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US Secretary of State, Khalizad discuss Afghan peace

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2021)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Thursday met with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and discussed the Afghan peace process.

“Great meeting with Ambassador Khalilzad to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan: continuing to protect the US against the threat of terrorism, achieving a just and durable political settlement there, and cementing a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” Blinken said in a tweet.

Biden’s Administration has retained Khalilzad, who has for the past two years been the driving force behind the Afghan peace process, to continue the Afghan peace mission.

In a series of tweets, Khalilzad stated that he has briefed Blinken on the Afghanistan peace process “in the context of our continuing policy review.”

“We discussed the focus on our conditions-based strategy, one that brings peace to Afghanistan, secures a stable future for its citizens, and prevents anyone from using Afghanistan to threaten the United States and our allies,” Khalilzad said.

This comes as the government and the Taliban peace negotiating teams have not held any formal meetings in the last 19 days.

Meanwhile, the International Union for Muslim Scholars this week called for all Muslim scholars to work to end the conflict in Afghanistan and ensure the safety of its people.

In a statement issued by the IUMS, they said they call “on all scholars and intellectuals to strive for an end to the bloodshed, and to achieve stability and safety for the Afghan people.”

The IUMS also strongly condemned and denounced the systematic targeting of scholars and intellectuals in Afghanistan and they urged all religious scholars and intellectuals to make efforts to help stop the bloodshed and to achieve stability, security, and safety for the Afghan people.

They said the ongoing targeting of religious scholars “has dire consequences for the future of Afghanistan as well as for the region.”

The IUMS also stated that the violence and killing of innocent civilians are forbidden by Islamic laws, customs, and international laws.

The organization emphasized it “condemns all acts of violence, assassination, and terrorism against religious scholars, intellectuals, opinion-holders, and dissidents.

“The Union considers these assassinations a crime and aggression against the victims,
against the Afghan people, and an insult to Islam and Muslims.

“The Union emphasizes the prohibition of aggression and murder,” stating it is against Islam.

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Germany will not abandon Afghan staff, minister says

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Germany will not let down its Afghan staff as the international military mission in the country, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged on Sunday.

“I feel it is Germany’s sincere duty to not leave these people without protection now that we will permanently withdraw,” the defence ministry in Berlin said on Twitter, quoting extracts from an interview with German news agency DPA.

U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO on Wednesday announced that they would withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Germany is the second-largest contingent with about 1,100 troops.

The withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt into full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

The German forces currently employ about 300 Afghans as interpreters and in other jobs, according to the defence ministry in Berlin.

Since 2013 Germany has admitted nearly 800 Afghans at risk in their own country after working for the foreign military, as well as about 2,500 family members.

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Two policemen killed in Taliban group attack in Baghlan

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

At least two policemen were killed and six others were wounded in a Taliban group attack in Baghlan province on Sunday night, police said Monday.

Police said the Taliban attacked Fabreka Qand Township in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district.

According to them, at least six Taliban insurgents were also killed and eight more were wounded in the ensuing clash between the insurgents and Afghan security forces.

“Afghan forces responded strongly to the Taliban’s attacks and pushed them back,” said Jawed Basharat, spokesman for Baghlan police.

Sayed Kamal Wardak, district governor for Baghlan Markazi district told Ariana News that the clash started on Sunday night at around midnight and lasted until 5am on Monday.

“At least one police Humvee burnt out and another one was seized by the Taliban,” said Wardak.

Police chief Sayed Ashraf Sadat along with other reinforcements are in the area and said the Taliban suffered heavy casualties but he did not provide further details.

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Ghani says Taliban no longer has an ‘excuse’ to continue the war

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday rejected any military parallels with the US war in Vietnam and dismissed concerns that his country would collapse after American forces are withdrawn.

In an interview with CNN, Ghani said it was time Afghanistan regained its sovereignty after 20 years of American and international presence.

“In the past two years, Afghan defence and security forces have been carrying out over 90 per cent of the operations,” he said.

Ghani said the US announcement of troop withdrawal has been a game changer but it’s now time the Taliban and Pakistan make a choice.

“Will they opt for peace or chaos?” he asked.

Ghani said the Taliban no longer has an excuse to carry on the war now that the international forces are withdrawing and they have no religious justification for the war. He said a political settlement is a must but that the ball is “clearly” in the Taliban’s court.

According to him he has never stood in the way of peace but was used as the Trump administration’s scapegoat. He said he was accused of being an “obstacle in the way of peace”.

This was not the case he said, adding that he was clear about wanting the Trump team to deal directly with the Afghan government and not with the Taliban on the troop withdrawal issue last year.

On what the Taliban might do in future, Ghani said he would like the group to “seize the new context” and reach a political settlement where a government of peace ending in an election can be formed.

He also said that Pakistan’s leaders have all “verbally” said they do not want the Taliban to rule, and that they would like to see a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Afghanistan. He added however that Afghanistan is “key to their prosperity”.

According to him, Pakistan has two choices – share in the benefits of a peaceful Afghanistan or “opt for chaos”. He said Pakistan would be the country most affected by a civil war in Afghanistan.

Ghani also stated that Pakistan could become an anchor for regional stability. On China, he said he did not believe Beijing would get “involved” in regional conflict and stated that Afghanistan does not want “a replacement” for US troops once they have withdrawn.

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