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US out of the game as Pakistan assures Iran of its support in Iranian nuclear deal debacle

Pakistan on Friday said it supported Iran’s “principled stance” on regarding its nuclear deal with major world powers

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan has made it clear to any concerned parties that it stands with its neighbor and long-time ally Iran in the Iranian Nuclear Deal fiasco.

“Pakistan stands with Iran in this hour of need,” Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Islamabad.

Also read: Pakistan to strengthen ties with Iran despite US warnings

The Iranian foreign minister was on a two-day visit to Islamabad during which he held formal talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi and also visited the GHQ to meet Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Zarif’s visit to Pakistan comes as both Tehran and Islamabad are struggling with fraught relationships with Washington, which withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord in May and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan during his tenure would make all efforts to deepen cooperation with Iran for the benefit of both the countries.

Imran in his victory speech said that he wanted to improve ties with all its neighbours including Iran. The prime minister is traditionally in favour of maintaining a delicate balance in ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He was a staunch opponent of Pakistan sending troops to Saudi Arabia to fight Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

This was perhaps the reason Iran dispatched its top diplomat to Islamabad in an effort to strengthen ties.

An official handout issued by the Prime Minister office said Imran received Zarif for a meeting, who conveyed to him the greetings and best wishes of the people and leadership of Iran on assuming office.

Zarif stated that Iran wished continued progress and prosperity to the people of Pakistan.

He delivered a message of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, inviting the prime minister for the upcoming Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) summit in Iran, in October 2018.

Both Pakistan and Iran are members of the organisation. Iran currently holds the chair of the organisation.

Welcoming the foreign minister, the prime minister thanked the Iranian supreme leader’s support for Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination as well as for the manner in which Pakistan Independence Day was celebrated in Iran.

The prime minister thanked the foreign minister for the sincere wishes. Recalling his recent telephonic conversation with President Rouhani, the prime minister said Pakistan and Iran were connected by inseparable bonds of historic, religious and cultural affinities.

He added during his tenure, Pakistan would make all efforts to cement the relations in various areas to the benefit of both countries.

The prime minister also emphasised restoring complete peace and stability in the region.

Referring to cancellation of blasphemous caricatures competition in the Netherlands following the Government of Pakistan’s strong condemnation and protest recently, the prime minister underlined the need for Muslim countries to confront Islamophobia with one voice.

“The love and respect of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was part of every Muslim’s faith and no one could be allowed to disrespect it,” the statement read.

Zarif held formal talks with Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office where the two had wide-ranging talks covering bilateral issues as well as current regional situation.

Welcoming his Iranian counterpart, the foreign minister noted the potential of strengthening the already strong bilateral relationship.

“Pakistan and Iran have stood by each other in difficult moments.”

Both the sides underlined the need to promote bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation.

Detailed discussions were also held on regional and global issues — including the situation in Afghanistan and the US’ decision to unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA.

It was agreed to host the next rounds of Bilateral Political Consultations and the Joint Economic Commission at early dates.

Useful exchange of views on strengthening cooperation in economic, trade and connectivity sectors, cultural and people to people links, took place.

While expressing satisfaction over cooperation with regard to the Pakistan-Iran border, it was agreed to continue close consultations through various forums in this regard.

As regards JCPOA, while supporting Iran’s principled stance, Qureshi expressed the hope that remaining parties to the agreement would uphold their commitments in letter and spirit.

“This is important given IAEA’s repeated verification that Iran has strictly adhered to the terms of agreement,” the foreign minister said and added, “Pakistan stands with Iran in this hour of need.”

Zarif thanked the government and people of Pakistan for their hospitality and warm welcome.

He also congratulated the foreign minister that Pakistan’s strong protest against the blasphemous caricature competition had led to cancellation of the event. “Muslim countries need to confront Islamophobic tendencies with one voice.”

Also read: Won’t accept any unjust demand by US: Prime Minister Khan

Meanwhile during meeting between the army chief and Zarif, regional security situation and other matters of mutual interests were discussed. The army chief said Pakistan was taking sincere steps for peace and security in the region.

The visiting dignitary acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region.

Pakistan News

Independence Day: Sale of Kashmiri flags on the rise

Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day.

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Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD, Azad Kashmir/KARACHI, Pakistan: Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day, ARY News reported on Thursday.

As marking of 73rd Independence Day is right around the corner, the preparations have gained momentum as a huge rush of people were seen at different stalls of Kashmiri flags, national flags buntings, badges, set up by vendors in different areas of Karachi.

READ MORE: Top 10 schools of Pakistan (2018-19)

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Ateeq Meer said that people are very enthusiastic and passionate for purchasing celebratory items to mark Independence Day.

It must be noted that government has decided to observe Independence Day; 14 August, as Kashmir Solidarity Day and 15th of this month as Black Day to express harmony and solidarity with Kashmiris in their recent plight caused by the Indian government.

The national flag will fly half-mast on 15th of this month. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Ministry of Interior.

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Pakistan News

Maryam’s interview “stopped forcefully:” Nadeem Malik

An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run, it was reported on Thursday.

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Maryam Nawaz

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: An interview of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif was taken off air forcefully seconds after it started.

“Just came to know Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s interview has been stopped forcefully just [a] few minutes after it started live,” tweeted show host Nadeem Malik.

Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.”

The development comes days after AbbTakk TV24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut after screening a press conference by Maryam Nawaz.

Authorities say the three channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global media watchdog, described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.

It slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

READ MORE: Arrest me if you want to, I won’t run away like your master Musharraf: Hamid Mir

Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and a recent press conference she hosted featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.

The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”.

Earlier this month, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.

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Pakistan News

Several dead and dozens injured in Pakistan train collision

A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

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Rahim yar khan

RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan: A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

The incident on Thursday took place at the Walhar railway station, located about 35km south of Rahim Yar Khan.

“The Akbar Express [passenger train] going from Bahawalpur to Quetta hit a freight train that was parked there at 7.40am,” a local police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

Senior police official Umar Salamat told local media the collision took place because the passenger train was diverted onto the incorrect track at the station, hitting the parked freight train.

Rescue operations were under way at the collision site, with workers using equipment to get to some of those trapped in the train wreckage, local media reported.

The injured were taken to a nearby government hospital and to a more advanced facility in Rahim Yar Khan, hospital officials said.

Nine of the dead were taken to the government hospital, with more than 60 people injured in the wreck also treated there, Liaquat Chohan, a senior hospital official, told Al Jazeera.

“The injuries were of multiple types – many had fractures, others had bleeding wounds. Some were crushed under objects,” he said.

At least one dead body was also taken to the Sheikh Zayed hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, where 11 of those wounded in the accident were being treated, hospital official Ilyas Ahmer told Al Jazeera.

“One person’s leg was cut off [in the collision], and another is having serious chest surgery,” he said.

‘Emergency steps’

Pakistan’s aging railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.

A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences for those who were killed and injured, and ordered Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad to speed up work on the country’s rail infrastructure.

“Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards,” Khan tweeted after the accident.

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