Interior minister says military given go-ahead for peace talks with Pakistani Taliban

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah (C) addresses a press conference in Islamabad on July 2, 2022. (APP)
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Updated 03 July 2022

Interior minister says military given go-ahead for peace talks with Pakistani Taliban

  • Rana Sanaullah says military will inform parliament about any progress in the talks
  • The minister maintains the negotiations are taking place under the constitution

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Saturday a parliamentary committee had given a green signal to the military to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban, according to a local media report.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has carried out some of the bloodiest attacks in the country’s history. Its top leaders are based in Afghanistan from where they intensified attacks in Pakistan after the Afghan Taliban seized control of Kabul last year in August.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed in June the Afghan government was meditating the peace talks between the government and the TTP.
“The military leadership would inform the committee about any progress in the talks and the matter would then be debated in parliament,” the interior minister was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
He confirmed the talks would be held under Pakistan’s constitution, adding that nothing which exceeded the limits of the constitution would be negotiated or agreed with the TTP.
Former prime minister Imran Khan made headlines in October 2021 when he revealed, in an interview to the Turkish media, that Pakistan was holding talks with the TTP.
Khan said the government was offering political amnesty and was willing to agree to release local Taliban prisoners to reach an agreement with the group.
The talks with TTP broke down several times in the past, with both sides blaming each other for violating their commitments.

In Pakistan’s southwest, Royal Palace of Kalat where Jinnah was weighed in gems

Updated 15 sec ago

In Pakistan’s southwest, Royal Palace of Kalat where Jinnah was weighed in gems

  • Jinnah visited the Khan of Kalat for the first time in 1945 while the independence movement was at its peak
  • Second visit was after partition to collect donations so Bank of England could print currency for the new nation

QUETTA: A sprawling palace in Pakistan’s southwest, hemmed in by scenic mountains and apple orchards, has a special connection to the country’s founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The princely state of Kalat is in Pakistan’s largest but most impoverished province of Balochistan, and acceded to the dominion of Pakistan on March 27, 1948, after having declared independence earlier on August 15, 1947. The accession was a stormy affair, and insurgencies continue in Balochistan to this day against the state of Pakistan.

But before partition, Jinnah twice visited the Royal Palace of Kalat, built over 8,000 square feet of land, and home to the ruler of the princely state, the Khan of Kalat. The building’s design is inspired by the upper deck of a ship on which the Khan went for the first time on a Hajj pilgrimage. Before the royal residence was built, the rulers of the area had lived in the ancient Mirri Fort which was flattened in a devastating earthquake that shook the region in 1935.

“Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited the Royal Palace of Kalat in 1945 and 1948,” Prince Agha Umar Jan Ahmedzai, the Khan’s grandson, told Arab News in Kalat. “During Mr. Jinnah’s two visits, he was welcomed by the people of Balochistan because we knew he was leading a sacred cause for the Muslims of the British-ruled Subcontinent.”

Ahmedzai said Kalat had played a major role in strengthening the country and was instrumental in getting Pakistan over 40 percent of its land in the shape of the resource-rich province of Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province by area.

According to the prince, Jinnah spent two days in the newly constructed palace during his first visit, and returned three years later for an entire week.

The Khan of Kalat had designated two of the most luxurious rooms on the top floor of the palace for Jinnah and his sister, Fatima Jinnah, and offered them expensive gifts of gold and gemstones when they visited.

“Mr. Jinnah came with his sister Fatima Jinnah to the Royal Palace of Kalat [in 1945] where my grandfather weighed [him] and donated him gems according to his weight,” Ahmedzai said. To Fatima, the Khan gave an expensive necklace. 

He added that the founder of Pakistan also sought donations during his second visit to the palace in 1948 since the Bank of England had inquired about gold reserves before printing currency notes for the new nation.

“There was a currency problem when Pakistan came into existence and Quaid-e-Azam came here in distress, saying he had gone to businessmen of Karachi but could not gather the gold which was required for currency deposits [with the British],” Jan said.

“So, almost 1,360 kilograms of gold was given by Khan Ahmed Yar Khan [the Khan] for the printing of currency.”

“This house has overall a lot of importance. In Pakistan’s existence … definitely there is a big role of the Baloch people and this house.”

In Jinnah’s memory, the royal family has preserved all the items Jinnah used during his stay in the palace.

