Pakistan's weekly summary: agreement between the United States and the Taliban, 'warning' by tech giants, Trump's visit to India and more

NEW DELHI: From Pakistan calling to Afghanistan Peace agreement for Internet giants that threaten to suspend services in the country, here is a summary of everything that was news in the neighboring country in recent days:

Here's your weekly Pakistan round-up:

Pakistan 'hails' US-Taliban peace deal

After the signing of the peace deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Doha on February 29, Pakistan "hailed" it as a "major step" towards peace in Afghanistan after 19 years of war and hoped that Afghan factions would avail this opportunity to reach a mutual accommodation.

Pakistan was represented at the signing ceremony in the Qatar capital by its foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

In a sense, the peace deal is a victory of sorts for Pakistan , which has been Taliban’s principal supporter.

Pakistan had been pressured by US to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and prima facie, it has delivered.

" Pakistan played a key role in US-Taliban negotiations that resulted in the signing of the accord," said The Dawn.

Pakistan i media also underlined how Pakistan "fulfilled" its part of the responsibility in terms of facilitating this peace agreement.

The US and the Taliban signed the landmark peace deal in Doha on Saturday to bring lasting peace in the war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America's longest war. 2

Internet giants threaten to suspend services in Pak for new regulations

Internet giants, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, have threatened to suspend their services in Pakistan over the new censorship rules introduced by the government, according to a media report.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government announced a new set of rules to regulate social media activity and has given all digital companies and social media platforms three months to adhere to the new regulations.

Under the new rules, social media companies will be required to disclose any information or data to a designated research agency, when requested. Failure to comply with any of the provisions will result in a fine of up to Rs 500 million.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Imran Khan on February 15, the Asian Internet Coalition (AIC), which includes Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Apple and other technology giants, urged the government to review the new rule sets and regulations for social networks, News International reported Friday.

However, internet giants threatened to suspend their services in the country if the rules are not modified, according to the report.

When writing about censorship, Dawn newspaper said: Censorship would deprive users of a discharge valve, a learning tool to exchange ideas, experiences and thoughts with the world at large at a cost close to zero and take away a vital help Essential in this century. 3

Trump 'praises' Pakistan on India visit

US President's two-day visit to India on February 24-25 made headlines in Pakistan as the media focussed on how Donald Trump "praised" the country and its PM Imran Khan.

Dawn newspaper while mentioning the mega event of PM Modi and Trump in Ahmedabad and focussed on how the US President praised Pakistan during his address. “Our relationship with Pakistan is a very good one and thanks to these efforts, we are beginning to see signs of big progress with Pakistan . And we are hopeful of reduced tension, and greater stability and future harmony for all of the nations of South Asia,” the newspaper quoted Trump.

Another website The News International had a story with the headline, 'Trump tells India ties with Pakistan are very good'. It said, "The roars of appreciation for Trump at Motera stadium turned into a pin-drop silence when Trump said ‘the Pakistan -US relationship is a very good one.'"

Most of the Pakistan i media stressed on how President Trump stressed on "good relations" with Pakistan during his visit to Pakistan . 4

Christian woman in blasphemy row: I was invited to live in France

Asia Bibi, the Pakistan i Christian woman who spent years on death row after a 2010 conviction of blasphemy, said that she has been invited to live in France by President Emmanuel Macron.

Bibi was acquitted of a blasphemy conviction last year and has since been living with her family in Canada.

France is the country from where I received my new life ... Anne-Isabelle is an angel to me, she said, referring to the French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who undertook a long campaign for her release and later co-wrote the book from Bibi 'Enfin Libre! (Finally free).

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, will grant an honorary citizenship certificate granted to Bibi by the city in 2014, when she was still behind bars.

However, speaking outside the headquarters of the Elysee Palace in Macron, he said he needed time to make a decision about moving to France, saying he wanted to focus on his health and his family for now.

An Elysee official said: France is willing to welcome you if you wish, in accordance with the procedures for an asylum application.

Bibi, a farm worker and a mother of four, was convicted in 2010 of making derogatory remarks about Islam. She spent eight years on death row. She was released in October 2018 after Pakistan 's Supreme Court overturned her conviction. 5

Pakistan says US invited to invest in CPEC

In an interesting move, Pakistan has invited the US to join the $60 billion China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ambitious infrastructure project.

On February 27, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's adviser on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said the government made the offer during a meeting with the US trade delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday, The Express Tribune reported.

Khan's commerce advisor Razak said: "The US has shown interest in ( Pakistan 's) energy, oil and gas, agriculture and food processing".

Sharing details of the meeting, the advisor said that the US officials have also expressed interest in e-commerce. "They have agreed that the US International Development Finance Corporation would help in developing of new businesses in Pakistan ," Dawood said.

China has committed to invest money in Pakistan as part of the CPEC under which it planned to build a number of special economic zones.

CPEC, connecting China's Xinjiang with Pakistan 's Gwadar port, is regarded as the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is aimed at furthering China's global influence with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world. 6

Nawaz Sharif declared a fugitive for violating bail terms

Pakistan 's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been declared an "absconder" by the government for violating the bail requirements by not presenting his medical report from his doctors in London, Dawn Newspaper reported.

Sharif, 70, went to London last November to receive treatment after Lahore's superior court allowed him to go abroad for medical reasons for four weeks.

According to Sharif's doctor, the three-time prime minister suffers from a complex disease of the coronary artery of multiple vessels and a substantial ischemic and threatened myocardium for which he must undergo surgery.

But the Pakistan government has decided not to extend Sharif's bail and declared him an “absconder”. The government, however, did not elaborate how Sharif could be declared an "absconder" legally, the paper said.

On December 24, 2018, an accountability court sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison in the corruption case of Al-Azizia Steel Mills and acquitted him in the Flagship case.