UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during a meeting at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. (AFP)
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Mian Jahangir Iqbal, Principal Information Officer, presenting photo album to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan upon his departure at Noor Khan Air Base in Islamabad on Sunday. (Press Information Department)
Updated 07 January 2019

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

  • Prime focus was on trade and economy with an agreement to expedite the processes involved
  • Analysts say both the countries enjoy a decades-old religious and cultural bond

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan held wide-ranging talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in Islamabad on Sunday, with the main focus on trade and economy.

The one-on-one meeting was part of Sheikh Mohammed’s one-day state visit to Pakistan after a 12-year gap.

“They resolved to take all necessary measures to deal with matters related to trade enhancement, and decided to form a task force to achieve this objective,” a statement released by the PM Office read.

Sheikh Mohammed was received by PM Khan at the Nur Khan airbase and accorded a ceremonial reception at the PM House, which was followed by a meeting and delegation-level talks. 

The statement said that the two “held wide-ranging talks focusing on all areas of bilateral relations”, adding that both the leaders expressed their determination to further strengthen the “historic and mutually beneficial relationship” between the two countries.

The two leaders underscored the importance of effectively pursuing the various initiatives taken for a strengthened and strategic bilateral relationship including working on a “long-term investment framework agreement”.

PM Khan also thanked Sheikh Mohammed for the “generous balance of payment support of $3 billion” adding that “this financial support shows the UAE’s continued commitment and friendship that has remained steadfast over the years”.

The premier welcomed the UAE’s interest in investing in Pakistan’s oil and gas, logistics, and construction sectors. The ongoing defense and security cooperation between both the countries also came under discussion which they agreed to enhance further.

The prime minister congratulated the leadership of the UAE for declaring 2019 as the year of tolerance. “This was the best way to pay a tribute to the vision and legacy of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” the statement said.

“The crown prince recognized the efforts and unparalleled sacrifices made by Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and extremism,” it said, adding that the two leaders instructed the relevant authorities to expedite the finalization of the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to clampdown on white-collar crimes such as money-laundering.

The crown prince was also briefed about the efforts that Pakistan was making to support and facilitate the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. He also appreciated the UAE’s role in hosting Afghan peace talks in Abu Dhabi.

“The two leaders agreed to work closely for the lasting peace and stability of Afghanistan” and expressed their resolve “to strive for progress, prosperity, and stability of both the UAE and Pakistan”.

“The crown prince’s visit to Pakistan shows that both the countries have turned a new page to further strengthen the decades-old bilateral relationship,” former ambassador Javed Hafeez told Arab News.

He said that PM Khan’s visits to the UAE have finally born “positive results” as the UAE has already extended $3 billion financial package to help Islamabad overcome its balance of payments crisis.

Professor Tahir Malik, a foreign affairs analyst, said that Pakistan’s relations with the UAE had soured during the previous PML-N government’s rule and “it is heartening to see the leadership of both the countries forging the bilateral relationship again”.

“The UAE has always extended financial and moral support to Pakistan during its testing times, and hopefully it will announce major investments in oil and other sectors soon,” he told Arab News.

“It is important to understand that relations of UAE and Pakistan are not limited to economic cooperation only …. we have a very strong religious and cultural bond as well which keeps growing with the passage of time,” he added.


Hong Kong protesters aim for big turnout at rare sanctioned march

Updated 7 min 31 sec ago

Hong Kong protesters aim for big turnout at rare sanctioned march

  • March comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections
  • Millions have hit the streets in protests fueled by years of growing fears that China is stamping out the city’s liberties

HONG KONG: Hong Kong democracy protesters are hoping for huge crowds later Sunday at a rally they have billed as a “last chance” for the city’s pro-Beijing leaders in a major test for the six-month-old movement.
The march comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a “silent majority” opposed the protests.
The semi-autonomous financial hub has been battered by increasingly violent demonstrations in the starkest challenge the city has presented to Beijing since its 1997 handover from Britain.
Millions have hit the streets in protests fueled by years of growing fears that authoritarian China is stamping out the city’s liberties.
The last fortnight has seen a marked drop in street battles and protester vandalism after the landslide win by pro-democracy candidates.
But activists say anger is building once more after chief executive Carrie Lam and Beijing ruled out any further concessions despite the election defeat.
The city’s police have taken the unusual step of allowing the Civil Human Rights Front to hold a march through the main island on Sunday — the first time the group has been granted permission since mid-August.
Organizers have called on Lam to meet their demands which include an independent inquiry into the police’s handling of the protests, an amnesty for those arrested, and fully free elections.
“This is the last chance given by the people to Carrie Lam,” CHRF leader Jimmy Sham said on Friday.
Hong Kong’s protests are largely leaderless and organized online. They were initially sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to the mainland but have since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing’s rule.
The CHRF, which advocates non-violence, has been the main umbrella group behind record-breaking rallies earlier in the summer that saw huge crowds regularly march in searing heat.
Authorities have repeatedly banned major rallies in recent months citing the risk of violence from hardcore protesters.
Large crowds have simply ignored the bans, sparking near-weekly tear gas and petrol bomb clashes that have upended Hong Kong’s reputation for stability and helped tip the city into recession.
Sunday afternoon’s march will follow a well-worn route on the main island from Victoria Park to the heart of the commercial district.
It comes a day before the city marks the six-month anniversary of the protest movement in which some 6,000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, including police.
Online forums used to organize the movement’s more radical wing have vowed to target the morning commute on Monday if there is no response from Lam.
Years of huge, peaceful democracy marches have made little headway, leading to increased radicalization among some Hong Kong protesters and a greater willingness to embrace violent tactics.
But there is little sign Lam is willing to budge, leading to fears the lull in street clashes will be temporary.
Since the local elections the city’s chief executive has remained steadfast in her opposition to further concessions and Beijing has stuck by her even as she languishes with record low approval ratings.
The police force’s reputation has also taken a hammering.
A new poll released on Friday by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme, which has tracked public sentiment for years, showed record disapproval for the force with 40 percent of respondents now giving the force the lowest mark of zero.
Over the last two days the city’s new police chief Chris Tang has been in Beijing where he met with senior party figures including public security chief Zhao Kezhi who gave his “strongest backing” according to official reports.
Tang, who has continued his predecessor’s policy of rejecting calls for an independent inquiry, said his officers would clamp down on any violence at Sunday’s march.
“If there is arson, petrol bombs or damage to shops, we will take action,” he told reporters in Beijing.
“But for minor issues, we will handle in a flexible and humane manner,” he added.