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3rd trilateral dialogue hold to highlight Pak-China role in Afghan peace process

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(Last Updated On: January 12, 2016)

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The third round of the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue held in Islamabad on Monday to focus on the role of China and Pakistan in finding a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict.

The Pakistani prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, on Monday (January 11) said Pakistan was committed to facilitating an intra-Afghan reconciliation process aimed at bringing lasting peace to war-torn Afghanistan.

Aziz was addressing the inaugural session of the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue organised by the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) in Islamabad.

“Pakistan desires sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan. We believe a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would become harbinger of regional stability and economic integration. It will not only create a favourable environment for greater trade and energy connectivity, but also stimulate cross-regional exchanges. Pakistan will, therefore, continue its endeavors for strengthening bilateral engagement with Afghanistan through deepening interaction in diverse fields. We are also committed to facilitating an intra-Afghan reconciliation process aimed at bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan,” Aziz said.

He added the purpose of this initiative is to have a dialogue amongst the three neighbors who share a common vision for peace and security, regional economic cooperation and combating terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.

The Trilateral Dialogue, which is the first such think tank initiative among China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is serving as a recognized primary platform in the three countries.

Two rounds of the international conference have been held previously, in Beijing in 2013, and in Islamabad in 2014.

The topic for the third round is: “Quest for peace in Afghanistan: Role of neighboring countries”.

Aziz said Pakistan, Afghanistan and China are three close neighbors having common interests and stakes in promoting peace and development in the region, and underlined that, given the impending military withdrawal of US/NATO forces from Afghanistan, this co-operation between the neighboring countries has become more imperative.

He said the Dialogue would focus on the continuing Afghan peace process with special emphasis on the role of China and Pakistan. The objective is to “highlight the role of China and Pakistan, as well as that of the regional countries” in the pursuit of finding a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict.

Aziz said the prolonged conflict during the past 35 years in Afghanistan has not only caused immense suffering to the people, it has also prevented the country region from realizing its full development potential.

He said he was pleased to announce that Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States talks on Afghanistan were simultaneously taking place in Islamabad, in which the four countries would try to resurrect a stalled Afghan peace process and end nearly 15 years of bloodshed.

“It is heartening that today as I speak here, the Quadrilateral Contact Group involving these four countries is also holding its first meeting in Islamabad. We hope that these four countries will remain closely engaged in accordance with the principle of shared responsibility with a view to move the Afghan reconciliation process forward towards a lasting outcome,” Aziz said.

However, he said, the reconciliation process will have to be chalked out with utmost patience and discretion.

“We need to be cognizant that the reconciliation process will have to take into account the following fundamentals: One, the process has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned as an externally imposed settlement is neither desirable nor it would be sustainable. The role of Pakistan, China and the United States is basically to facilitate the process. Two, the political reconciliation by nature is a complex process requiring time, patience and sense of accommodation by the concerned parties with a view to arriving at a win-win solution,” Aziz said.

Renewed peace efforts come amid spiralling violence in Afghanistan, with last year, after the withdrawal of most foreign forces at the end of 2014, one of the bloodiest on record.

In recent months the Taliban have won territory in the southern province of Helmand, briefly captured the northern city of Kunduz and launched a series of suicide bombs in the capital, underlining how hard Afghan government forces are finding it fighting on their own.

Peace efforts last year stalled after the Taliban announced that their founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been dead for two years, throwing the militant group into disarray and factional fighting over a new leader.

The Taliban, who were ousted in 2001, remain split on whether to take part in talks, with some factions opposed to any negotiations but others considering joining talks, senior members of Taliban groups said last week.

Officials are keen to limit expectations of a quick breakthrough.

Afghanistan has said the aim is to work out a road map for peace negotiations and a way of assessing if they remain on track.

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Bayat Foundation provides much needed food parcels to Balkh residents

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Hundreds of poverty-stricken families in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, were given food parcels on Sunday in a drive by the organization to help desperate families ahead of winter.

Committed to helping the hungry, Bayat Foundation has so far sent hundreds of packages that include rice, flour and oil, to the destitute in Kandahar, Herat and now Balkh.

According to foundation officials, they are working as fast as possible to provide the essential food items to people before winter sets in.

“The Bayat Foundation continues to provide assistance to the deserving and displaced people. We have already distributed aid to people in Kandahar and Herat and today we have distributed in Mazar-e-Sharif,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Chairman of the Bayat Foundation.

Bayat Foundation has carried out comprehensive assessments in these areas to identify recipients in urgent need of help.

“Based on the Bayat Foundation’s survey results, we are distributing foodstuff for really deserving people,” said Yafes Saqeb, Head of Bayat Foundation in Balkh.

Recipients of the food parcels welcomed the foundation’s initiative and said a large percentage of local families are facing serious financial problems.

“People don’t have food. We welcome their assistance and want them to continue their help,” said Abdul Ghafar, a resident.

“In this dangerous time that people are living in, hungry, we really welcome the assistance. We want them to continue with this assistance,” said Mohammad Baqer, another resident.

“There is no work. Women have problems, and can’t leave [their homes]. We are grateful to them and hope they carry on helping us,” said Shakela, another resident.
Bayat Foundation officials have said they will continue to provide food parcels and hope to reach as many people across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan families are desperate amid a looming humanitarian crisis following the abrupt end to foreign financial aid and the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets by the US.

Families have been hit hard by the unexpected withdrawal of foreign organizations, diplomatic missions as well as the withdrawal of US troops.

Together these entities employed hundreds of thousands of people both directly and indirectly – people who now have no income. In addition to this, the 300,000 former security force members, who were paid by the US, are also now unemployed and penniless.

Afghanistan’s winters are particularly harsh, and given the collapsing economy, Afghans are extremely worried about what lies ahead.

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MoD to form a new, independent national army

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said Saturday that they will establish a new army that is independent in order to defend Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, acting minister of defense and son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said in a voice clip on Sunday that efforts are being made to safeguard Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

“We intend to create a national and independent army under MoD to defend the country with high values. We will attempt to equip the IEA army with modern weapons. The army should have ground and airspace capabilities,” said Mullah Yaqoob.

The acting minister assured the international community and countries in the region that no one will be allowed to use Afghanistan terrority to carry out attacks against them.

“Countries in the world know that an army is impossible without foreign assistance. The world should help Afghanistan in this regard,” said Mohammad Sarwar Naizai, a military analyst.

The caretaker minister did not however provide further details about how the IEA will finance the army or whether it will include soldiers from the former government.

The previous Western-backed government paid the salaries of the then soldiers with money from the United States. On August 15, when former president Ashraf Ghani and all his top officials fled the country, the US and NATO-trained army and airforce disintegrated within hours.

The same day, IEA forces rolled into Kabul and took over as the new rulers. However, the foreign donor community and the US immediately cut off financial aid to Afghanistan and froze all the central bank’s foreign reserves – cutting off salaries to hundreds of thousands of former soldiers and government workers.

Some IEA officials meanwhile said that former government soldiers will be brought back into the army.

“We have left the way open for those people who were in security institutions in the former government. Some of them have returned already,” said Qari Saeed Khosti, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

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Pakistan denies reports it struck deal with US on Afghanistan operations

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied a media report which claimed that the two countries are “nearing a formalised agreement” to give Washington access to Pakistan’s airspace for operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has denied it struck a deal to allow the US to use its airspace for military and intelligence operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

“No such understanding is in place,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement on Saturday in response to media reports.

“Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counterterrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said earlier this year that “there is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not.”

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