Hosts in Khan-trol: Younus Pakistan’s best in Tests: Jaffer

KARACHI: Seasoned batsman Younus Khan did not just make a mere comeback, he hit a masterful century upon his return to lift Pakistan against the West Indies on the opening day of the second Test in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The middle-order batsman, who missed the opening Test as he was recovering from a dengue fever, made 128 before being dismissed by Kraigg Brathwaite as Pakistan made 304-4 before bad light forced early stumps.

Younus, who hit 10 boundaries and a six, made 87 runs with Asad Shafiq (68) and followed that up with a 175-run partnership with captain Misbahul Haq (90 not out) to put the hosts in a commanding position.

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“It was a Herculean task to make such a comeback after recovering from an illness like dengue,” former Test cricketer Saleem Jaffar told The Express Tribune.

“It takes a lot of mental strength and incredible fitness to perform like that. Younus has once again proven he’s Pakistan’s number one Test batsman,” said the former pacer.

He further added, “Misbah also played a crucial role on the first day. Both [Misbah, Younus] are the fittest players in the team and are great examples for the youngsters.”

Day one: Younus’ ton helps Pakistan score 304-4 against Windies

Misbah, who has now equalled Imran Khan’s record of most Test matches as Pakistan captain with 48, hit two sixes and four boundaries as he worked in tandem with Younus to build an imposing total.

He drove spinner Roston Chase for his eighth boundary to complete his hundred — his 31st score of over 100 without being dismissed in nineties — the most in Test cricket.

Younus and Shafiq led the early recovery after Pakistan lost openers Azhar Ali (naught) and Sami Aslam (six) in the first hour.

Shafiq batted well in the extended two-and-a-half hour first session due to Friday prayers, hitting seven boundaries before playing on to Gabriel.

Azhar, who scored a career best 302 not out in Dubai, played on to Gabriel in the fifth over before Aslam was bowled by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo attempting an ambitious drive.

Pakistan, who lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Dubai by 56 runs, brought in Younus, Zulfiqar Babar and Rahat Ali as they made three changes to their line-up.

Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir (both rested) and Babar Azam were the trio to make way.

And Jaffer hailed the decision, “Pakistan missed Babar in the first Test and his selection was inevitable. It’s a good sign that Pakistan have options as they can afford to drop key bowlers like Amir and Wahab,” he said.

The third and final Test starts in Sharjah from October 30.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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Facebook to allow more graphic news

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Friday said that it will begin allowing more graphic or potentially disturbing newsworthy posts to be shared at the leading online social network.

“We’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards,” Facebook vice presidents Joel Kaplan and Justin Osofsky said in a blog post.

They explained that they were working with the social network’s community and partners on how exactly to recalibrate standards regarding which posts are deemed too offensive to allow.

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“Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them,” Kaplan and Osofsky said.

Facebook has become a major platform for sharing news stories, and that has come with criticism for censoring some content despite it having historical or editorial value.

The California-based social network on Friday apologized for taking down a breast cancer awareness video because the images were flagged as offensive, saying the move was “an error”.

Swedish cancer charity Cancerfonden had put out word that its video explaining to women how to check for suspicious lumps, featuring animated figures of women with circle-shaped breasts, had been removed from Facebook.

“We find it incomprehensible and strange how one can perceive medical information as offensive,” Cancerfonden communications director Lena Biornstad told AFP.

“This is information that saves lives.”

Facebook faced outrage in September for repeatedly deleting a historic Vietnam War photo included in a post by Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

It said the iconic photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm bombing violated its rules, but it later backtracked on the decision.

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Facebook has a ban on posts that contain nudity, with some exceptions, such as images of works of art and women breastfeeding, or educational content. The social network also bans posts inciting violence or hate.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that some Facebook employees lobbied at the social network to have some posts by US presidential candidate Donald Trump – such as those calling for a ban on Muslim immigration – branded hate speech and removed.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg rejected the request on the grounds it would amount to censoring a political candidate, according to the Journal.

Facebook boasts having some 1.7 billion users around the world.

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Princess Diana’s stepmother dies at 87

LONDON: Countess Raine Spencer, the stepmother of Diana, princess of Wales with whom she had a rocky relationship, has died aged 87, her family said.

The aristocrat died peacefully at her London home on Friday “after a short illness”, her family announced in a brief statement.

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The only child of the prolific romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland, she grew up and lived her life in the high society world of upper-class England.

