World – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Sat, 14 Sep 2019 14:58:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 U.S. Announces Death of Osama Bin Laden’s Son Sat, 14 Sep 2019 14:12:41 +0000 U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that Hamza bin Laden, the son of former al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, had been killed during a counter-terrorism operation in the region around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, reports said on Saturday.

According to the Independent, a statement issued by the White House said that the loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group.

The White House did not immediately provide additional details, including the date of his death. It was previously reported on 31 July that he was killed in an airstrike. 

The US State Department announced in February a $1m (£799,615) reward for information leading to his “identification or location”.

US Lawmakers Want Answers From Khalilzad About Deal With Taliban Fri, 06 Sep 2019 05:34:48 +0000

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has called on the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad to brief the lawmakers on details of the peace deal he negotiated with the Taliban in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The Committee’s Chairman Eliot Engel in a letter to Khalilzad on Thursday called on him to testify in September on the proposed peace plan with the Taliban on U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan.

“I am calling this hearing so that Congress and the American people will have the long-overdue opportunity to understand the contours of your negotiations with the Taliban and the potential risks and opportunities that may result,” Engel said the letter.

Engel added that the U.S. Envoy’s agreement with the Taliban has “been disseminated among officials in the Trump Administration and shared with President Ghani’s government.”

The letter further said the Americans and Afghan people deserve to know what the U.S. diplomatic “strategy is for Afghanistan,” adding that the U.S. wants to make sure that it is “negotiating a peace and not simply a withdrawal.”

“Given the challenges this Committee has faced in getting information from the Trump Administration on this issue, I want to be clear: I do not consider your testimony at this hearing optional,” Engel wrote. “If this letter is insufficient to secure your attendance, I will consider other options that would ensure this hearing takes place in a timely manner.”

It is been the third time that the committee is requesting Khalilzad to appear at the U.S. House of Representatives for the questioning.

Engel and ranking member Representative Michael McCaul issued an invitation in February and Democrat members of the committee had also asked Khalilzad to appear in April.

India, France Call for Timely Holding of Presidential Elections in Afghanistan Wed, 28 Aug 2019 11:03:44 +0000 India and France, in a joint statement issued in Paris on 22 August 2019, called for the timely holding of presidential elections in Afghanistan, the Indian Embassy in Kabul said in an online statement on Wednesday.

In addition, the two countries called for the cessation of terrorist violence, and end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries for enduring and sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.

“France and India cooperate actively for international peace and security, including in the regional crises threatening them,” the statement added.

The statement further said that the two countries support an inclusive peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

“Leading to a lasting political solution based on the preservation of the gains, including the constitutional order, human rights, particularly women’s rights and the liberties gained over the past eighteen years,” the statement concluded.

This comes as the U.S. and Taliban negotiators are close to a final agreement in Qatar and the Afghan presidential election is scheduled to be held on September 28.

Trump Meets With Senior Aides to Consider Deal With Taliban Sat, 17 Aug 2019 04:48:50 +0000

U.S. President Donald Trump held a meeting with his cabinet officials and other senior security advisers on Friday and discussed the status of negotiations with the Taliban over the troop pullout from Afghanistan and prospects for a political settlement to end the long-term war in the country.

Trump held the session at his New Jersey Bedminster Golf Club with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph F. Dunford, CIA Director Gina Haspel, White House national security adviser John Bolton, and the U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

“Just completed a very good meeting on Afghanistan. Many on the opposite side of this 19-year war, and us, are looking to make a deal – if possible,” Trump said in a tweet after the session.

The U.S. Secretary of State said in a tweet that the United States is working diligently on the path forward in Afghanistan. 

“In close cooperation with Afghanistan, we remain committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, including a reduction in violence and a ceasefire,” Pompeo said. “Ensuring Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the U.S. or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to work towards peace.”

According to a report by the Washington Post, an initial withdrawal under the proposed deal would include roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban would agree to renounce al-Qaeda and to bar it from activities such as fundraising, recruiting, training and operational planning in areas under Taliban control.

U.S. President to Meet Top Security Officials on Afghanistan Fri, 16 Aug 2019 03:11:33 +0000

The U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his top national security advisers on Friday to review a US-Taliban peace plan that could end America’s longest war in Afghanistan, CNN reported.

According to two sources familiar with the planning, CNN reported that Trump is expected to meet at his Bedminster golf resort with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

Several defense officials have told CNN that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford are expected to be present.

CNN quotes two other sources saying that the major topic will be Afghanistan and the plan that Taliban negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been working on for months to end the conflict in the war-weary country.

