Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Pakistan won’t abandon peace efforts, says Qureshi

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that ,despite India’s reluctance,, Pakistan would not close doors on its efforts to promote peace in the region.

Addressing a news conference at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Mr Qureshi also dispelled the impression that Pakistan was being forced to choose between China and the United States. “China has no issue with Pakistan’s efforts to maintain friendly relations with the United States as well,” he said.

The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s ,offer to open the Kartarpur corridor, for allowing Sikh pilgrims to attend Baba Guru Nanak’s anniversary this year.

“India is reluctant, we will not close our doors,” said Mr Qureshi while defining his government’s policy towards the neighbouring country. “Hiding away from issues will not make them disappear. It will not improve the situation in Kashmir.”

The minister noted that India used incidents that happened in July to cancel peace talks that it agreed to in September.

Mr Qureshi confirmed that he was meeting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington on Oct 2 and said the decision to hold these follow-up talks was taken during Mr Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month.

US or China?

Asked if Pakistan was finding it difficult to balance its relations with both the United States and China, as the two major powers were vying for influence in the region, Mr Qureshi said: “Both relationships are very important for Pakistan. China is a very important and reliable, friend. We are working on a very, very important project, the CPEC,” he said. “And America is also very important for Pakistan, so we will engage with both. The Chinese understand Pakistan’s position and they have no issue with it.”

Pakistan-India ties

The foreign minister said he was unable to understand India’s refusal to participate in peace talks with Pakistan. “Engagement, no-engagement. Coming, not coming. We desired talks as we believe the sensible way is to meet and talk. They agreed, and then disagreed.”

The minister pointed out that India’s response to Pakistan’s peace offer was harsh and non-diplomatic. “We did not use a non-diplomatic language in our rejoinder. Our response was matured and measured. They adopted a new approach, and moved back.”

Mr Qureshi said that Sushma Swaraj’s “language and tone was unbecoming of a foreign minister”.

Asked if tensions between India and Pakistan could lead to a war between the two countries, the minister said: “Who is talking of war? Not us. We want peace, stability, employment and improving lives. You identify where is the reluctance.”

Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be mistaken for a sign of weakness. “We want peace. It does not mean, we cannot defend ourselves against aggression. We can but we do not have an aggressive mindset,” he said.

Saudi-UAE investments

Responding to a question about reports that Saudi Arabia had agreed to invest more than $10 billion in Pakistan, Mr Qureshi said no amounts were discussed in his visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

He said that since the country did not have a foreign minister for four years, Pakistan’s relations with those two important allies suffered but the new government had now launched an effort to re-engage with them.

Mr Qureshi said that since his return from those countries, he has exchanged letters with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their officials would soon visit Pakistan to talk about opportunities. “What you see in the news is not correct,” he added.

US-Pakistan relations

The foreign minister said he had also seen media reports about the restoration of US security assistance to Pakistan but he would not comment on them until he heard it directly from US officials.

He said the US severed security assistance to Pakistan in the past too and the consequences of such disconnects were not good.

“Direct contacts lead to face-recognition and personal understanding, which help improve relations,” said the minister while referring to the US decision to discontinue training facilities for Pakistani defence officials.

Mr Qureshi said the misunderstanding created after the US press statement on Secretary Pompeo’s conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan had been removed. Now, both sides were working on how to re-inject warmth in this old, traditional relationship. He said that during Mr Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad both sides had “very candid, frank and honest conversations” and both civil and military officials participated in those talks. “The US statement about those meetings was also positive, defying the prediction that it would be negative and sticks will come out.”

He disagreed with the suggestion that reference to Pakistan-based terrorist groups in a recent US-India joint statement was negative for Pakistan.

“If you believe that India will not mention terrorism, you are wrong. But this is no reason to worry,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said if India continued to increase pressure on the eastern borders, it would hurt Pakistan’s ability to focus on the western border and those interested in peace and stability in the region must note this.

US-India relationship

The foreign minister said Pakistan understood the US desire to forge a strategic relationship with India but old friends should not be ignored in the enthusiasm to make new friends.

“The US has always benefited from its relations with Pakistan — during the Cold War, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism,” he said.

Asked why was the US ignoring Pakistan now, Mr Qureshi said that individuals and countries “always look for excuses to justify their failures but everyone owns up a victory. We need to understand this and move this relationship forward. Where we have convergence, we should.”

Postal stamp

The foreign minister also rejected India’s concerns about a postal stamp that showed a Kashmiri freedom fighter. “Hundreds of thousands of people are fighting in Kashmir, not all of them are terrorists,” he said.

US-Taliban talks

“We will use whatever influence we have. Our thoughts are positive. We have a clear conscience,” said Mr Qureshi when asked if Pakistan would use its influence on the Taliban to make them join the peace talks.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Pak v Ind: India seal victory over Pakistan in another lop-sided contest

Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan both scored centuries, and produced a batting master class to hand another lop-sided defeat to Pakistan in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Pakistan innings

After captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first, Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq opened the innings for Pakistan, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India.

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Following a cautious start, Pakistan were dealt the first blow on the final ball of the 8th over when Haq was trapped leg-before-wicket by Yuzvendra Chahal.

Zaman, who was joined by Babar Azam at the crease, smacked the day’s first maximum in the 13th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India’s Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

The hard-hitting southpaw smashed another four to Yadav in the 15th over but like his fellow opener, fell leg-before-wicket when trying to sweep one. Replays showed that Zaman may have earned a reprieve had he opted for a review but he decided against it despite consulting his partner.

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, front. — AP

In the next over, Pakistan lost another big wicket, this time Azam being the casualty due to Sarfraz Ahmed’s call. Azam responded to a call for a single by the skipper, who then cancelled the call, leaving him in the lurch on the non-striker’s end.

The resultant run-out left Pakistan three-down and needing a major innings from their skipper, who was joined by Shoaib Malik — the last game’s match-winner.

Run weren’t flowing in the first place but the trifecta of wickets dried them up even more. A couple more tight overs followed to leave Pakistan 71-3 after 20 overs.

The duo rotated the strike for the next five overs, taking their side to 92-3 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

While Sarfraz was content at picking up singles, Malik was growing in confidence; he launched Chahal over the long-on boundary in the 28th over, at the end of which the score was 108-3.

Both Sarfraz and Malik hit 4s in the 31st over as they searched for an extra gear in order to ensure that the match remains competitive in the second innings of the game.

