US official visits to Pakistan from Monday to bolster bilateral talks, address Afghan deportation issue

1 / 2
A State Department contractor adjust Pakistan national flag before a meeting at the State Department in Washington on February 19, 2015. (REUTERS/File)
2 / 2
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes speaks during a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC, on December 12, 2022. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 03 December 2023
Follow

US official visits to Pakistan from Monday to bolster bilateral talks, address Afghan deportation issue

  • Foreign office says the high-level visits are part of an ongoing dialogue over a range of issues
  • US has urged Pakistan not to repatriate Afghan nationals who actively collaborated with its forces

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will witness back-to-back visits by senior US officials starting tomorrow, the foreign office spokesperson confirmed on Sunday, characterizing the upcoming interactions between Pakistani and American officials as part of dialogue over a range of issues.
The US State Department announced the visit of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes to Pakistan on Friday, saying she would be in Islamabad for a series of meetings from December 4 to 7.
The statement described the purpose of her visit to discuss “shared efforts to protect vulnerable individuals and accelerate safe, efficient relocation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US immigration pipeline.”
Pakistan has launched a deportation drive against “illegal immigrants” for security reasons, affecting the lives of a number of Afghans who left their homeland after the Taliban swept back to power after US and NATO troops pulled out of the war-ravaged country in August 2020.
The US government urged the Pakistani authorities not to repatriate people who actively collaborated with its forces in Afghanistan, fearing reprisals from the Taliban administration.
“Pakistan and the United States continue to hold consultations on a range of issues,” foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement. “To advance these consultations, exchange of visits also takes place.”
She identified three US officials, noting that Noyes’ visit would be followed by Special US Representative on Afghanistan Tom West, scheduled to be in Pakistan from December 7 to 9, and then by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Horst, who plans to visit Islamabad from December 9 to 12.
“These visits are part of ongoing dialogue with the US on a range of issues including, but not limited to, the situation in Afghanistan,” Baloch added.
Pakistan’s arrest and deportation of Afghan nationals has been criticized by a number of international rights organizations amid harassment complaints by registered refugees.
The US has also asked Pakistan to fulfil its obligations toward asylum seekers from Afghanistan seeking international protection after entering its territory.


Pakistan welcomes resumption of CASA-1000 power line in Afghanistan by World Bank

Updated 7 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan welcomes resumption of CASA-1000 power line in Afghanistan by World Bank

  • The project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in summer months
  • Last month, the World Bank approved resumption of the project after it was stalled in 2022 due to turmoil in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday welcomed resumption of activities in Afghanistan relating to a $1.2 billion Western-backed project to build a power line between Central Asia and South Asia, more than a year after it was stalled over turmoil in the neighboring country.

The CASA-1000 project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, former Soviet republics with an extensive network of hydroelectric power plants, to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer months.

Last month, the World Bank, a key CASA-1000 backer, approved resumption of the clean energy project after it was stalled in 2022 due to turmoil in Afghanistan, with the Bank focusing on urgently needed education, agriculture and health programs.

It said construction of the project in the other three countries was nearly complete and these countries had requested that CASA-1000 activities in Afghanistan resume to avoid the risk of the project becoming a stranded asset.

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan welcomes the recent announcement by the World Bank that, among other initiatives in support of the people of Afghanistan,” the Pakistani energy ministry said in a statement.

“The Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) in Afghanistan will be resumed as had been requested in December by all three neighboring countries participating in the project.”

The World Bank’s announcement of the project’s resumption was a “significant step forward” in the region’s commitment to energy collaboration, according to the statement.

The Pakistani energy ministry said Islamabad had signed a joint declaration along with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to thank the World Bank for its timely approval of the “ring-fenced” resumption of CASA-1000 construction in Afghanistan as well as to fully support the Bank in implementation of the parameters agreed with its board for the resumption of CASA-1000 construction activities in Afghanistan.

The project could be a boon for the two Central Asian nations which have excess power in the summer but suffer from shortages in the winter unless they can buy fuel or power from neighbors.

The United States was involved in financing the project when it was launched in 2016 as part of its New Silk Road initiative to integrate Afghanistan with Central Asia.

Other project sponsors have included the Islamic Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Saudi Arabia gifts Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of Ramadan

Updated 44 min 7 sec ago
Follow

Saudi Arabia gifts Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of Ramadan

  • Fasting during Ramadan is one of five pillars of Islam, wherein Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset
  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strong brotherly relations and the Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has gifted Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Saudi embassy said on Friday.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, wherein Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset for a month. The Islamic lunar month will begin in March.

This is followed by the sighting of the new moon and is marked by Eid Al-Fitr, a religious holiday and celebration that is observed by Muslims across the world.

“In a gesture of goodwill, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is delighted to offer 100 tons of dates to its esteemed brethren in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, following the recommendation of the esteemed leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” the Saudi embassy said in a statement.

The consignment was handed over by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Maliki along with Abdullah Al-Baqami, director of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Center (KSrelief) at a ceremony held at the Saudi embassy in Islamabad.

“This generous donation is intended for distribution among the Pakistani community during the holy month of Ramadan,” the statement read.

“This noble gesture exemplifies the enduring bond of friendship and brotherhood between the two nations, reflecting the spirit of generosity and solidarity cherished by both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and brotherly relations. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top destination for remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country.