According to the multiple sources familiar with the plan, the report said that the peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan — from about 15,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops — and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad has held at least eight rounds of negotiations with the Taliban delegation in Qatar that he said the last round of talks was “productive” as the two sides had focused on technical details.

“Over the last few days, the sides (the U.S. and Taliban representatives) focused on technical details,” Khalilzad said. “They were productive. I am on my way back to DC to consult on next steps.”

Meanwhile, Khalilzad has shared the details of expected peace agreement with President Ghani before the beginning of the eighth round of US-Taliban talks in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Last week, the Newsweek magazine reported that the U.S.-led operations against the militant group in Afghanistan have significantly reduced or halted as the Pentagon continues to plan for a potential withdrawal of thousands of U.S. forces from its longest conflict ever.

The U.S. personnel have been ordered to limit nearly all offensive combat operations against the Taliban and cease advising the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as the Trump administration proposes cutting U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan by nearly half to 6,000 as a means of finalizing “technical” details among Taliban leadership, senior Pentagon officials quoted by the Newsweek.

However, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has rejected the reports of limitations in the U.S. operations against the militants in the country.

 A spokesman for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Sonny Leggett said that no changes have been brought to the U.S.’s mission in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Envoy to U.S. Says Kashmir Crisis Could Affect Afghan Peace Tue, 13 Aug 2019 09:29:47 +0000

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan has said on Monday that his country might redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Kashmir frontier, a shift that could complicate American peace talks with the Taliban, the New York Times reported.

In an interview with the New York Times editorial board, Khan emphasized that the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues were separate and that he was not attempting to link them.

On the contrary, he said, Pakistan hoped the U.S. talks with the Taliban would succeed and that his country was actively supporting them.

“We are doing all that we can and will continue,” Mr. Khan has told the New York Times. “It’s not an either-or situation.”

Such a possibility, coming just as Pakistan’s longstanding Kashmir crisis with India has escalated, could add a new element to the peace negotiations, which are said to be in the final stages and would end the long-term conflict in the war-weary country.

U.S. Preparing to Pullout Thousands of Troops From Afghanistan: Report Fri, 02 Aug 2019 06:59:43 +0000 The U.S. is set to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan as part of an initial peace deal to end the long-term conflict in the war-weary country, the U.S. news agencies reported.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is preparing to reduce its troops in Afghanistan from nearly 14000 to between 8000 and 9000.

The agreement would require the Taliban to broker a peace deal directly with the Afghan government, and give assurances the country won’t be used as a launching pad for international terror attacks, the report said.

The plan has taken shape after months of negotiations between the Taliban and the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. Officials said an agreement could be finalized ahead of the Afghan presidential election in September, though they cautioned that Taliban leaders could delay and that significant challenges remain, the report added.

Khalilzad has held a series of meetings with Pakistani and Afghan officials over the past several months to brief them about the outcome of his meetings with the Taliban, who are talking to prominent Afghans in Kabul.

“In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on,” Khalilzad tweeted on Wednesday, adding that he was, “Wrapping up my most productive visit to Afghanistan since I took this job as Special Representative.”

“The US and Afghanistan have agreed on next steps. And a negotiating team and technical support group are being finalized,” he added.

The U.S. has lost more than 2,400 soldiers in its longest war and has spent more than $900 billion on everything from military operations to the construction of roads, bridges and power plants.

17 Killed After Pakistani Army Plane Crashes in Rawalpindi Tue, 30 Jul 2019 05:04:17 +0000

At least 17 people were killed after a small plane of Pakistan Army crashed in Rawalpindi in early on Tuesday morning, Pakistani the News International reported.

According to the report, the plane has crashed at a residential area near the Rabi Center in Rawalpindi, as a result, 12 civilians and five crew members were killed.

After the crash, massive five broke out at the area that engulfed several houses, the report added.

“A small plane crashed into a residential area. So far we have retrieved 15 dead bodies, including 10 civilians and five crew members,” a rescue official told reporters quoted by the News International, adding that a further 12 people had been injured.

All the victims have been taken to the hospitals, the news agency said.

The plane was on a routine training flight when it crashed. The cause of the said incident has yet to be determined.

Afghan Gov’t Calls for Clarity on Trump’s Remarks Tue, 23 Jul 2019 08:33:48 +0000

The Afghan government in a statement on Tuesday called for clarity on U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks who said he could win the war in Afghanistan in a matter of days but he does not want to kill 10 million people.