Malik brought up his second straight half-century of the Asia Cup 2018 with a single in the 35th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 141-3.

But Sarfraz couldn’t replicate him, holing out in cover off the bowling of Yadav in the 39th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 165-4.

Asif came alive in the 42nd over bowled by Kumar, hitting two massive 6s to go with two 4s. At the end of that over, which leaked 22 runs, Pakistan were 193-4.

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Malik’s prized wicket fell in the 44th over when he nicked one to Dhoni when trying to glance one to the fine leg.

In the 45th over, Asif fell prey to his hit-and-miss style, getting bowled out by Chahal as the Pakistani hopes of posting a 250-run target dwindled.

The Indian pacers bowled an extremely tight line and length in the final five overs, rarely giving them the opportunity to free their arms.

In the end, Pakistan finished with 237-7 in their allotted 50 overs.

Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking two wickets for just 29 runs in his 10, and in general being almost unhittable for Pakistani batters.

India innings

The usual pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings for India, whereas Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Dhawan struck the innings’ first boundary in the 3rd over and repeated the trick in the 4th as both Indian batsmen looked nonplussed facing the southpaw pair.

Amir’s lack of movement forced Sarfraz to replace him with Hasan Ali, who also conceded a boundary in his opening over, with his punisher being Sharma.

Sharma was given a lifeline in the sixth over when Imam inexplicably dropped an easy catch of his. The India openers made Pakistan pay for that reprieve as they easily dealt with whatever was hurled at them for the next four overs.

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

At the end of 10 overs, India were 53-0 — well and truly in the driving seat. And they kept it that way, taking their score to 72-0 at the end of 15 overs as Pakistan’s search for a breakthrough continued.

Dhawan brought up his half-century in the 18th over with a boundary towards the square leg. Sharma followed suit four overs later.

From that point on, the Indian openers started toying with the Pakistani bowlers, finding boundaries almost at will to boost their score to 179-0 at the end of 30 overs.

Like the 50, Dhawan completed his century before Sharma as well, reaching the mark in the 33rd over. The contest, by this point, had long been over.

Pakistan finally found a breakthrough but it was no more than a consolation. Confusion between Sharma and Dhawan saw the latter run out.

Sharma completed his century in the 36th over as India inched closer to another lop-sided victory over Pakistan.

They reached their target at a canter with 63 balls to spare and nine wickets in hand. Dhawan was named the man of the match for his swashbuckling 114 off 100 balls. Sharma finished unbeaten at 111 off 119 balls.

Captains’ comments

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium: “It looks good to bat on and hopefully we can score enough today.”

“Mohammad Amir is playing today. He’s a main player. Shadab Khan is back as well. Haris Sohail and Usman Khan are out. We want to score 250-plus,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan had dropped struggling fast bowler Amir against Afghanistan, but he was recalled today after the team’s unconvincing bowling display. Left-arm medium-pacer and newcomer Shaheen Afridi, who took two wickets against Afghanistan, is also in the team today.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said he would be happy if his side continued to bowl the way it had during its last two games. “We restricted the teams to decent totals.”

“We have to come out here, bowl well and chase whatever target they give us. Quite happy with the wristspinners. They are still learning, they went wicketless in the last two games, but they know exactly what they are doing.”

“They’ve done it in the past many times. There will be games where they are not successful. That doesn’t mean they are bad bowlers or are not bowling to plan. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition. They understand the pitch here is quite slow and they understand they need to vary the pace,” Sharma said.

Line-ups

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket keeper), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wicket keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

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Pak v Ind: After Dhawan, Sharma brings up his 100 as India inch closer to lop-sided victory

India are 229-1 after 37 overs against Pakistan in pursuit of the 238-run target to chase in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match being played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

The usual pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings for India, whereas Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Dhawan struck the innings’ first boundary in the 3rd over and repeated the trick in the 4th as both Indian batsmen looked nonplussed facing the southpaw pair.

Amir’s lack of movement forced Sarfraz to replace him with Hasan Ali, who also conceded a boundary in his opening over, with his punisher being Sharma.

Sharma was given a lifeline in the sixth over when Imam inexplicably dropped an easy catch of his. The India openers made Pakistan pay for that reprieve as they easily dealt with whatever was hurled at them for the next four overs.

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

At the end of 10 overs, India were 53-0 — well and truly in the driving seat. And they kept it that way, taking their score to 72-0 at the end of 15 overs as Pakistan’s search for a breakthrough continued.

Dhawan brought up his half-century in the 18th over with a boundary towards the square leg. Sharma followed suit four overs later.

From that point on, the Indian openers started toying with the Pakistani bowlers, finding boundaries almost at will to boost their score to 179-0 at the end of 30 overs.

Like the 50, Dhawan completed his century before Sharma as well, reaching the mark in the 33rd over. The contest, by this point, had long been over.

Pakistan finally found a breakthrough but it was no more than a consolation. Confusion between Sharma and Dhawan saw the latter run out.

Sharma completed his century in the 36th over as India inched closer to another lop-sided victory over Pakistan.

Pakistan innings

After captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first, Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq opened the innings for Pakistan, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India.

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Following a cautious start, Pakistan were dealt the first blow on the final ball of the 8th over when Haq was trapped leg-before-wicket by Yuzvendra Chahal.

Zaman, who was joined by Babar Azam at the crease, smacked the day’s first maximum in the 13th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India’s Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

The hard-hitting southpaw hit another four to Yadav in the 15th over but like his fellow opener, fell leg-before-wicket when trying to sweep one. Replays showed that Zaman may have earned a reprieve had he opted for a review but he decided against it despite consulting his partner.

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, front. — AP

In the next over, Pakistan lost another big wicket, this time Azam being the casualty due to Sarfraz Ahmed’s call. Azam responded to a call for a single by the skipper, who then cancelled the call, leaving him in the lurch on the non-striker’s end.

The resultant run-out left Pakistan three-down and needing a major innings from their skipper, who was joined by Shoaib Malik — the last game’s match-winner.

Run weren’t flowing in the first place but the trifecta of wickets dried them up even more. A couple more tight overs followed to leave Pakistan 71-3 after 20 overs.

The duo rotated the strike for the next five overs, taking their side to 92-3 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

While Sarfraz was content at picking up singles, Malik was growing in confidence; he launched Chahal over the long-on boundary in the 28th over, at the end of which the score was 108-3.

Both Sarfraz and Malik hit 4s in the 31st over as they searched for an extra gear in order to ensure that the match remains competitive in the second innings of the game.

