Pakistan reunites Afghan child with family

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua handed over Obaidullah, 15, to Afghan embassy officials. (Photo: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Updated 19 January 2018

Pakistan reunites Afghan child with family

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan handed over a 15-year-old Afghan boy who went missing in Islamabad in 2015 to the Afghan Embassy on Friday.

Obaidullah came to Islamabad with his parents in November 2015, as his father was undergoing medical treatment. Obaidullah went missing, but was found, unattended, by Islamabad police on Nov. 7 that year.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Obaidullah would be travelling to Afghanistan to reunite with his family.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told media representatives that Islamabad police had been unable to locate Obaidullah's parents in 2015, so the boy was placed into the custody of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, who provided him with education, healthcare and psychological counseling.

“Meanwhile, the Pakistani authorities as well as our embassy in Kabul tried to trace his family in Afghanistan. Today, after the successful conclusion of these efforts, Obaidullah was handed over to the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad,” Janjua said.

Zardasht Shams, deputy head of mission at the Afghan Embassy, said: “I would like to express our gratitude and thanks to the government of Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Child Welfare Protection Organization for recovering Obaidullah and for taking care of him for the past two years.”

“We may have our differences on certain issues but at the end of the day Pakistan and Afghanistan are the closest neighbors,” Janjua said. “Pakistan wishes nothing but the best for Afghanistan. We wish for peace and stability in Afghanistan and we are ready to work with the Afghan government and the people of Afghanistan to achieve this common objective.

“I would like to convey, through Obaidullah, to the people of Afghanistan our sincere wishes for peace and stability in Afghanistan. We want to work with you," she continued. "We want to work with all the Obaidullahs of Afghanistan and all the women of Afghanistan and all the boys and girls of Afghanistan.”

Philippines begins termination of US deal

Earlier, Duterte said he would give the US a month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa. (AP)
Updated 25 January 2020

Philippines begins termination of US deal

  • The move comes after Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to ally of President Duterte

MANILA: The Philippines has started the process of terminating the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the deployment of US forces to the country to conduct military exercises, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Friday.
The move comes one day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do away with the agreement if the US did not reinstate the visa of his political ally and former police chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Although in a speech on Thursday night the president said he would give the US one month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa before terminating the VFA, Panelo told reporters the process had already begun.
“The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly,” he said, adding he had relayed the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
Locsin, in a Twitter post on Friday, confirmed he had called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to start the process of terminating the VFA.”
Lorenzana, in a statement on Friday evening, said that he would discuss with the president “the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA, and what future actions may be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding this matter.”
The defense chief said he could understand why the president was angered by the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s anti-drug war.
“It is a direct affront to (the president) being the architect of the drug war upon his assumption of office,” the defense chief said.
He noted that Duterte ordered Dela Rosa when he was installed as police chief in 2016 to launch the drug war, and promised to back him. “He is just being true to his promise,” Lorenzana stressed.
Dela Rosa himself said details surrounding the revocation of his US visa remain unclear to him. He added that it “might be related” to the anti-drug war.
The Philippines Department of Justice said it was studying the “proper procedure to terminate the VFA.”
Responses from Philippine lawmakers have been mixed.
“In the absence of a Philippines Supreme Court ruling on the president’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA, without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the senate, the president can do that without the senate’s approval or consent,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the VFA termination would work in favor of China, and so did not come as a surprise.
According to Lorenzana: “The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest.
“Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice,” the defense chief stressed.