In a joint press conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump said on Monday, “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth, it would be gone, it would be over in, literally, in 10 days,” Trump told reporters. 

“I don’t want to go that route,” Trump said adding that “So we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves. Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically, we’re policemen right now. And we’re not supposed to be policemen.”

The presidential palace said in a statement, “Afghanistan is one of the deep-rooted and ancient countries in the world have been able to overcome countless crisis during history. The Afghan nation will allow any foreign power to decide on their fate.”

“Cooperation and relationship of Afghanistan with the world, particularly with the United States, is based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” the statement said.”We support U.S. efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, but the main fate of the country cannot be determined at meetings of foreign leaders in the absence of Afghan leadership.”

“Afghanistan will remain in the world’s political stage with full strength,” the statement stressed.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government wants clarity on Trump’s statement through diplomatic channels of the two countries.

Trump Says He Could Win Afghanistan War in a Week Tue, 23 Jul 2019 05:15:45 +0000

U.S. President Donald Trump claimed on Monday that he could end the long-term war in Afghanistan in a week but that it would kill millions of people and wipe the country “off the face of the earth.”

Trump met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday and discussed Pakistan’s assistance with bringing an end to the nearly two-decade conflict in the war-weary country.

Speaking to reporters in the White House on Monday, Trump said “I think Pakistan is going to help us out to extricate ourselves.  We’re like policemen.  We’re not fighting the war.”

“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said to reporters. “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth, it would be gone, it would be over in, literally, in 10 days.”

“I don’t want to go that route,” Trump said adding that “So we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves. Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically, we’re policemen right now. And we’re not supposed to be policemen.”

American Model Accuses Ex-Afghan Defense Minister’s Son of Raping Her Sun, 21 Jul 2019 10:40:42 +0000

An American fashion model, Sarah Goolden, claims that son of a former Afghan defense minister stalked and raped her after she rejected him, the New York Post reported.

According to the report, Sarah Goolden, a stunning blonde who’s modeled everything from lacy underwear to designer duds, accuses Hamed Wardak, son of Abdul Rahim Wardak, of attacking her twice during a trip the two took to Miami on July 4th weekend 2018.

“He bought me gifts,” Goolden has told the New York Post. “He uses his money as a tool to influence almost everybody in his life.”

Meanwhile, Wardak’s lawyer, Alexis Fields said that Goolden’s claims are “entirely false,” accusing the model of “attempting to manipulate the current political and anti-immigrant climate to her tactical advantage.”

The blue-eyed beauty says she agreed to date Wardak, 43, after years of him courting her, but a month into the romance, Wardak allegedly became violent during the Independence holiday jaunt, according to the lawsuit, the report said.

Wardak falsely accused her of cheating, at one point “screaming and pulling her by her hair” and yanking her out of bed, according to the lawsuit quoted by the Post.

The next day she tried to leave but was thwarted when the building’s elevators stopped working, Goolden alleged.

He eventually apologized, and the pair went out later that day with friends. As the group boozed it up, Wardak publicly proposed, she alleged.

Fearing another violent outburst if she said no in front of his entourage, Goolden accepted.

She tried to break things off privately, but says Wardak held her down and sexually assaulted her, according to the lawsuit.



She was able to leave two days later, but Wardak allegedly threatened to “ruin” her life, have her followed, “make her look like a con-artist,” and said he would file litigation to drown her in legal fees, according to court papers, read the report.

Since the alleged attack, Wardak filed two lawsuits against Goolden, one accusing her of faking their relationship in a bid to get money, and a second seeking the return of $20,000 he claims he paid for her sick dog, the report added.

She says he’s spent the year since then stalking her, and records show he’s been arrested twice in Manhattan for violating an order of protection Goolden obtained against him, the report noted.

Wardak “is a sick person … and he needs to be stopped,” said Gooldens’ attorney Walker Harman quoted by the New York Post.

“This has been the most traumatic thing I’ve ever gone through,” Goolden has told the New York Post. “It’s a nightmare that will not end.”

U.S. Senator Urges Trump to Not Agree to ‘Absurd’ Demands From Taliban Sat, 20 Jul 2019 10:01:04 +0000

A senior U.S. senator urged the Trump administration to not agree to “absurd” demands of the Taliban militant group for the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan within 18 months.

“I hope the Trump Administration will not give into absurd Taliban demands for US withdrawal within 18 months, regardless of conditions on the ground,” Lindsey Graham said in a tweet on Friday.

Graham said that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is an “insurance policy against the reemergence of al-Qaeda/ISIS types.

