China, Pakistan, Afghanistan ask Taliban to join peace process

Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, center, is flanked by Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif during the First China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue. (Photo courtesy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs — Islamabad)
Updated 27 December 2017
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China, Pakistan, Afghanistan ask Taliban to join peace process

ISLAMABAD: China hosted the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Tuesday, in a bid to improve the neighbors’ historically fractious relationship.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani of Afghanistan and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif led delegations from their respective countries.
According to a joint communique, the three countries agreed to strengthen counterterrorism coordination and cooperation. “The three sides will communicate and consult on developing a memorandum of understanding for counterterrorism cooperation,” it read.
All three countries urged the Taliban to join the peace process “as soon as possible,” calling a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which is Afghan-led and fully supported regionally and internationally the “most viable solution to end violence in Afghanistan.”
In the first trilateral dialogue between the three countries, the foreign ministers reiterated their “strong determination not to allow any country, organization or individual to use their respective territories for terrorist activities against any other countries,” according to their joint statement.
Speaking at a joint press briefing after their meeting, Asif said: “It was agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential for our shared objective of development, deepening connectivity and economic prosperity.”
“Pakistan emphasized the importance of border management, the return of Afghan refugees, and intelligence sharing for effective counter-terrorism cooperation.”
Afghanistan’s Rabbani said: “Terrorism is growing by the day and to turn around this trend will require full, sincere and practical cooperation among states in our own region and beyond to defeat this common menace.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment, but the Taliban have previously rejected any offer to participate in the peace process.
China has serious concerns about the often-tense relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in view of its huge investment in the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as well as its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
Pakistani experts believe China has now adopted a proactive regional diplomatic approach to promote peace and reconciliation in war-torn Afghanistan, in cooperation with Pakistan, which would also help ensure security in China’s Xinjiang province, which borders both countries.
China has already hosted a meeting between the Afghan Taliban and Afghan government officials in 2015, and a delegation of Qatar-based Taliban political representatives traveled to China earlier this year, according to a Taliban official.
Sen. Mushahid Hussain, chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Defense Committee, said China is uniquely positioned to play an active role not only in economic development, but also in peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
“Unlike others, China carries no extra-baggage, having stayed out of the internecine civil strife in Afghanistan,” Hussain told Arab News. ”Beijing enjoys the confidence of both the Afghan government and the Taliban, as well as Pakistan and the US, which has a diminishing military presence without China’s political and economic clout.”
“China’s economic growth southward, especially the CPEC, is directly impacted by Afghanistan,” said Ishaq Ahmed Khattak, director, intelligence and international security studies, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).
And, given the investment China has made in Afghanistan, it has to play a “predominant role in bringing peace through economic development and negotiations,” he explained.
Foreign Minister Yi visited Kabul and Islamabad in June this year to mend ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan. During that visit, the three countries agreed to establish a mechanism for regular interaction.
In their meeting on Tuesday, the foreign ministers decided that their next gathering would be held in Kabul in 2018.


Despite talk of equality, women bosses still rare in the US

We are going in the wrong direction, says equality advocate. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 October 2018
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Despite talk of equality, women bosses still rare in the US

NEW YORK: This year was touted as the year of women in politics in the United States, but in the business world, female bosses remain few and far between.
And some warn the situation is unlikely to improve with men unwilling to play the role of mentor to younger female colleagues in the era of the #MeToo movement, which has heightened awareness of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
The departure in September of India’s Indra Nooyi as head of PepsiCo. after more than a decade in the job has only reinforced a trend that has been growing for the past two years: the decline in the number of women CEOs even as debate about the need for equality in the workplace rages, and amid increasing calls for women to break through the “glass ceiling.”
Recently, a number of prominent women have left their posts as company heads, including Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup, Margo Georgiadis of Mattel, Sherilyn McCoy of Avon, Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, Ursula Burns of Xerox, and Ellen Kullman of Dupont.
All of them have been replaced by men, a blow for diversity since fewer than five percent of leaders of the S&P 500 largest enterprises are now women, down from 5.4 percent in 2017.
“We are going in the wrong direction,” said Lorraine Hariton, whose NGO Catalysts advocates for women in senior positions.
“Women have gotten into entry-level positions very successfully, and then they get to middle management, and things stall out,” she said. “Women still today are not reaching the top, particularly women of color.”
Dismissing the idea that the glass ceiling is down to women’s decision to focus on family rather than career, experts lay the blame more on deep-rooted cliches.
Hariton said her group’s research “shows that the stereotype that men ‘take charge’ and women ‘take care’ puts women leaders in a double bind and can potentially undermine their leadership and career and advancement options.”
“Women suffer ‘Goldilocks’ syndrome: they are judged as being too hard, too soft, and never just right for the job,” she said.
“Women are held to higher ethical standards and punished more harshly after ethical violations than are men,” said Vanderbilt University professor Jessica Kennedy.
“In short, women face higher standards and have more to prove than men do,” she said
Women who aim high in business often find they are not invited to important meetings or to after-work gatherings, both places where important connections are made, experts say.
This “culture of exclusion” may get even worse because of the #MeToo movement, because some men worry “that a compliment to their young mentee is likely to actually trigger accusations of sexual harassment,” said Kennedy.
“Nothing much happens without sponsorship,” said Hariton, noting that a mentor or sponsor shares vital contacts, gives advice and pushes for their protege’s advancement.
Even though the number of women in managerial positions has risen in the past decade, many are stuck in mid-level positions like head of human resources, or the legal or financial director of their company, according to Pew Research. Very few rise as high as chief operating officer, the launchpad to the CEO post.
On the other hand, researchers have found that it is not uncommon for a woman to be offered the helm of a company that is already in trouble, a “glass cliff” post she is more likely to accept in a bid to prove herself even if the chances of success are low.
Christy Glass, a professor at the University of Utah, said women are also seen as being better at breaking bad news than men.
She cited the case of Mary Barra, who was named head of General Motors in February 2014, several days before the car maker revealed that its faulty ignition switch was linked to 124 deaths.
Hariton said that to change the dynamic, more women are needed on companies’ boards of directors, which are responsible for appointing the head of a firm.
“Eighty percent of board seats at S&P 500 companies are primarily men,” said Hariton. “So the lens by which women are being evaluated is a white, male lens.”
A recent California law forces publicly listed companies based in the state to appoint at least one woman to their board by the end of 2019, and two or three by the end of 2021.
Kennedy said quotas had been made necessary because even though young men of the “millennial” generation — aged between 17 and 35 — were more supportive of sexual equality than their forebears, they also worry that it could impinge on their own career opportunities.
Some large US corporations, such as American Express, Best Buy and Ralph Lauren, have recently signed up to ParityPlegde, in which members pledge to look at least one female candidate when a job position opens up.