to the movement toward female equality in business.
Khan opened her debut eatery Feya Café on Bond Street just months after the birth of her first daughter in 2018. The award-winning DIY dessert parlour and interior masterpiece DYCE was opened in quick succession, followed by the flagship Feya Knightsbridge in December 2019.
Speaking to Arab News, Khan said she was nominated for the Forbes list by her team and did not expect to be recognized. 
“I had just woken up and I knew the list was going to be released [on April 9], but they were meant to send an email as well and my inbox was empty, so I was a bit disappointed,” Khan said in a phone interview. “But then I pulled up the list anyway to see. As I started scrolling down, I saw my name. It was an amazing feeling!”
This is how the Forbes listing describes Khan:
“Immigrant Zahra Khan defied Pakistani cultural stereotypes and launched a career in the UK focused on empowering women. The chef and mother of two runs Feya cafes and shops. She employs 30 full-time staff, hires female illustrators to design packaging, and donates 10% of retail profits toward professional coaching for women.”

In this undated photo, Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ honouree Zahra Khan tackles a recipe in her kitchen in London. (Photo Courtesy: Zahra Khan

Khan said she initially went to university to study medicine but then turned toward the culinary world, graduating from the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking, England, before launching Feya in May 2018, whose wares include chocolates along with specialty spices and jams, all packaged in designs that pay ode to women.
Khan has been nominated for the NatWest Everywomen Awards 2020 (The Artemis Award), London Business Mother of the Year 2020 (Venus Awards), Business Owner of the Year and Businesswoman of the Year (National Women’s Business Awards 2020) and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 (Federation of Small Businesses UK).
“In Pakistan, we don’t have as many opportunities for women as men. I recognize that and I also realize that I’m lucky that I’ve got the opportunity to actually move and experience living in different countries,” Khan, who studied at Ryerson University in Toronto before going to culinary school in the UK, said. “It was an eye opener, I learned so much and I wanted to bring about change when I was in the position to give back.” 
Khan launched Feya Cares at the start of the pandemic in collaboration with the Young Women’s Trust, a feminist organization working to achieve economic justice for young women based in London.

This undated photo shows Zahra Khan, a Pakistani chef and entrepreneur, who was recently listed on the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list, in London. (Photo Courtesy: Zahra Khan)

Feya Cares aims to tackle issues faced by women within the professional space, such as racial and gender inequality; 10% of the profits made from the sale of each Feya Retail product are donated to the Young Women’s Trust.
During the pandemic, Khan also launched the Feya Retail Line which features various luxury products such as teas, jams, chocolates alongside a selection of other delectable treats.
“Each product in this retail line carries its own unique message of empowerment and motivation, encouraging women to take a break from the ordinary and celebrate the little things that make us different. With beautifully illustrated, unique packaging, each product in the line-up aims to inspire you to escape reality, explore your imagination, and celebrate fearlessness and diversity,” Khan’s website said.
“Every woman can run her own business, even if it is a small-scale, home-based venture,” said Khan, who launched her own business shortly after becoming a mother of two daughters. “I want to show that it can be done.” 


'Time to end forever war': Biden pushes Pakistan for ‘support’ in Afghanistan exit

Updated 10 min 6 sec ago

'Time to end forever war': Biden pushes Pakistan for ‘support’ in Afghanistan exit

  • President Joe Biden plans to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan by September 11
  • Says will ask countries in the region to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, Russia, China, India and Turkey

ISLAMABAD: US Pre­sident Joe Biden warned the Taliban on Wednesday he would hold them accountable in Afghanistan after the exit of United States troops, and pressed nations, including Pakistan, to play a supportive role.
President Joe Biden plans to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, 20 years to the day after the Al-Qaeda attacks that triggered America’s longest war.
The disclosure of the plan came on the same day that the US intelligence community released a gloomy outlook for Afghanistan, forecasting “low” chances of a peace deal this year and warning that its government would struggle to hold the Taliban insurgency at bay if the US-led coalition withdrew support.
Biden’s decision would miss a May 1 deadline for withdrawal agreed to with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump. The insurgents had threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops if that deadline was missed. But Biden would still be setting a near-term withdrawal date, potentially allaying Taliban concerns.
“We will hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the US or its allies from Afghan soil. The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well,” Biden said in a speech announcing the complete pullout of US troops before September 11. “We will ask other countries in the region to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India and Turkey.”
Notably not naming Iran, Biden said that the countries in the region “have a significant stake in the stable future” of Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa spoke to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken over the phone.
“During the conversation matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including latest developments in Afghan Peace Process and bilateral cooperation in various fields were discussed,” the Pakistani military’s media wing said in a statement.
Bajwa reiterated Pakistan’s support for an Afghan led and Afghan-owned peace process “based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders.”