“We now have a small US military footprint, along with our allies, that is an insurance policy against the reemergence of al-Qaeda/ISIS types and help hold Afghanistan together,” he said.

“How Afghanistan turns out is vitally important to our own national security interests as this is the place it all started on 9/11,” Graham added.

“We need a good deal, not a fake deal,” he stressed.

The comments come as the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is getting ready for another Afghan peace mission.

Khalilzad said in a tweet that he held talks with Ambassador of Germany, India’s Ambassador and Uzbekistan Foreign Minister on Friday to “consult” with them about the Afghan peace process.  

“Getting ready to launch on another mission in hope of making further progress,” Khalilzad said.

Pakistani Police Arrest Founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba Militant Group Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:07:57 +0000

Pakistani Police arrested Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba insurgent group in Punjab province on Wednesday, Pakistani media reported.

According to Geo TV, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police arrested Hafiz Saeed from Lahore when he was on his way to Gujranwala.

Saeed has been reportedly presented in an anti-terrorism court and sent to prison.

The militant group is blamed for several attacks in Pakistan and is the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai city, India, attacks, in which 10 Pakistani gunmen opened fire at several locations and killed more 165 people.

NATO Defense Ministers Discuss Afghanistan in Brussels Thu, 27 Jun 2019 14:00:13 +0000 On day two of the NATO defense ministers meeting, Afghanistan was discussed at the NATO’s headquarter in Brussels, with all nations contributing to the NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

The top commander of the Resolute Support mission General Austin Scott Miller and the NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Nicholas Kay briefed the Allies Defense Ministers regarding the situation of Afghanistan.

Speaking with the reporters at the end of the meeting, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that there is “a unique opportunity for peace “in Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg reiterated that the international community is now close to a peace deal than ever before and all NATO Allies strongly support the Afghan peace process.

“Allies fully support the efforts of the U.S. Special Representative, Ambassador [Zalmay] Khalilzad, to achieve a political settlement,” NATO Chief said.

Stoltenberg emphasized that he totally agree with Khalilzad’s principle of “nothing is agreed before everything is agreed.”

He said Afghan forces are making progress and this is important for the negotiating table.

NATO Chief said the international community went to Afghanistan after the September 11 attack which was organized by Al Qaeda from Afghanistan to prevent the country to become a safe place for international terrorists.

“We have confirmed our financial support for the Afghan security forces through 2024. We will stay in Afghanistan as long as necessary, to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” he added.

Referring to the recent achievements of the Afghan forces in the battlefields, Stoltenberg said we have made a lot of progress in Afghanistan.

He further said that his message to the Afghan government is that NATO will stay committed to Afghanistan and his message to the Taliban is that the militants will not win in the battlefields.

This comes as the U.S. and Taliban negotiators are set to hold their seventh round of talks within two days in Qatar aimed at ending the 18-years of violence in Afghanistan.

Real Peace Process Is Taking Place in Afghanistan: NATO Chief Wed, 26 Jun 2019 14:11:49 +0000

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said that the international community is closer to a peace deal in Afghanistan than ever before.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers in Brussels, Stoltenberg said that all NATO Allies strongly support the Afghan peace efforts.

He added that NATO will continue to provide political and military support to Afghanistan.

NATO Chief stressed that after many years, a real peace process is taking place in war-torn Afghanistan.

“After years without a real peace process we have seen over the last months that there is a real process taking place,” Stoltenberg said.

He further said that there are talks between the Taliban and the United States to end the Afghan war.

“These talks are the only way to peace and Ambassador [Zalmay] Khalilzad, the U.S. negotiator is consulting closely with all NATO Allies,” he said.

Stoltenberg said the U.S. chief negotiator has been consulting with NATO Allies because roughly half of the troops in the Resolute Support Mission are non-U.S. troops.

“One of the important aspects of any potential peace deal will be how can we have a mechanism in place to make sure that it is respected, implemented, verifiable,” Stoltenberg said when he was asked about Taliban’s sincerity to their commitment.

“The Taliban has to understand that they will never win on the battlefield. They have to sit down at the negotiating table,” NATO Chief concluded.

NATO Defense Ministers meeting kicked off today in Brussels where they will discuss a range of topics including NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

Assadullah Khalid, the Acting Defense Minister of Afghanistan is set to attend the meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Future Presence of NATO in Afghanistan Depends on Peace Deal: Stoltenberg Tue, 25 Jun 2019 12:08:36 +0000

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that the future presence of the NATO forces in Afghanistan will depend on a potential peace deal.

