Posts Tagged ‘Diplo’

US seeks Pakistan’s help for coaxing Taliban back into talks

ISLAMABAD: Senior US official Lisa Curtis on Tuesday opened her ,visit to Pakistan, with meetings amidst reports that the process of engagement with the Taliban for restarting the Afghan peace process had stalled.

US Special Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad, who too was due in Islamabad, could not reach here because of changes in his itinerary. Amb Khalilzad in his latest trip to the region has faced several unexpected changes. He is currently in Afghanistan.

“His schedule has been fluid all week,” a diplomatic source said, adding that the special envoy was likely to visit Islamabad in the next few days.

No details about Ms Curtis’ meetings were publicly available. She is believed to be here to push for resumption of engagement with the Taliban in addition to certain bilateral issues.

Senior US official Lisa Curtis arrives in Islamabad for meetings

Pakistan last month facilitated a meeting between the US special envoy and Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi. UAE and Saudi officials attended the meeting as observers. It was agreed at the Abu Dhabi meeting that the process would continue and another meeting would be convened, but no date and venue for the next interaction has been set so far.

A diplomatic source said: “The Taliban are refusing to talk to the Afghan government. The US wants Pakistan to pressure Pakistan-based Taliban leadership to accept direct negotiations with the Afghan government.” The Pakistani government, he further said, was insisting that it had little control over the Taliban.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile, talking to president of the East-West Institute and former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said: “Pakistan fully supports a political settlement in Afghanistan which is the only viable option to end this conflict.”

Mr Khan emphasised the need for ensuring regional security so that economic progress could take place.

Mr Munter said he continued to advocate strong relationship between Islamabad and Washington as Pakistan was an important country of the region and critical to US national security objectives.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

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Islamabad, Kabul agree on prisoner exchange

PESHAWAR: Afghan Ambassador Shukrullah Atif Mashal on Tuesday claimed that Kabul and Islamabad had agreed to work out a mechanism for swapping prisoners, who had either completed their prison terms or were granted bail but couldn’t be freed due to certain reasons.

Addressing refugees here, the ambassador said the prisoners’ issue had come under discussion during a recent visit of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Kabul.

He said both sides had agreed on the exchange of prisoners.

Mr Mashal said the Afghan embassy’s team would visit various prisons in Pakistan for identification of prisoners.

“Many prisoners arrested in pity nature offences in the two countries should be released,” he said.

The ambassador said a 10-member team of Afghan government would visit prisons in Pakistan to find out prisoners, who had either completed their jail terms or were granted bails but couldn’t be released.

Afghan ambassador says mechanism to be developed for swapping detainees, who have served jail terms or got bail

He said he would also inspect prisons.

Mr Mashal said the Afghan government would facilitate Pakistani officials to inspect jails in Afghanistan to identify Pakistani prisoners, who couldn’t be freed due to some reasons.

The envoy, who assumed the charge in Islamabad around three weeks ago, didn’t explain whether the deal will be applicable to prisoners detained on charges of subversive activities and other heinous crimes in the two countries.

Both countries have yet to sign extradition or prisoner exchange treaties.

Earlier, during a brief chat with media, the Afghan ambassador failed to come up with a reply when asked about media reports that Afghan Taliban leader Hafez Mohibullah has been detained in Peshawar.

He said efforts were under way for peace in Afghanistan.

“We are here to work for peace in Afghanistan,” he said declining to comment on the detention of the Taliban leader.

The ambassador was very apprehensive about ill-treatment of Afghan nationals at the hands of Pakistani security personnel at Torkham border-crossing point and said the issue had been discussed with Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He said he would visit Torkham to review situation and would discuss the matter with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Corps Commander Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood today (Wednesday).

Mr Mashal said Afghan citizens coming to Pakistan were lined up at the entry gate for hours.

“We don’t need verbal promises. They (Pakistanis) should fulfil the promise of friendship, which they have been making,” he insisted.

The envoy said Pakistani authorities had promised to facilitate the entry of Afghan travelers at Torkham. He said he had proposed to make separate arrangements for women, elders and ambulance service at Torkham border to prevent mess and keep them from long wait.

Mr Mashal complained that every Afghan visa applicant was paying $200 outside Pakistani diplomatic mission in Kabul. He said the issue needed to be resolved.

The ambassador said officials of Pakistani missions in Kabul and Jalalabad were not involved in the illegal practice.

He said he had asked General Bajwa to increase the number of visas for Afghans and allow other consulates in Afghanistan to facilitate visa seekers.

Pakistani mission in Kabul issues 300 to 350 visas to Afghan nationals on a daily basis.

Mr Mashal expressed concern about the reports of the officials receiving bribes from Afghan truckers transporting goods under the Afghan Transit Trade.

He said ‘malpractices’ of the police and personnel of other law-enforcement agencies had a negative impact on the bilateral trade and therefore, Pakistani government should take measures for stopping illegal practices at checkposts.

The ambassador said he met Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and took up that issue with him as well.

He said Afghanistan wanted to increase the volume of trade with Pakistan. He asked Afghan and Pakistani traders to begin joint business ventures.

Mr Mashal said durable peace in Afghanistan was not only in the interest of Afghan nation but it would promote peace in the entire region.

He urged Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to play role for peace in his country.

“On average, 100 to 150 people are killed in Afghanistan daily. How long this bloodshed will continue as millions of people will continue to live in Pakistan as refugees,” he said asking his countrymen to stop living life as refugees by returning as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019

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UK parliament deals historic defeat to PM May’s Brexit deal

Britain’s parliament on Tuesday voted against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a massive margin, triggering a no confidence vote that could bring down her government.

The House of Commons lower house voted 432 to 202 against May’s plan for taking Britain out of the European Union after nearly five decades, one of the biggest defeats ever suffered by a British premier.