India, Pakistan held ‘secret talks’ to try to break Kashmir impasse 

Updated 29 min 47 sec ago

India, Pakistan held ‘secret talks’ to try to break Kashmir impasse 

  • Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan met in Dubai in January 
  • Back channel diplomacy is aimed at a modest roadmap to normalizing ties over the next several months

NEW DELHI: Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with close knowledge of the matter told Reuters in Delhi.
Ties between the nuclear-armed rivals have been on ice since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019 traced to Pakistan-based militants that led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan.
Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan and the downgrading of diplomatic ties and suspension of bilateral trade.
But the two governments have re-opened a back channel of diplomacy aimed at a modest roadmap to normalizing ties over the next several months, the people said.
Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, both of which claim all of the region but rule only in part.
Officials from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the external spy agency, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence traveled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the United Arab Emirates government, two people said.
The Indian foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Pakistan’s military, which controls the ISI, also did not respond.
But Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani defense analyst, said she believed Indian and Pakistan intelligence officials had been meeting for several months in third countries.
“I think there have been meetings in Thailand, in Dubai, in London between the highest level people,” she said.

’IT IS FRAUGHT’
Such meetings have taken place in the past too, especially during times of crises but never been publicly acknowledged.
“There is a lot that can still go wrong, it is fraught,” said one of the people in Delhi. “That is why nobody is talking it up in public, we don’t even have a name for this, it’s not a peace process. You can call it a re-engagement,” one of them said.
Both countries have reasons to seek a rapprochement. India has been locked in a border stand-off with China since last year and does not want the military stretched on the Pakistan front.
China-ally Pakistan, mired in economic difficulties and on an IMF bailout program, can ill-afford heightened tensions on the Kashmir border for a prolonged period, experts say. It also has to stabilize the Afghan border on its west as the United States withdraws.
“It’s better for India and Pakistan to talk than not talk, and even better that it should be done quietly than in a glare of publicity,” said Myra MacDonald, a former Reuters journalist who has just published a book on India, Pakistan and war on the frontiers of Kashmir.
.”..But I don’t see it going very far beyond a basic management of tensions, possibly to tide both countries over a difficult period — Pakistan needs to address the fall-out of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, while India has to confront a far more volatile situation on its disputed frontier with China.”

DIALLING DOWN THE RHETORIC
Following the January meeting, India and Pakistan announced they would stop cross-border shooting along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir which has left dozens of civilians dead and many others maimed. That cease-fire is holding, military officials in both countries said.
Both sides have also signalled plans to hold elections on their sides of Kashmir this year as part of efforts to bring normalcy to a region riven by decades of bloodshed.
The two have also agreed to dial down their rhetoric, the people Reuters spoke to said.
This would include Pakistan dropping its loud objections to Modi abrogating Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019, while Delhi in turn would refrain from blaming Pakistan for all violence on its side of the Line of Control.
These details have not been previously reported. India has long blamed Pakistan for the revolt in Kashmir, an allegation denied by Pakistan.
“There is a recognition there will be attacks inside Kashmir, there has been discussions as to how to deal with it and not let this effort derailed by the next attack,” one of the people said.
There is as yet, however, no grand plan to resolve the 74-year-old Kashmir dispute. Rather both sides are trying to reduce tensions to pave the way for a broad engagement, all the people Reuters spoke to said.
“Pakistan is transiting from a geo-strategic domain to a geo-economic domain,” Raoof Hasan, special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, told Reuters.
“Peace, both within and around with its neighbors, is a key constituent to facilitate that.” 