Speaking with the reporters ahead of the meeting of defense ministers, Stoltenberg said that Afghanistan will be an important point on our agenda.

He added that NATO and its allies fully support U.S. efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

According to the NATO Chief, there is “a unique opportunity for peace” in Afghanistan and NATO is committed to creating conditions for peace.

At the same time, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said that the regional countries especially Pakistan must be included in the Afghan peace process in order to have a result.

This comes a day after the NATO Chief met with Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Brussels where they discussed the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting, Stoltenberg welcomed Pakistan’s recent steps in support of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The NATO Secretary General emphasized that an intra-Afghan dialogue should start as soon as possible.

185 killed, 500 Wounded in Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka Sun, 21 Apr 2019 09:26:33 +0000

At least 138 people were killed and more than 500 wounded following bomb blasts hit hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday Morning, Sri Lankan media reported.

According to Daily Mirror news agency, six bomb blast targeted three hotels and three churches in Colombo city, the capital of Sri Lanka.

The explosions have occurred at churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa, targeted worshippers as they attended Easter ceremony, the report said.

At least six explosions were reported this morning at three churches in Kochchikade, Katana, and Batticaloa and three five-star hotels in Colombo, police said quoted by Daily Mirror.

Nine foreigners were among the dead, officials said.

The death toll was expected to rise further.

“I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation,” Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also in a statement strongly condemned attacks which caused hundreds of casualties.

“Attacking churches and hotels and targeting worshipers is appalling, and Afghanistan strongly condemns this heinous act of terror. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, and we stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka on this dark day,” the statement said.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

16 Killed, 30 Wounded in Pakistan Bomb Blast Fri, 12 Apr 2019 06:47:48 +0000

At least 16 people were killed and 30 others wounded in a blast on Friday morning at a market in Quetta city of Pakistan, local Media reported.

According to Pakistani News International, the explosion took place at a vegetable market in the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta city.

Pakistan’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that the blast targeted members of the Hazara community, the news agency quoted.

Out of 16 dead, eight belonged to Hazara community, Cheema said.

The blast occurred at around 7:35 am local time and has said to be caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) that had been hidden among the vegetables in the market, the DIG Cheema added.

Most of the victims were vegetable vendors, who were shifted to Bolan Medical Complex and Civil Hospital for medical treatment, the report said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, yet.

Fire in Ankara Kills Five Afghan Workers Fri, 29 Mar 2019 11:27:44 +0000

Five Afghan workers were killed and eleven others were injured after a fire broke out Friday morning at a three-story building in the Altındağ district of the Turkish capital Ankara. 

President Tayyip Erdogan said later on Friday the building in which the fire broke out was abandoned and uninhabitable, and Ankara Governor Vasip Sahin told state media that the cause of the fire had not been determined yet.

Footage from the site of the fire showed the front of the building had been burnt black, while the windows of the already damaged building had been broken. Firefighters, police officers and emergency teams were at the site to examine the damage, the footage showed.

Burak Burhan Biyikli, a local resident who knew the victims, said the building was used by refugees in Ankara as shelter and as a storage unit for scrap paper that they collected and later sold. He said he believed the cause of the fire was due to an electric fuse.

“They are refugees, poor people sheltering in our country because of the war in Afghanistan. These people have to support their lives somehow, so they sought shelter in our country,” Biyikli said.

“Why would someone collect paper from the trash if it weren’t for poverty?” he said, as authorities cordoned off the site behind him.

The death toll in the fire may increase, local news agencies said, adding that efforts to identify the victims were underway.

With Inputs from Reuters, Daily Sabah 

Afghan Peace Within Reach: Imran Khan Sat, 16 Mar 2019 10:25:37 +0000

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that peace in Afghanistan is “around the corner,” citing ongoing peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban representatives.

Addressing a big public gathering in northern Bajaur tribal district on the Afghan border, Imran Khan said, “negotiations have been initiated with the Taliban. God willing, our brothers in Afghanistan would live together in peace in coming days.”

Without elaborating further, Khan asserted the peace process would result in stability, trade and economic prosperity for the region, and particularly for Afghanistan to enable the war-shattered country to stand on its own feet.

“A good government will be established in Afghanistan, a government where all Afghans will be represented. The war will end and peace will be established there,” Khan said.

It comes as the fifth round of U.S.-Taliban talks which lasted 16 days, ended on Monday in Doha, Qatar. The sides reported progress, but no final deal on withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces and arrangements that the Taliban ensures militants would not use Afghanistan to stage attacks against the U.S. and its allies.