Pakistani prime minister in Afghanistan to ease tensions

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (L) and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inspect the honor guard at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan April 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 06 April 2018
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Pakistani prime minister in Afghanistan to ease tensions

  • Pakistan’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to Kabul is his first since he became prime minister last year.
  • The two sides discussed counterterrorism, Afghan-led peace talks, and border violations.
KABUL: Pakistan’s prime minister arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for a day-long visit many see as an effort to ease strained relations between the two neighbors and revive a push for peace talks with the Taliban.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was welcomed by Afghan President Asharf Ghani and the two inspected an honor guard at the Presidential Palace in Kabul before heading in for meetings.
A statement issued by the Afghan presidential palace after the meeting said the two sides discussed counterterrorism, Afghan-led peace talks and border violations. They also discussed refugee and repatriations issues, the exchange of prisoners and finalization of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for peace and solidarity.
Abbasi, accompanied by several other top Pakistani officials on the trip, his first to Kabul since becoming prime minister last year, is to hold meetings with a string of Afghan officials, according to Ghani’s spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
Pakistan has been under pressure from Kabul and Washington to stop offering safe havens to militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.
Pakistan, widely believed to be the only party that can bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, also insists its influence over the insurgents has been exaggerated.
Kabul and Islamabad regularly trade accusations of harboring the other country’s militants and the harsh language has underscored the strains between them.
Late on Thursday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement rejecting a claim made by Kabul that Pakistan violated Afghan airspace with Pakistani Air Force raids inside Afghan territory during counter-terrorism operations earlier in the week.
The statement said information about the ongoing “operations is shared with the Afghan security forces on a regular basis.” In the latest military actions, Pakistan told the Afghan about them and stressed that these operations were on Pakistani side of the border, it said.
Islamabad accuses Kabul of failing to take action against militant groups who continue to attack Pakistan from their sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan urges Afghanistan to focus on taking effective counter-terrorism actions, including plugging in of large gaps existing along the Afghan side of Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” the statement said, adding that “it is also important that the Afghan government should refrain from the blame game.”
Also on Thursday, Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said that Pakistan’s support was critical to talks with the Taliban and that Abbasi’s visit would help improve the troubled Afghan-Pakistan relations.


Counter-protesters drown out white supremacist rally in Ohio

Updated 26 May 2019
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Counter-protesters drown out white supremacist rally in Ohio

  • Nine people from a group called the Honorable Sacred Knights showed up for a rally
  • They were met by 500 to 600 counter-protesters and over 350 anti-riot police

WASHINGTON: Less than a dozen people affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group were drowned out by hundreds of counter-protesters Saturday at a rally in the midwestern US state of Ohio, authorities and local media said.
The event ended peacefully without injuries or arrests, the city government of Dayton, Ohio, said in a statement on Facebook.
Nine people from a group called the Honorable Sacred Knights showed up for a rally they’d obtained a permit to hold in Dayton’s Courthouse Square. They were met by 500 to 600 counter-protesters, city officials said.
The counter-protesters chanted, sang and played various instruments to drown out the racist demonstrators, who had gathered behind a tall metal fence under tight police security, local media reports said.
More than 350 law enforcement officers were on hand amid fears of violence.
In 2017, a woman was killed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
President Donald Trump sparked outrage in its aftermath after claiming there were good people “on both sides” at the rally.