Afghan officials deny being in talks with Taliban leaders

In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, Afghan army commandos train at the Shorab military camp in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Despite seemingly stalemated peace talks between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban, officials familiar with the efforts say the country's intelligence chief has exchanges by telephone nearly every day with leaders of the militant group. (AP)
Updated 31 August 2017
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Afghan officials deny being in talks with Taliban leaders

KABUL: Afghan officials on Wednesday denied being in regular talks with Taliban leaders, in response to an AP report based on documents showing that the intelligence chief speaks by telephone with militant leaders nearly every day.
National Security Adviser Mohammed Haneef Atmar issued a statement saying the Afghan government seeks peace but that all negotiations are handled by the High Peace Council. Atmar did not respond to questions sent by e-mail before the story was published, which his office requested when he was first contacted for comment.
In a separate statement, Afghanistan’s intelligence service denied its chief had contacts with Taliban leaders.
The AP report was based on documents describing the conversations that a senior Afghan security official showed the AP. The talks were held with Taliban leaders who were in Pakistan and the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an office.
In those documents the Taliban set out talking points that would seem to recognize the constitution and elections, a potential breakthrough in longtime peace efforts.
The Taliban talking points called for an interim government, with both sides holding on to the territory they controlled until polls could be held. While accepting women in schools and the workforce, they rejected the idea of a woman serving as president or on the Supreme Court.
The document also revealed a Taliban demand for special courts to oversee thousands of cases alleging that land was taken illegally by the rich and powerful in the post-Taliban era. Many of the landowners are former warlords who are now in the government. The Taliban wants the land returned to those from whom it was taken.
While Afghan officials said neither side was ready to agree to public peace talks, the documents revealed details of the issues discussed.
The Taliban also denied talking to representatives of Afghanistan’s government. When the group was contacted by the AP prior to the article being published they refused to address specifics, saying only that they were not interested in talks.


Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

  • Nawaz Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose his source of income to acquire Al-Azizia Steel Mills

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to release former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on bail for six weeks to receive medical treatment but said he would not be allowed to leave the country.
Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.
The case was heard by a three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The three-time former premier has been suffering from a heart condition and kidney problems and has been admitted to hospital. A previous bail appeal was rejected last month.
The Supreme Court removed Sharif from office in July 2017 for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company and he was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income.
In one of those cases, over the ownership of upmarket properties in London, the high court granted him bail last September, suspending a 10-year sentence until a final decision on his appeal against the conviction.
The appeal process in both cases is continuing.
Sharif has termed the charges against him politically motivated and accused the military and courts of working together to end his political career and destabilize his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.