Malik brought up his second straight half-century of the Asia Cup 2018 with a single in the 35th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 141-3.

But Sarfraz couldn’t replicate him, holing out in cover off the bowling of Yadav in the 39th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 165-4.

Asif came alive in the 42nd over bowled by Kumar, hitting two massive 6s to go with two 4s. At the end of that over, which leaked 22 runs, Pakistan were 193-4.

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Malik’s prized wicket fell in the 44th over when he nicked one to Dhoni when trying to glance one to the fine leg.

In the 45th over, Asif fell prey to his hit-and-miss style, getting bowled out by Chahal as the Pakistani hopes of posting a 250-run target dwindled.

The Indian pacers bowled an extremely tight line and length in the final five overs, rarely giving them the opportunity to free their arms.

In the end, Pakistan finished with 237-7 in their allotted 50 overs.

Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking two wickets for just 29 runs in his 10, and in general being almost unhittable for Pakistani batters.

Captains’ comments

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium: “It looks good to bat on and hopefully we can score enough today.”

“Mohammad Amir is playing today. He’s a main player. Shadab Khan is back as well. Haris Sohail and Usman Khan are out. We want to score 250-plus,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan had dropped struggling fast bowler Amir against Afghanistan, but he was recalled today after the team’s unconvincing bowling display. Left-arm medium-pacer and newcomer Shaheen Afridi, who took two wickets against Afghanistan, is also in the team today.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said he would be happy if his side continued to bowl the way it had during its last two games. “We restricted the teams to decent totals.”

“We have to come out here, bowl well and chase whatever target they give us. Quite happy with the wristspinners. They are still learning, they went wicketless in the last two games, but they know exactly what they are doing.”

“They’ve done it in the past many times. There will be games where they are not successful. That doesn’t mean they are bad bowlers or are not bowling to plan. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition. They understand the pitch here is quite slow and they understand they need to vary the pace,” Sharma said.

Line-ups

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket keeper), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wicket keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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Qureshi, Pompeo meet on Oct 2 for ties reset

WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan will resume their effort to reset a once close relationship on Oct 2, when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in the US capital.

Mr Qureshi has reached Washington on a 10-day official visit to the US that includes talks with the Trump administration and the new Pakistani government’s first interaction with the United Nations.

The visit caught international attention earlier this week when India accepted a Pakistani proposal for a meeting between their foreign ministers in New York and even the US State Department welcomed the move, calling it “terrific news”.

India, however, ended the short-lived excitement by abruptly calling off the meeting, although the State Department still urges “the Indians and Pakistanis … to sit down and have a conversation together” that could lead to “a good, strong bilateral relationship in the future”.

For Pakistan, however, Qureshi-Pompeo meeting was always more important, as they seek to rebuild their relationship with a power that for decades was a close ally.

It was during Mr Pompeo’s first visit to Islamabad earlier this month that the two sides agreed to “reset” their ties on more pragmatic grounds, instead of seeking the revival of a blanket relationship that disappointed both.

Both sides, however, have their own interpretations of the so-called pragmatic expectations.

The United States sees this as end to all cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, cessation of “terrorist” attacks into India and preventing extremist groups from collecting funds inside Pakistan.

Unless Pakistan does that, there will be no resumption of the security assistance that was suspended in January this year. A news item in a US newspaper, The Washington Times, however, claimed that the Trump administration is divided over whether to resume the aid now.

Although played up in the Pakistani media, the news item also hinted that Washington expects the new Pakistani government to take steps that could lead to the resumption of aid. This, in plain language, means no security aid until cross-border attacks stop.

Pakistan too has its own expectations and top on this agenda are:

Revival of the once close relationship, US support for Pakistan’s efforts for a bailout package from the IMF, and also to help prevent the international financial watchdog, FATF, from putting Islamabad on its black list. Pakistan is already on the grey list.

The United States believes that Pakistan can still influence Taliban insurgents — particularly the Haqqani Network — to persuade them to join the Afghan peace process.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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Hasan Ali, Afghanistan’s Asghar and Rashid fined for misconduct in Asia Cup match

Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali and Afghanistan’s Asghar Afghan and Rashid Khan were all fined 15 per cent of their match fees for violations of the ICC Code of Conduct, the ,International Cricket Council, said on Saturday.

All three players also received one demerit point each for breaching Level 1 of the code of conduct in separate incidents during last night’s Super-Four match of the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi.

According to the ICC, Hasan and Asghar pleaded guilty to breaching Article 2.1.1 of the ,ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel,.

The said article deals with “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”.

Hasan, in the 33rd over of Afghanistan’s innings, “threatened to throw the ball towards striker Hashmatullah Shahidi after fielding off his own bowling,” a press released issued by the ICC said.

Asghar, the Afghanistan skipper, was found guilty of brushing his shoulder with Hasan Ali in the 37th over as he passed him while taking a run.

Rashid, on the other hand, was found to have violated Article 2.1.7, which deals with “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match”.

He was charged and fined for giving a sendoff to Asif Ali in the 47th over of Pakistan’s innings “by holding up a finger and staring at the batsman, an action that could have provoked an aggressive reaction from the departing batsman”, according to the ICC website.

According to the handout, Hasan and Rashid have received demerit points for the first time. However, it is the second occasion that Asghar has been handed a demerit point within a 24-month period.

In February 2017, “Asghar received a reprimand and one demerit point for showing dissent against an umpire’s decision in an ODI against Zimbabwe,” the ICC said.

The charges were levelled by on-field umpires Anil Chaudhary and Shaun George, third umpire Rod Tucker and fourth umpire Anisur Rahman. All three players accepted the sanctions proposed by Andy Pycroft of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees.

According to the ICC, a Level 1 breach “carries a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points”.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 22, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Roadside bombing kills 8 children in northern Afghanistan

At least eight children have been killed in a roadside bomb explosion in northern Afghanistan’s Faryab province on Friday, an official said.

Karim Yuresh, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said six other kids were wounded in the blast that took place late on Friday afternoon in Shirin Tagab district.

Yuresh said that according to a hospital report, two of the wounded kids are in a critical condition.

All of the children are between five and 12 years of age and were playing when the bomb exploded, he added.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yuresh blamed Taliban militants who usually plant roadside bombs to target Afghan security forces in different parts of the province.

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Pakistan beat Afghanistan in nail-biting Asia Cup encounter

Afghanistan set Pakistan a 258-run target to chase in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match in Abu Dhabi. The match was decided in the very last over, as Pakistan chased the target with only three balls to spare.