The EU warned that the vote, which plunges Britain into uncharted waters, boosts the risk of a “no deal” Brexit.

Moments after the outcome, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn submitted a motion of no-confidence in May’s government.

The vote is set for Wednesday.

Speaking moments before the MPs cast their ballots, May said MPs had a “duty to deliver” on the results of a 2016 referendum that started the divorce.

“I believe we have a duty to deliver on the democratic decision of the British people,” May said, warning MPs that the EU would not offer any “alternative deal”.

“A vote against this deal is a vote for uncertainty, division, and the very real threat of a no deal,” she argued to loud jeers from the packed chamber.

“The responsibility of each and every one of us at this moment is profound, for this is a historic decision that will set the future of our country for generations.” Most lawmakers have always opposed Brexit, as have some leading members of May’s government, creating an inherent contradiction that has torn apart the island nation.

And with just over two months to go until the scheduled March 29 departure, Britain still cannot decide what to do.

Know more: ,What is Brexit all about?,

May must now decide whether she tries to hold another vote, gets kicked out of office, delays Brexit — or if Brexit even happens at all.

As their nation’s fate was being decided, hundreds of noisy supporters and opponents of Brexit, some banging drums and others driving floats with huge dolls mocking top UK politicians, rallied outside the ancient parliament building in London.

“It could end up being the day that will lead to us leaving with no deal!” said 25-year-old Simon Fisher, who backs a swift and sharp break with the EU.

A much larger rally nearby in support of a second referendum turned Parliament Square into a sea of EU flags.

One pro-Brexit activist attempting to join the rally was detained by police to shouts of “scum” from fellow protesters in an indication of rising tensions.

Others voiced their support for a second referendum, an option May’s government rules out.

‘No Deal? No problem!’

May made it her mission to carry out the wishes of voters after she became premier in July 2016, putting aside her own initial misgivings and stating repeatedly that “Brexit means Brexit”.

But facing a heavy drubbing, May decided to postpone a parliamentary vote in December on the Brexit deal in the hope of winning concessions from Brussels — and that a Christmas break would change lawmakers’ minds.

EU leaders came back with only non-binding clarifications, and just a handful of new MPs have rallied to May’s side.

The UK government’s current plan appears to be to try to ram a very similar version of the agreement through parliament on a second or possibly even third attempt.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker returned to Brussels from Strasbourg on Tuesday “to handle the situation after the vote,” according to his office.

In Strasbourg, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas raised the possibility of further talks while ruling out a full renegotiation of the text.

Hardline Brexiteers and Remainers oppose the agreement for different reasons and many fear it could lock Britain into an unfavourable trading relationship with the EU.

Bitter debates about Britain’s place in the world have dominated the national discourse ever since the referendum, dividing families and playing out in front of parliament on Tuesday.

Financial markets were also watching closely, with several currency trading companies roping in extra staff for the vote and at least one putting a cap on trades to avoid excessive movements.

Risk of no deal

Criticism of the deal is focused on an arrangement to keep open the border with Ireland by aligning Britain with some EU trade rules, if and until London and Brussels sign a new economic partnership which could take several years.

Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, upon which May relies for her parliamentary majority, told the BBC his party would not be forced into backing the deal by fears over the border.

The government must set out what happens next by Monday, if — as is expected — it survives the no-confidence vote.

Speculation is growing on both sides of the Channel that May could ask to delay Brexit.

But a diplomatic source told AFP any extension would not be possible beyond June 30, when the new European Parliament will be formed.

The withdrawal agreement includes plans for a post-Brexit transition period until a new relationship is drawn up, in return for continued budget contributions from London.

Without it, and if there is no delay, Britain will sever ties with its nearest neighbours with no agreement to ease the blow.

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A resounding thumbs-down awaits British PM in historic Brexit deal vote

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces crushing defeat in a historic vote in parliament on Tuesday over the ,Brexit deal, she has struck with the European Union, leaving the world’s fifth biggest economy in limbo.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, Britain is still bitterly divided over what should happen next and the only suspense over the vote is the scale of May’s defeat.

The British leader’s last-minute appeals to MPs appear to have fallen on deaf ears and how much she loses by could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit — or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

The composition of the UK parliament.

The composition of the UK parliament.

“When the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this house [...] and ask: did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union,” May asked MPs on the eve of the vote.

Brexit deal: ,The end of a loveless 46-year marriage,

In the event of a defeat, the government must set out what happens next by Monday at the latest.

Speculation is growing on both sides of the Channel that whatever the outcome, May could ask to delay Brexit. A diplomatic source told AFP any extension would not be possible beyond June 30, when the new European Parliament will be formed.

Theresa May postponed a House of Commons vote on the deal in December, facing certain defeat, and has since offered MPs clarifications she hopes will convince them. ? AFP

Theresa May postponed a House of Commons vote on the deal in December, facing certain defeat, and has since offered MPs clarifications she hopes will convince them. ? AFP

The withdrawal agreement includes plans for a post-Brexit transition period to provide continuity until a new relationship is drawn up, in return for continued budget contributions from London.

Without it, and if there is no delay, Britain will sever 46 years of ties with its nearest neighbours this spring with no new arrangements to ease the blow.

A German government spokesperson on Tuesday denied a report in The Sun tabloid that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had suggested to May in a phone-call that the EU could grant extra concessions in the event of a defeat.

“The chancellor has given no assurances,” he said.

‘No Deal? No problem!’

Opposition to the deal forced May to postpone the vote in December in the hope of winning extra concessions from Brussels but EU leaders offered only a series of clarifications and have ruled out re-negotiating the deal.