Known for her bouffant hairstyle, pearls, immaculate dress sense and posh accent, she married three times in her life, amassing a collection of aristocratic titles.

She had four children with her first husband Gerald Legge, ninth earl of Dartmouth, whom she married in 1947.

She met Diana’s father Earl John Spencer in the early 1970s and they married in 1976, when Diana was 15.

Diana, who married the heir to the throne Prince Charles in 1981, had a strained relationship with the countess.

Diana and her sisters nicknamed her “Acid Raine”.

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Majesty magazine editor Ingrid Seward, a friend of the countess, told the BBC: “When she first married Spencer, they loathed her. And they made her life extremely difficult.

“Raine was very stoic and she put up with it all.”

She heavily redecorated the Spencer family seat at Althorp in Northamptonshire, central England, selling off many family treasures to do so.

However, there was a reported reconciliation with Diana in the early 1990s.

The countess was credited with nursing Diana’s father back to health.

“I think Diana suddenly saw that this stepmother wasn’t as bad as she had imagined,” said Seward.

“And then later in Diana’s life — almost at the end of her life — suddenly Raine Spencer was Diana’s best friend.”

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The countess told the inquest into Diana’s 1997 death in a Paris car crash: “She always said I had no hidden agenda. So many people, because she was so popular and so world famous, wanted something out of her. It was a very draining life.”

And she told Gentlewoman magazine last year: “She had incredibly heavy pressures put upon her, but we ended up huge friends. She used to come and sit on my sofa and tell me her troubles.”

She married Comte Jean-Francois Pineton de Chambrun in 1993 but her marriage to the French aristocrat lasted just two years.

One of her sons, William Legge, is the Earl of Dartmouth and a member of the European Parliament for the UK Independence Party.

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AT&T in advanced talks to buy Time Warner: banking source

NEW YORK: Telecom giant AT&T is in advanced talks to acquire entertainment group Time Warner to add in-house content to distribution services, a banking source familiar with the negotiations said Friday.

A deal possibly worth more than $90 billion could be announced as soon as Monday, the source told AFP, confirming a report in The Wall Street Journal.

AT&T is the second-largest US wireless carrier and third-largest cable TV provider in the United States, while Time Warner controls a valuable stable of entertainment content suppliers, including Warner Bros. film and TV studios, the HBO television production group, cable news giant CNN, and the TNT and TBS cable channels.

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The two parties have reached agreement on many important points, but key outstanding issues include the exact price and a breakup fee should antitrust regulators balk at the transaction, the source said.

A deal could likely price Time Warner at $110 per share, or around $90 million, the person said.

The deal would be structured in cash and stock, but there is a chance other prospective acquirers could step forward, the source added.

A union of the two media giants, together worth more than $300 billion in market value, would be sure to face tough scrutiny from US antitrust regulators because of the ripple effects across media platforms.

Analysts believe the transaction also could spark other big deals involving large media companies.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Apple had approached Time Warner about a possible deal a few months ago, but the talks did not progress. Apple is continuing to monitor the negotiations, the newspaper said.

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The negotiations come amid challenges to media companies due to the decline of conventional cable television as more consumers turn to streaming on mobile technology.

AT&T had $147 billion in revenues in 2015 while Time Warner reported $28 billion.

AT&T has pursued an aggressive expansion, paying almost $50 billion to buy satellite television provider DirectTV in 2015.

Time Warner shares  soared 7.8 percent Friday following reports of the talks. It was up another 4.9 percent in afterhours trade on fresh reports suggesting that the two sides were even closer to a deal.

AT&T dropped 3.0 percent during regular-hours trading Friday, and fell another 0.7 percent in after-hours trade.

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Clinton warns Trump is ‘threatening’ US democracy

CLEVELAND: Hillary Clinton excoriated rival Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy Friday for not pledging to honor results of the upcoming presidential election, as the bitter rivals battled for supremacy in battleground states.

The 2016 election cycle pitting the Republican nominee against the former secretary of state has turned increasingly toxic, with Trump fueling wild conspiracy theories about vote “rigging” and Clinton warning that the provocative billionaire was straying into authoritarianism.

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“We know the difference between leadership and dictatorship, and the peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart,” Clinton told a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the key swing states up for grabs on November 8.

“Donald Trump refused to say that he’d respect the results of this election. By doing that, he’s threatening our democracy.”

Her comments marked a stern rebuke to Trump’s bombshell suggestion during their third and final presidential debate that he may not recognize the election result — a surprising rejection of political norms.