Pakistan started the innings steadily and took minimal risks, more so due to the loss of Fakhar Zaman early in the innings. Zaman was adjudged leg before wicket without troubling the scorers.

At the end of the first 15 overs, Pakistan had managed to put only 57 runs on the board for the loss of one wicket.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq partnered with Babar Azam to build a decent second-wicket partnership of 154 runs. Imam scored 80 before being run out, while Babar looked steady for his 66.

But it was Shoaib Malik who starred for Pakistan, scoring a blistering of 51 runs off 43 balls to see his team through.

Afghanistan innings

After Asghar Afghan, the Afghanistan captain, won the toss and decided to bat first, Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah opened their innings, whereas Usman Shinwari and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

With the southpaw pacers bowling a tight line and length, Afghan pacers found runs hard to come by in the first five overs, and managed just 20 runs. The lack of runs did force them to play some rash strokes but fortunately for them their mistakes didn’t convert into dismissals.

Pakistan’s old demons in the field reared their head in the 8th over when Ishanullah was dropped on back-to-back Afridi deliveries, first by Fakhar Zaman and then Shinwari.

The breakthrough finally came in the 9th over when Ihsanullah was caught and bowled by Mohammad Nawaz. While the bowler deserved credit, it would be unfair to not mention the pressure captain Sarfraz Ahmed had created for the batsman from behind the wicket with his nonstop vocals in the buildup.

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan's Mohammad Nawaz  — AFP

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz — AFP

On the first ball of the 11th, Nawaz had Shahzad caught behind, which, which when combined with his wicket on the last ball of the previous over, put him on a hat-trick; it didn’t happen though.

Runs were already hard to come by, and the twin blow did not help the Afghan cause. By the end of 15 overs, they were lagging at 57-2, with Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah in the middle.

The pair continued their cautious batting for the next five overs, taking the score to 74-0 at the end of the 20th.

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman  Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

With boundaries a rarity, Shahidi and Shah did the wise thing by relying on singles and doubles, taking to score to 93-2 after 25 overs.

Their 63-run stand finally came to and end in the 26th over when Nawaz repeated his caught-and-bowled trick again, this time sending back Shah (36 off 51 balls) to pick up his third wicket.

Afghan captain walked in to join Shahidi but their steady, unspectacular approach did not change. At the end of the 30th over, they were 116-3.

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

In the 36th over, the cautious approach was finally dispensed with for a more adventurous one, with Asghar hitting a four and a six to an otherwise excellent Nawaz.

Both Shahidi and Asghar brought up their half-centuries in the 40th over, at the end of which there score was 170-3.

After Sohail dropped the game’s third match off Afridi’s bowling, the debutant took the matters in his own hands, bowling out the Afghan captain Asghar (67) in the 42nd over.

The next over saw another catch dropped — the game’s fourth until that point — with the guilty party being Afridi himself.

Afridi got his second of the night in the 44th over, with the dangerous Mohammad Nabi departing when Hasan Ali opted to not follow the game fad of dropping easy catches.

With just five overs left in the innings, Afghanistan were 206-5 and eyeing a total closer to 250.

Hasan bowled out Najibullah Zadran in the 47th over and did the same to Shahidi in the penultimate over, only to see his ball adjudged a no-ball. The resultant free-hit was dispatched for four as Afghanistan reached 242 with just one over left.

Shahidi, after being given a lifeline by Hasan’s overstretching foot, found an extra gear and smacked several more boundaries.

Despite that late flurry, the left-hander could not get his century, finishing just three runs short. Afghanistan, meanwhile, finished their innings at 257-6.

Team news

Earlier, Sarfraz made three changes to his playing eleven, with Muhammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf dropped and Shadab Khan rested due to an injury.

Read: ,Pakistan v Afghanistan: Do Men in Green have anything to worry about?,

Debutant Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Sohail replaced the outgoing trio.

,,

Line-ups

Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 1 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), 6 Asif Ali, 7 Haris Sohail, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Usman Khan, 11 Shaheen Afridi

Afghanistan: 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah Janat, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan (capt), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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Afghanistan set Pakistan 258-run target to chase

Afghanistan have set Pakistan a 258-run target to chase in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan innings

After Asghar Afghan, the Afghanistan captain, won the toss and decided to bat first, Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah opened their innings, whereas Usman Shinwari and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

With the southpaw pacers bowling a tight line and length, Afghan pacers found runs hard to come by in the first five overs, and managed just 20 runs. The lack of runs did force them to play some rash strokes but fortunately for them their mistakes didn’t convert into dismissals.

Pakistan’s old demons in the field reared their head in the 8th over when Ishanullah was dropped on back-to-back Afridi deliveries, first by Fakhar Zaman and then Shinwari.

The breakthrough finally came in the 9th over when Ihsanullah was caught and bowled by Mohammad Nawaz. While the bowler deserved credit, it would be unfair to not mention the pressure captain Sarfraz Ahmed had created for the batsman from behind the wicket with his nonstop vocals in the buildup.

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan's Mohammad Nawaz  — AFP

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz — AFP

On the first ball of the 11th, Nawaz had Shahzad caught behind, which, which when combined with his wicket on the last ball of the previous over, put him on a hat-trick; it didn’t happen though.

Runs were already hard to come by, and the twin blow did not help the Afghan cause. By the end of 15 overs, they were lagging at 57-2, with Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah in the middle.

The pair continued their cautious batting for the next five overs, taking the score to 74-0 at the end of the 20th.

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman  Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

With boundaries a rarity, Shahidi and Shah did the wise thing by relying on singles and doubles, taking to score to 93-2 after 25 overs.

Their 63-run stand finally came to and end in the 26th over when Nawaz repeated his caught-and-bowled trick again, this time sending back Shah (36 off 51 balls) to pick up his third wicket.

Afghan captain walked in to join Shahidi but their steady, unspectacular approach did not change. At the end of the 30th over, they were 116-3.

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

In the 36th over, the cautious approach was finally dispensed with for a more adventurous one, with Asghar hitting a four and a six to an otherwise excellent Nawaz.

Both Shahidi and Asghar brought up their half-centuries in the 40th over, at the end of which there score was 170-3.

After Sohail dropped the game’s third match off Afridi’s bowling, the debutant took the matters in his own hands, bowling out the Afghan captain Asghar (67) in the 42nd over.

