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Afghan peace talks team expected to leave for Doha in two days

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2020)

The Afghan government’s peace negotiations team is expected to leave Kabul on Wednesday for Doha, Qatar, for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.

Talks are expected to officially start on Sunday, Afghanistan’s national radio and television service RTA reported.

All members of the group that will travel to Doha, including members of the negotiating team and journalists, had COVID-19 tests done on Monday.

This was in line with international health measures to try to curb the spread of the virus.

Journalists were told they would travel with the team, which will be led by Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai.

Stanekzai and his team are expected to negotiate a comprehensive ceasefire in the first round of talks, a source who is part of the negotiations team told Ariana News adding that the first round of talks is expected to last 15 days.

However, Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, a former Taliban leader said Monday that more time was needed to overcome some challenges before talks could begin.

“The Taliban will enter the talks after the release of 400 prisoners, and it is not possible to hold the talks in the limited days; challenges are yet to be removed, and the real representatives of the nation must be included among the delegation, and the Taliban will announce a ceasefire process to build trust,” said Akbar Agha.

Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, a member of the negotiating team meanwhile stated: “The delegation has made all the preparations and we will sit with a specific agenda around the negotiating table with the Taliban; and the other side (the Taliban) should be ready as soon as possible to start the negotiations.”

This latest development comes just a day after the Loya Jirga, or grand council, approved the release of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners so as to kickstart peace talks.

Pledging to implement the Jirga’s decision, President Ashraf Ghani said on Sunday he will sign the release order of the inmates.

On Monday morning, a source said Ghani would sign the decree later in the day in order to remove the final obstacle in the way of intra-Afghan negotiations.

This development comes after the February deal between the United States and the Taliban in Doha. This agreement called for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the withdrawal of US troops.

So far, there has been a drawdown of US troops, five American military bases have been handed over to the Afghan government and Ghani has released over 4,600 Taliban prisoners.

The last group of 400 prisoners had been a sticking point as the group had been deemed hardcore inmates responsible for some of the country’s worst attacks over the past 19 years.

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Afghanistan’s ‘cricket is proof that dreams come true’: ACB director

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Director of Cricket at Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Raees Ahmadzai said on Tuesday that with hard work and determination “dreams do come true” and that Afghanistan’s cricket is proof of this. 

Representing the ACB at a virtual meeting of the Asian Cricket Council, attended by both full-members and some associate members, Ahmadzai provided details on the country’s achievements and on its challenges. 

According to the ACB, Ahmadzai also discussed the enormous potential of talent in the country – especially with spin bowlers. 

He said: “Without doubt with hard work and determination, dreams do come true and Afghanistan Cricket is a living example of it. Afghan cricketers have been through various hurdles and struggles to enjoy its results today.”

The participants, which also included officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), recognized Afghanistan Cricket Board’s efforts to promote the game in the war-torn country. 

The meeting came just a day after ACB’s acting CEO Nazeem Abdul Rahimzai met with the governor of Nangarhar Ziaulhaq Amarkheil to discuss progress around the construction of the new Behsud cricket grounds in Jalalabad. 

Construction started about six weeks ago and phase one, which involves the leveling of the ground, is expected to be completed in the next month. 

Rahimzai asked for the governor’s assistance on some issues relating to the project and “was fully assured of full support by the local government,” an ACB statement read. 

Amarkheil meanwhile said cricket in the province should be a priority and said the project would be completed on time. 

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Three suspects identified in public beating of two women in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Ministry of Interior said it has identified three security officials involved in last week’s incident involving two young women who were beaten in public in Kabul. 

In a statement issued by the MoI, the ministry said: “After investigating the case, the Crime Investigation Directorate (CID) identified one member of the security forces who was the main culprit in the case and two police officers who were negligent and irresponsible by not stopping the incident.”

The MoI stated that the case is being investigated by the CID but has also been handed over to the Attorney General’s Office. 

The incident, which took place in Kabul city, was caught on video and went viral on social media – which sparked an outcry among rights activists and members of the public. 

The two women were publicly hit by one man, while two officials in uniform stood by and watched. 

A number of other people also stood around and watched the incident unfold.

This comes amid increasing concerns relating to the preservation and strengthening of women’s rights and overall human rights in Afghanistan as the Aghan negotiating team continues discussions with the Taliban in Doha. 

Human rights activists and global leaders have all called for the achievements of the past 19 years to be preserved if any peace deal is made between the warring sides. 

 

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TikTok removes over 100 million videos from its app

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

TikTok has had to remove over 104 million videos in the first six months of this year for violating its guidelines. 

About 37 million of these were from India followed by nearly 10 million in the United States.

TikTok says this is still less than one percent of the total number of videos uploaded on its app.

In the report, it adds that it took action on 96.4 percent of the removed clips before a user reported them and 90.3 percent of them didn’t have any views. 

The service’s algorithms automatically took care of and discarded 10 million of these clips.

“As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we relied more heavily on technology to detect and automatically remove violating content in markets such as India, Brazil, and Pakistan,” TikTok wrote on its website. 

TikTok’s content moderation practices haven’t always been effective, however. Earlier this month, the company was scrambling to suppress the spread of a viral, gruesome video that showed a man taking his own life with a gun, Digital Trends reported. 

With over 100 million users in the US alone, TikTok is now also a significant potential link for law enforcement agencies looking for personal data in investigations. In the US, TikTok received 226 legal requests, substantially up from 100 from the six months before 2020, from law enforcement or government entities for user information and content restrictions, 85 percent of which it agreed to comply with. 

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