Trump, 70, then told a rally crowd that he could launch a legal challenge if Clinton prevails.

His remarks follow weeks of Trump warning about the likelihood of a “rigged” election including massive voter fraud, despite members of his own party disavowing the comments and Trump earning condemnation from President Barack Obama.

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Despite isolated allegations of voter fraud, controversy over the tight 2000 vote and rampant gerrymandering, US elections have been regarded as free and fair.

Invigorated by both her commanding poll numbers and Trump’s eyebrow-raising declarations, the candidate vying to become America’s first female president was in Ohio aiming to block Trump’s efforts to claim the blue-collar heartland state.

Trump, well aware that no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, campaigned in the Buckeye State Thursday.

Meanwhile the Manhattan real estate mogul hosted rallies Friday in the battlegrounds of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

“Eighteen days. You’re going to look back at this election and say this is by far the most important vote you’ve ever cast for anyone at any time,” Trump told a crowd in Fletcher, North Carolina.

“We’re fighting this juggernaut…. because they have billions of dollars they’ve raised,” he said of the Clinton campaign, which reportedly has outspent Trump on television advertising in recent months.

Trump said he would give the campaign everything he had, “right up until the actual vote.”

“Win, lose or draw… I will be happy with myself,” he added. “I don’t want to think back if only I did one more rally I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes, right?”

Clinton is narrowly leading in polling in North Carolina, a state Obama won in 2008 but lost to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.

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Clinton and Trump are coming off an evening of stinging humor at a white-tie charity event in New York where they traded jokes and jabs at what is meant to be a friendly roast — and where Trump was booed.

The bitterness of the campaign was quickly on display, with Trump calling the 68-year-old Clinton “corrupt” and jabbing her for disclosures from her campaign’s hacked emails.

“Here she is in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” he said, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York looked on.

Despite the prickly barbs — including Clinton proclaiming that Trump sent “a hearse” to bring her to the dinner — the two candidates shook whands at the end of the evening.

Trump is trailing badly in the polls, and his debate threat opened him up to a stinging attack from Obama at a Miami rally.

“When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our election, that undermines our democracy,” Obama said Thursday.

“When you suggest rigging or fraud without a shred of evidence, when last night at the debate, Trump becomes the first major party nominee in American history to suggest that he will not concede despite losing… that is not a joking matter.”

In the battle of the battlegrounds, Clinton holds leads in several states, ranging from razor-thin, such as in North Carolina, to moderate in Florida and Pennsylvania and commanding in Virginia.

She is even narrowly ahead in Arizona, the traditionally Republican-leaning state where First Lady Michelle Obama — who galvanized voters with a searing attack on Trump last week — campaigned for Clinton on Thursday.

If Trump loses Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Clinton is all but assured of victory, experts have said.

In Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Trump supporters streamed into a convention center to hear Trump speak in their depressed former steel town, where most mill jobs have evaporated.

Trump promised that he would bring many of them back.

“We don’t make things anymore” he told the cheering crowd. “When I’m president, we’re going to start making things again in America.”

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Ahead of PTI’s protest: Top court to hear Panamagate case on November 1

ISLAMABAD: The top court has set November 1 for hearing of the Panamgate case, a day before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) planned Islamabad protest, aimed at forcing the prime minister to present himself for accountability in the wake of the offshore companies’ scandal.

Panama Papers on April 3 revealed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three children were among dozens of powerful people to own offshore companies in international tax havens. The revelations had whipped up a storm with political parties, including the PTI, calling for the PM’s accountability.

Later, the PTI as well as some other political parties also filed petitions in the apex court, seeking disqualification of the prime minister.  The court on September 27 admitted these petitions, after removing objections raised by its registrar office.

Legal experts believe that the top court’s next hearing will be significant as it will determine whether it can intervene into the matter or not. The AGP Ashtar Ausaf Ali says that the court will decide the maintainability of these petitions on November 1.

The government’s legal team has already started its preparation of the case.

Former AGP Salman Aslam Butt will likely to represent Nawaz Sharif in the apex court. Sources claim that the PM’s son Hussain Nawaz may appear before the bench on the next date of hearing.

The AGP office on Friday clarified that the AGP is playing his constitutional role and he is not representing any individual in any case. Earlier, PTI chief Imran Khan expressed wonder as to how the attorney general could represent the prime minister in his private case.

The Supreme Court’s office on Friday formally issued notices to petitioners, respondents and Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) for resuming hearing of the matter. The notices have been issued to 24 individuals in this case.

