Afghan President invites Pakistan PM to Kabul for fence-mending talks

In this file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shakes hands with a foreign delegate at the second Kabul Process conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Feb. 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018
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Afghan President invites Pakistan PM to Kabul for fence-mending talks

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered an invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to visit Kabul as part of a move to reset ties that have sharply deteriorated between the two uneasy neighbors over Islamabad’s alleged support for the Afghan Taliban.
Ghani made the offer on Saturday to visiting Pakistani National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua in Kabul. He is on a one-day visit after Ghani spoke nearly three weeks ago of his desire to improve ties with Islamabad when he announced his peace talks overture to the Taliban insurgents too.
“This is to initiate state-to-state comprehensive dialogue,” Ghani said in a tweet after meeting Janjua at the presidential palace.
A spokesman for the President, Dawa Khan Meenapal, said the focus of today’s meeting between Ghani and Janjua was the former’s offer of an olive branch to the Taliban, made at a regional meeting in the Afghan capital some three weeks ago and called the “Kabul Process.”
“At the meeting, the Pakistani National Security Adviser spoke about Pakistan’s backing for the Kabul Process,” Meenapal told Arab News.
He could not comment if the Pakistani NSA had made any pledge to persuade the Taliban delegates to speak with Ghani’s government or will hand over several former Taliban leaders who have been languishing in Pakistani jails for years as part of a goodwill gesture to Kabul.
The visit of Pakistan’s NSA and Ghani’s offer to Abbasi come less than a week after the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said during a visit to Kabul that there was no military solution to the Afghan war and that elements within the Taliban were interested in initiating peace talks with Kabul.
Mattis’ utterances come after weeks of heavy bombardment of areas concentrated with suspected militants and their alleged drugs laboratories as part of Washington’s new war strategy announced last summer.
The militants have focused most of their attacks on urban areas, which some say proves their ability to strike back and to show that Kabul and the US military have not been able to crush its might.
So far the Taliban has refused to indicate whether the group will accept Ghani’s offer or turn it down as it has done several times in the past.
But the movement twice last month showed readiness to engage with the United States, which in an invasion toppled the radical Islamist government from power in late 2001 and whom it sees as the main adversary.
At the same time the militants have stepped up their attacks and on Saturday in a suicide car attack one of the group’s bombers in Kabul killed several locals.
The target of the strike seemed to have been a compound used by foreigners and there was no immediate report of casualties among the foreigners from the strike.
The visit of Pakistan’s NSA and Ghani’s offer to its PM came as Abbasi held an unscheduled meeting with US Vice President Michael Pence about the Afghanistan conflict in Washington on Friday, ANI reported.
A half-hour one-on-one meeting took place at Pence’s residence at the US Naval Observatory near the Pakistan embassy in Washington, as reported by the Dawn.
They discussed the on-going peace process between the Afghanistan ruling party led by Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban, it said.
During the meeting, Abbasi assured Pence of Pakistan’s “sincere commitment” to the efforts to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan while highlighting Pakistan’s successful efforts in combating terror within its own territory.


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.