The vote is the climax of over two years of intense national debate after the shock Brexit referendum of 2016 — a result that mostly pro-Remain MPs have struggled with.

Read: ,What is Brexit all about?,

Hardline Brexiteers and Remainers oppose the agreement for different reasons and many fear it could lock Britain into an unfavourable trading relationship with the EU.

Pro- and anti-Brexit campaigners rallied outside parliament ahead of the vote. One placard read “EU Membership is the Best Deal”, another said: “No Deal? No Problem!”

Uncertainty over Brexit has hit the British economy hard. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) lobby group on Tuesday warned MPs that Britain crashing out of the EU would be “catastrophic”.

Financial markets will also be watching the result very closely, with several currency traders roping in extra staff around the time of the vote and at least one putting a cap in trades to avoid excessive currency movements.


Rather than heal the divisions exposed by the Brexit referendum, the vote has reignited them. Pro-European MPs campaigning to force a second vote say they have faced death threats and harassment outside parliament.

Brexit supporters around the country have also voiced growing frustration with what they see as parliamentary blockage of their democratic vote.

Criticism is focused on an arrangement to keep open the border with Ireland by aligning Britain with some EU trade rules, if and until London and Brussels sign a new economic partnership which could take several years.

May has offered parliament greater oversight of this so-called backstop and EU leaders have also given written assurances that the arrangement would not become permanent.

A handful of Conservative MPs have changed their minds to back the deal but the core of May’s critics say she has not done enough.

Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Northern Irish party on whom May relies for her Commons majority, told the BBC his party would not be forced into backing the deal by fears over the border.

“We fought (against) a terrorist campaign (in order) to stay part of the United Kingdom,” he said, evoking Northern Ireland’s past conflict.

“We are not going to allow bureaucrats in Brussels to separate us from the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May had “completely and utterly failed” to ease MPs’ concerns and said if she loses the vote on Tuesday night, she must call an election.

His party has said it will call a confidence vote in her government “soon” after the virtually certain defeat.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 15, 2019 at 1:25 pm

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Trump and PM Khan ‘may find some sort of common ground’ during meeting: ex-US envoy Munter

Former United States ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter on Sunday said President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan “may find some sort of common ground” if and when a meeting is held between the two leaders.

Addressing an event organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, the former envoy said Trump and Khan are in power because they both have “very good political sense”.

“They have the fingertip feeling, as we say, they’re very clever with people,” he said while speaking at the event, ‘Brunch & Conversation with Ambassador Cameron Munter’, held at Karachi’s Movenpick Hotel.

Munter said there was a possibility that if the two leaders meet, they might find some common ground that could help improve their bilateral relationship.”Not the kind that typical analytical diplomats find, but they may find that there is common ground in some way,” he added.

On January 2, President Trump had ,expressed his desire to meet Prime Minister Khan, for talks on US-led efforts to jump-start the Afghan peace process. “I look forward to meeting the folks from the new leadership in Pakis­tan [and] we will be doing that in not-too-distant future,” he had said.

Following this, the Foreign Office had welcomed Trump’s remarks on ties with Pakistan and said the government was ,keenly waiting for the engagement at the highest level,.

“We look forward to positive engagement with the US at the leadership level,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had said during a weekly media briefing.

During the event today, Munter expressed a desire for better relations between Washington and Islamabad, DawnNewsTV reported.

The former US envoy said that at a tactical level there was still a sense that the kind of ties the United States has with the Pakistani military are “valuable and important, if for no other reason then that there is still a residual [American] force in Afghanistan”.

He said it was the “competence” of the Pakistan Army that made them a “good partner” for Washington, and cited the example of the 2010 floods in Pakistan. During the catastrophic floods, he said he had opted not to call the PPP government to help the affected people, and instead approached the Pakistani military.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 13, 2019 at 5:25 pm

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Saudi Arabia must hold Khashoggi’s killers ‘accountable’: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday he will ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held accountable for their crime.

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, spoke ahead of a politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia, which has faced intense international scrutiny over Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told a news conference in Qatar.

“So, we’ll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

Pompeo is due to travel to Saudi Arabia later on Sunday as part of an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

He was speaking in Doha after meeting his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

He will meet the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, before heading to Saudi Arabia.

Smiles with MBS

Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in a case which stunned the world and threatened a serious rift between Riyadh and Washington.

The journalist was murdered and his corpse ,dismembered i,nside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince. Washington subsequently demanded a transparent investigation.

Examine: ,Jamal Khashoggi understood power. That’s why he’s dead,

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people, and are ,seeking the death penalty, against five of them.

But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors despite ,US intelligence reportedly having evidence, he was behind it.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

Pompeo meeting the crown prince in October. —AP

Pompeo meeting the crown prince in October. —AP

However, US President Donald President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the ,US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed, for the murder.

Washington is eager for regional unity to gain widespread support its fight against Iran.

Pompeo refused on Sunday to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

Gulf crisis

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — ,cut ties with Qatar, in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.” He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

However, Pompeo later admitted in a Q&A session with US embassy staff in Doha that no progress was made on resolving the issue.

Pompeo and the Qatari foreign minister hold a joint press conference in Doha. —AFP

Pompeo and the Qatari foreign minister hold a joint press conference in Doha. —AFP

“(It’s) not at all clear that the rift is any closer to being resolved today than it was yesterday,” he said. “And I regret that.” He said he raised the standoff at length with his counterparts in Qatar, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain.

The United States, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

“It was time for change and he made his decision to move on but America’s commitment remains unchanged,” said Pompeo of Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday, and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

“This reflects the good and historical relationship between the two countries,” said the Qatari foreign minister.