The SC’s three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali and comprising Justice Ijazul Hassan and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, will take up the five petitions respectively filed by Imran Khan, Jamaat-e- Islami  chief Sirajul Haq, Pakistan Awami League chief Sheikh Rasheed, Barrister Zafarullah and Tariq Asad Advocate.

“Having heard the learned ASCs [lawyers] for the petitioners and the petitioners [themselves] in-person at some length, we are inclined to issue notices to the respondents and the AGP accordingly. Office to re-list these cases within two weeks,” read the written order of the bench.

The petitions have named the PM Nawaz; his sons, Hassan and Hussain; his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif; his son-in-law [Maryam’s husband] Capt Muhammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The have also nominated the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the secretaries of the ministries of law and interior among respondents.

The court also issued notices to the AGP and NAB chairman over a petition filed by journalist Asad Kharral, seeking a progress report from the bureau regarding an investigation into his complaint about Rs100 billion worth of corruption in connection to Panamagate.

However, Tariq Asad listed the PTI chief as a respondent in his petition, and therefore, he has also been issued a notice. The respondents have been directed to bring their original national identity cards.

Asad, in his main petition, contended that the previous 2014 sit-in (dharna) of respondent No. 4 (Imran Khan) had made the lives of Islamabad citizens miserable. Recently, he also filed a miscellaneous application in Panama leaks case, requesting to restrain the PTI from holding another sit-in.

However, the court on Thursday refused to pass an order to restrain the PTI from holding a sit-in in the federal capital on November 2. Tariq Asad told The Express Tribune that he will move a plea today (Saturday) for the early hearing his application for stopping the PTI’s sit-in.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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China slams ‘provocative’ US sail-by in South China Sea

BEIJING: China has slammed the US for sailing a warship near disputed territory in the South China Sea, saying the move was a “serious illegal act” and “deliberately provocative”.

In a statement on its website late Friday night, the country’s defence ministry said two Chinese naval vessels warned off a US ship after it entered “Chinese territorial waters” near the Paracel Islands, known as Xisha in Chinese.

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China controls all of the islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The ship’s “entrance into China’s territorial waters is a serious illegal act and a deliberately provocative act,” it said, adding that the ministry had made “solemn representations” to Washington.

In a separate online statement, the foreign ministry said the action had “seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security interests, and had seriously broken relevant Chinese law and international law.”

The Pentagon said Friday it had sent the destroyer USS Decatur close to the Paracel Islands, but that the ship had not passed within the 12 nautical mile zone that international law defines as territorial waters.

The ships transited the area in “a routine, lawful manner without ship escorts and without incident,” a spokesman said.

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The manoeuvre was the third South China Sea “freedom of navigation” operation conducted this year by the US, which has repeatedly stressed it will ignore China’s “excessive” maritime claims.

Friday’s operation was the first since a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July ruled there was no legal basis to China’s claims to nearly all of the sea — a verdict Beijing dismissed vehemently.

China that month held a week of military drills around the Paracels in the northern part of the South China Sea, during which other ships were prohibited from entering the waters.

Several other nations across the region including the Philippines and Vietnam have rival claims to various parts of the South China Sea.

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The US action came as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wrapped up a four-day state visit to China, where he pledged to increase cooperation with Beijing, while at the same time slamming his country’s long-time ally Washington.

In a joint statement at the end of his trip, the Chinese and Philippine leaders pledged to resume talks over their own territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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‘Govt to name new army chief in a week’

ISLAMABAD: The government has not yet finalised the name of the new army chief. However, it is likely to make the apppointment in a week or so, revealed the State Minister for Capital Administration Tariq Fazl Chaudhry on Friday.

“The government has not yet decided [as to who will be the new army chief] but is likely to announce his name in week or ten days’ time,” said Chaudhry said in response to a question asked during a news conference which he addressed together with PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz. Army chief General Raheel Sharif is set to retire in November this year and has announced not to seek an extension in his tenure.

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The PML-N leaders criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, who, they claimed, spoke against Pakistan Army in connection with the ongoing military operation in tribal areas during his foreign trips.

They also alleged that Imran Khan received funds from the United States and the Indian lobby for staging his 2014-marathon sit-in in Islamabad. This time around, Imran has sought help from militant groups to make his upcoming protest in Islamabad a success, they claimed.

