PM Khan’s comments on Kabul reported “out of context”: FO

In this file photo Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) arrives to attend the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 March 2019

PM Khan’s comments on Kabul reported “out of context”: FO

  • Comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, says Pakistan
  • Kabul recalled ambassador from Islamabad, terming Khan’s comments as “irresponsible"

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office on Wednesday moved to cool a row between Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying reported comments by Prime Minister Imran Khan that Kabul should set up an interim government to help smooth peace talks with the Taliban were reported “out of context.”

Khan told Pakistani journalists on Monday that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to speak to the current government, according to comments published in The Express Tribune.

The report sparked a furious reaction in Afghanistan and led to the government recalling its ambassador to Islamabad in protest at what it described as “irresponsible” remarks by Khan.

The foreign office said that Khan’s comments reported were “out of context by the media, leading to unwarranted reactions from various quarters.”

“In his comments, the PM had referred to Pakistan’s model where elections are held under an interim government. The comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs,” the foreign office statement said. “Pakistan has no other interest in Afghanistan but to promote peace through an ‘Afghan owned’ and ‘Afghan led’ political process.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani faces a re-election battle this year after his term expires in May. The election has already been postponed twice but they are now due to take place on Sept. 28.

In Pakistan, elections are overseen by a neutral caretaker government appointed a few months before polls.

The foreign office statement said Khan had taken a personal interest in facilitating ongoing peace talks between U.S. and Taliban officials to end the 17-year war. The Taliban considers the Afghan government led by President Ghani illegitimate and has so far refused direct talks.

The statement said Pakistan’s efforts for peace is Afghanistan must not be misconstrued at a crucial stage of the peace process.


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

Updated 11 min 50 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.”