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Hoagland lauds release of Afghan Taliban by Pakistan

16 November, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland on Thursday hailed Pakistan's decision to release several Afghan Taliban prisoners, and termed the country's role in Afghan reconciliation as vital.

Talking to reporters during a weeklong series of workshops at the Abasyn University, which were sponsored by the US embassy, Hoagland said the US had already suggested to the Afghan government to pursue reconciliation process. He admitted that release of the Taliban detainees was crucial for reconciliation, but stressed upon the release of those inmates who abide by the law of the Afghan government.

"The groups who will lay their arms for safeguarding human rights can become the part of reconciliation process," he added. When he was asked about the US role in pushing the Afghan and Pakistan sides closer, Hoagland said that all these were efforts of the two countries and they bilaterally agreed on the arrangement. Afghan sources said the release of the Taliban in Pakistani jails would not only convey a positive message to top Taliban leadership but would also help in kicking off reconciliation process.

Earlier, in his media talks on the occasion, Hoagland said the United States is helping talented Pakistani entrepreneurs sharpen their business skills, bring new products and services to market, and achieve profitable growth. More than 720 aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs attended the workshops this week to learn the nuts and bolts of running a successful business and to pitch their business ideas to potential investors from the United States.

"The US embassy acknowledged the hard work of Pakistan's entrepreneurs," said Murtaza Zaidi Hon, a Pakistani entrepreneur. "These workshops encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation. They are helping many graduates, who would otherwise be unemployed, to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and to discover financial independence." The embassy partnered with the US-based Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in the world, to carry out these workshops in celebration of "Global Entrepreneurship Week" – the State Department's global celebration of the innovators who bring new products and services to the marketplace.

"Entrepreneurship is the economic engine of this country," said Hoagland at a workshop on how entrepreneurs can access financing to grow their businesses. "In fact, most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses so workshops like this are vital venues for entrepreneurs from both our countries to connect, build skills, and learn about how to succeed in business." The United States works with Pakistani universities and partners in the private sector to promote the growth and development of entrepreneurship.

In addition to workshops with Abasyn University, the US has worked with the National University of Sciences and Technology to establish business incubators, helping telecommunications and alternative fuels entrepreneurs launch their companies in Pakistan. This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive US economic assistance programme which creates jobs and boosts incomes with projects that expand Pakistan's agricultural output, build roads to facilitate trade, and offer a private equity fund to help small- and medium-size businesses grow.


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