'Not realistic' to expect relations of the past between Pakistan, US — envoy to Washington

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan speaks at U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C on March 5, 2019. (Photo courtesy: United States Institute of Peace)
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Updated 13 October 2021

'Not realistic' to expect relations of the past between Pakistan, US — envoy to Washington

  • Envoy’s comments come amid reports of worsening ties as Washington and Islamabad search for way forward in Afghanistan
  • Top US official who came to Pakistan last week told gathering in India US did not see itself building “broad relationship” with Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan has said it was “not realistic” to expect Islamabad and Washington to have the same relations that they had in the past.
The envoy’s comments come after meetings between Pakistani officials and US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman in Islamabad last week that were described by media and experts as “strained” amid a worsening relationship between Washington and Islamabad as each searches for a way forward in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Sherman’s visit followed Republican senators pressing for legislation back home that calls for sanctions on Pakistan for providing safe haven for the Taliban — Islamabad denies this. The move has raised hackles among Pakistan’s leaders, who have slammed Washington for what they say is the unjust blaming of Pakistan for America’s losses in Afghanistan — especially after seeking and receiving Islamabad’s help in the protracted peace talks with the Taliban.
Sherman also came to Pakistan straight from a visit to its arch-foe India where she told a gathering the US did not see itself building a “broad relationship” with Islamabad.
“Looking at the thrust of our relationship, we might not have the same [kind of relationship with US] again, as we had in the past. And I think to have that kind of expectation are not realistic,” Ambassador Khan said in an interview with Pakistan’s Geo News on Tuesday.
However, he added that the “content of our [Pak-US] bilateral talks is positive.”
US has repeatedly come under criticism for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan and the speed at which Afghan cities fell, in days rather than the months predicted by US intelligence. Pakistan has said US criticism of Islamabad in recent days is an attempt to “scapegoat” the country for its own failures in Afghanistan.
“In this country [US], there is a lot of criticism on the Biden administration, many people in mainstream media are criticizing his withdrawal [from Afghanistan] policy. Since we had a vital role in Afghanistan so that is why we come under cross fire,” Khan said.
After Sherman’s meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, his office said he had told the visiting dignitary Islamabad sought a “broad-based, long-term and lasting relationship” with the United States based on economic cooperation and the mutual promotion of peace in the region.
In a separate statement released after a meeting with Sherman, the Pakistani army chief also called for a “multi-domain” relationship.


Deputy ruler of Dubai visits Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 

Updated 7 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 9 min 18 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.


Biden picks career diplomat for top posting in Pakistan 

Updated 20 October 2021

Biden picks career diplomat for top posting in Pakistan 

  • Donald Blome is currently US ambassador to Tunisia 
  • Pakistan is playing a major role in diplomacy with its Taliban-ruled neighbor

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden plans to nominate Donald Blome, currently ambassador to Tunisia, as his top diplomat in Pakistan as Washington works to manage the situation in neighboring Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops.
Biden on Tuesday will announce plans to nominate Blome to the job in Pakistan, the White House said. Blome is a career Foreign Service diplomat with long experience in the region who once worked in the Kabul embassy, shuttered earlier this year during the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is playing a major role in diplomacy with its Taliban-ruled neighbor.
International agencies have warned that Afghanistan is on the verge of humanitarian collapse without access to aid or foreign reserves, which remain frozen in the United States.
Pakistan’s relationship with neighboring China has also been of interest to the Biden administration, which regards Beijing as its chief international rival.
Tunisia, where Blome has worked as ambassador since 2019, is an important diplomatic outpost for the United States in North Africa, representing interests beyond the country’s borders, including in neighboring Libya.

U.S. ambassador to Tunisia Donald Blome (L) pictured during his meeting with Tunisian Minister of Tourism Habib Ammar in Tunisia on February 17, 2021. (U.S. Embassy Tunis)

The ambassadorial position requires Senate confirmation.


FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

Updated 19 October 2021

FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

  • The watchdog put Pakistan on list of countries with inadequate terror funding and money laundering controls in June 2018
  • Outcome of the plenary to be announced on Thursday after meeting ends, Pakistan hopes for good news

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force announced the beginning of its new plenary on Tuesday in which it will take up a number of issues and determine if Pakistan can be removed from a list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their financial system.
The global dirty money watchdog placed Pakistan on its “grey list” of countries in June 2018 since it found vulnerabilities in its financial system which could be exploited for terror financing and money laundering.
Pakistan has tried to address the FATF concerns by implementing the recommended action plan, and its progress has also been acknowledged by the international body.
“The Financial Action Task Force Plenary has started,” the FATF announced in a Twitter post. “Due to COVID-19 it is a hybrid meeting, with delegates from around the world meeting virtually and in person.”


According to a statement issued by the global watchdog, “the outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on Thursday 21 October, at the close of the meeting.”
The meeting, which is taking place under the German presidency of Dr. Marcus Pleyer, will also be observed by global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said earlier this year there was “no justification” for the FATF to keep his country on the grey list since it had taken extensive measures to curb money laundering and terror financing.
“We will have to see if the FATF is a technical forum or … being used for political purposes,” he added.
The global financial watchdog recently expressed satisfaction with Pakistan’s progress, though it also gave the country another action plan to fix a separate set of problems to strengthen the financial system further.