Pakistan should be ‘constructively engaged,’ PM says in message to Biden

In this screengrab taken from a video on January 17, 2024, Pakistani interim prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar speaks during an interview with CNBC International at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 16, 2024. (Photo courtesy: CNBC/Screengrab)
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Updated 17 January 2024
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Pakistan should be ‘constructively engaged,’ PM says in message to Biden

  • Ties between Islamabad and Washington, once close allies, have just started to warm after years of frosty relations
  • Analysts widely believe US will not seek broadening of ties with Pakistan but remain mostly focused on security cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday called on the United States to “constructively” engage with the South Asian nation in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

Ties between Islamabad and Washington, once close allies, have just started to warm after some years of frosty relations, mostly due to concerns about Pakistan’s alleged support of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies this support. 

Relations strained further under the government of former prime minister Imran Khan, who ruled from 2018-22 and antagonized Washington throughout his tenure, welcoming the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 and later accusing Washington of being behind attempts to oust him. Washington has dismissed the accusation. 

The government of PM Shehbaz Sharif that took over after Khan and whose term ended last year tried to mend ties but analysts widely believe the United States will not seek a significant broadening of ties with Islamabad in the near future but remain mostly focused on security cooperation, especially on counterterrorism and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is a country of consequence, not a country of concern so we need that Pakistan should be constructively engaged,” Kakar said in an interview to CNBC when asked about Pakistan’s message to the Joe Biden administration ahead of polls on Feb. 8. 

“It’s a mid-sized power and its actual potential and role needs to be appreciated and that constructive engagement, be it in the region or a global scale, is a requirement and need of the hour.”

Islamabad has long called for a broadening of ties with Washington beyond just security concerns and hopes to boost bilateral trade in goods and services, which the Pakistani embassy says totals about $12 billion currently.

Pakistan also hopes to attract more US investment, with a particular focus on IT and pharmaceuticals, after a long lull during which China became the dominant investor. Pakistani officials say the country is well-placed to help diversify US supply chains that were dependent on China before COVID-19, but have started to shift toward other regional suppliers and could serve as a gateway to Central Asia.

“The United States has been one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in Pakistan and remains Pakistan’s largest export market,” the US State Department profile on Pak-US ties says.

“Trade and investment relations between the United States and Pakistan continue to grow, and the US government supports this relationship by organizing business to business trade delegations, providing technical assistance, and promoting business opportunities for US companies to develop US-Pakistan commercial partnerships.”

On the economic front, the US has long been Pakistan’s largest export market, importing more than $5 billion in Pakistani goods in 2021, far surpassing any other country. The United States has also been a leading investor in Pakistan for the past 20 years.

“In the most recent fiscal year, US direct investment in Pakistan increased by 50 percent – it is now the highest it has been in over a decade,” the State Department said.

“Major US investments are concentrated in consumer goods, chemicals, energy, agriculture, business process out-sourcing, transportation, and communications.”

However, the US has often emphasized areas in Pakistan’s business climate that need to be strengthened, including regulation, intellectual property protection, and taxation.


Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

Updated 10 min 27 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

  • A landlord in Sindh’s Sanghar district allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg after it trespassed on his field
  • Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon confirms five people have been arrested for involvement in crime

ISLAMABAD: The government in Pakistan’s Sindh province has been working closely with a local non-government organization (NGO) for the treatment and rehabilitation of a camel, whose leg was chopped off by a local landlord this week, an official of the NGO taking care of the animal said on Sunday.
The development came after local media widely reported that a landlord in Mund Jamrao village in Sindh’s Sanghar district had allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg for trespassing on his field seeking fodder.
The owner of the camel, a poor peasant named Soomar Behan, was contacted by police after the episode went viral on social media, but he refused to file a complaint against the landlord following which police took action.
Five people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the crime, with Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon confirming that a case had been registered against the suspects for amputating the camel on the state’s behalf.
On Saturday, CDRS Benji, a non-profit working for stray and injured animals in Pakistan, provided treatment to the camel at one of its shelters in the provincial capital of Karachi.
“The Sindh government has been working closely with the CDRS Benji project for the treatment and rehabilitation of the camel,” Sarah Jahangir, a CDRS Benji director, told Arab News.
“They [Sindh government] have brought in a team from BIONIKS Pakistan to prepare an artificial limb.”
She said the 8-month-old female camel was in acute pain and everyone was coming together to help the camel because the prosthetic would take time as it needed around two months for the wound to heal before proper measurements could be taken.
“We are trying to heal her infection and soothe her pain with heavy painkillers, antibiotics and other medications,” Jahangir added.
Anas Niaz, cofounder of Pakistan’s BIONIKS biotechnology startup, said his organization was trying to make the limb for the camel.
“We are working on the limb for the camel as right now it needed to heal, which will take around 1-2 months time and after that rehabilitation of the camel will start,” he told Arab News.
“As the camel will need replacement from time to time, this will be an ongoing process that we are actively managing.”
Niaz said all costs for the treatment and rehabilitation of the animal would be covered by donors.
Section 429 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) states that anyone who kills, poisons, maims, or renders useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either a term of up to two years or be fined for the offense, or both.
Sindh Information Minister Memon earlier confirmed the registration of a case against the suspects, describing the amputation as a “humanely unacceptable” act.
“While the police is still doing its work, proper medical treatment is being provided to the poor animal,” Shazia Ata Marri, a Pakistani lawmaker from Sanghar, wrote on X.
CDRS Benji said its staff had cleaned the camel’s wound to make sure it was not infected.
“Cammie the camel is settling into her new home,” the NGO wrote on Facebook with a video showing the camel feeding, a white bandage wrapped around her leg.
“She is in pain, and it was traumatizing for her to be carried into the shelter. But she is eating now and taking in everything around her with those beautiful, intelligent eyes.”


Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

  • Eid Al-Adha marks Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command
  • The three-day event is one of the two major Muslim festivals on the Islamic calendar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday conveyed Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and other Muslim rulers.
Several Muslim countries, mainly in the Middle East, marked the three-day Eid Al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, on Sunday, while others will celebrate the occasion on Monday. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as recounted in the Holy Qur’an.
Sharif held a telephonic conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa and exchanged warm greetings on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, according to the Pakistan PM’s office.
“The two leaders expressed their mutual respect and admiration for the strong historical ties between Pakistan and Bahrain, built on shared values and cultural affinities,” it said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister acknowledged and appreciated Bahrain’s support and cooperation in various fields over the years. In particular, he thanked His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his respect and affection toward Pakistan.”
The three-day festival of Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals on the Islamic calendar. Muslims celebrate the occasion by slaughtering animals such as cattle and goats and share their meat among family and friends and the poor.
In his telephonic conversation with Tajikistan’s president, Sharif and Emomali Rahmon greeted each other on Eid and expressed their wishes for peace, prosperity, and development of both countries.
“The two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their shared desire to enhance ties in through trade, energy, and connectivity,” Sharif’s office said.
“Both leaders also discussed the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Astana and reiterated their commitment to strengthen mutually beneficial regional integration and cooperation.”
During another phone call, Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev exchanged Eid wishes and reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, especially in the domain of trade, defense and energy.
“They expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory of relations and agreed to continue working closely to further strengthen bilateral ties to match the political goodwill that exists between both countries,” Sharif’s office said in a statement.
“In addition, they also discussed ways to deal with common challenges, especially climate change. The Prime Minister congratulated Azerbaijan for hosting the COP29 in Baku later this year and thanked President Aliyev for extending a personal invitation to him to participate in the event.”
Sharif also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and conveyed his best wishes to him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, defense, and tourism,” Sharif’s office said.
“The Prime Minister and the President also discussed ways to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.”


Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

  • The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban
  • In recent months, TTP has claimed a number of attacks mainly in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, amid a renewed surge in militant violence in the South Asian country.
The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.
In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.
In its statement, the TTP said its leader, Mufti Abu Mansoor Asim, announced the ceasefire on June 17-19, which correspond with the three-day Eid festival, on the “demand of the Pakistani people.”
“Therefore, all institutions and Mujahideen of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan should obey the above orders,” the group said in a statement. “If an action is taken by the [Pakistani] army and security agencies on this occasion, then all Mujahideen should ensure their self-defense.”
Similarly, the group said, its leader had issued a decree to reduce the sentences of all “prisoners” held by the TTP by two months.
Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.
Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


Pakistan win toss and bowl against Ireland in T20 World Cup

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan win toss and bowl against Ireland in T20 World Cup

  • Both teams have already been eliminated from tournament with India and USA taking top two group spots
  • Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim concedes team at “lowest point,” calls for “drastic change” in country’s cricket

LAUDERHILL: Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the toss and chose to bowl against Ireland in the final Group A match of the T20 World Cup at Central Broward Stadium on Sunday.
After the first three games at the venue were all abandoned because heavy rains caused a waterlogged outfield, the game looked set to start on time.
Both teams have already been eliminated from the tournament with India and the USA taking the top two group spots and places in the Super Eights stage.
Pakistan made one change from the team which beat Canada on Tuesday with seamer Naseem Shah making way for Abbas Afridi.
Ireland also made one switch with leg spinner Ben White prefered to seamer Craig Young.
While nothing is at stake in the contest, in terms of qualification, bottom-placed Ireland will be seeking their first win of the competition. Pakistan will be keen to finish above Canada in third place.


Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

  • Pakistan’s interior minister meets China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong in Islamabad 
  • Separatist and religiously motivated militants have targeted Chinese nationals in Pakistan recently

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is creating a special police unit for the protection of foreign nationals in Islamabad, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Sunday, as Pakistan looks to bolster security for Chinese citizens in the country. 

Naqvi’s comments came during a meeting with China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on Sunday, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and religiously motivated militants have attacked Chinese projects in recent years, killing Chinese personnel. 

The most recent attack targeting Chinese nationals took place in March when five Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing. The Chinese nationals were on their way to a hydropower project funded by Beijing being built in Dasu in the country’s northwest when their vehicle was targeted. 

“Mohsin Naqvi said a separate force SPU [Special Protection Unit] is being created in Islamabad for the protection of foreign nationals,” Radio Pakistan said in a report. 

The March blast was the third major attack in a little over a week on China’s interests in the South Asian nation, where Beijing has invested more than $65 billion in infrastructure, energy and other projects as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China has repeatedly called on Pakistan to ensure its nationals in the South Asian country are kept safe from militant attacks. Islamabad has since then taken measures to enhance the security of Chinese nationals in the country. 

Naqvi briefed the Chinese envoy regarding the security plan for Chinese engineers and staff working on CPEC and other projects, the state media said. 

“The minister said no one can create a rift in the eternal friendship between Pakistan and China and any such conspiracy will never be allowed to succeed,” Radio Pakistan said. 

The minister said the security of Chinese nationals working for Pakistan’s construction and development was Islamabad’s first priority. 

“The Chinese ambassador expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements,” Radio Pakistan said. 

An SPU of the police has already been formed in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi for the security of Chinese nationals in the metropolis. 

Sindh’s top cop earlier this week reviewed security measures for Chinese nationals in the southern Pakistani province.