Pakistan says will not be part of upcoming Afghan peace talks

In this file photo, participants attend the opening of the two-day talks of the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives at the President Hotel in Moscow on Feb. 5, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019

Pakistan says will not be part of upcoming Afghan peace talks

  • Says will continue playing its facilitating role
  • US and Taliban representatives have been engaged in repeated rounds of negotiations for durable peace

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday Pakistan would not participate in the next round of peace talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban scheduled to be held in Qatar this month.
The US and Taliban representatives have been engaged in repeated rounds of negotiations over recent months, underlining how far Afghanistan still remains from peace more than 17 years after US-backed forces drove the Taliban from power in 2001.
The next round of talks is scheduled for April 19-21 in Doha, where the Taliban have long maintained a political office. Representatives from a variety of Afghan groups are also expected to be present but the talks will once again exclude the Afghan government, which the Taliban dismiss as a Western-appointed “puppet” regime.
“Pakistan will not be part of the next round of talks between the US and Taliban in Doha in April,” Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Thursday. “Pakistan has supported peace talks in the past and will continue playing its facilitating role for durable peace in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan and the US have both repeatedly looked upon Pakistan, considered close to the Taliban insurgency, to push its leadership to reach a negotiated settlement. Islamabad insists its influence over the Taliban has waned in recent years. 
Though Pakistan has sat in on previous rounds of the meetings, Taliban officials have preferred to speak directly and only to the United States in the recent spate of discussions. 
In an interview to Arab News in January, the head of the Pakistan army’s media wing disputed the impression that the Afghan Taliban were excluding Pakistan from US-led talks, saying Pakistan was a facilitator and had fulfilled its task of coaxing the insurgents to the table for dialogue. 
“The Taliban are not excluding Pakistan from the peace process,” Major General Asif Ghafoor said. “We are a facilitator. We have done our job of bringing them to the negotiating table. What is discussed and how the process moves forward will depend on progress during every meeting.”
“There are so many factions and stakeholders involved in the process,” he added. “Coordination takes time. One faction or party gets out of coordination, [which] can result in changes in schedule or place.”


Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

Updated 14 November 2019

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

  • New skills-based system to be launched from next month
  • Will include India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Starting next month, Saudi Arabia will introduce a new skilled foreign manpower program that will eventually include Pakistan, a senior official at the Saudi labor ministry said this week. 

Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor, said on Tuesday in Riyadh that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes.

Under the new policy, visas would be issued only after skill tests and the previous system would be gradually phased out. 

The new scheme would be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it would become compulsory, Al-Omair said. The new program would first be applied to manpower recruited from India due to its large size in the Saudi market.

Eventually, the program will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats those have been a vital source of foreign remittances.

Last year the country received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Kingdom.

According to the Pakistani ministry of finance, there was a major decline in manpower export to Saudi Arabia where only 100,910 emigrants proceeded for employment in 2018 as compared to 2017, a drop of 42,453 emigrants.

However, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, said in an interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase the share of the Pakistani labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower. Pakistani groups will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize arrangements.