Russia says in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov collects his notes after addressing the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, on September 25, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 26 September 2021

Russia says in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban

  • Sergei Lavrov tells UN the four countries are in ongoing contact with each other and Afghan authorities
  • Says consultations ongoing as the current Taliban government does not reflect 'the whole gamut of Afghan society'

UNITED NATIONS: Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday. 
Sergey Lavrov said the four countries are in ongoing contact. He said representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently traveled to Qatar and then to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to engage with both the Taliban and representatives of “secular authorities” — former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government’s negotiating council with the Taliban. 
Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect “the whole gamut of Afghan society — ethno-religious and political forces — so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing.” 

The Taliban have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 including respecting women’s rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting terrorism and extremism and stopping militants from using their territory to launch attacks. 

But recent moves suggest they may be returning to more repressive policies, particularly toward women and girls. 
“What’s most important ... is to ensure that the promises that they have proclaimed publicly to be kept,” Lavrov said. “And for us, that is the top priority.” 
At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterward at the UN General Assembly, Lavrov criticized the Biden administration including for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. 
He said the US and NATO pullout “was carried out out without any consideration of the consequences ... that there are many weapons left in Afghanistan.” It remains critical, he said, that such weapons aren’t used for “destructive purposes.” 
Later, in his assembly speech, Lavrov accused the United States and its Western allies of “persistent attempts to diminish the UN’s role in resolving the key problems of today or to sideline it or to make it a malleable tool for promoting someone’s selfish interests.” 
As examples, Lavrov said Germany and France recently announced the creation of an Alliance For Multilateralism “even though what kind of structure could be more multilateral than the United Nations?” 
The United States is also sidestepping the UN, he said, pointing to the recent US announcement of a “Summit for Democracy” despite, Lavrov said, US President Joe Biden’s pledge this week “that the US is not seeking a world divided into opposing blocs.” 
“It goes without saying that Washington is going to choose the participants by itself, thus hijacking the right to decide to what degree a country meets the standards of democracy,” Lavrov said. “Essentially, this initiative is quite in the spirit of a Cold War, as it declares a new ideological crusade against all dissenters.” 
Lavrov was asked for Russia’s reaction to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ warning last week that the world could be plunged into a new Cold War potentially more dangerous than the lengthy one between the US and the former Soviet Union unless the United States and China repair their “totally dysfunctional” relationship. 
He replied: “Of course, we see the tension tightening in relations between China and the United States.” He expressed “great concern” at the rising tensions, pointing to the Biden administration’s recently proclaimed Indo-Pacific strategy — whose objectives, he said, include “deterring China’s development,” disputes over the South China Sea, and the recent US-Britain deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. 
More broadly, Lavrov said, relations among the big powers must be “respectful.” He emphasized that Russia was “keen to ensure that never will these relations morph into nuclear war.” 
The major powers have a “great responsibility,” he said, to negotiate and make compromises on the critical issues facing the world and that Russia is now “revitalizing” its proposal for a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, China, US, UK and France. He said discussions are under way on specific questions for an agenda, and “we may perhaps begin with an online meeting.” 
On other global issues, the United States has been pressing for Iran to resume nuclear negotiations, but Lavrov said it was then-President Donald Trump who pulled the US out of the nuclear agreement, so to declare that “time is running out, anybody could say this — but not Washington.” 
In his first speech to the General Assembly earlier this week, new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi criticized the United States but appeared not to rule out a return to the negotiating table for the nuclear accord, saying Iran considers talks useful if their ultimate outcome is the lifting of all sanctions. Still, he stated: “We don’t trust the promises made by the US government.” 
Lavrov said Russia would like to see the resumption of negotiations to restore the original agreement as soon as possible. “We have a very serious hope — and I think this is well-founded optimism — that we will achieve results,” he said, because “this is something everybody wants.” 


