Pakistan on Wednesday urged the US’ new envoy for reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan to be more sensitive to Pakistani opinion than he has been as a private citizen.
The recent appointment of former US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has raised hackles in Pakistan.
Khalilzad has previously called on the US to declare Pakistan a terrorist state unless it stops harboring insurgents.
There has been a negative reaction in the Pakistani media to the appointment because Khalilzad “has made statements in the past which have not been, to be put it mildly, very friendly to Pakistan,” Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.
“He’s been given a new role, and I hope, I would urge him to be more sensitive to opinion in Pakistan,” Qureshi told the US Institute of Peace, a Washington think tank.
“Obviously, as individuals, we can say what we want, but once you have an official position you have to be more restrained and you have to be more sensitive, because only [then] can you be an honest broker,” he said.
While Qureshi was responding to a direct question on the issue, it is unusual for a foreign diplomat to comment directly on how a particular US official should conduct himself. Qureshi stressed the need for the US and Pakistan to arrest the slide in their troubled relationship.
Khalilzad was to begin his first trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan as envoy yesterday.
He is also to visit the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the US Department of State said in a statement.
“Khalilzad’s mission is to coordinate and lead US efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table,” the announcement read, adding that the trip “reflects the Administration’s intent to support, facilitate, and participate in a peace process in Afghanistan.”
Qureshi criticized the US’ suspension of military aid, but was upbeat about his talks on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I was expecting a very hawkish approach, a dressing-down approach. That, pleasantly, did not take place,” he said. “I felt that Secretary Pompeo was ready to listen, which I thought was very positive.”
Qureshi said there was a “convergence” between the governments in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US to seek a peace settlement to end the Afghan war.
However, the Taliban have so far refused to negotiate directly with Kabul, saying that they want to talk with the US, which has about 14,000 troops in the country.
Qureshi said that Pakistan would “use all its influence” to persuade the Taliban to join a peace process, but its influence has diminished.
The Taliban would have to feel that it is in its interest to negotiate, he said.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and