Begging in Beijing? Pakistan sacks state TV chief after broadcast gaffe

“Begging” ran on screens for 20-25 seconds on Monday while Khan was making a speech in China. (AFP)
Updated 07 November 2018
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Begging in Beijing? Pakistan sacks state TV chief after broadcast gaffe

  • PTV apologized after “Begging” ran on screens for 20-25 seconds on Monday while Khan was making a speech, kicking off a debate on social media as to whether the misspelling was deliberate
  • Khan was in Beijing seeking financial aid to help end a spiralling balance of payments crisis after securing $6 billion in support from Saudi Arabia and before Pakistan sat down to talks with the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has removed the acting chief of state-run television after a caption read “Begging” instead “Beijing” during a broadcast of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, which has promised economic aid to the impoverished South Asian country.
Khan was in Beijing seeking financial aid to help end a spiralling balance of payments crisis after securing $6 billion in support from Saudi Arabia and before Pakistan sat down to talks with the IMF.
An official Ministry of Information order seen by Reuters said the ministry had withdrawn the services of Hasan Immad Mohammadi, who had served as acting managing director of Pakistan Television for just a matter of weeks.
PTV apologized after “Begging” ran on screens for 20-25 seconds on Monday while Khan was making a speech, kicking off a debate on social media as to whether the misspelling was deliberate.
Khan has criticized Pakistan’s many international bailouts and decried previous leaders as roaming the world with a begging bowl.
An information ministry spokesman said the misspelling had nothing to do with Mohammadi’s removal, saying it was a “routine affair.”
Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Tuesday that “Pakistan’s immediate balance of payment crisis is over,” adding that the combined Saudi support plus as-yet-unspecified aid promised by China had shored up foreign currency reserves.
Umar spoke a day before the arrival on Wednesday of an IMF team for a two-week visit to Islamabad to negotiate Pakistan’s request for a 13th IMF bailout since the 1980s.
He has previously said the country needs $12 billion in immediate relief.


Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

Updated 26 May 2019
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Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

  • Only the Afghans ‘can decide upon the future of their country’

KABUL, BERLIN: Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with US officials since October about withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process toward a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan — and Germany is one of them — together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end, only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief US negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a cease-fire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

FASTFACT

 

● At least 3,804 Afghan civilians were killed in the war last year. ● 14,000 US troops are still stationed in Afghanistan.

“We realize that US-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolution. 

The EU and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

 

Captives subjected to abuse

Afghan captives held by the Taliban have been subjected to abuse, ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture, the UN said on Sunday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban, mainly members of Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the insurgents.

The group was freed on April 25 when Afghan troops raided a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas Uruzgan district in southern Uruzgan province.

Most of the captives were held since 2018, with three since 2016, the UNAMA statement said, adding they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor. It cites the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.

“I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detention,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of UNAMA.

The detainees were shackled while in captivity and almost all said they were beaten. The Taliban told them it was punishment for supporting the government, working with the Americans or fighting the insurgents.