Taliban say will visit Pakistan in the “coming weeks” if formally invited

(L to R) Ziaurrahman Madani, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Noorullah Noori, Mohammad Nabi Omari, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Mawlawi Abdul Haq Wasiq attend the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in the Qatari capital Doha on July 8, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 25 July 2019

Taliban say will visit Pakistan in the “coming weeks” if formally invited

  • Pakistani PM says will meet Taliban to persuade the group to hold talks with Afghan government
  • Taliban have so far refused direct contact with the Kabul administration which they consider a puppet regime

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban will visit Pakistan in the “coming weeks” if a formal invitation were extended, Taliban political spokesman said on Wednesday, a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would meet Taliban leaders to convince them to hold negotiations with the Afghan government. 
The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centered on a US pledge to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism by its own fighters or militants belonging to other groups. The Taliban have refused so far to hold direct talks with the Kabul administration which they consider a foreign-appointed, puppet regime.
Earlier this month, three officials of the Afghan government joined a delegation of over 50 people at an intra-Afghan conference in Doha that was also attended by Taliban political envoys to discuss the future set up in the war-ravaged country. The Taliban insisted then that the Afghan government officials were only present in their personal capacity and not as representatives of the government. 
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Wednesday the group’s visit to Pakistan could take place in the coming weeks.
“We travel to regional and other countries in the world and hold meetings,” he told Arab News via telephone from Doha. “Pakistan is our neighboring and Muslim country. Members of the political office of the Islamic Emirate will visit Pakistan if a formal invitation is extended to us. We will discuss the issue of refugees and other related issues.”
When asked when the visit could be expected, he said: “in the coming weeks.”
During an appearance at the United States Institute of Peace on Tuesday, Khan said: “I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government.”
He said a Taliban delegation had wanted to meet him a few months back but he did not because of opposition from the Afghan government. 
There are now reports that Khan has discussed his plan to receive Taliban leaders in Pakistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has given his go ahead. 
Taliban and US representatives are scheduled to resume talks in the coming days to remove differences on a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Even as talks continue, the Taliban and the government have continued fighting. Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.


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.