Saeed Ahmed Naichari, whose family has served the palace for four generations, said his job was to brief tourists about the history of the place.

“Even the overcoats worn by Muhammad Ali Jinnah still hang in the wardrobe,” he said as he gave Arab News a tour of the palace.

“Our family looks after this house,” Ahmedzai added. “This is not just our house but this is a house of the Baloch nation. When you go to someone’s house, you cannot enter the gate but this house is open for everyone. And it is open for all Balochis, Pakistanis and for everyone who wants to visit it.”

Pakistan captain Babar rules out Malik return for T20 World Cup

Updated 12 August 2022

Pakistan captain Babar rules out Malik return for T20 World Cup

  • Baber says team needed to give fresh talent more opportunities to develop 
  • Malik played last of his 124 T20 Internationals against Bangladesh last November

LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam has ruled out a return for veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik to the Twenty20 squad ahead of the World Cup in Australia, saying the team needed to give fresh talent more opportunities to develop.

Malik, who played the last of his 124 Twenty20 Internationals against Bangladesh last November, has impressed in Pakistan's domestic T20 league and with the Asia Cup and World Cup on the horizon local media suggested the 40-year-old's experience could prove invaluable.However, there was no place for the former captain, a useful all-rounder, in the squad for this month's Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Babar said they were looking to the future with the World Cup coming up in October-November.

"There are matches immediately after Netherlands, so it's unlikely there will be time for changes," Babar told reporters on Thursday ahead of their Dutch tour next week.

"When senior players leave the side, those replacing them need focus. (Mohammad) Hafeez and Malik were huge players and we'll miss them a lot, and players like Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar (Ahmed) need to fill their boots.

"We want to give them plenty of matches and confidence, and these players have performed."

Pakistan will play three one-day internationals in Rotterdam before arriving in the UAE where they begin their Asia Cup campaign with an Aug. 28 blockbuster against arch-rivals India in Dubai.

Pakistan, Turkey sign trade in goods agreement

Updated 12 August 2022

Pakistan, Turkey sign trade in goods agreement

  • Pakistan PM has resolved to take bilateral trade with Turkey to $5 billion in next three years
  • Pakistan commerce minister Naveed Qamar and Turkish trade minister Mehmet Mus singed document 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkey on Friday signed a ‘Trade in Goods Agreement’ under which both countries will get concessions on the trade of a number of goods and aim to increase bilateral trade.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in May visited Turkey where he expressed his resolve to take bilateral trade between the two countries to $5 billion in the next three years. The leadership of the two countries had also agreed then to speed up the process to finalize the Trade in Goods Agreement.

Pakistan’s minister for commerce Naveed Qamar and Turkish trade minister Mehmet Mus singed the new deal in Islamabad.

Sharif, while addressing the signing agreement, said the agreement had been under discussion for many years and would now open “vistas of opportunities” for both countries.

“Our potential is unlimited, our capacity is beyond anybody’s imagination and commitment is outstanding,” Sharif said. “Let’s now resolve to implement this agreement in letter and spirit and let the world know that we mean business.” 

“This Agreement will be pivotal in achieving the initial trade target of $5 billion. There is an unlimited potential for bilateral trade,” Sharif later said in tweet.

Turkish trade minister Mus called the agreement an important mile stone in bilateral ties.

“I strongly believe that this agreement will serve the expansion of our bilateral trade and will be most important tool to catch our 5 billion US dollar [bilateral] trade volume [target] set by our leaders,” Mus said.

The Pakistani commerce minister said under the new agreement, both countries had granted concessions to each other on a number of trading lines.

“I must say that we are grateful that our brothers from Turkey have given us concessions in 231 lines and Pakistan has given concession in 130 lines,” Qamar said.

'Sedition' case: Pakistani court sends ex-PM Khan aide to jail on judicial remand

Updated 30 min 54 sec ago

'Sedition' case: Pakistani court sends ex-PM Khan aide to jail on judicial remand

  • Gill was arrested on Tuesday afternoon over televised comments the media regulator says were “seditious”
  • Khan condemns “torture” of Gill in police custody, says he deserves a “fair hearing” even if he broke a law

ISLAMABAD: A local court in the federal capital on Friday sent Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former prime minister Imran Khan’s chief of staff, to jail on judicial remand, rejecting a request by police to extend the suspect’s physical remand.