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Five die in attack on Afghan police station

HERAT: Gunmen stormed a police station in western Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding two others, officials said, in the latest violence targeting the war-torn country’s beleaguered security forces.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the raid in the provincial capital of Herat, near the Iranian border, but the Taliban have been relentless in their assaults on Afghan police and soldiers.

Two police officers and three civilians, including a child, died in the attack that lasted nearly two hours, the provincial governor’s spokesman Jelani Farhad said.

Another two officers were wounded. Both attackers were killed.

Special forces of police were deployed to the area, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

The latest violence follows a wave of Taliban attacks on Afghan forces, who have been dying in record numbers as the 17-year war grinds on.

The bloodshed comes as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region for meetings aimed at bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan, which by some estimates was the world’s deadliest conflict zone in 2018.

Khalilzad, who met Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, will travel to Afghanistan as well as China, India and Pakistan on the trip lasting through January 21.

In accordance with US policy, the State Department did not say if he would again meet the Taliban but said he would talk to “Afghan government officials and other interested parties”. The recent flurry of diplomatic activity to get the Taliban to the negotiating table has caused disquiet in Afgha­nistan, with the government feeling sidelined from the discussions.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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Dr Asad Majeed Khan presents credentials to US President Donald Trump

Dr Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s new Ambassador to the United States, presented his credentials to US President Donald Trump at a ceremony held at the White House, a press release issued from the country’s mission in Washington said on Saturday.

“Ambassador Khan conveyed the greetings of Pakistan’s leadership to President Trump who reciprocated with similar positive sentiments for Prime Minister Imran Khan,” read the press release.

President Trump, according to the press release, said that he wants to explore opportunities for the two countries to work closely together and to renew their partnership.

The new envoy arrived in Washington earlier this week to take charge of the effort to renew once close relationship between the US and Pakistan.

Dr Majeed, until recently Pakistan’s ambassador in Tokyo, replaced Ali Jehangir Siddiqui who was appointed by the PML-N government days before its departure. Siddiqui held the position for more than seven months from May 9 to Dec 25, 2018 before being relieved of his duties by the incumbent PTI government.

Ambassador Majeed, who was also Pakistan’s deputy ambassador in Washington till 2015, is expected to revive Pakistani lobbies on the Hill that once played an effective role in promoting bilateral ties but have become ineffective due to internal disputes and lack of interest.

The new envoy’s efforts to re-engage with the Pakistani-Ameri­can community will be restricted by a US ban that prohibits Pakis­tani diplomats from travelling outside of a 25-mile radius around Washington without approval.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 12, 2019 at 8:25 am

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‘PM to appear before NAB whenever summoned’

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) does not believe in the policy of conflicts in politics and that the government does not have the power to send someone to jail.

Talking to the media here on Friday, the minister said that the PTI government has only acted upon the decisions of courts. “Not even a single case was initiated against the leadership of PPP and PML-N during the PTI government. Rule of law prevails in the country and everyone is equal before it,” he added.

Read: ,If opposition leader can appear before NAB, so can prime minister: NAB chief Javed Iqbal,

He commented that Prime Minister Imran Khan will appear before the National Accountability Bureau whenever summoned.

He further said some elements were creating hurdles in the creation of south Punjab province by spreading baseless propaganda. In the past, funds for south Punjab were distributed among other provinces, but not anymore.

He further said that a civil secretariat for south Punjab will be made functional during the ongoing fiscal year, while a separate public service commission was also being established.

The foreign minister said that after coming into power the government’s priority was to improve ties with countries that had strained during the tenure of the previous government. “We improved our relations with Saudi Arabia, and because of the improved foreign policies of the PTI government Riyadh gave Islamabad a financial package of $12 billion. The UAE and China also announced financial aid of $3bn and $2bn, respectively. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is also coming to Pakistan on March 23 along with a delegation of investors,” he claimed.

He further said premier Khan is going to Qatar on Jan 22, adding that Doha had announced employment for 100,000 Pakistanis. The Foreign Ministry was actively promoting foreign investment in the country through economic diplomacy, he added.

He further said that he had asked all Central Asian nations to play their role for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan, however, some forces were against it. It was because of Prime Minister Imran Khan that the US had changed its attitude towards Pakistan and agreed for a dialogue, Mr Qureshi claimed.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019

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‘Mistrust on both sides needs to be unwound’: Former envoy Ali Siddiqui on Pak-US ties

Former ambassador to the United States Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, who served in Washington from May-Dec 2018 ? a period when Pak-US ties ,went from cold to frigid, ? spoke to Dawn about the complexities in relations between the two countries, the challenges he faced as an envoy, and whether Pakistan can contribute to normalcy in Afghanistan.

Siddiqui, who left Washington yesterday, told Dawn that he could have been more effectual serving a full three-year term, but maintained that he had contributed to an improvement in bilateral ties during his short seven-month tenure.

Q: How did America’s demand for Pakistan to do more impact bilateral ties?

Siddiqui: I cannot say whether they recognise that it was an unfair demand i.e. Pakistan had done a lot at a great cost to herself. But it is clear that the US South Asia strategy was not successful.

I think that Pakistan has gained from standing its ground. Of course, in the interim, there was a lot of pressure on the relationship but we sustained it.

Q: What do you believe is preventing Pak-US relations from taking off?

Siddiqui: The lack of clarity on both sides. Pakistan has not had broad-based strategic dialogue with the US for a long time and that has held things back.

But when we did have the strategic dialogue in the Obama years, that was precisely when the relationship was worsening rapidly. So, the problem is deeper than a structured engagement.

There is mistrust on both sides that needs to be unwound and that will take effort, whereby the leadership on both sides needs to be engaged by their respective diplomats and historical issues are discussed, and we clear and put the last 20 years of history behind us.

Q: The common perception is that both sides fail to understand each other. Instead of talking to each other, do they talk across each other?