JS Bank & Home Matters collaborate to provide housing finance to UAE-based Pakistanis 

Updated 10 sec ago

JS Bank & Home Matters collaborate to provide housing finance to UAE-based Pakistanis 

  • JS Bank is among fastest-growing banks in Pakistan with both domestic and international presence
  • Home Matters consultants are market leaders in mortgage and property transaction consultation in UAE

KARACHI: JS Bank has partnered with Home Matters, one of the UAE’s top mortgage brokers, to provide easy and convenient home financing solutions to Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs) at flexible markup rates, a press release said on Wednesday.
Home Matters will provide an end-to-end mortgage brokerage service exclusively for JS Bank.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday by Fahad Siddiqui, Head of Secured Lending JS Bank, and Sawan Karia, Managing Director, Home Matters Mortgage Consultants.
Speaking at the occasion, Fahad Siddiqui, said, “As the largest conventional home loan providing bank in Pakistan, JS Bank is proud to partner with an industry leader like Home Matters to service our valued customers living abroad. This strategic partnership will serve as an end-to-end solution for NRP clients living in the UAE for both searching for the right property and selecting the right financing solutions in Pakistan.”
Sawan Karia said, “This exclusive partnership represents a historic milestone, enabling Home Matters to remotely service Non-resident Pakistani clients for a property purchase in Pakistan through a mortgage with JS Bank. As a pioneer in its field, JS Bank is the first to offer mortgages to NRPs living in the UAE. Pakistanis represent the second-largest ex-pat population, and It is a privilege for Home Matters to be servicing their mortgage needs.”
JS Bank has taken this step to make housing finance in Pakistan more accessible to NRPs through innovative product solutions, enabling homeownership to become an achievable reality, the bank said.
JS Bank is among the fastest-growing Bbanks in Pakistan, with both domestic and an international presence.
Home Matters consultants are market leaders in providing independent mortgage and property transaction consultation in United Arab Emirates.


Pakistan records lowest single day rise in coronavirus cases in a year

Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

Pakistan records lowest single day rise in coronavirus cases in a year

  • 618 new infections recorded on October 19 last year, on October 20 this year 554 new cases reported
  • The government has administered a total of at least 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported 554 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the lowest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day since October last year, health ministry data showed on Wednesday.
The South Asian country has reported 1,266,204 total infections and 28,312 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. The government has administered a total of at least 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 21.6 percent of the country’s population.
Pakistan’s pandemic response body, the NCOC, announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the country had recorded 554 daily infections in the last 24 hours. This is the lowest since October 19, 2020, when 618 cases were reported.


More than 1.2 million people have so far recovered from the coronavirus in Pakistan, while 1,783 people remain in critical care in hospitals across the country.


Deputy ruler of Dubai visits Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 

Updated 17 min 9 sec ago

Deputy ruler of Dubai visits Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 

  • Exhibitors from 200 countries are participating in Expo with aim to boost trade and investment
  • The Pakistan pavilion was officially inaugurated by President Arif Alvi on October 9

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this week toured the Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates News Agency (WAM) said.
The Expo is the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, and Dubai, the region’s tourism, trade and business hub, is hoping to boost its economy by attracting 25 million business and tourist visits to the exhibition, which has been built from scratch on 4.3 sq km (1.7 sq mile) of desert at a cost of around $6.8 billion.
Exhibitors from almost 200 countries, including Pakistan, are participating, with many countries and companies looking to the expo — the first major global event open to visitors since the coronavirus pandemic — to boost trade and investment.
The Pakistan pavilion was officially inaugurated by President Dr. Arif Alvi on October 9. Last week, the commerce ministry said over 55,000 people had visited the site only in its first week since launching.
“Sheikh Maktoum also visited the Pakistan Pavilion located at the Opportunity District, which showcases the country’s diverse environmental beauty,” WAM reported.
“The pavilion offers a one-of-a-kind tour of the nation’s towering ‘peaks of progress’ in sustainability, sports, technology and much more. With a history spanning 7,000 years, ever-evolving with art, culture and diversity, Pakistan is one of the world’s best-kept secrets.
“During the tour, H.H. was briefed on the main highlights in Pakistan’s journey toward the future through the pavilion’s huge interactive screens.”
Built from scratch on 4.3 square km of desert, the Expo is divided into three sub-theme districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.
The Pakistani pavilion, themed “The Hidden Treasure,” is located in the Opportunity area.


