Key regional players are gathering in Russia later this week to discuss the current Afghan situation, particularly the progress towards the inclusive government the Afghan Taliban promised to form after coming to power in Aug 2021.
The meeting of what is known as ‘Moscow Format’ is scheduled to take place in the Russian city of Kazan on Sept 29.
Pakistan, Russia, China, India and Central Asian states are part of the group established in 2017 to build a regional consensus on the way forward for Afghanistan.
The group met last year in November where the Afghan Taliban were urged to form an inclusive government. The Afghan Taliban government was not invited to the meeting.
However, this time the invitation was extended to the interim Afghan government. Interim Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Monday left for Russia to attend the ‘Moscow Format’ meeting.
Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told the Russian news agency TASS that the upcoming meeting would focus on the topic of inclusivity of the incumbent Afghan government, counterterrorism, and drug-related crime.
“So far, we have seen no progress on this issue. This is why we convene, in order to continue our work,” Kabulov noted.
Earlier, Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov requested that Muttaqi attend the Moscow Format meeting.
The Afghan Taliban government said it considers holding the meeting important, as differences between the Islamic Emirate and other countries can be resolved through dialogue.
Read More: Failed and flawed Afghan policy
“At the meetings, there should be a spirit of cooperation with Afghans and resolving conflicts through dialogue. The Islamic Emirate prefers that all problems, concerns, or demands should be shared with us and discussed directly,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate, said.
The Pakistani delegation is expected to be led by Ambassador Asif Durrani, the special envoy for Afghanistan.
The Moscow Format comes at a time when Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban relations are tense over the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Last week, Ambassador Durani and senior army officials visited Kabul to deliver a clear message regarding the TTP.
It was said the Afghan Taliban agreed to take tangible steps to neutralise the TTP threat.
The TTP has emerged as a major stumbling block between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. Despite repeated demands, the Afghan Taliban have been reluctant to take action against the TTP.
Their reluctance stems from the fact that Afghan Taliban have fought alongside the TTP against the US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Observers believe that the Afghan Taliban consider the TTP as their “guests” and hence have been persuading Pakistan to find a political solution to the problem.
Pakistan did try to have a negotiated settlement but the talks could not make progress as the TTP stepped up attacks against the security forces.
Pakistan is no longer seeking peace talks with the TTP and made it clear that the only way the process of negotiations can be resumed is if terrorists submit to the writ of the state and lay down their arms.
Ahad Cheema acquitted in NAB reference
An accountability court on Friday acquitted Ahad Cheema, the special assistant to the caretaker prime minister, in assets beyond means reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Accountability Judge Ali Zulqarnain had reserved the ruling on the acquittal plea after hearing arguments of the NAB prosecutor and the defence counsel earlier in the day. Cheema also appeared before the court during the proceedings.
On Nov 27, in a supplementary report, NAB informed the court that Cheema’s assets were consistent with his known income, asserting that properties held by alleged benamidars/relatives were not his. Based on evidence, the case under NAO, 1999, was not substantiated, it added.
Cheema had served as the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general during the PML-N government in Punjab. The bureau had arrested Cheema in 2018 when he appeared before a joint investigation team in connection with the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
Later, NAB initiated assets beyond means and other inquiries against him. However, Cheema obtained bail in three cases, including assets beyond means case in 2021.
Bilawal consults legal minds on ZAB reference
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday consulted legal minds of his party on the presidential reference case of his late grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The development came during a meeting of central and provincial officials as well as legal experts of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF) at Zardari House here. Bilawal chaired the meeting.
During the meeting, the PLF officials briefed Bilawal on the presidential reference case of ZAB. Farooq H Naik and Shahadat Awan participated in the meeting through video link while Qazi Bashir, Bahram Khan Tareen, Raheel Kamran Cheema, Sajid Tanoli, Gohar Rehman Khattak, Ghiyasul Haque and Asrar Abbasi were present.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Raza Rabbani and Amna Paracha were also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, a civil society delegation also met with Bilawal and discussed the challenges faced by the masses and their solutions.
Bilawal appreciated the delegation for their services and performance in their respective fields.
Ahmed Faraz Khan Advocate, Barrister Saifullah Ghori, Bilal Tariq Khan, Dr Abdul Mohiman, Dr Maria Hamid, Dr Salma Malik, Faheem Sardar, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir, Huma Fawad, Jahanzeb Durrani and Kanwal Malik were among those who met the PPP chairman.