Siddiqui: I don’t think this perception is correct. The bureaucracies on both sides are sophisticated. But the US political system has much more influence in its bureaucracy compared to ours ? many US bureaucrats at the Assistant Secretary and higher levels are political appointees. So there is a strong political dimension in their system, which means that the direction that the US President wants is where the system goes.

Both sides have an understanding of each other and of their own historical positions. It is true that both sides don’t spend enough time understanding where the other is coming from and frequently miss the considerations and pressures the other side has to manage. From our foreign policy perspective, I would say that I observed that since we are busy dealing with short term issues and crises, there is limited long term policy planning at least vis a vis the US.

For example, an answer to the question ‘Where do we want the Pak-US relationship to be in 15 years?’ will dictate whether the next generations of our students will study in the US, whether our scientists will collaborate with US scientific institutions, whether our economy will have significant linkages to the US economy etc. The answer vis-a-vis China is clear, but with the US it is not so.

Q: Can Pakistan help create a semblance of normalcy in Afghanistan as the Americans demand?

Siddiqui: There is a lot of focus on Pakistan here but we have already done everything we can. We used every ounce of security and diplomatic goodwill we had to get all parties to the table.

The outcome of these talks will be determined by the Americans and the Afghan people, not Pakistan.

The Americans understand that and we are facilitating the process as best we can because not only is peace in Afghanistan a noble goal but Pakistan has been the second-worst sufferer in this conflict and we want a peaceful Afghanistan.

Q: Pakistanis often say that they want trade, not aid. Are they serious about it?

Siddiqui: I sometimes think that our policy planners missed something here. Trade not aid is quite dated, by some decades. The adage about teaching a man to fish, instead of giving him fish has been replaced by teaching a man to change fishing!

In the same way, trade not aid is no longer applicable. There is a role for aid, there is a role for trade, but with all the evolution in technology and other change in the world, we need to look for something new. Perhaps technology, not trade. Although I would repeat that trade and aid are both relevant.

Q: Pakistanis often boast about their strategic location, arguing that they cannot be ignored because of this. Was this strategic location an asset for you or an obstacle?

Siddiqui: Saying we have a strategic location, like saying we have a young population, is taking a one-sided position on what is a fact. A one-sided position, while correct on its own, ignores the disadvantages. A youthful population also means a struggle to get them employed while a strategic location means geopolitical complexity.

So, I dealt with our strategic location as a fact. Sometimes there were advantages and other times there was complexity. But all complexity is an opportunity to clear matters. For example, we were caught up in the US-China competition as a result of our strategic location, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and closeness to China.

There were statements made both on Capitol Hill and by the US administration that money Pakistan may get from the International Monetary Fund may end up repaying China but we have been successful in explaining to all US departments of government and this is not how IMF and our loans to China are structured.

Having dealt with this complexity due to our strategic location, we have created a better understanding of Pakistan and our positions with these stakeholders.

Q: Do you think your performance would have been better if you had a full term? Would you like to return with a full term?

Siddiqui: Of course. Diplomatic results are a function of skills and time. If I had three years rather than seven months, we would have achieved 10 times the results.

I’m not being simplistic as its not linear. It takes time to build relationships and access and, in the end, Washington, like Islamabad is a small town. There are a few hundred relevant people in leadership and they are split between the White House, Congress, departments of government, the security establishment, business, scientific establishment etc.

We have lost a lot of ground over the last two decades and more hard work and time are what is needed to regain it.

As for me, I haven’t given much thought to returning if ever offered. I spent 18 months in government between Islamabad and Washington at great personal cost in terms of opportunity, family life etc. My wife Saira has been a pillar of support both in going along with my transition to government and in her capacity as the wife of an ambassador, particularly in Washington where the spouse has a major role in diplomacy. So, it would have to be a ‘team-decision’!

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FMs of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan meet today

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China are expected to raise with Afghanistan on Saturday the issue of all­eg­ed support of Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies in the ,attack on the Chinese consulate, in Kara­chi, a diplomatic source said.

Foreign ministers of the three countries are meeting in Kabul for the second trilateral ministerial dialogue.

One of the three sessions of the daylong foreign ministers’ dialogue is dedicated to security.

The other two sessions pertain to the political settlement of the Afghan conflict and regional cooperation.

The foreign ministers will also meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Islamabad and Beijing may raise with Kabul issue of ‘support’ of RAW, NDS in Chinese consulate attack

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is leading the Pakistani delegation to the meeting. The delegation comprises diplomats and military and security officials.

“Pakistan and China would together take up the alleged role of RAW [India] and NDS [Afghanistan] in the consulate attack,” the diplomatic source told journalists here on the background.

Three terrorists had att­ack­ed the Chinese consulate on Nov 23. Timely res­ponse by security guards and law enforcement agencies foiled the attack. Although the terrorists could not enter the Chinese consulate premises, four people, including two security personnel, lost their lives in the attack claimed by Baloch insurgents.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had hours after the attack told his cabinet: “The terrorists were being fed from outside to destabilise the country. We will go after all of them.”

Beijing, meanwhile, urged the Pakistani government after the attack to “take measures to ensure the safety” of Chinese citizens in Pakistan.

The diplomatic source, however, did not elaborate what evidence of RAW and NDS collaboration in the attack had the intelligence agencies been able to collect.

However, it is important that the Pakistani and Chinese foreign ministers will be together taking up the matter with the Afghan foreign minister.

The three sides had under the trilateral mechanism previously agreed to “strengthen anti-terrorism and security cooperation”. The three countries said they highly valued the trilateral cooperation mechanism and stood ready to strengthen communication, enhance mutual trust and deepen cooperation under its framework.