Pakistani finance chief joins talks on bailout loan in Washington as IMF cites ‘progress’ 

Updated 26 min 45 sec ago

Pakistani finance chief joins talks on bailout loan in Washington as IMF cites ‘progress’ 

  • Pakistani and IMF are currently engaged in talks for the release of $1 billion tranche of $6 billion loan
  • In June, similar talks between the two sides failed to bring agreement on conditions for the tranche

ISLAMABAD: IMF Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Jihad Azour, has said there was ‘progress’ in talks between officials from the IMF and Pakistan for the release of the latest tranche in a bailout package.
The comments come as Pakistani media reported this and last week that ongoing talks for the release of a $1 billion tranche of a three-year, $6 billion bailout package accord reached in 2019 had failed.
Five reviews of the program had been completed by March. The sixth is pending since June this year, which, if completed, will enable Pakistan to receive around $1 billion from the fund.
On Tuesday, the finance ministry said Pakistan’s finance chief Shaukat Tarin had returned to Washington to join the ongoing discussions.


“The IMF mission to Pakistan and authorities are currently in the process of discussion around the sixth review of the program and the discussions are progressing around the various pillars of the program and the measures that the government of Pakistan is currently contemplating,” Azour said as he unveiled the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook.
“The progress has gone in a very good step and the mission with the authorities is going through various details.”


The government’s finance ministry this week dismissed reports by local media over the weekend that talks were inconclusive.
“Negotiations between Pakistan and IMF are moving forward positively. No timeframe was set at any stage for the conclusion of the talks,” a statement issued by the finance ministry said.
In June, a similar round of talks between the two sides failed to bring agreement on conditions for the tranche.

 

 


Pakistani physician elected to National Academy of Medicine, one of highest honors in medicine 

Updated 20 October 2021

Pakistani physician elected to National Academy of Medicine, one of highest honors in medicine 

  • Dr. Anita Zaidi is president for gender equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • She was elected “for global leadership in paediatric infectious disease research and capacity development“

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani physician Dr. Anita Zaidi was elected this week to the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
Founded in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is one of three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) in the United States. Operating under the 1863 Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.
The Academy said Zaidi, president for gender equality and director of vaccine development and surveillance and of enteric and diarrheal diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was elected “for global leadership in paediatric infectious disease research and capacity development relevant to improving newborn and child survival in developing countries.”
Since joining the foundation in 2014, Zaidi has led a team focused on vaccine development for people in the poorest parts of the world, surveillance to identify and address causes of death in children in the most under-served areas, and significantly reducing the adverse consequences of diarrheal and enteric infections on children’s health in low and middle-income countries, according to the Gates Foundation website.
“Through this role, Anita champions innovative work on behalf of low-income women and children, including the creation of the Women Leaders in Global Health program— now called WomenLift Health— to promote diversity in global health leadership. She also works closely with the foundation’s Maternal Newborn Child Health Discovery & Tools program,” it said.
Previously, Anita was the department chair of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked to reduce child mortality through the prevention and treatment of illness.
She obtained her medical degree specializing in pediatric infectious diseases at Aga Khan University, and completed further training at Duke University, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. To date, Anita has published more than 200 research papers on vaccine-preventable diseases and newborn infections in resource-limited settings.
In 2013, Anita became the first recipient of the $1 million Caplow Children’s Prize for her pioneering work bringing health services and wraparound care to mothers and children in poverty-stricken communities in Karachi. She was also nominated as a notable physician of the year in 2014 by Medscape.
“It is my privilege to welcome this extraordinary class of new members. Their contributions to health and medicine are unmatched – they’ve made groundbreaking discoveries, taken bold action against social inequities, and led the response to some of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau.
“This is also the NAM’s most diverse class of new members to date, composed of approximately 50 percent women and 50 percent racial and ethnic minorities. This class represents many identities and experiences – all of which are absolutely necessary to address the existential threats facing humanity. I look forward to working with all of our new members in the years ahead.”
The newly elected members bring NAM’s total membership to more than 2,200 and the number of international members to approximately 172.