The next over saw another catch dropped — the game’s fourth until that point — with the guilty party being Afridi himself.

Afridi got his second of the night in the 44th over, with the dangerous Mohammad Nabi departing when Hasan Ali opted to not follow the game fad of dropping easy catches.

With just five overs left in the innings, Afghanistan were 206-5 and eyeing a total closer to 250.

Hasan bowled out Najibullah Zadran in the 47th over and did the same to Shahidi in the penultimate over, only to see his ball adjudged a no-ball. The resultant free-hit was dispatched for four as Afghanistan reached 242 with just one over left.

Shahidi, after being given a lifeline by Hasan’s overstretching foot, found an extra gear and smacked several more boundaries.

Despite that late flurry, the left-hander could not get his century, finishing just three runs short. Afghanistan, meanwhile, finished their innings at 257-6.

Team news

Earlier, Sarfraz made three changes to his playing eleven, with Muhammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf dropped and Shadab Khan rested due to an injury.

Read: ,Pakistan v Afghanistan: Do Men in Green have anything to worry about?,

Debutant Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Sohail replaced the outgoing trio.

,,

Line-ups

Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 1 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), 6 Asif Ali, 7 Haris Sohail, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Usman Khan, 11 Shaheen Afridi

Afghanistan: 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah Janat, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan (capt), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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Imran calls for talks to end Saudi-Yemen dispute

PRIME Minister Imran Khan speaks to Al Arabiya’s general manager Turki al-Dakhil during the interview.—Courtesy AL ARABIYA

PRIME Minister Imran Khan speaks to Al Arabiya’s general manager Turki al-Dakhil during the interview.—Courtesy AL ARABIYA

KARACHI: Speaking about the Saudi-Yemen dispute, Prime Minister Imran Khan has told Saudi media that all conflicts could be resolved through dialogue.

“I feel that every conflict has a political solution. I am not a believer in a military solution,” the prime minister said in an ,interview to a Saudi newspaper, published on Wednesday, during his first foreign visit after assuming office.

He said his country was confident of Riyadh’s support as Saudi Arabia had always backed Pakistan.

“Anyone who comes to power in Pakistan will visit Saudi Arabia first as the two countries share a strong people-to-people relationship,” Mr Khan said in his first interview to foreign media after becoming prime minister.

Rejecting military solution, PM says every conflict has political solution

“Saudi Arabia has in the past helped Pakistan when [the country] has been in need,” he added.

Sharing his views on Saudi-Yemen relations, the premier said Pakistan wanted to play a “reconciliatory role” in the Muslim world. “We feel that it’s very important that there should not be any conflict in the Muslim world,” he said, adding that this would be Pakistan’s main effort.

“I would like to ensure peace in the Middle East because it is very distressing for Muslims to see conflict among Muslim nations. There are already several conflicts plaguing the Muslim world, starting from Libya to Somalia, to Syria, Afghanistan… Pakistan has [also] suffered a lot,” Mr Khan said.

“Conflict in the Muslim world is weakening all of us … Pakistan would like to play a role in putting out these fires,” he affirmed, adding that if required for Yemen, Islamabad would play a positive role there also to end the conflict.

PM Khan praised Saudi King Salman and showed his willingness to duplicate the kingdom’s anti-corruption measures in Pakistan.

“White collar crime is very difficult to fight … it’s a very long process to retrieve the money but we have now set up a task force to retrieve our money that has been taken out of Pakistan,” said the prime minister.

Asked if he would be able to solve old and multiple crises facing Pakistan during his five-year tenure, PM Khan said that he had a three-pronged strategy to realise this dream — to fight poverty and corruption, to invest in human resources and to build strong institutions.

Responding to a question about frequent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, the premier said: “This is a stated position of all our governments that we will not allow anyone to attack Saudi Arabia. We will stand by Saudi Arabia.”

Speaking about his geopolitical policy, Mr Khan said he wanted peace and stability in the region. “To get stability we need peace with all our neighbors. We already have very good relationship with China; we need good relationship with Afghanistan and India. We have made overtures to both,” he said, reaffirming that he wanted to develop relations with both Afghanistan and India based on mutual trust.

Pakistan is the founder member of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition which is based in Riyadh. Asked how did the prime minister see the role of Pakistan in this context, Mr Khan said no country in the world but Pakistan could give expert advice on countering terrorism.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Pakistan’s effort to end terrorist financing remains uneven: US

WASHINGTON: As the new government in Islamabad starts work on addressing the concerns related to money laundering and terror financing, a US State Department report released on Thursday said that Pakistan criminalised terrorist financing through the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), but its implementation remained uneven.

Pakistan is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering — a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, the Paris-based FATF placed Pakistan on its grey list of countries that could be marked out for economic sanctions if they failed to prevent terrorists from collecting funds within their domain.

The official US report — released with the State Department’s country reports on terrorism — also highlights FATF’s concerns about Pakistan.

“The FATF continued to note concern that Pakistan’s outstanding gaps in the implementation of the UN Security Council ISIL (Daesh) and Al Qaida sanctions regime have not been resolved, and that UN-listed entities — including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates — were not effectively prohibited from raising funds in Pakistan, nor being denied financial services,” the report points out.

Washington claims progress on efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities is slow

Last month, Finance Minister Asad Umar told the Senate that FATF had given Pakistan 15 months to comply with these requirements. The minister said FATF had identified 27 deficiencies in the Pakistani financial system, including “currency smuggling, hawala and terror financing of proscribed organisations”.

The minister had told the house that the government would be addressing all the objections raised not only to satisfy the international community but also because it was in Pakistan’s own interest to get rid of terror financing and terrorism.

The US State Department in its report acknowledged that Pakistan’s laws technically comply with international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism standards, but added that Pakistani authorities “failed to uniformly implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds”.

The report also refers to a Nov 2017 decision of the Lahore High Court which refused to extend the detention of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed as it judged the government had not provided sufficient evidence against him nor had it charged Hafiz Saeed with a crime.

The US report also examines the National Action Plan that the PML-N government gave to FATF in June this year, noting that the plan contains efforts to prevent and counter terrorist financing, including by enhancing interagency coordination.

The law designates the use of unlicensed hundi and hawala systems as predicate offences to terrorism and also requires banks to report suspicious transactions to Pakistan’s financial intelligence unit, the State Bank’s Financial Monitoring Unit.

The US State Department, however, notes that throughout 2017 “these unlicensed money transfer systems persisted throughout the country and were open to abuse by terrorist financiers operating in the cross-border area”.