It should be recalled that the first ministerial meeting held in Beijing in Dece­mber last year had helped Islamabad and Kabul make progress on the establishment of ‘Afghanistan-Pakis­tan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS)’, which then became the new framework for steering the bilateral relations.

The cooperation under APAPPS too has lately slowed down in the aftermath of the Oct 18 Kand­ahar attack that claimed the lives of top Afghan police official Gen Abdul Raziq and a few other key government officials.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018

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Govt finds gaps in security at non-CPEC projects, businesses

RAWALPINDI: The government has found serious gaps in the security arrangements for businesses and residences owned by Chinese nationals after a review following the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi.

Sources said the provincial intelligence centre had observed that security for Chinese diplomats and officials as well as offices, residences and business sites in Punjab needed to be reviewed on an urgent basis.

The exercise aimed to examine the available security arrangements made by the concerned authorities, find lapses and make improvements to the security arrangements for projects unrelated to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The intelligence agency’s field staff conducted a survey of the projects, checked and reported on various parameters and submitted a comprehensive report identifying flaws and suggestions.

The report indicated that security arrangements at projects, businesses, offices and residences were unsatisfactory, and gaps were observed in the security audit that needed to be addressed on a priority basis due to the existing security situation.

According to sources, Chinese workers and experts are working on 102 development projects across Punjab, including 41 in Lahore, 17 in Sheikhupura, 11 in the Rawalpindi division, eight in Gujranwala, eight in Sargodha, six in Faisalabad, four in Bahawalpur, three in Sahiwal, three in D.G. Khan and one in Multan.

In addition to the projects, there are Chinese nationals have 152 residences, 131 businesses and 101 offices in the province.

There are 130 residences in Lahore, 10 in Faisalabad, four in Sahiwal, four in Multan, three in Bahawalpur and one in Sheikhupura. There are 117 businesses in Lahore, seven in Gujranwala, six in Faisalabad and one in Multan, and 86 offices in Lahore, 14 in Faisalabad and one in Multan.

One of the security gaps detailed in the report was a lack of an 8ft boundary wall with 2ft of razor wire at 315 points in the province. One point in Rawalpindi also lacks a boundary wall with razor wire.

CCTV cameras were not installed at 102 out of 486 points, while search lights were lacking at 236 points and 413 did not have alarm systems.

There were 52 points that lacked police and private security, metal detectors were not found at 315 points, 406 lacked walk-through gates and 418 lacked a bottom-view mirror.

The audit also revealed that 445 points lacked pop-up barriers, 41 did not have communication systems between security personnel and 391 did not have watch towers.

There were no rehearsal of contingency plans at 437 points, and a police escort was not available during the movement of Chinese experts at 278 points.

The report suggested that officials deployed for the security of Chinese nationals should be briefed and placed on high alert.

All divisional police chiefs have been directed to visit all the projects operating in their respective jurisdictions and submit reports, following the findings of the security audit.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2018

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Saad spills the beans on PML-N strategy to ‘go soft’ on PTI

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique has spilled the beans on his party’s strategy to “go soft” on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and “mysterious silence” of former prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.

The former railways minister also believes that his ‘difficult days’ may be over if he becomes a “good boy” and keeps mum on the wishes of the powers that be.

“We fear that if political temperature is raised, democracy may be derailed and that is why we are not going for agitation,” Mr Rafique said at a press conference here on Friday.

“We want to save Pakistan from repeat of another [Bangladesh-like] incident. At present there is a civil martial law in Pakistan in the name of democracy. We see a terrible political future of Prime Minister Imran Khan the way things are going. It is very much likely that Mr Khan will not be able to complete his term,” he said, adding that the country could not be run through “puppet rulers”.

Says Maryam is silent but silence has its own voice

“Such a selective premier like Imran Khan is brought in the wake of rigged polls. Imran Khan and those supporting him want that vocal leaders are sent to jail. Going to jail is the fate of only politicians and a few civil servants. We are told to stitch our lips and become ‘good boys’ and if don’t we are tagged ‘bad boys’. Let me tell you I will play on front foot,” he declared and urged that those involved in “this dangerous game” should stop playing it as it would be detrimental to the solidarity of the country.

In reply a question about prolonged silence of Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N leader said: “Yes, she is silent but silence has its own voice.”

Ms Nawaz has stopped tweeting and issuing statements since she got bail in the Avenfield reference along with her husband and father in September.

Mr Rafique, who is being named as ‘beneficial owner’ of the Paragon Housing Scheme, took on the National Accountability Bureau for forcing his ‘old friend’ Qaisar Amin Butt to become an approver against him.

“Mr Butt, who started his political career as a councillor along with me, was forced by NAB to turn an approver against me. A magistrate before whom Mr Butt did not give statement against me was changed. Then in the presence of NAB officials a statement of its (NAB’s) choice was extracted from Mr Butt (against me) in violation of the Lahore High Court’s order,” he said and alleged that four other witnesses in this case were tortured [to extract statements against him].

Pointing to his younger brother Khawaja Salman Rafique, who was sitting next to him during the press conference, the PML-N leader said: “He is an innocent man and he is also facing the music [in the NAB case] because of me.”

He said that evidence against him and his brother was being collected in the Paragon housing case for the last one and a half years. “In the PML-N case, NAB first makes arrests and then starts collecting evidence.”

Mr Rafique alleged that Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to the prime minister on accountability, was a link between NAB and Imran Khan. “Shahzad Akbar holds meetings in NAB as he is the link between the bureau and the premier.”

He also said that two new trains were operated on Mianwali and Karachi routes on 100 per cent loss on the wishes the prime minister and the president. “Because of these trains, substantial increase was made in the fares.”

The PML-N leader taunted PM Khan for his failure on the diplomatic front with India. “Today Imran Khan is begging India to hold talks but the latter is refusing it. The damage done to CPEC by PTI is more than what India could do,” he said.

