Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Pakistan Renews Pledge to
Support Afghan Peace Efforts
VOA News / October 29, 2014
Pakistan has renewed its pledge to extend support for peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and open a “new chapter” in its relations with the strife-torn neighboring country.
The statement came as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman concluded talks with civilian and military officials in Islamabad Wednesday.
Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, has been quoted as telling Feldman that Pakistan supports a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan.
Aziz added that Islamabad is engaging with Kabul on a broad range of issues, including peace and security, trade and economic ties, reconstruction and rehabilitation, and regional cooperation.
The Pakistani advisor expressed hope that next month’s visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad would move this process forward.
Pakistan Says Anti-Militant Offensive A Success
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
October 29, 2014
The Pakistani army says a four-month-old offensive against militant groups in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan is progressing "successfully."
Army spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said on October 29 that most areas of North Waziristan have been cleared of militants.
He said the operations' positive impact was being felt across Pakistan with a decrease in "terrorist attacks, extortion, and kidnappings."
Bajwa said at least 1,100 militants and 100 soldiers have been killed in the operations since June.
The numbers cannot be independently verified.
The spokesman also accused Afghanistan of failure to cooperate with the ongoing offensive, saying militants were "roaming freely" across the border.
Islamabad and Kabul have accused each other of either failing to deal effectively with militants or of supporting them.
Based on reporting by AP and AFP
Pakistan asks U.S. to stop drone attacks
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Pakistani interior minister called upon a visiting U.S. regional envoy to stop U.S. drone strikes in the country's tribal region, local media reported on Wednesday.
U.S. pilotless aircraft routinely fire missiles into Pakistan's tribal areas to target militants blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
The issue is one of the irritants in bilateral relations and Islamabad describes the attacks a violation of its sovereignty.
"The United States should halt drone attacks in Pakistan once and for all," Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said when meeting with U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Daniel Feldman.
"The six months break in U.S drone attacks in Pakistan improved the relationship between the two countries and it was appreciated by all the segments of the society," a statement quoted the minister as telling the U.S. envoy.
"We should concentrate on the positives of our relationships and differences should be addressed. It is very important that United States understands Pakistan's point of view," Khan said.
Feldman said there is much better understanding between the two countries.
The U.S. envoy also met Sartaj Aziz, an adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, the Foreign Ministry said.
"The adviser stated that Pakistan was determined to open a new chapter in its relations with Afghanistan. Also Pakistan would extend support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process," Aziz said.
The U.S. envoy was told that Pakistan was engaging with Afghanistan on a broad range of issues, including peace and security, trade and economic ties, reconstruction and rehabilitation, and regional cooperation.
Pakistan hoped the upcoming visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani would move this process forward.
China's top legislator meets Afghan president
BEIJING, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang met with visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai here on Wednesday.
Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), praised the mutual respect and equal treatment the two countries showed toward each other.
He said China will strengthen support for Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction and bilateral cooperation.
Zhang said the NPC, China's top legislative body, will make joint efforts with the Afghan National Assembly to strengthen experience sharing on lawmaking and national governance to serve the peaceful reconstruction.
Zhang also called on the two countries to expand substantial and comprehensive cooperation and strengthen exchanges at various levels to promote the China-Afghanistan strategic partnership of cooperation to a new high.
Ghani thanked China for its support and assistance to Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction process.
He said Afghanistan is committed to a long-term and strong strategic partnership of cooperation with China. Afghanistan wants to strengthen bilateral parliamentary exchanges and cooperation in such areas as security, trade and culture.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also met with Ghani on Wednesday afternoon, who is paying his first China visit after taking office.
China pledge $327 million aid
to Afghanistan through 2017
Khaama Press / October 29, 2014
According to reports, Beijing has pledged over $327 million in aid through 2017 for the reconstruction of Afghanistan during President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s state visit to China.
The commitment was made during a meeting between President Ghani and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Tuesday.
A statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry also said Kabul and Beijing agreed to step up intelligence sharing to fight drug trafficking and other cross-border issues.
The ARG Presidential Palace following a statement said Beijing has pledged $81.8 million in aid during the current year.
The statement further added Beijing will eventually increase the aid amount to $245.4 million in a bid to assist Afghanistan in various sectors.
According to the Presidential Palace, Beijing has also committed to arrange 500 scholarships for the Afghan students to study in Chinese universities.
The commitment by Beijing comes as Afghanistan is seeking new sources of foreign help amid withdrawal of foreign forces from the country and increasing worries abut regional stability.
President Ghani chose to visit China in his first working trip abroad since taking office as he is seeking to build ties to regional powers.
China is having influential roles in the region and is quietly preparing to play a key strategic role in the future of Afghanistan.
China has so far committed around $250 million to the reconstruction of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, but had limited security support to Afghanistan which was only focused on counter-narcotics training.
President Ghani, CEO Abdullah challenged
in blood donation campaign
Khaama Press / October 29, 2014
President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah Abdullah were challenged in a blood donation campaign.
The campaign ‘Karzar Qatra Qatra ba Darya’ was launched by famous singer Farhad Darya on Wednesday to collect blood for the Afghan national security forces.
Darya challenged President Ghani and CEO Abdullah to participate in the campaign after he donated blood to kick off the campaign.
The Minister of Interior (MoI) Omar Daudzai and Minister of Defense (MoD) were also challenged by Darya to participate in the campaign.
Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) also participated in the campaign and called on foreign ministry spokesman Shekib Mostaghni, Haseeb Humayoon, Wali Arian and Nazifullah Salarzai to take part in the campaign and donate blood to Afghan forces.
The campaign was launched on Wednesday morning in Sardar Mohammad Dawood Khan hospital, the main military hospital in capital Kabul.
Afghanistan to Remain US ‘Observation
Tower’ Over Russia, Iran, China
WASHINGTON, October 29 (RIA Novosti) – The United States will keep a small part of its forces in Afghanistan to have an opportunity to keep an eye on Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China, the president of a think tank focused on nonmilitary solutions for Afghanistan told RIA Novosti.
"Afghanistan used to be a "buffer state" and will now be transformed into an "observation tower." It is in a perfect strategic location for the United States to monitor nuclear Iran, nuclear Pakistan, Russia and China," Khalil Nouri, President of the New World Strategies Coalition Inc., said on Thursday.
Nouri added that despite the plans to extract all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, the United States will leave some forces for the "long haul" because totally abandoning Afghanistan will leave a security vacuum.
"Afghan security forces are still weak and may not be able to defend against the [Taliban] insurgency if all foreign troops leave prematurely," the expert stated.
US Marine and UK combat forces officially ended military operations in Afghanistan, the US Department of Defense announced on Sunday.
Following a 13-year war, aimed at dismantling the al-Qaeda terrorist network, US President Barack Obama said in May that US forces would be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 and a residual force of 9,800 would assist Afghan security forces at the beginning of 2015.