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Afghan Airforce takes delivery of four new A-29 Super Tucano aircraft 

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(Last Updated On: September 17, 2020)

The United States handed over four A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft to the Ministry of Defense on Thursday. 

Speaking at the event, acting Defence Minister Asadullah Khalid said the Afghan air force is capable of facing its enemies. 

He said the reason for the ongoing conflict was to defend two decades worth of achievements. 

He confirmed however that the Taliban has ramped up violence across the country. 

Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is a highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision-guided munitions.

It can fly at low speeds and low altitudes is easy to fly and provides exceptionally accurate weapons delivery.

 

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UK’s Halo Trust hires former Taliban fighters to clear mines 

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2020)

Hundreds of former Taliban fighters are exchanging their weapons for mine-detectors after being recruited to clear IEDs by British charity The Halo Trust. 

The former commander of British troops in Helmand province, who is now Halo’s chief executive, James Cowan, told the Daily Mail in an interview that although he had lost 64 of his soldiers to the Taliban, he felt they now shared a “common sense of purpose” and were “honourable” men.

The Halo Trust employs about 350 former Taliban insurgents and each earns £230 ($300) a month.

Cowan, meanwhile, has called on the UK government to pay for thousands more former Taliban fighters to clear landmines as such opportunities provide jobs. 

According to the Daily Mail, Cowan is backed by former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who said the UK has the potential to “bring thousands of former combatants into civilian life”.

Meanwhile, one Halo employee, Farid, who has worked for Halo for 30 years, said the charity currently employs around 2,300 de-miners. 

He said of those about 350 fought either with the Taliban or with an affiliated group. He also said that so far, Halo has destroyed about 850,000 mines. 

Farid also stated he “never felt any insecurity” working with the ex-insurgents because they went through strict vetting procedures. Only one of those employed by Halo had returned to the conflict after his training, he said adding that “fighting is not driven by ideology, it is driven by poverty”.

According to him the former insurgents were good workers and “know the landscape and the geography and we use them to clear their own communities.”

 

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Imran Khan seeks ban on Islamophobic content on Facebook 

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2020)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting that the social media company ban Islamophobic content on its platform, similar to that in place for the Holocaust.

In a post on his Twitter page, Khan said: “My letter to CEO Facebook Mark Zuckerberg to ban Islamophobia just as Facebook has banned questioning or criticizing the holocaust.”

He then attached a copy of the letter sent to Zuckerberg.

In his letter he said: “I am writing to draw your attention to the growing Islamophobia that is encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world and especially through the use of social media platforms including Facebook.” 

Khan said he appreciates Zuckerberg’s step to “rightly ban any posting that criticizes or questions the Holocaust, which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom of the Jews in Germany and across Europe”. 

He said the world is witnessing a similar pogrom against Muslims.

“Unfortunately, in some states, Muslims are being denied their citizenship rights and their democratic personal choices from dress to worship,” he wrote.

 

This letter comes on the same day that Khan accused French President Emmanuel Macron of “attacking Islam” after Macron’s anti-Islam comments. 

Macron on Wednesday accused Muslims of separatism and vowed not to give up cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammed – this in the wake of the beheading of a teacher, Samuel Paty near Paris after he had shown cartoons of the Prophet during a class he was leading on free speech.

Macron said he “was killed because Islamists want our future.”

In a series of tweets earlier Sunday, Imran Khan said Macron’s remarks would sow division. 

“This is a time when Pres Macron could have put healing touch & denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation & marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation,” Khan tweeted. 

“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.”

“President Macron has attacked and hurt the feelings of millions of Muslims in Europe and around the world,” Khan stated. 

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Putin says US troops withdrawal ‘creates many risks’

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2020)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the continued presence of American troops in Afghanistan is beneficial for overall security and that a troop withdrawal “creates many risks”.

“Initially, we backed US forces’ presence in Afghanistan and earlier voted in favor of a respective UN Security Council resolution. I still believe that US presence in Afghanistan does not run counter to our external interests,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported. 

“On the contrary, when it was announced that the Americans are preparing to withdraw their military contingent – yes, our official position is that maybe this creates additional conditions for a kind of Afghan reconciliation – but I personally think that this creates many risks,” Putin said.

“First, we will have to spend more to maintain stability and second, no matter what, still US presence in Afghanistan contributes to stability in the country and their exit creates risks,” he said. 

Putin said the two countries were “cooperating” with each other.

According to Putin, the US share data on anti-terror with Russia. “We view the Americans’ effort in Afghanistan as an anti-terrorist effort,” Putin stressed.

“They hand over and repeatedly handed over [data] to us. I thanked incumbent President [Donald Trump] because information that we received from America helped us prevent several terrorist acts in Russia,” Putin said.

“In our turn, we are trying to do the same and we have such an agreement with the incumbent US president that if this information emerges, we will share it and help each other.”.

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