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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.”



‘Digital Silk Road’ on track as Afghanistan and Turkmenistan connect 

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Thursday marked another milestone in Afghanistan’s modern history when President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the new fiber optic connection between Turkmenistan and the commercial port of Aqina in Afghanistan’s Faryab province.

Within four months of having signed the memorandum of understanding with government the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) had successfully completed the task of connecting the two neighboring countries. 

In a virtual address at the launch, Dr Ehsan Bayat, the founder and chairman of AWCC, said he was “delighted” to celebrate the company’s success in connecting Afghanistan with its friends in Turkmenistan – especially given the past year that has involved unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also impacted people’s ability to connect with each other across the globe. 

“When Afghan Wireless embarked on the journey to build Afghanistan’s largest nationwide fiber network, we did so with the goal of realizing President Ghani’s vision to transform the country into a hub of digital data connectivity for Central Asia. 

“Today marks an important milestone in the building of a digital silk road across the region with Afghanistan at its center; a road that will connect millions of Afghans to the digital economy.

He said the latest optical fiber connection, between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, is the country’s fifth and sixth international border connections. Others include Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. 

“From Mazar to Jalalabad, and from Kabul to Kandahar to Kunduz, communities across the country are benefiting from high-speed connectivity. And now our connection to Turkmenistan through Torghundi and Aqina will enable Herat and western cities to become Afghanistan’s next major bridge for digital transformation,” he said.

However, Bayat stated that the impact of AWCC’s project should not be measured in kilometers of fiber laid, or megabytes of data transmitted, or even money invested but instead, it should be measured by the industries revitalized, the local businesses boosted, the jobs created, the pace of economic development and the enhancement to critical services in health, education, commerce and finance.

“This project could not be delivered without Afghanistan and Turkmenistan working together. 

“Afghan Wireless’ optical fiber connection between the two countries that we are celebrating today is a powerful testament that when we work hand in hand with our neighbors, not only do we strengthen our countries individually, but we also strengthen our region together,” he said.

The Turkmenistan to Aqina cable has the capacity to transfer 2,500 megabits of the Internet and can therefore provide high quality and cheap Internet to Faryab province.

According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, a fiber-optic network is the result of the rapid development of telecommunications and information technology, which has become an integral part of modern life.

The ministry states that along with the progression of technology and innovation, the shape and quality of tools have also changed to a great extent.

At the beginning of the invention of the telephone, copper cables were used to transmit information and sound, but today, with the advancement of technology and increasing human needs, these cables have been replaced by a new generation of signal conductors or fiber optics.

Because of the need for fast and cheap digital connectivity in the country, Government has already connected a total of 25 provinces in the country with the national fiber-optic network.


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Taliban drones bomb 217 Pamir Military Corps in Kunduz

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: January 15, 2021)

Two Taliban drones hovered over 217 Pamir Corps in Kunduz for about half an hour on Friday and fired off a number of mortar rounds, officials said.

The corps commander General Murad Ali Yazdani said the Taliban drones had flown over the base for about half an hour and had fired off mortar rounds that landed on the football field. No casualties were reported, he said.

Military personnel are investigating the incident and trying to track where the drone was launched.

In addition to this attack, at least 12 soldiers were killed, five others were wounded and 10 soldiers captured in two separate attacks in Kunduz – one on an army base and another on a police base.

“For some time now, security in the whole city of Kunduz has deteriorated. People have become displaced and the local government must pay attention,” said Mohammad Yousof Ayoubi, provincial head council.

Meanwhile, at around 3 am on Friday, a Humvee tank loaded with explosives was detonated prematurely in Ghazni.

One civilian was killed and seven soldiers were wounded, officials said.

“At least one truck driver passing the area was killed. The wounded soldiers are in good condition now,” said Wahidullah Jumazadah, Ghazni governor spokesman.

Security forces in Ghazni said after the Humvee exploded, clashes between security forces and the Taliban broke out.

They said at least eight Taliban fighters were killed but with the help of air support the Taliban attack was repelled.

“The Taliban carried out large-scale attacks on security and defense forces in the center and districts of the province last night in five strongholds, but were repulsed by security forces,” said Fawad Aman, defense ministry spokesman.

In the past week, the Taliban has attacked several security and defense checkpoints in different parts of the country.

Experts believe that with the start of peace talks, the Taliban is changing its approach to war in order to gain more credit.

“The Taliban has changed the tactics of war; if the security teams are a little careful, they should bring this change themselves to prevent casualties,” said former chief of army staff Sher Mohammad Karimi.

The Taliban are also said to have attacked several security checkpoints in the Darqad district of Takhar last week; in the Akbar Bai district of Takhar; and in the Jurm district of Badakhshan – inflicting heavy casualties on the military.

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Zakhilwal says govt is being ‘forced to compromise’

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: January 14, 2021)

Former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said President Ashraf Ghani has violated 80 percent of the constitution during his presidency.

In an exclusive interview with Ariana News, Zakhilwal stated: “The President himself has violated the constitution at different stages.”

Zakhilwal said that so many opportunities have been missed and now the Afghan government must compromise with the Taliban in order to secure peace.

He also stated that the Taliban could run in Afghan elections. “Why should we have to reject it (participation of the Taliban in elections), we have logic…when it is about Afghanistan’s sustainability and durable peace it is defensible.”

Referring to an interim government that a number of Afghan politicians are calling for, Zakhilwal said that some of these figures are pursuing their own interests.

Zakhilwal said the Afghan peace process is a US initiative that has caused concern for Ghani.

He said the ceasefire over Eid in 2018 was a deal between the US and the Taliban not the outcome of Ghani’s efforts.

“The president is worried about this imposition. The president says another person can hand over the power to an interim government and that is why he is so worried,” Zakhilwal said.

He also called on negotiating sides to reach an agreement as soon as possible and the warring parties to stop the bloodshed.

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