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The PTI has announced plans to paralyse the federal capital on November 2 in a bid to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to present himself for accountability in the wake of the Panama Papers.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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Nigeria to buy 10 Super Mushshak from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Nigeria will buy 10 Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan, highlighting growing demand for the indigenously built plane which several countries already operate as a ‘primary trainer’.

A signing ceremony for the deal was held on Friday in Abuja, where Nigerian Air Vice Marshal Iya Ahmed Abdullahi and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Chairman Air Marshal Arshad Malik signed the contract, a statement issued by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said.

The contract also includes operational training and technical support and assistance to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). PAF said it will establish this facility in the shortest possible time.

“This contract would not only open new avenues for export of aviation equipment to foreign countries but also help in generating revenue for the country,” the statement said. “The deal further strengthens PAC’s status as a world class aviation industry producing the supersonic JF-17 Thunder and Super Mushshak trainer aircraft,” it added.

The Super Mushshak, which is based off a Swedish design but built under license in Pakistan, is already in service with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and South Africa.

Talks are also at an advanced stage with Qatar and Turkey for the delivery of Super Mushshak, a senior PAF official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. He said Super Mushshak is a ‘major success story’ of Pakistan and reflects the country’s potential to become one of the main exporters of such high-tech military equipment.

The PAF official added that there are a few countries in the world which export aircraft. “Even India with its tall claims has not yet been able to produce an aircraft which has been exported.”

Super Mushshak is an advanced variant of the Mushshak basic trainer, which was also produced by PAC. The PAF put up the Super Mushshak for static as well as aerial display in last year’s Dubai Air Show, where certain nations expressed interest in the aircraft.

Pakistan is also aggressively marketing its indigenously built state-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, which Nigeria is also reportedly interested in buying.  In July this year, NAF Chief of Staff Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar said the force would acquire three JF-17s from Pakistan.

If the deal is confirmed, Nigeria would be the first country to acquire the state-of-the-art fighter from Pakistan. However, there is no official confirmation if Pakistan is indeed supplying the JF-17 jets to Nigeria.

Last year, Pakistan managed to secure its first ever export order for its JF-17 fighter jets at the International Paris Air Show.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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Pakistan says it has no favourites in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, dismissing the notion that Pakistan has favourites in Afghanistan, said on Friday that it will follow the priorities set by the elected government in Kabul to pursue peace and reconciliation in the war-ravaged country. Welcoming the deal between the National Unity Government (NUG) and the Hekmatyar-led  Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, Aziz said the agreement seems to have motivated and encouraged other groups to come to the negotiating table.

“These groups should realise that it is a different Afghanistan that wants peace, and where the dominant majority would not like to go back to the past,” the adviser said while talking to the members of the Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Committee (PAJC) for Beyond Boundaries Phase II.

This is a ‘Track I.5/II’ dialogue series undertaken by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in partnership with Afghan counterpart, the Women Peace and Security Organisation (WPSO). It is aimed at fostering better understanding and cooperation between civil society members of the two neighbouring countries.

Aziz also said that Pakistan’s message to all combatants is loud and clear: that nobody can capture Afghanistan on its own, and the key to peace lies in talks.

“We desire that both the NUG and the Taliban sort out issues among themselves and we will stand by them for any support we can lend to the process.”

The adviser also welcomed the unanimity of approach on the peace process within Kabul and hoped it would encourage all parties to join the peace process.

He said that Pakistan is doing whatever it can to persuade all Taliban factions to become part of the peace process and added indications are that many of them are now interested in joining the peace process. He promised to take up the PAJC’s concerns regarding the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan with the authorities concerned.

The Afghan delegates also drew the attention of the adviser to certain issues that are seen as hurdles in the improvement of relations between the two countries. They called for an end to what they called ‘harsh attitude’ of security personnel with Afghan refugees and said this policy harms the goodwill Pakistan has shown towards these refugees for decades.

Some of the delegates also complained about the problems Afghan traders are facing in transit trade. They pointed out that the problems have led to a decrease in trade between the two countries.

The PAJC also met with Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lt General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch. The minister said Pakistan remains committed to safeguarding the lives and assets of Afghans living in Pakistan.

“They are our ambassadors and we cannot afford to send them back with bitter feelings,” the minister said, adding that bitter stories will empower only those who live off continued conflict. He added Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself was very upset with the news of harassment.

Baloch lauded the efforts of the PAJC and reiterated that dialogue and peace is the only way forward for the two countries — there is no third option.

The second meeting of Pak-Afghan Joint Committee will be held November 13-17 in Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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