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Afghanistan: UN Counts 2,258 Civilian Casualties in First-Quarter of 2018

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2018)

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says it has documented 2,258 civilian casualties between January 1 and March 31, including 763 deaths and 1,495 injured.

UN report noted that the civilian casualties’ numbers in this year’s first-quarter is

reflecting similar levels of civilian harm documented in the first three months of 2017 and 2016.

“All parties to the conflict in Afghanistan must do everything in their power to protect civilians from harm,” said Ingrid Hayden, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.

“Afghan civilians continue to suffer, caught in the conflict, in ways that are preventable; this must stop now.”

The report said that the quarterly report describes civilian casualties from suicide improvised explosive devices (IED) and complex attacks as the leading cause of civilian casualties, a new trend observed in 2018.

UNAMA found that ground engagements were the second leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted and deliberate killings, explosive remnants of war, and aerial operations.

The report, meanwhile, noted with concern that the number of civilian casualties attributed to Anti-Government Elements increased. During the first three months of 2018, according to the report, Anti-Government Elements caused 1,500 civilian casualties (511 deaths and 989 injured) a six per cent increase from the same period last year.

Consistent with trends observed in 2017, civilian casualties attributed to Pro-Government Forces in the first quarter of 2018 reduced by 13 per cent to 407 civilian casualties (176 deaths and 231 injured). UNAMA found that Pro-Government Forces caused 18 per cent of all civilian casualties in the first three months of 2018 (11 per cent by Afghan national security forces, two per cent by international military forces, four per cent by undetermined Pro-Government Forces, and one per cent by pro-Government armed groups).

During the first three months of 2018, UNAMA documented 142 civilian casualties (67 deaths and 75 injured) from aerial attacks, similar to the number documented during the same period in 2017. The Mission attributed 35 per cent of civilian casualties from air strikes to international military forces, 35 per cent to the Afghan Air Force, and the remainder to unidentified Pro-Government Forces.

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Iran to host multilateral conference on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia are expected to meet in Tehran next week for talks on Afghanistan.

Tehran will host the meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours plus Russia on October 27, which will be attended by all six foreign ministers.

During a press conference on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced that “the six countries will be focused on how they can help form an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the presence of all ethnic groups, and how they can help shape a future of peace and security in Afghanistan.”

Khatibzadeh said Iran has maintained contact with all parties in Afghanistan, including the IEA.

Earlier this year, Tehran hosted intra-Afghan talks that included the IEA before the armed group took control of Afghanistan.

Iran has, however, refused to participate in any talks hosted or participated by the United States, which it says was a main cause of instability and violence in the country.

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Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad steps down

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is stepping down, the State Department said on Monday, less than two months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] takeover of the country, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, noting that West will work closely with the U.S. embassy, which is now based in Doha, on U.S. interests in Afghanistan, read the report.

According to the report a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that Khalilzad submitted his resignation on Friday.

His departure follows his exclusion from the Biden administration’s first formal talks with the IEA after the U.S. pullout, held in Doha earlier in October.

Khalilzad did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad, born in Afghanistan, held the post since 2018 and spearheaded the negotiations with the IEA that led to the February 2020 agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. forces this year.

He then pressed the IEA and the Western-backed government of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to negotiate a political settlement to decades of strife.

In mid-August, the government collapsed as the IEA swept through the country and marched into the capital, Kabul, unopposed. Khalilzad was left seeking the militants’ assistance in the U.S. evacuation of U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.

Current and former U.S. officials told Reuters earlier that in the three years Khalilzad had been in the role, he became the face of one of the largest U.S. diplomatic failures in recent memory.

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the veteran American diplomat relinquished leverage to the IEA, continuously undermined the Afghan government, and had little interest in hearing different viewpoints within the U.S. government, Reuters reported.

CNN first reported Khalilzad’s plan to resign.

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Karzai says Pakistan must not interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said the current Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) government in needs internal legitimacy in order for it to gain international recognition and that Pakistan should not interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs.

In an interview with VOA, Karzai said that internal legitimacy could only be achieved through the expression of the will of the Afghan people, either in the form of elections or holding the Loya Jirga, a traditional grand council.

He said that Afghanistan is at a critical juncture in its history and Afghans have a responsibility to “unite” and create a government premised on “the expression of the will of the Afghan people.”

“Legitimacy within our own country for this government (IEA) or for any other government is the foundation of recognition by countries and the international community,” Karzai said.

Pakistani leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh, have advocated for the IEA and have urged the international community to work with the new government in Kabul.

“If we neglect Afghanistan right now, there’s a huge humanitarian crisis looming ahead, and this will have serious repercussions not just for the neighbors of Afghanistan, but it will have repercussions everywhere,” Imran Khan told the U.N. General Assembly in September.

“We must strengthen this current government, stabilize it, for the sake of the people of Afghanistan. What have the Taliban (IEA) promised? They will respect human rights, they will have an inclusive government, they will not allow this soil to be used by terrorists,” Khan added.

Karzai told VOA that Pakistan is not the representative of the Afghan people.

“My message to Pakistan, our brotherly country, is that they should not try to represent Afghanistan. On the contrary, the country should try to establish a civil relationship with our country,” he said.

“We have deep people-to-people relations with Pakistan. … Our hope from Pakistan is that the country should not try to maintain its relations with us through interference, the encouragement of extremism and terrorism or by force, but rather establish relations with Afghanistan through civil principles and principles of international relations, and we will happily maintain that relationship with them,” he added.

Karzai also voiced concerns about the Islamic State (Daesh) terror group’s uptick in violence in Afghanistan and deemed it a threat to both Afghanistan and the region.

The militant group’s local branch, known as the Islamic State Khorasan, has claimed responsibility for several vicious attacks in recent weeks in Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces, where more than 100 civilians have been killed and many others wounded.

“As proven by the unfortunate bomb blasts — rather, suicide attacks in the mosque in Kabul two weeks ago, then in Kunduz last week, and then in Kandahar yesterday (October 15) — this has proven that Daesh is a threat to Afghanistan and to the life and livelihood of the Afghan people,” Karzai said.

Karzai showed optimism that the region will support Afghanistan in its fight against Daesh because it could pose a threat to their security. In addition, he said he hopes that regional powers would seek common ground in Afghanistan,.

He said it is Afghanistan’s responsibility to work with other countries in the region in a way that results in peace and stability.

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