Reacting to the former railways minister’s remarks, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan criticised the former for his “dubious role” in the PML-N. “Saad Rafique along with Qaiser Amin Butt launched Paragon Housing Scheme in 2000 when Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif were attending court hearings [in different cases during the Gen Musharraf regime]. Could both Khawaja brothers have made business without striking a deal with a dictator [Musharraf]?” he told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly. Mr Chohan said Mr Rafique was upset after Mr Butt became an approver against him.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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US general addresses Pakistan concerns on India’s role

WASHINGTON: Two key elements of an Afghan peace deal — Pakistan’s concerns over India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and what the US could do to allay those concerns — were both highlighted at a congressional hearing this week.

Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie, the next chief of the US Central Command (Centcom), raised both points in a written response to the US Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing the other day.

He also said that as Centcom chief, he “will make Pakistan a priority engagement”.

Says as Centcom chief he will make Islamabad a priority engagement

“At this time, Pakistan does not appear to be using the full extent of its influence to encourage the Taliban to come to the table,” he wrote in a response posted on the committee’s website on Wednesday.

“We continue to see the Taliban being utilised as a hedge against India rather than as part of a stable, reconciled Afghanistan,” he added.

Gen McKenzie acknowledged that Pakistan “has national interests it wants addressed in any future political settlement in the region, including a politically stable Afghanistan”.

He said that under his command, US Centcom would continue to support efforts “towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which includes ensuring that Islamabad’s equities are acknowledged in any future agreement”.

The US general said that stability in South Asia was “the most important mutual strategic interest” for both the US and Pakistan, and “we must continue to engage with Pakistani leadership to realise how we can achieve this mutual interest”.

Gen McKenzie said Pakistan was an essential element in long-term stability in Afghanistan and could play a key role in facilitating talks between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.

The general was asked to give his assessment of the strategic relationship between the United States and Pakistan as well as to outline areas of shared strategic interest between the two countries.

Gen McKenzie replied: “The US and Pakistan military-to-military relationship is strong. We share an important strategic relationship given that Pakistan is a nuclear power that sits at the nexus of Russian, Chinese, Indian and American geopolitical interests. However, Pakistan’s action or inaction, as it relates to stability in Afghanistan, has often led to frustration between our governments and militaries.”

In reply to a question about the major challenges in US-Pakistan relationship, he said: “Despite Pakistan’s positive rhetoric in support of the South Asia Strategy, violent extremist organisations (VEOs) operate along its border with Afghanistan.

“While Pakistan has conducted some operations against VEOs in Pakistan, they must continue to expand these operations and remain aggressively engaged.

“Taking concrete steps that deny VEO safe havens in Pakistan, as well as VEO freedom of movement from Pakistan to Afghanistan, remains an important task that Pakistan needs to fulfil. Pakistan must leverage their influence over Taliban leadership to help compel them to come to the table for reconciliation negotiations.

“It is important to remember that we are asking Pakistan to focus a significant fraction of their national power away from what they perceive to be an existential threat.”

Gen McKenzie was asked what changes he would recommend to improve US relations with Pakistan, particularly in terms of military-to-military relations.

The general said Centcom continues to support the US president’s South Asia Strategy and remains committed to holding Pakistan accountable for the commitments they have made to support US efforts in finding a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict.

As for any policy changes, he added, Centcom will continue to provide coordinating support and military advice to the president and the Secretaries of Defence and State for any changes they are considering regarding US-Pakistan military-to-military relations. Since 2001, the United States has provided significant security assistance to Pakistan, including funds for reimbursement for the costs associated with military operations along the Afghan border.

The committee sought Gen McKenzie’s opinion about Pakistan’s role in helping to reconcile the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is an essential element in long-term stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan could play a key role in facilitating talks between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan, and I would welcome that development,” the general said.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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All stakeholders agree on need for talks to end Afghan conflict: FO

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday emphasised that all stakeholders of the Afghan conflict were now on the same page with regard to finding a political settlement through a dialogue for ending it.

“I would again emphasise that the point to be registered is that all stakeholders now agree with Pakistan’s position that the final settlement of the Afghan conflict can only be achieved through dialogue,” said FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal at his weekly media briefing.

In a major development this week, US President Donald Trump ,wrote a letter, to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Pakistan’s help for starting peace negotiations between Kabul and Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has positively responded to the US request and renewed its commitment to contribute to the process.

Dr Faisal said there were no preconditions for this cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“I want to clarify that when we negotiate there are no pre-set demands. Both sides give their positions and we try to identify converging areas to move forward. This is diplomacy. It remains our desire that matters may be resolved through dialogue rather than resorting to settlement through the gun,” he asserted.

Ties with India

The spokesman said that progress in Pakistan-India ties could only be achieved if India remained steadfast on the matter.

“We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India’s reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan’s proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalisation of relations between the two countries,” said Dr Faisal.

Recalling Prime Minister Khan’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he ,proposed the way forward, for resolving all outstanding issues between the two countries, he said: “You all know India agreed to our proposal one day, only to ,renege on their commitment, the next day. There is a lack of clarity and will, on the Indian side.”

“They have their domestic elections round the corner which have overtaken their policy. It is India that has to agree to work on the proposals that you just mentioned and to a comprehensive dialogue, in general. No other country is involved in this,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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China to provide ‘multiple forms of bailout packages’ to Pakistan: official

In order to “boost Pakistan’s economy”, Beijing is investing in multiple sectors and launching business ventures instead of providing loans, Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin said in an ,interview to Geo News,.

The interview — published on Sunday — was held in Lahore a few days after an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi was ,foiled by the police,.

