ISSI launches CMEA

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ISLAMABAD, MAY 01 (DNA) – The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) held the soft launch of its Centre for Middle East & Africa (CMEA).

Additional Secretary Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, Ali Javed, and Director General Middle East, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, Syed Zahid Raza were also present on the occasion.

CMEA aims to promote and provide quality research, analysis, policy input and dialogue on issues related to the Middle East and Africa.

The Centre’s functions include observing latest developments, contributing in-depth research and analysis, organizing and promoting dialogue and debate on political, security, economic, and social aspects of the Middle East and Africa countries, with the focus on relevance for Pakistan.

Ms. Amina Khan, Director CMEA, in her introductory remarks underscored the importance of studying different regions and countries in order to better understand their respective challenges and responsibilities. She said that in the case of Pakistan, it is important that research becomes focused on regions that are significant for Pakistan’s foreign policy, and also on those that are ignored despite repeated slogans of their high potential, in particular, the Middle East and Africa region.

Ali Javed said that there is a lot of opportunity in the African region that needs to be tapped into. All conferences and seminars should translate into concrete establishment of ties between the two sides. He outlined the shortcomings of the Nairobi trade fair and pointed to countries such as Tunis and Morocco which have shown interest in establishing commercial links with Pakistan.

He also spoke of the importance of celebrating ‘Pakistan-Africa Friendship Day’, the need for greater facilitation of information between different government departments and expressed his hope that CMEA would deliver in this regard.

Zahid Raza said that the Middle East region is of immense importance to Pakistan especially in terms of the huge Pakistani Diaspora which resides there. He outlined the complex interplay within the regional countries of the Middle East which require Pakistan to tread very carefully to safeguard its interests.

In this regard, he hoped that CMEA could provide quality input and constructive engagements which would help shape Pakistan’s foreign policy in this region – at an individual country level as well as Middle East as an entity.

Earlier, in his welcome remarks, the Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry stated that the Government of Pakistan is working on establishing ties with the African countries as a top priority. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is very keen in this respect. This in itself symbolizes the importance the African region has for Pakistan. He hoped that CMEA would deliver on this front and work closely with the government in this regard.

In his concluding remarks, Chairman BOG, ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood highlighted how over the years Pakistan has helped African countries especially during their period of decolonization.

The African continent is one which is increasing in importance.  He said that CMEA should develop greater linkage with African community in Pakistan and keep them abreast of all developments pertaining to Pak-African relations. = DNA

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EJAC, HCBA denounce India’s anti-Kashmiri employees move

SRINAGAR, MAY 01 (DNA) – Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) and High Court Bar Association (HCBA), have strongly opposed the Indian government’s move of shifting the services matters of the employees in the territory to Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Chandigarh, India, for redressal of their grievances.

The EJAC President, Fayaz Ahmed Shabnam, in a statement issued in Srinagar termed the move quite unfortunate and said that such an order was totally unjustified and was unacceptable to the employees of the occupied territory. He said that such an order was unwarranted and would further complicate the situation of thousands of employees whose cases were pending in courts for a very long time.

“Such an order will not only delay justice to the employees but will also be too costly for the employees as the majority of the service related cases belong to the lower ranked employees and daily wagers who on a meager salary hardly make their two ends meet” he said.

Shabnam also pointed out that Srinagar-Jammu highway is usually closed for most of the time due to landslides or other issues and the airplane tickets are skyrocketing and thus in such a scenario to reach the Tribunal on a given date or time will be almost impossible for the employees.

He urged the Indian government to revoke the order and instead establish the tribunal in occupied Kashmir so that the employees would get speedy and cost effective justice.

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee of HCBA at a meeting held through teleconferencing said that the move would create hardships for the employees of occupied Kashmir seeking dispensation of justice.

The location of the tribunal at Chandigarh would generally deprive all classes of employs from getting their grievances redressed due to incurring of heavy expenses in proceeding to Chandigarh and hiring legal services would be beyond their means outside occupied Kashmir and it would result in complete denial of the right to approach the court for redressal of their grievances, the HCBA members said.

They impressed upon the authorities to provide circuit benches for dealing with service matters at Srinagar so as to mitigate the sufferings of service class.

The CAT Chandigarh will deal with matters like services, employment, pension etc. Earlier, the services matters of the government employees of occupied Kashmir were being adjudicated by Kashmir and Jammu wings of High Court of the territory. = DNA