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Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan seen as a bid to ‘overcome mistrust of the past’

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 17, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah’s recent visit to Pakistan, as head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, “reflects growing stability and mutual trust,” between Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Amina Khan, Director for the Center for Middle East & Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. 

In a brief, following Abdullah’s visit, published on Saturday, Khan stated that with the exception of a few brief moments of stability, the “Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship has followed a negative trajectory embedded in a vicious blame game, which has proved to be counterproductive for both countries.”

She said history has shown that whatever happens in Afghanistan has a direct impact on Pakistan and that this has been even more evident in the last two decades since the onset of the war on terror.

Khan stated that after several years of negativity, Abdullah’s visit is being viewed in Pakistan as an attempt by Afghanistan to overcome the mistrust of the past and embark on a new partnership with its neighbor. 

“This will also help in Kabul gaining Pakistan’s support regarding the ongoing intra-Afghan talks,” she said.

Abdullah “solicited Pakistan’s support in convincing the Taliban to reduce, and ultimately abandon violence,” she said adding that “Pakistan has publically, as well as privately been persuading the Taliban to reduce violence and move towards a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government.”

Citing some examples of Pakistan’s efforts and involvement in the peace process she stated that Pakistan not only played a pivotal role in the short ceasefire by the Taliban in June 2018 and again over Eid in 2020, but it also encouraged the group to engage with the US in direct talks. 

“These in fact resulted in the US-Taliban agreement of February 2020, and subsequently in the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha,” she said. 

Khan added that “it is important for the Afghan leadership to recognize that Pakistan is actively engaging with all stakeholders, including the Taliban in an effort to convince the group to abandon its hostilities towards the Afghan state, engage with Kabul in intra-Afghan talks and ultimately reach a compromise.” 

In her brief, she stated that Pakistan’s role should be to support the peace process as well as any outcome that is achieved as long as it is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.

“All Pakistan can do is to encourage both sides to engage and compromise. It cannot dictate peace. Therefore, it is important for both sides, particularly the Afghan leadership,to recognize and accept that achieving peace and a workable outcome that is acceptable to all stakeholders is solely in the hands of the Afghans. Indeed, it is an Afghan prerogative.” 

She said for years, Pakistan has followed a policy of extending support to Pashtun groups alone – including the Taliban.

This she said “inevitably led to the alienation of other ethnic factions such as the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras. 

“This then caused these groups to view Pakistan with immense mistrust and suspicion, leading many to consider Pakistan as a spoiler in Afghanistan’s path to peace. 

“Now, there is a clear and conscious awareness in Pakistan that relations need to be established with all ethnic and political groups in” Afghanistan and to “assure them of all of Pakistan’s support and sincerity,” Khan said. 

Statements made by the Pakistani leadership are not only important and necessary acknowledgments, but a clear indication of the change in the narrative on the Pakistani side, she stated adding that it will however take a lot more than mere words and promises to assure Afghans of Pakistan’s sincerity.

“But the fact that Islamabad is reaching out to the different Afghan factions and not just the Taliban or for that matter the Pashtuns, warrants recognition. This is a wise and desirable policy in the right direction,” she said.

In conclusion, she stated that although the burden of history cannot be washed away easily, a pragmatic and holistic approach needs to be adopted by both to address the key issues and irritants, and that “most importantly, the positive momentum generated in recent weeks must be kept alive to foster cooperation and create systemic, institutional linkages for sustainable collaboration in all fields.”



Global coronavirus caseload crosses the 40 million mark

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide passed the 40 million mark on Monday, according to a Reuters tally. 

Reuters reported that this comes as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere appears to have fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease. 

Experts however believe the true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries.

The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to increase as it took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.

Reuters also reported that record one-day increases in new infections were seen at the end of last week, with global coronavirus cases rising above 400,000 for the first time.

The United States, India, and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world. 


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UN secretary general condemns Ghor attack 

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday strongly condemned the attack in Ghor province on Sunday that killed and wounded dozens of civilians. 

In a statement issued by the organization, Guterres said he “strongly condemns the indiscriminate attack today on a provincial police headquarters in Afghanistan’s province of Ghor, in an area where many civilians are present.”  

The UN stated that according to preliminary reports, the car bomb claimed the lives of at least 13 people and injured dozens of civilians, including women and children. 

“Those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable,” the statement read. 

“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” Guterres said.

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US peace envoy warns high levels of violence could derail peace process 

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad warned that “distressingly” high levels of violence could derail the peace process and the understanding that there is no military solution to the war in Afghanistan. 

In a series of tweets overnight Monday, Khalilzad appeared to have been responding to Sunday’s spat between the Taliban and the US Forces Afghanistan after the insurgent group accused the US of violating the Doha agreement by carrying out airstrikes in Helmand and Farah provinces last week. 

The US Forces Afghanistan responded not long after rejecting the claim and said they were within the terms of the agreement as they had been defending the Afghan security forces who had come under attack by the Taliban. 

The Taliban also issued a veiled threat in their statement and said: “All responsibility and consequences from the continuation of such actions shall fall squarely on the shoulders of the American side.”

Khalilzad meanwhile said in his Twitter statement: “Unfounded charges of violations and inflammatory rhetoric do not advance peace. Instead, we should pursue strict adherence to all articles of the US-Taliban Agreement and US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration and not neglect the commitment to gradually reduce violence.

“Continued high levels of violence can threaten the peace process and the agreement and the core understanding that there is no military solution. Violence today remains distressingly high in spite of the recent reaffirmation of the need for substantial reduction.

“Taliban attacks in Helmand, including on the provincial capital; Taliban attacks against Afghan security forces; & Taliban complaints of ANSF operations and coalition strikes led to a recent meeting in Doha.

“All sides agreed to decrease attacks and strikes and reduce violence and casualties. Although violence in Helmand has decreased, violence overall in the country remains high.

“Our expectation has been and remains that violence comes down and stays down.

“It was a focus of the Agreement we signed, further highlighted in connection with the releases of the last batch of prisoners and reaffirmed again in the most recent commitment all sides made to adhere to all aspects of the deal,” Khalilzad said. 

Reacting to the car bombing on Sunday in Ghor province that killed at least 13 people, Khalilzad stated: “Violence has stalked Afghans for far too long. It has robbed far too many Afghans of their loved ones. The tragedy in Ghor today is the most recent example.”

He said: “The belief that says violence must escalate to win concessions at the negotiating table is very risky. Such an approach can undermine the peace process and repeats past miscalculations by Afghan leaders.

“We must adhere to the letter and spirit of what was negotiated and the recent understanding. They provide a path to minimizing Afghan loss of life and protecting an historic opportunity for peace which must not be missed,” Khalilzad said.

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