Dingbin said that during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ,recent trip to China,, the two neighbours had signed 15 new agreements which will lead to increased cooperation in politics and the financial sector and will also improve cultural ties.

“Instead of hard cash, China plans to eventually provide multiple forms of bailout packages [to Pakistan] in the shape of phenomenal investments in fresh projects,” he said, adding that the investments will help Pakistan “overcome its financial crunch”.

He further said that the new ventures that were being launched would broaden the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chinese consul general claimed that China would “never leave Pakistan in a lurch” and will provide “maximum resources” to ensure that the latter can strengthen its wavering economy.

In response to a question about Pakistan’s crippling debts, Dingbin insisted that CPEC did not contribute to “Pakistan’s debt burden”.

He said that only four of the 22 projects launched under CPEC provided concessional loans, while the rest were investment-based and would strengthen Pakistan’s economy.

Chinese consulate attack

Dingbin said that following the attack on the consulate in Karachi, security around the Lahore consulate’s building had been increased. He said that a two-tier security mechanism had been developed in coordination with law enforcement agencies and the Punjab government.

Praising the bravery of the policemen who were martyred while holding off the attackers in Karachi, Dingbin said that his country’s diplomats were considering setting up permanent donation fund, that would not only provide aid to the families of the martyred policemen, but also help the “deserving people of Pakistan”.

Peng Zhengwu, the deputy consul general, who was also present during the interview, praised the bravery of the policemen who were martyred while engaging the attackers, and donated 1,000 RMB (yuan), while Dingbin gave 2,000 RMB.

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Former US president George H.W. Bush dead at 94

George H.W. Bush — the upper-crust war hero-turned-oilman and diplomat who steered America through the end of the Cold War as president and led a political dynasty that saw his son win the White House — died on Friday. He was 94.

George W. Bush called his father a “man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” in a statement announcing his death.

“The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41′s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush — his “most beloved woman in the world” — to whom he was married for 73 years.

The 41st American president was a foreign policy realist who navigated the turbulent but largely peaceful fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and assembled an unprecedented coalition to defeat Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein two years later.

But the decorated war pilot and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

His favoring of stability and international consensus stands in sharp contrast to the provocative bluster of fellow Republican and current White House occupant Donald Trump, a man whom Bush did not vote for in 2016.

Bush presided over economic malaise at home, and infuriated his fellow Republicans during a budget battle with rival Democrats by famously breaking his vow: “Read my Lips: No new taxes”.

But he was the respected patriarch of a blue-blood political dynasty — son George spent eight years in the White House, and son Jeb served as governor of Florida.

At the time of his death, Bush was the American president to have lived the longest.

Jimmy Carter was born a few months later, so he could quickly reset the record.

“America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude,” former president Barack Obama said in a statement.

War, oil, politics

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty — the son of Prescott Bush, a successful banker and US senator for Connecticut.

Bush had a pampered upbringing and attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, but delayed his acceptance to Yale in order to enlist in the US Navy on his 18th birthday and head off to war.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II. Shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, he parachuted out and was rescued by a submarine after huddling in a life raft for four hours while enemy forces circled.

Bush married Barbara Pierce in January 1945, shortly before the war ended, and the couple went on to have six children, including one, Robin, who died as a child.

Instead of joining his father in banking upon graduation from Yale University, Bush headed to bleak west Texas to break into the rough-and-tumble oil business.

He surprised many with his success, and by 1958 had settled in Houston as president of an offshore drilling company.

In the 1960s, Bush, now independently wealthy, turned to politics.

He was a local Republican Party chairman, and in 1966 won a seat in the US House of Representatives. He served there until 1970, when he lost a bid for the Senate.

Over the next decade, he held several high-level posts that took him and Barbara around the world: head of the Republican National Committee, US ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and director of the CIA, where he was praised for restoring morale after revelations of widespread illegal activity.

He served as vice president to Ronald Reagan after losing to him in the 1980 Republican primary, an eight-year period of hands-on training for the top post he would go on to win by a solid margin in 1988, as the Cold War was coming to an end.

‘This will not stand’

In a major test of the post-Cold War order, Saddam’s million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given the Iraqi strongman more than 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Bush famously vowed: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.”

He assembled a coalition of 32 nations to drive Iraqi forces out in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault.

Some 425,000 US troops backed by 118,000 allied soldiers took part in Operation Desert Storm, decimating Saddam’s military machine without ousting him from power — a task that would be accomplished 12 years later by Bush’s son.

Buoyed by his victory in the Gulf, Bush and his hard-nosed and widely respected secretary of state James Baker cobbled together the 1991 Madrid Conference to launch the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The conference was mainly symbolic, but it set the stage for the Oslo Accords two years later.

In late 1989, Bush sent US troops to Panama to oust strongman Manuel Noriega. He also set the groundwork for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Domestically, however, the economy stalled and Bush broke his pledge not to raise taxes in order to reach a budget deal with Democrats — a cardinal sin in the eyes of Republicans.

In 1992, Bush lost his re-election bid to Clinton — whose aide coined the now famous slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” — as eccentric third-party candidate Ross Perot syphoned off conservative votes.

The elder Bush’s cautious realpolitik would later be contrasted to his son’s far more costly ambition to transform the Middle East, but “Bush 41″ refused to weigh in on the debate, insisting he was proud of the presidency of “Bush 43″.

Active post-presidency

After retiring from public life, Bush fulfilled a wartime pledge to one day jump out of a plane for fun and famously went skydiving on his 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

He joined Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2011, Obama awarded Bush the highest US civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.

He worked with Carter, Clinton, Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017.

In 2001, Bush became just the second US president after John Adams to see his son become president.

Son Jeb made his own presidential run in 2016, but fell short in the Republican primaries against Trump.

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