Pakistan denies its US envoy said India should engage with Taliban

Ambassador Asad Khan. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 May 2020

Pakistan denies its US envoy said India should engage with Taliban

  • The Pakistani envoy has not said that they (India and the Taliban) should engage

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan denied on Sunday that its envoy to Washington had said that India should engage with the Taliban, after Reuters quoted Ambassador Asad Khan in a news report.
On Saturday, a Reuters report headline stated: “India should talk to Taliban if Delhi feels it will bolster peace push,” and attributed the statement to the Pakistani ambassador.
“The ambassador did not say what the news headline implies. Pakistan’s views on India’s role are well known,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman, Aisha Farooqui, told Arab News.
Pakistan and India have been to war three times since they won independence from the British in 1947. Over the years, Pakistan has gained influence over the Taliban.
“The Pakistani envoy has not said that they (India and the Taliban) should engage. Rather, he was saying it is their (India’s) decision,” Farooqui said. “Even the Taliban have expressed their viewpoint on the subject.”
“This is the time to focus on the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations rather than dwell on any extraneous issue,” she said.

FASTFACT

A Reuters news report attributed the quote to Ambassador Asad Khan on Saturday.

Earlier, in an interview with the Indian newspaper The Hindu, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had said an India-Taliban engagement would be “appropriate.”
When asked to respond to the statement, Ambassador Khan told Reuters: “It is for India to respond to that suggestion.”
“If India feels that their engagement is going to help the peace process, then we would defer to their judgment. But it’s not for us to sit in judgment on what they should do or they shouldn’t do,” Reuters further quoted the ambassador.
On Sunday, in a separate interview with Azam, an Afghan media outlet, the Taliban lashed out at New Delhi and accused it of playing a “negative role” in Afghanistan.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, deputy head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and head of the negotiating team with the US, was quoted as saying: “If the Indian government wants to take positive steps in the Afghan peace process and in rebuilding a new Afghanistan, we are counting on it.”
He went on to say that for 40 years in Afghanistan, India had “played a negative role and maintained economic, military and political ties with a ‘corrupt’ group instead of the nation.”
Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, told Arab News that New Delhi had no constructive role to play in the Afghanistan peace process.
“India has no political role in Afghanistan. They have played a negative role there to harm Pakistan,” he said. “Americans want to give India some role but it is unlikely that the Taliban will accept it in any capacity.”


Proteins in COVID-19 patients’ blood could predict severity of illness, study finds

Updated 34 min 45 sec ago

Proteins in COVID-19 patients’ blood could predict severity of illness, study finds

  • The markers could lead to the development of a test that would help doctors predict how ill a patient might get
  • Could also provide new targets for the development of potential treatments for the disease

LONDON: Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease.
In research published in the journal Cell Systems on Tuesday, scientists at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute and Germany’s Charite Universitaetsmedizin Berlin found the proteins are present in different levels in COVID-19 patients, depending on the severity of their symptoms.
The markers could lead to the development of a test that would help doctors predict how ill a patient might get when infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, they said, and could also provide new targets for the development of potential treatments for the disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 374,000 people worldwide and infected more than 6.7 million.
Doctors and scientists say those infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, respond differently — with some developing no symptoms at all, while others need to be hospitalized and others suffer fatal infection.
“A test to help doctors predict whether a COVID-19 patient is likely to become critical or not would be invaluable,” said Christoph Messner, an expert in molecular biology at the Crick Institute who co-led the research.
He said such tests would help doctors decide how best manage the disease for each patient, as well as identify those most at risk of needing hospital treatment or intensive care.
Messner’s team used a method called mass spectrometry to rapidly test for the presence and quantity of various proteins in blood plasma from 31 COVID-19 patients at Berlin’s Charite hospital. They then validated their results in 17 other patients with COVID-19 at the same hospital, and in 15 healthy people who acted as controls.
Three of the key proteins identified were linked with interleukin IL-6, a protein known to cause inflammation and also a known marker for severe COVID-19 symptoms.