Pakistan FM in Turkey to attend conference on Afghanistan

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (L) gives a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan FM in Turkey to attend conference on Afghanistan

  • Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was established to address shared challenges and interests of Afghanistan and regional partners  
  • Qureshi to apprise participants of Pakistan's efforts for regional stability, Afghan peace

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Istanbul on Monday to attend the 8th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process conference.

“Foreign Minister will inform (the forum) about the Afghan peace process and the steps taken by Pakistan for stability in the region,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Monday.

Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Afghan counterpart, Idrees Zaman, will co-chair the conference.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was established to address the shared challenges and interests of Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners.

It provides a platform for “sincere and results-oriented regional cooperation by placing Afghanistan at its center, in recognition of the fact that a secure and stable Afghanistan is vital to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region,” the Afghan government said in a statement.

On Dec. 7, the Taliban and the United States restarted formal peace negotiations after a nearly three-month pause.

In September, US President Donald Trump called off talks with the Taliban in reaction to the deaths of 12 people, including a US soldier in a Taliban attack in Kabul.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office welcomed the resumption of the US-Taliban talks. “We hope that it will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and ultimately to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” FO said in a statement, highlighting that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

“An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all segments of the Afghan society, is the only practical way forward,” the statement reads.

More snowfall raises safety fears in Pakistan's southwest

Updated 20 January 2020

More snowfall raises safety fears in Pakistan's southwest

  • Pakistan’s frost-ravaged southwest braces for more snowfall
  • Death toll due to recent extreme weather reached 106

KARACHI: The Met Office on Monday said that more snow is expected in parts of cold-ravaged southwestern and northern Pakistan over the next 48 hours, where life has already been paralyzed by torrential rains and snowfall last week.
The countrywide death toll from avalanches, landslides and other extreme weather-related incidents during the recent cold spell has risen to 106.
New storms are expected in some of the country’s most isolated places in northwestern Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, according to the meteorological office.
The news made residents fear for their lives and safety.
“A new snowstorm will create new difficulties for us who live here,” said Hashim Khan, a resident of Balochistan’s Muslim Bagh area, which was badly affected by the recent record snowfall. He told Arab News over the phone that road access to remote villages was still cut off and communities remained stranded.
Authorities, however, say that this time they are prepared to address all dangers.
“Snowfall is expected, but it will not be as heavy as it was last week. We are ready to tackle the situation,” Muhammad Younus, an official of the provincial disaster management authority (PDMA) told Arab News.
According to NDMA data, out of the 106 people killed by the recent weather-related incidents, 79 died in Azad Kashmir, 20 in Balochistan, five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two in Gilgit-Baltistan. 
At least 103 people have been injured, while nearly 1,300 houses were damaged, mostly in Balochistan. 
Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced relief packages for the families of victims, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) spokesman Saqib Mumtaz said on Monday.
“Chairman NDMA Lt. General Muhammad Afzal visited the rains and snowfall affected areas of Balochistan where Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authority Imran Zarkon briefed him on the losses and damages caused by (the) recent spell of rains and snowfall in the Province,” he told Arab News.
According to the PM House statement, Rs500,000 “will be extended to the families of every deceased person,” while Rs50,000 will be paid to those who are injured. Financial assistance of Rs100,000 “will be provided for the families with houses fully damaged or collapsed,” and between Rs25,000 and Rs50,000 will be given to those whose houses were partially damaged.
PDMA Balochistan said it had faced challenges in restoring the province's land transportation network, as heavy machinery for road clearance was insufficient. The NDMA chairman said the equipment will be supplied, funded from the National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF).