Pakistani, US national security advisors hold 'positive' meeting in Washington

The combination of photos shows US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Pakistani counterpart Moeed Yusuf. (AFP photos)
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Updated 30 July 2021
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Pakistani, US national security advisors hold 'positive' meeting in Washington

  • Two sides 'agreed to sustain momentum in Pak-US bilateral cooperation,' says Dr. Moeed Yusuf
  • Jake Sullivan also mentions 'regional connectivity' and 'reduction of violence' in Afghanistan as part of the conversation

ISLAMABAD: The national security advisors (NSAs) of Pakistan and the United States met in Washington on Thursday to discuss a broad spectrum of issues, confirmed the two officials in their Twitter posts, while exclusively focusing on the Pak-US bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan.
The two NSAs had previously interacted in Geneva to strengthen the United States-Pakistan cooperation at a time when American troops were beginning their exit from Afghanistan and the international community was pushing various factions in the war-battered country to reach a negotiated and inclusive political settlement.
Pakistan's Dr. Moeed Yusuf left on an official visit to the United States for a follow-up meeting with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan on Monday.
Yusuf described his meeting with the US official as "positive," saying that the two sides had "agreed to sustain the momentum in Pak-US bilateral cooperation."


The US national security advisor was more specific in his Twitter post and noted that the meeting focused on "regional connectivity and security" along with the "need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement to the conflict."

Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have frequently maintained in recent months that Islamabad wants to broaden and deepen its "transactional relationship" with the US by adding a strong economic dimension to it.
However, official contacts between the two countries have remained somewhat limited since the arrival of President Joe Biden's administration in Washington.
Prime Minister Khan recently accused the United States of "messing things up" in Afghanistan, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken emphasized Pakistan's "vital role" in convincing the Taliban not to take over Afghanistan by force.

 


Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China in May — state media

Updated 20 April 2024
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Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China in May — state media

  • The development comes amid efforts to restore China’s confidence in Islamabad regarding various projects
  • Scaled-back CPEC projects, attacks on Chinese nationals have lately strained ties between the two countries

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China in May to restore Beijing’s confidence in Islamabad with regard to various projects, Pakistani state media reported on Saturday, citing a senior official.
Beijing is investing over $65 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major segment of its Belt and Road Initiative designed to give China a shorter, more secure trading route to the Middle East and beyond, while also boosting Pakistan’s economy.
Since its initiation in 2013, CPEC has seen tens of billions of dollars funnelled into massive transport, energy and infrastructure projects. But the undertaking has also been hit by Pakistan struggling to keep up its financial obligations as well as attacks on Chinese targets by militants.
Rana Mashhood, chairman of Prime Minister’s Youth Program, said PM Sharif wanted to make Pakistan a partner in economic development, which was why he was striving to bring investment from Pakistan’s friendly countries.
“From May 14, the Prime Minister will make an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, which will restore the confidence of the brotherly neighboring country and the CPEC project will move toward success quickly,” Mashhood was quoted as saying by the state-run APP news agency.
The comments came during his visit to China Window, a Chinese cultural center, in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. On the occasion, Mashhood visited different galleries at the center, signed the friendship wall and recorded his comments in the visitor’s book.
Beijing has been one of Islamabad’s most reliable foreign partners in recent years, readily providing financial assistance to bail out its often-struggling neighbor. In July last year, China granted Pakistan a two-year rollover on a $2.4 billion loan, giving the debt-saddled nation much-needed breathing space as it tackled a balance-of-payments crisis.
But ties have been strained by numerous hurdles in recent years, including scaled-back CPEC projects and attacks on Chinese workers in Pakistan. In the latest attack, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan on March 26.
Mashhood appreciated the establishment of the Chinese cultural center in Peshawar and said it would be a pivotal hub for further enhancing the bond between Pakistan and China, according to the APP report.
Recognizing the importance of foreign languages for the country’s youth, the official said he had instructed relevant institutions to initiate language programs tailored to meet the diverse needs of different countries.
“He specifically mentioned plans to include the Chinese language in the programs offered by the National Commission for Technical and Vocational Training,” the report read.


Shaheen, Amir star as Pakistan dismiss New Zealand for just 90

Updated 20 April 2024
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Shaheen, Amir star as Pakistan dismiss New Zealand for just 90

  • Shaheen led the attack with 3-13 while Amir, returning to international cricket after nearly four years, finished with 2-13
  • Spinners Abrar Ahmed, Shadab Khan doubled pressure as New Zealand were dismissed for their second lowest against Pakistan

RAWALPINDI: Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Amir led a destructive Pakistan attack to bowl out an under-strength New Zealand for a paltry 90 in their second Twenty20 clash in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
Shaheen led the attack with 3-13 while Amir, returning to international cricket after nearly four years, finished with 2-13 as the visitors were bowled out in 18.1 overs after being sent in to bat.
Amir retired from international cricket in 2020 after he was dropped from the team, the second break in his career after he was banned for five years in a spot-fixing scandal in 2010.
Spinners Abrar Ahmed (2-15) and Shadab Khan (2-15) doubled the pressure as New Zealand were dismissed for their second lowest total against Pakistan in the game's shortest format.
Mark Chapman (19), Cole McConchie (15), Dean Foxcroft (13) and Tim Seifert (13) were the only batsmen to reach double figures.
The first of five-match series was washed out after just two deliveries, also in Rawalpindi, on Thursday.
Both teams are preparing for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in June in the United States and the West Indies.
New Zealand are missing a host of their top players due to playing in the ongoing Indian Premier League, unavailability and injuries.


Pakistani province issues flood alert and warns of heavy loss of life due to glacial melting

Updated 9 min 26 sec ago
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Pakistani province issues flood alert and warns of heavy loss of life due to glacial melting

  • The country has witnessed days of extreme weather, killing scores of people, destroying property
  • Experts say Pakistan is experiencing heavier rains than normal in April because of climate change

PESHAWAR: A Pakistani province has issued a flood alert due to glacial melting and warned of heavy loss of life, officials said Saturday.
The country has witnessed days of extreme weather, killing scores of people and destroying property and farmland. Experts say Pakistan is experiencing heavier rains than normal in April because of climate change.
In the mountainous northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has been hit particularly hard by the deluges, authorities issued a flood alert because of the melting of glaciers in several districts.
They said the flood could worsen and that people should move to safer locations ahead of any danger.
“If timely safety measures are not taken, there is a possibility of heavy loss of life and property due to the expected flood situation,” said Muhammad Qaiser Khan, from the local disaster management authority.
Latest figures from the province said that 46 people, including 25 children, have died in the past five days due to rain-related incidents.
At least 2,875 houses and 26 schools have either collapsed or been damaged.
The southwest province of Baluchistan has also been battered by rainfall. It said it had limited resources to deal with the current situation but if the rains continued, it would look to the central government for help.
In 2022, downpours swelled rivers and at one point inundated one-third of Pakistan, killing 1,739 people. The floods also caused $30 billion in damage.
Pakistan’s monsoon season starts in June.


Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 

Updated 20 min 40 sec ago
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Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 

  • Jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party terms the mobile service shutdown ‘illegal, unconstitutional and a plan to rig the results’
  • Pakistan’s national polls in Feb. were also marred by mobile service shutdown, result delays, leading to rigging allegations