Reviewing Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism, the report notes that Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist threats in 2017, although the number of attacks and casualties decreased from previous years.

The report also identifies several major terrorist groups focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, and the sectarian group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami.

The report also mentions groups located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country, included the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The reports notes that in 2017, the terrorists used a range of tactics — stationary and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, and rocket-propelled grenades — to attack individuals, schools, markets, government institutions and places of worship.

The report also notes that the Pakistani government and military continued high-profile efforts to disrupt terrorist attacks and eliminate anti-state militants. “Progress, however, remained slow on the government’s efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and enforce anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls.”

The State Department also said that the Pakistani government pledged support to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban but “did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan”.

The government, the report added, also failed to “significantly limit” LeT and JeM from openly raising money, recruiting and training in Pakistan — although the Elections Commission of Pakistan refused to allow a LeT-affiliated group to register as a political party.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Afghan envoy to India resigns, says he wants to ‘serve his own country from within’

Afghanistan’s ambassador to India Dr Shaida Abdali stepped down from his role as envoy shortly after the Afghan president paid a visit to India.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the former ambassador announced his resignation, calling it a “tough but an appealing decision”.

Abdali said that after serving Afghanistan for years in India, he felt “the need to return and serve my country from within”.

“Serving in India for more than six years was indeed a great honour and privilege,” he wrote, adding: “India not only gave me a home feeling but added a wealth of knowledge and plethora of experience to my over two-decades-long political career.”

Dr Shaida Abdali’s decision came shortly after the Afghan president visited India. ,Times of India, reported that on Wednesday President Ashraf Ghani met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a one-day visit to the country where they held talks on efforts to “further boost bilateral cooperation”.

In his tweets, the former ambassador said that “exceptional warmth, hospitality and friendship” was extended to him during his time in India, which he described as a “hallmark” in his political career, and added that he was “deeply grateful to the friendly people and government of India”.

The former Afghan ambassador said that during his tenure he had seen the two countries relationship “going from strength to strength”.

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Islamabad part of solution in Afghanistan: US

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has to be a part of a solution in Afghanistan, says a Pentagon report, summarising the US military chief’s recent visits to friendly nations, including Pakistan.

The report, released this week, says that the main purpose of Gen Joseph Dunford’s visit to these nations was to “maintaining and building alliances”.

Gen Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reached out to “prospective partners to encourage cooperation and interoperability.”

Pentagon report quotes America’s top military official as saying Pakistan can help bring Taliban to
peace talks

The report says that the chairman visited Islamabad early this month because “Pakistan is key to the ‘South Asia Strategy’ that President Donald Trump espoused in August 2017. Pakistan has to be a part of a solution in Afghanistan.”

The report notes that Gen Dunford joined US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The report also includes a quote from Gen Dunford about the US team’s meeting with Gen Bajwa. “When we talked to Gen Bajwa on a military-to-military level, we listened to the prime minister very carefully [and] we listened to the secretary very carefully,” the US general said. “The objectives were very consistent between the secretary and prime minister. Gen Bajwa and I agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship for the secretary and prime minister and, more importantly, for President Trump’s South Asia Strategy.”

The report, however, also highlights the need to implement the decisions taken at the US-Pakistan meetings. “Actions speak louder than words and the Pakistani leaders agreed to ‘reset’ their relationship with the United States,” it adds, backing it up with another quote from Gen Dunford.

“What we want to see: the Taliban at the peace table dealing with Afghans,” Gen Dunford said. “And we believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in bringing the Taliban to the peace process.”

Talking to journalists here earlier this week, Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi also said that Islamabad’s relations with Pakistan were gradually improving and it was no longer an aid-based relationship.

“Our relationship with the US has turned the corner and is, now moving in the right direction,” he said. “It is not on the lowest ebb.”

He said that seeking US aid was not Pakistan’s primary consideration.

“We want good relations with or without security assistance. We can work without US assistance.”

The Pentagon report points out that from Islamabad, Gen Dunford flew to New Delhi to join US Defence Secretary James N. Mattis, and Secretary Pompeo for the 2+2 Talks with Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.

In India, the US team discussed regional and global concerns, such as Afghanistan, North Korea and terrorism, with Indian leaders.

It also refers to a statement by Ms Sitharaman, saying that the military-to-military cooperation had been a “key driver” of the US-India relationship.

The report includes Secretary Pompeo’s quote, saying: “We have a responsibility to advance those shared values: rule of law; national sovereignty; good governance; the protection of fundamental freedoms, rights and liberties; free, fair and reciprocal trade relationships and peaceful resolutions of territorial and maritime disputes.”

From New Delhi, Secretary Mattis and Gen Dunford went to Kabul on an unannounced trip and met US, coalition and Afghan officials. The visit was a chance to hear directly from those most directly affected by strategies in the region.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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After Saudi, PM Khan visits UAE; welcomed by Abu Dhabi crown prince

Prime Minister Imran Khan reached United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday in the second instalment of his two-day official Saudi/UAE tour.

He was received at the Abu Dhabi airport by Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

,,

Earlier in the day, the PM met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his maiden visit to the kingdom.

During his meeting with the royals, the prime minister discussed matters of regional and bilateral interest. The leaders also talked about economic relations between the two countries.

On his arrival in Jeddah, the prime minister was presented with a guard of honour and the national anthems of both countries were played. King Salman held a banquet for the premier and his delegation.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also hosted a dinner for PM Khan when the leaders met. The prime minister commended the crown prince’s vision to turn Saudi Arabia into a modern economy.

During their meeting, the leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations as well as steps that can be taken to enhance cooperation in political, defence, economic, commercial and cultural sectors. They also discussed challenges that are being faced by the Muslim world.

PM Khan brought up the issues of Pakistani expatriates living in Saudi Arabia as well.

The prime minister also highlighted the human rights offences by the Indian army in held Kashmir. The leaders reaffirmed their support for Palestine’s struggle for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The premier extended an invitation for the crown prince to visit Pakistan, which was accepted, in principle, by the Saudi leadership.

This is Khan’s first foreign tour as prime minister. Talking to ,Al Arabiya,, he said that “anyone who comes to power in Pakistan will visit Saudi Arabia first” as the two countries share a “strong people to people relationship”.

“Saudi Arabia has in the past helped Pakistan when [the country] has been in need,” he said.