Lubna Bhayat, SM Tariq, Javed Akhtar, Pir Mohammad Anwar, Junaid, Raja Mohammad Khan, Sania Kamran, Shehbaz Zaheer, Shamamata Al Ambararbab, Buland Sohail, Kashaf Ahmed, Talha Rahmani, Osama Malik, Usman Iqbal Bandal and Yusuf Masih were part of the delegation. PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi was also present on this occasion.
SC to take up appeals against military trial verdict on Dec 13
The Supreme Court is set to take up high-profile cases in the coming week, including the appeals against its verdict in the trial of civilians in military courts and pleas filed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
A Supreme Court larger bench will hear on Dec 13 the intra-court appeals against its judgment in the case of civilians being tried in military courts. The appeals have been filed by the caretaker governments and the defence ministry.
On Oct 23, a five-judge bench of the SC unanimously declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and ordered that the 103 accused in cases relating to the violence on May 9 and 10 be tried under ordinary criminal laws.
Moreover, Justice Naqvi, who is facing complaints of misconduct, recently wrote a letter to the top court’s three senior-most judges’ panel to point out the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of a show-cause notice to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the SC (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Musarrat Hilali, will hear his petitions on December 15.
A nine-member larger bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa will take up a presidential reference for revisiting the judgment wherein the death sentence of PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was endorsed.
The bench will conduct its proceedings in courtroom No. 1 on December 12. These decisions were made by the SC three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The other high-profile cases that will be tackled by the SC in the coming week include the evacuation of illegal Afghan residents, reclassification of commercial land in Karachi, and reinstatement of the FIR against PTI leader Moonis Elahi.
The top court has scheduled the hearing for petitions challenging the evacuation of foreign nationals, especially Afghan citizens, residing unlawfully in the country.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Masood, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha Malik, will hear these pleas on December 12.
Farhatullah Babar, Mushtaq Ahmed, Amina Masood Janjua, Mohsin Dawar, Jibran Nasir, Syed Muaz Shah, Pastor Ghazala Parveen, Imaan Zainab Mazari, Ahmad Shabbar, Advocate Imran Shafiq, Luke Victor, Sijal Shafiq, and Rohail Kasi are contesting the evacuation orders.
In a separate case, the dismissal of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) case against PTI’s Moonis by a special judge in Lahore and then the upholding of that decision by the Lahore High Court, has been challenged in the SC.
The FIA has filed an appeal against the dismissal, leading to a review in the apex court.
Moreover, the SC, previously deliberating on the powers of the caretaker government, directed the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court in forming a larger bench to interpret its authority.
In addition, review petitions challenging the decision on the reclassification of land in Karachi to commercial status will be heard in the coming week as well. A three-judge bench, led by Justice Ahsan, is scheduled to hear the matter on December 11.
The court has issued notices to all relevant parties, including the Sindh government, following its earlier ruling invalidating the conversion of public land into residential and commercial categories.
These petitions stem from a challenge initiated in 2010 by former Karachi nazim Niamatullah Khan against the alteration of public land’s categorisation.
A five-judge bench, led by CJP Isa, will also take up on December 14 former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition against his removal.
It is expected that the proceedings of both Bhutto and the ex-IHC judge’s cases will be available on the SC website.
US vetoes UN ceasefire bid as Israel continues Gaza assault
Shadab Khan provides an update on his injury
Ahad Cheema acquitted in NAB reference
Pakistan team finally issued visas for World Cup in India
Regional players to meet in Russia on Afghanistan
Attack plots the norm since Danish cartoon crisis: experts
Business2 weeks ago
Using technology to hit the right notes
Technology3 weeks ago
a futuristic tech unable to replace smartphones
World4 weeks ago
Saudi Arabia to host extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit
World4 weeks ago
Israel warning to Lebanon sharpens amidst cross-border enmity
Sports3 weeks ago
Mohammad Hafeez replaces Mickey Arthur as Pakistan team’s director
Pakistan3 weeks ago
Use of force by any militia, entity or group ‘unacceptable’: COAS
Pakistan3 weeks ago
Hajj applications open from November 27
World4 weeks ago
Erdogan criticises top Turkey court, stoking ‘judicial crisis’