Gill was arrested on Tuesday afternoon, a day after controversial comments on a talk show aired by a private news channel, asking army officers not to follow orders of their top command if they were “against the sentiments of the masses.”

Local media reported Gill told the judge police had kept him awake at night and tortured him, saying investigators had not carried out a medical examination and lawyers were not being allowed to meet him.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan took to the twitter and condemned what he said was “torture being inflicted on Shahbaz Gill.”

“Under what law & under who’s orders is this being done? If he broke any law then he shd be given a fair hearing,” Khan said. “All laws are being violated with impunity.”

On Monday, the country’s national media regulator issued a show cause notice to ARY News, the channel on which Gill’s comments were aired, describing them as “seditious.” The channel has also been off air since Monday night.

A day earlier, on Thursday, a Karachi court released Ammad Yousaf, the news director at ARY News, while the Sindh High Court directed Pakistan’s media regulator and cable operators to restore the channel’s transmission immediately. 

In Karachi’s old town, birthplace of Pakistani founder stands hidden from public eye

Updated 12 August 2022

In Karachi’s old town, birthplace of Pakistani founder stands hidden from public eye

  • Wazir Mansion in Newnham Road has been officially recognized as Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s birthplace since 1953
  • Some scholars say the actual place of Quaid-e-Azam’s birth was 20 yards away, a building behind Wazir Mansion

KARACHI: While thousands of people flock daily to Mazar-e-Quaid, the mausoleum and final resting place of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, and most know that he spent his last days at the Ziarat Residency in Balochistan, few can tell you with certainty where the founder of Pakistan was born.

Jinnah’s official place of birth, the three-story Wazir Mansion, is just a few kilometers away from his tomb, tucked away in a narrow street on Karachi’s Newnham Road, surrounded by shops and residential apartments.

Wazir Mansion was officially recognized in 1953 as the birthplace of Jinnah, revered as the country’s founder, who led the struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British-ruled Indian subcontinent from 1937 to Aug. 14, 1947, when Pakistan gained independence. He served as the new republic’s first governor general until his death in 1948.

“It was built during 1860-1870 with stone masonry in lime and jute mortar to suit the volatile weather of Karachi,” an information board on the house reads. “This is a precious national monument that provides inspiration to our nation.”

A handout picture, taken on January 10, 2021, shows a board placed by the Sindh government at Wazir Mansion, the residence of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in Karachi. (Instagram/tahirhali)

While there are disputes over whether Wazir Mansion was the actual birthplace of Jinnah — some believe he was born in Jhirk, a small town in Thatta district, over 150 km away from Karachi — the building’s custodian, Muneer Hussain, said the building housed the very room “where Jinnah was born.”

Jinnah’s father, Jinnahbhai Poonja, arrived in Karachi from Mumbai to set up a business, and chose Newnham Road, then a steel trade hub, for his enterprise, Hussain said. He rented an apartment in Wazir Mansion, where Jinnah was born on Dec. 25, 1876.

“Seven siblings of Jinnah were also born in this building,” he told Arab News. “Fifteen hundred to two-thousand people, mostly students, visit us monthly and I want this number to be doubled because this small building has changed the map of the world.”

Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, an archaeologist and historian, told Arab News theories claiming Jinnah’s birthplace was in another city were incorrect.

“This has been refuted by the statements of Quaid himself,” Lashari said. And then quoting a speech by Jinnah, he added: “He said that, ‘It gives me immense pleasure to stand here in front of you and tell you that I was born in Karachi’.”

However, according to Lashari, it was a building behind Wazir Mansion that was Jinnah’s true place of birth. 

“Jinnahbhai was occupying the part of property which was behind it [Wazir Mansion],” Lashari said.

“So, it’s the building which is behind it and this is the reason that the scholars don’t consider Wazir mansion [as Jinnah’s birthplace] …The Wazir Mansion, the present building which is there, was actually built after 1880, so

Jinnahbhai was occupying the part of property which was behind it ... There is a difference of 20 yards.”

While the difference is small, the scholar said it mattered as much as other details of Jinnah’s legacy and life.

“It is very significant [to know where Jinnah was born] but I tell you, not only the birthplace but every aspect of his life is significant and important,” the scholar said. “And there is need that attention is paid to the studies on his life and his works.”