The prime minister held a meeting with the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Finance Minister Asad Umar meets Saudi Minister of Finance. — Photo courtesy: *Arab News* Twitter

Finance Minister Asad Umar meets Saudi Minister of Finance. — Photo courtesy: Arab News Twitter

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Asad Umar — who is accompanying PM Khan — met his Saudi counterpart Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan as ,they discussed, “aspects of financial and economic cooperation”.

Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry — also part of the premier’s delegation — ,met, the Saudi Minister of Media Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad earlier in the day. The two discussed ways to expand media cooperation between the two states.

Later in the day, the prime minister and his delegation travelled to the UAE where they were received by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The premier, accompanied by Qureshi and the prime minister’s adviser on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, as well as Umer and Chaudhry, ,landed in Madinah, on Tuesday. He was received at the airport by the governor of Medina, Shahzada Faisal Bin Salman, and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Khan Hasham Bin Siddique.

On his arrival in Makkah last night, PM Khan and his delegation performed Umrah. The doors of the Holy Kaaba were opened for the prime minister, where he offered prayers.

Pakistan would like to play a reconciliatory role in Muslim world, says PM Khan

During his interview to Al Arabiya, PM Khan said that Pakistan wanted to play a reconciliatory role in the Muslim world.

“We feel that it’s very important that there should not be any conflict in the Muslim world,” the premier said and added that there were already several conflicts plaguing the Muslim world, “starting from Libya to Somalia, to Syria, Afghanistan… Pakistan has [also] suffered a lot”.

“Conflict in the Muslim world is weakening all of us. Ideally, Pakistan would like to play a role of putting out these fires.”

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US suspension of aid not a ‘life or death situation’ for Pakistan, says navy chief in Washington

Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi on Monday said that India’s sea-based nuclear weapon initiative had compelled Pakistan to take steps for maintaining strategic balance in the region.

Talking to media persons at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Admiral Abbasi, who is visiting US to attend an international sea-powers symposium, rejected the “myth” that Pakistan was seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan.

The navy chief said though the ,decision by US to suspend security assistance, to Pakistan was not a favourable one, it was not a “life or death situation”.

Sea-based nuclear deterrence:

Abbasi defended Pakistan’s decision to match India’s sea-based nuclear programme while responding to several questions from the representatives of the US media.

“Sea-based nuclear weapons provide an assured second strike capability which disturbs the equation, so unless we equate that, the imbalance might induce India to start a conventional war,” he said. “We have legitimate concerns and our programme is aimed at discouraging India from doing so.”

In April this year, Pakistan conducted the second flight test of its Babur-III nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). The missile was tested from a submerged platform off Pakistan’s coast in the Arabian Sea and flew to strike a target at an undisclosed location.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced that the missile “incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy, at a range of 700 kilometres”.

While Abbasi admitted that Pakistan had tested the Babur-III missiles to meet the Indian challenge, he dismissed a journalist’s implication that Pakistan had developed this missile with China’s assistance.

“It’s an all indigenous programme. I will leave at that,” he said.

Abbasi explained that Pakistan has an elaborate programme for ensuring the security of the assets it has developed to counter the Indian threat, “which provides all the tools, procedures and settings under a central command that runs through Strategic Plans Division”.

The admiral said that in 2016 Pakistan signed an agreement with China for procuring eight submarines, which will be delivered by 2025. These are all conventional submarines and are not nuclear capable.

Pakistan not seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan

Abbasi also rejected “the myth” that Pakistan was seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is a separate, sovereign country and we respect it as that. Whatever strategic depth we have is our own,” he said.

The naval chief said political changes in Pakistan will not affect its Afghan policy and the country will continue to support peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan, he said, did not want large ungovernable territories in Afghanistan because it had repercussions.

“Terrorists take refuge in Afghanistan and use its territory for launching attacks into Pakistan. The most recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan were conceived, planned and executed from Afghanistan. That’s why we are trying to fence our border,” he said. “We are all for a political solution to the Afghan problem.”

US-Taliban talks

Responding to a question about US-Taliban talks in Qatar, he said: “We welcome these talks. We hope that some sort of solution comes out of that.”

“This is a good beginning that the US is engaged with the Taliban.”

He said the best hope for peace in Afghanistan were the quadrilateral talks that Pakistan had arranged in Murree in 2016. However, those talks, he said, had been sabotaged by leaking the news of Mullah Omar’s death.

Admiral Abbasi rejected the suggestion that Pakistan was financing the Afghan Taliban.

“The Taliban’s biggest source [of money] is the drug trade and we are trying to stop that. About 30-40 per cent of this trade is carried through the maritime route,” he said.

The naval chief urged that the US should share intelligence gathering with Pakistan to combat drug trafficking through sea routes.

‘Pakistan is not North Korea’

The navy chief disagreed with the suggestion that Pakistan was being isolated like North Korea.

“Equating North Korea with Pakistan is not right. North Korea does not have a legitimate threat from a neighbour, which is responsible for dismembering it,” he said.

Abbasi explained that North Korea was cut-off from the rest of the world as opposed to Pakistan, which works alongside international forces because Islamabad realises that a country cannot live in isolation.

US-Pakistan relations

The Pakistan navy chief said his country wanted a good relationship with the US, based on mutual respect, not security or economic assistance.

“Security assistance is not our primary consideration. We want good relations with or without security assistance. We have enough resources in Pakistan. We can work without US assistance,” he said.

Admiral Abbasi noted that the US recently cancelled the programme which enabled Pakistani military officers to attend theUS defence institutions.

“We are still sending our officers to the US, funding the programme from our own resources,” he maintained.

He said all three services chiefs were out of the country, visiting the US, China and Russia and the visits conveyed the message that “we want to stay engaged with the international community, with both East and West”.

Abbasi said that Pakistan was looking for new and updated jet aircraft for surveillance purposes as the P3C surveillance planes that were given by the US more than 10 years ago were now outdated.

“We are ready to acquire them from any source, including the US,” he said.

No Chinese base in Gwadar

Admiral Abbasi dismissed the concern that China was setting up a base at the Gwadar port, and insisting that “there’s absolutely no truth to that”.

“There are no plans to hand over any base to foreign navies anywhere in Pakistan,” he said, emphasising that Gwadar was purely a commercial harbour and only Pakistan Navy would have a base there.

He said so far no foreign warship had entered Gwadar, but whenever that happens it would be open to all other navies including French, Royal and that of the US.

US-India maritime agreement:

Abbasi said that Pakistan had noticed that the US and India had recently signed maritime agreements, but added that such deals were not “a zero-sum game”.