India, Pakistan held ‘secret talks’ to try to break Kashmir impasse 

Updated 14 April 2021

India, Pakistan held ‘secret talks’ to try to break Kashmir impasse 

  • Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan met in Dubai in January 
  • Back channel diplomacy is aimed at a modest roadmap to normalizing ties over the next several months

NEW DELHI: Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with close knowledge of the matter told Reuters in Delhi.
Ties between the nuclear-armed rivals have been on ice since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019 traced to Pakistan-based militants that led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan.
Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan and the downgrading of diplomatic ties and suspension of bilateral trade.
But the two governments have re-opened a back channel of diplomacy aimed at a modest roadmap to normalizing ties over the next several months, the people said.
Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, both of which claim all of the region but rule only in part.
Officials from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the external spy agency, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence traveled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the United Arab Emirates government, two people said.
The Indian foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Pakistan’s military, which controls the ISI, also did not respond.
But Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani defense analyst, said she believed Indian and Pakistan intelligence officials had been meeting for several months in third countries.
“I think there have been meetings in Thailand, in Dubai, in London between the highest level people,” she said.

’IT IS FRAUGHT’
Such meetings have taken place in the past too, especially during times of crises but never been publicly acknowledged.
“There is a lot that can still go wrong, it is fraught,” said one of the people in Delhi. “That is why nobody is talking it up in public, we don’t even have a name for this, it’s not a peace process. You can call it a re-engagement,” one of them said.
Both countries have reasons to seek a rapprochement. India has been locked in a border stand-off with China since last year and does not want the military stretched on the Pakistan front.
China-ally Pakistan, mired in economic difficulties and on an IMF bailout program, can ill-afford heightened tensions on the Kashmir border for a prolonged period, experts say. It also has to stabilize the Afghan border on its west as the United States withdraws.
“It’s better for India and Pakistan to talk than not talk, and even better that it should be done quietly than in a glare of publicity,” said Myra MacDonald, a former Reuters journalist who has just published a book on India, Pakistan and war on the frontiers of Kashmir.
.”..But I don’t see it going very far beyond a basic management of tensions, possibly to tide both countries over a difficult period — Pakistan needs to address the fall-out of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, while India has to confront a far more volatile situation on its disputed frontier with China.”

DIALLING DOWN THE RHETORIC
Following the January meeting, India and Pakistan announced they would stop cross-border shooting along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir which has left dozens of civilians dead and many others maimed. That cease-fire is holding, military officials in both countries said.
Both sides have also signalled plans to hold elections on their sides of Kashmir this year as part of efforts to bring normalcy to a region riven by decades of bloodshed.
The two have also agreed to dial down their rhetoric, the people Reuters spoke to said.
This would include Pakistan dropping its loud objections to Modi abrogating Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019, while Delhi in turn would refrain from blaming Pakistan for all violence on its side of the Line of Control.
These details have not been previously reported. India has long blamed Pakistan for the revolt in Kashmir, an allegation denied by Pakistan.
“There is a recognition there will be attacks inside Kashmir, there has been discussions as to how to deal with it and not let this effort derailed by the next attack,” one of the people said.
There is as yet, however, no grand plan to resolve the 74-year-old Kashmir dispute. Rather both sides are trying to reduce tensions to pave the way for a broad engagement, all the people Reuters spoke to said.
“Pakistan is transiting from a geo-strategic domain to a geo-economic domain,” Raoof Hasan, special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, told Reuters.
“Peace, both within and around with its neighbors, is a key constituent to facilitate that.” 


Babar hits 122 as Pakistan defeat South Africa by nine wickets

Updated 14 April 2021

Babar hits 122 as Pakistan defeat South Africa by nine wickets

  • He aslo dethroned Virat Kohli as the world’s top batsman in one-day cricket
  • Pakistan took a 2-1 lead in the four-match series

Centurion, South Africa: Pakistan captain Babar Azam gave a batting masterclass to lead Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third Twenty20 international against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.

Babar hit 122, his first T20 international century, as Pakistan chased down a challenging target of 204 with two overs to spare.

Babar, who earlier Wednesday dethroned Indian maestro Virat Kohli as the world’s top batsman in one-day cricket, hit 15 fours and four sixes in an exhibition of superb timing and placement before he was out with only seven runs needed.

Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 73 in a Pakistan record first wicket partnership of 197.

Pakistan took a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.