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government announced on Saturday cellular services would remain suspended in parts of the Punjab and Balochistan provinces on April 21-22 on account of by-elections in 21 constituencies on Sunday, with the main opposition party calling the shutdown “unconstitutional and illegal.”
The by-polls on national and provincial assembly seats are the first major electoral exercise since the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan, which were marred by a mobile service shutdown and result delays, leading to accusations that the vote was rigged and drawing concern from rights groups and foreign governments.
On Saturday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which regulates the Internet, said the decision to temporarily suspend cellular services in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan was taken on the directions of the interior ministry.
“This decision has been taken to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process,” the regulator said in a statement on Saturday.
Sunday’s by-elections will be held on five National Assembly seats, 12 Punjab Assembly seats, and two seats each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies. They were left vacant due to postponement of polls or were vacated by lawmakers, who won multiple seats, in the Feb. 8 national election.
The PTA announcement came hours after the Punjab government requested the interior ministry to suspend mobile phone services during by-elections in Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujrat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal, Bhakkar, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Lahore, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta and Dera Ghazi Khan.
“I have been directed to request that mobile Internet services may kindly be suspended on 21st April, 2024 for maintaining law and order situation and to avoid any untoward incident [in the aforementioned areas],” a section officer of the Punjab home department wrote in his letter to the interior ministry.
The developments came amid expectations of a fierce competition between candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and rival political groups.
In a statement, the PTI termed the shutdown of mobile phone services in districts where by-polls were being held "unconstitutional and illegal." “The Internet shutdown is unconstitutional, illegal and shameful, and a plan to rig the results,” it said.
The party urged its supporters to come out in large numbers to cast their votes to thwart these plans.
Meanwhile, the federal government authorized the deployment of civil armed forces and Pakistan Army to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in peaceful conduct of by-polls.
In its code of conduct for the armed forces and civil armed forces on the polling day, the ECP said troops should not respond on their own to “an apparent irregularity” outside a polling station and bring the matter to the knowledge of the presiding officer for any necessary legal action.
The security forces were also directed not to “interfere in the counting process in any manner” and perform their duty outside the polling stations diligently, so that the counting process could be completed in a peaceful manner.


Police say attack on Japanese nationals in Karachi can be case of ‘mistaken identity’

Updated 20 April 2024
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Police say attack on Japanese nationals in Karachi can be case of ‘mistaken identity’

  • In the past, Baloch separatists have claimed responsibility for attacks on Chinese nationals in the Pakistani port city
  • However, Friday’s suicide attack on a van was the first incident in Pakistan that appeared to target Japanese nationals

KARACHI: The suicide attack on Japanese nationals in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi could be a case of “mistaken identity” as no group has claimed responsibility for it, a senior police officer said on Saturday.
The Japanese nationals were traveling on Friday in a Hiace van to an industrial area, where they worked at Pak Suzuki Motors, when the suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near the van, according to police.
A police team escorting the vehicle returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber. Officials said one of the attackers was identified as Sohail Ahmed, a resident of Panjgur district in the southwestern Balochistan province.
However, Ghulam Nabi Memon, the provincial police chief, said no militant group had accepted responsibility for the attack and it seemed they didn’t intend to attack the Japanese.
“For now, it seems to us to be a case of mistaken identity,” Memon told Arab News. “We are reviewing security protocols. The police and intelligence agencies are making efforts [to arrest the perpetrators].”
In the past, Baloch separatists have claimed responsibility for attacks on Chinese nationals in the Pakistani port city. However, this is the first time that the Japanese have come under such an attack.
A police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Arab News that police suspected the attack was carried out by the outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The group has claimed several attacks, including the ones on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Karachi Stock Exchange, and a suicide attack on Chinese teachers at Karachi University.
A BLA spokesperson didn’t respond to Arab News request for a comment on the attack.
Hours after the attack, Baloch activists shared videos on X, claiming raids were conducted on the homes of their supporters in Karachi.

A police officer, who requested anonymity, confirmed that raids were made to arrest the perpetrators and facilitators of the incident, but declined to share if any arrests were made.
“All I can share is that we are going in the right direction and an important breakthrough will be made soon,” he said.
On Friday, a police handout said the provincial police chief had chaired a high-level meeting, wherein he emphasized the need to establish a dedicated unit for the protection of Chinese nationals.
The police chief also stressed strict implementation of the standard operation procedures (SOPs) regarding the security of foreign delegates and regular issuance of security adviseries by authorities.
“Further discussions centered on enhancing security measures for all Chinese residents, experts, staff, and other foreign guests/delegates in Sindh,” the handout read.
In recent weeks, militants have targeted Chinese nationals working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major segment of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which will connect China to the Arabian Sea and help Islamabad expand and modernize its economy through a network of roads, railways, pipelines and ports in Pakistan.
In March, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in northwest Pakistan, when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into the bus carrying them to Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.