The US, he said, will also participate in multinational maritime exercises in Pakistan in February next year, where some 50 navies from around the world — including China — will take part. A similar exercise had been held in 2017 in which 37 countries participated.

Abbasi said that unless there was a political resolution with India, there might not be any joint Pakistan-India maritime exercises but under the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, the two countries as members work together.

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Afghanistan knock Sri Lanka out of Asia Cup after upset win

Afghanistan continued their rise in international cricket with an upset 91-run win over Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Monday, knocking the former champions out of the Asia Cup.

Sri Lanka needed to win the Group B match to stay in the tournament but were outwitted by smart batting from Afghanistan who put up a fighting total of 249 all out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

The fighters then laid into Sri Lankan batting with spinner Rashid Khan (2-26), Mohammad Nabi (2-30) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-32) sharing wickets as the five-time former winners were bowled out for 158 in 41.2 overs.

Sri Lanka did not help their cause with two run outs while skipper Angelo Mathews played a reckless shot off Nabi and was caught near the boundary for 22.

This becomes Afghanistan’s first-ever victory against Sri Lanka in three one-day internationals after losing in the Asia Cup 2014 and World Cup a year later.

Sri Lanka, who now have lost 30 of their 40 matches since January 2017, had lost to Bangladesh by 137 runs in Dubai on Saturday.

Bowled out for a paltry 124 against Bangladesh, Sri Lankan batting again failed miserably with only Upul Tharanga (36) and Thisara Perera (28) offering some fight.

Afghanistan were helped to 249 all out in their 50 overs with Rahmat Shah scoring 72 and Ihsanullah Janat shipping in with 45.

Shah struck five boundaries during his 90-ball knock and added 50 for the second wicket with Janat (45) after Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat on a flat pitch.

Janat hit six boundaries in his 65-ball innings while his opening partner Mohammad Shahzad batted in his aggressive style, hitting a six and four boundaries in his 47-ball 34.

Rahmat then added another 80 runs for the fourth wicket with Hashmatullah Shahidi who made a sedate 52-ball 37.

For Sri Lanka seamer Thisara Perera took five for 55 and spinner Akila Dananjaya finished with two for 39.
Defending champions India, Pakistan and qualifier Hong Kong are placed in Group A.

Pakistan beat Hong Kong by eight wickets in Dubai on Sunday.

Top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Four stages from where top two teams will play the final in Dubai on September 28.

India face Hong Kong in Dubai on Tuesday before their high profile match against Pakistan a day later at the same venue.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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Papers indicate Afghan issue not sole cause of US-Pakistan discord

WASHINGTON: Two recent US documents — the 2019 budget proposals and the Pentagon’s 2018 report to Congress on China — indicate that differences between the United States and Pakistan go beyond Afghanistan as Washington feels Islamabad is gradually slipping out of its orbit.

The budget proposals underline China and Russia as “the central threat to America’s prosperity and security” and highlight the strategy to meet this challenge.

The Defence Department’s report warns Congress that “China will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a long-standing friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries”.

The US media also noticed Washington’s growing concern as Wall Street Journal reported this week that “in Pakistan, China and the US are clashing over China’s One Belt, One Road initiative”.

While Washington is concerned that China is trying to gain global influence through “debt trap diplomacy” by lending countries money for projects they can’t afford, “Beijing calls this Western propaganda,” the report added.

The budget proposals, released in Washington last week, stressed that “the central challenge to US prosperity and security is the re-emergence of long-term, strategic competition (with) … revisionist powers” China and Russia.

A quote from the US National Security Strategy warns that “China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions”.

The budget proposals then describe how the Trump administration plans to deal with the threat by building “a more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating joint force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners”.

This alliance and the new force “will sustain American influence and ensure favourable balances of power that safeguard the free and open international order”, the document adds.

It points out that in alignment with the National Defence Strategy, the air force’s budget for 2019 prioritises long-term competition with China and Russia by “investing in key capabilities to increase the lethality of the force through cost-effective modernisation.

The strategy prioritises major power competition and vows to “reverse the erosion of US military advantage in relation to China and Russia”.

The document informs Congress that the defence budget request fulfills the Pentagon’s objectives by increasing “lethality; resilience (and) agility” of the defence forces. The objective behind this approach is to “build a flexible and dynamic force; and work by, with, and through allies and partners”.

The document also informs Congress that the Pentagon has taken specific decisions about the budget that support “a more capable, ready, and efficient force that can project power globally for full-spectrum operations against a range of threats”.

The document explains the US decision to partner with India to reverse China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Pentagon’s report to Congress on China argues that Beijing’s growing arms exports are geared to promote China’s “broader foreign policy goals”, which is particularly evident in its “arms sales to Pakistan and demand for Chinese armed UAVs”.

From 2012 through 2016, China was the fifth largest arms supplier in the world, completing more than $20 billion in sales. Of these sales, military equipment worth $8 billion went to Indo-Pacific countries, primarily Pakistan.

The Pentagon report claims that China’s ability to remain among the world’s top five global arms suppliers largely hinges on continued strong sales to Pakistan and demand for its armed UAVs.

In 2015, China signed an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight YUAN-class submarines; the first four submarines will be built in China and the remaining four in Pakistan, the report added.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018

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Taliban call for closure of US bases, prisoner release

WASHINGTON: Taliban leaders are demanding closure of US bases in Afghanistan and release of hundreds of their prisoners for continuing peace talks with the United States, the US media reported on Saturday.

Zalmay Khalilzad, a former US ambassador recently named as a special adviser for Afghanistan peace talks, arrived in the United Arab Emirates this week for the next round of US-Taliban talks, NBC News reported.

The release of hundreds of Taliban-linked prisoners and the status of US bases in Afghanistan were among the key issues Taliban leaders want to negotiate in US-backed talks to end the war in Afghanistan.

“This meeting with the US authorities would either help pave the way for more meaningful talks or stop them forever,” said one of the four senior Taliban officials who spoke to NBC News.

Other US media outlets, however, reported that the Afghan government was unlikely to concede to the request without a commensurate concession from the Taliban.

“The number of US bases maintained…is also a point of contention; the US wants two, but the Taliban want zero. The Taliban’s main `reason for war, their casus belli, if you will, is the occupation,” retired Col Christopher Kolenda, a former Pentagon adviser who has negotiated with the Taliban, explained in an interview with VOA.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018

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