Pakistani minister wants Organization of Islamic Cooperation to negotiate ceasefire with Israeli PM

Updated 02 March 2024
Follow

Pakistani minister wants Organization of Islamic Cooperation to negotiate ceasefire with Israeli PM

  • Aneeq Ahmed says the unity of the global Muslim community can lead to a resolution of the Palestine issue
  • Pakistan’s foreign office said on Friday Israel must be held accountable for crimes against the Palestinian people

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Religious Affairs Minister Aneeq Ahmed described Pakistan as a “foremost supporter” of Palestine on Friday, saying that a delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should open negotiations with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the ongoing war in Gaza to reach an immediate ceasefire.
Ahmed issued the statement during a meeting with Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed Jawad Rabi’i, pointing out that Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Egypt and Pakistan should take the lead in this regard.
Israel launched a military campaign targeting the Gaza Strip after a surprise attack was initiated by Hamas on October 7 in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Since then, Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, prompting much of the world to point out it is carrying a genocide in Gaza.
“Aneeq Ahmed ... proposed that a delegation comprising of crucial Muslim countries, under the banner of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), should talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for immediate ceasefire,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency reported.
“Pakistan stands as the foremost supporter of the Palestinian cause and will continue to do so,” the APP quoted the minister as saying. “The unity of the Muslim Ummah can lead to a resolution of the Palestine issue.”
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s foreign office condemned the killing of over 100 Palestinians who were trying to get food from an aid convoy in Gaza City, saying the incident had highlighted Israel’s “deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation.”
It also said Israel must be held accountable for its crimes against humanity which it had been perpetrating with impunity against the Palestinian people.


Ex-PM Khan’s party to protest today, threatens to paralyze National Assembly over election grievances

Updated 02 March 2024
Follow

Ex-PM Khan’s party to protest today, threatens to paralyze National Assembly over election grievances

  • A PTI lawmaker accuses more than half of the assembly members of sitting in the house despite losing the elections
  • He says his party was not there for reconciliation, demands the release of former prime minister Khan from prison

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party will hold nationwide protests today, Saturday, after one of its lawmakers vowed not to let the National Assembly function until those who had benefitted from last month’s purportedly rigged elections continued to be part of the house.
Pakistan’s Feb. 8 national polls were marred by a countrywide shutdown of cellphone networks and delayed results, leading to widespread speculation of election manipulation.
Several political parties, including the PTI of ex-PM Khan, who remains incarcerated on multiple charges since August, have been protesting the election results, which they say were changed in favor of their opponents.
Pakistan’s caretaker administration and election commission have denied the allegations.
“We don’t accept [the legitimacy] of this assembly,” PTI leader Junaid Akbar said during his speech on the floor of the house. “This assembly will not function until [the people] who have usurped the rights of others [through rigging] are driven out of here.”
“Our voters and supporters have not told us to do lawmaking [in this house],” he continued. “They have not told us to tolerate this [situation] silently. We will not stay silent. Until our leader [Imran Khan] is released from prison, there is no question of anyone sitting in the [lawmaker’s] chair with respect and dignity.”
Akbar said the PTI lawmakers had not come to the National Assembly for reconciliation or negotiation.
“What constitution, democracy and parliament are you referring to [when in this house] more than half of the people are those who lost [the Feb. 8 elections],” he added. “What you have done to the constitution, what you have done to this country, you will be held accountable [for that].”
The PTI leader said no one should be under the illusion that his party would allow the National Assembly to function until its members got their rights.
Raoof Hasan, the spokesperson of Khan’s party, also told local news channel Geo TV that the goal of the countrywide protest today was to restore people’s mandate.


Saudi ambassador honors Pakistani policewoman for heroic rescue, offers royal invitation to kingdom

Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Saudi ambassador honors Pakistani policewoman for heroic rescue, offers royal invitation to kingdom

  • ASP Shehrbano Naqvi safely extracted a woman from an enraged blasphemy mob in Lahore last month
  • She received widespread acclaim from the general public and was also praised by Pakistan’s army chief

ISLAMABAD: The Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki, praised a female Pakistani police officer for her timely intervention that saved a woman surrounded by an enraged blasphemy mob in the eastern city of Lahore, extending a royal invitation to her for a visit to the kingdom.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Shehrbano Naqvi received widespread acclaim from politicians, officials and the general public after a social media video showed her rescuing a woman wearing a dress with Arabic inscriptions, which some people mistook for verses from the Holy Qur’an.
Naqvi, who safely extracted the woman from the crowd, later clarified that the dress bore no sacred inscriptions, featuring only the Arabic word “halwa.”
According to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency, during a meeting at the embassy, the Saudi envoy commended Naqvi’s selfless devotion that defused the volatile situation.
He also extended an invitation to her to visit the kingdom.
“The Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan praised the bravery of the police officer and assured her that the Saudi government would cover the expenses of her and her family’s trip to Saudi Arabia as honored guests,” reported the APP.
Independent Urdu, quoting an embassy spokesperson, revealed that Naqvi, along with her family, would be visiting Riyadh as royal guests before performing Hajj.
Prior to her meeting with the Saudi diplomat, Pakistan’s army chief General Asim Munir also invited Naqvi to his office to commend her dedication.
In the past, blasphemy charges have triggered mob lynchings in the country, with politicians assassinated, lawyers murdered and students killed over unverified accusations.